Friday, December 12, 2008

Mailbag: Special Weekend Edition

As requested.

It's getting down to the wire for applications (and holiday shopping, and grading papers...).

Take a second to check in with everyone:
What programs have you applied to? What programs have you yet to apply to?


eLily said...

and, any other prepositions you want to end a sentence with...

Questions welcome.

Emily said...

Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Michigan are ready and waiting for me to pick up one last rec letter then will go in the mail.

Penn State, WV, Alabama, Colorado State, Columbia College, and the NEOMFA will go out after the New Year.

And picking up the Michigan conversation from the previous mailbag - in addition to the reputation and funding at U of M, I also really like the atmosphere of the town and the campus. I did my undergrad in NW Ohio, and we used to go up to Ann Arbor on weekends sometimes. It's a great college town.

That said, and as much as I'd love to get in, their online application drove me nuts! The two separate statements, and those weird little popup boxes to select a state, and then it crashed while I was filling it out.... Left me a bit annoyed, but hey, it's done now :)

Katie Darby said...

I haven't really posted here yet, but my name is Katie, and I've been reading religiously. Everyone's experiences have really helped me get through this application season-- thanks for sharing!

I just got my last three applications off last week-- Southern Illinois University, Arkansas, and Texas State-- but Indiana, Notre Dame, Virginia, Mississippi, Idaho, Wisconsin-Madison, Illinois, and Vanderbilt went out a couple of weeks ago. I'm in that wonderful place where all I have to do is worry-- which is good, that's kind of my specialty. :) Good luck, everyone, and I'm looking forward to hearing about where everyone gets in.

Adrienne said...

Cornell, UT Austin, Minnesota, UNCG, IU, Michigan, and Vanderbilt are done.

Still to go: Memphis, Iowa, Hollins, UMASS Amherst, Minnesota Mankato, Florida, Bowling Green, and SIUCc.

I thouught I had a lot done until I listed them out. Sheesh. Anyway, I am going to take care of the rest of my apps this weekend and throughout next week. I am determined to have them all done becore I go on Christmas break.

Jennifer said...

All done here. Iowa, U. Cal. Irvine, Texas Michener, UVA, Alabama, Mississippi, George Mason, UNLV, Hollins and Va. Commonwealth.

The multiple SOPs for Irvine made me crazy, as did the TA app requirements for VA Commonwealth.

Emily said...

Adrienne - I did my undergrad at BG. It's such a fun place, and has a great writing community. Are you in poetry or fiction?

michelle said...

Does anyone know anything about Michener's status update window on the web. They should have many things by now that are showing up as missing...Should I be panicking? Should I email them?
Help :)

michelle said...


Katie Darby said...

Hey Michelle,

Last year I applied with them, and a lot of things showed missing until right at the last minute-- but I wound up calling, and there were some really helpful people in the office that didn't seem to mind helping. I don't think an email would hurt-- and if they really haven't gotten the materials, it could definitely help. :)

Good luck! :)

malcontent said...


I'm at Michener now, but last year when I applied my status updates never changed. Most of my items were listed as missing even after I had been accepted. I suppose it was some sort of glitch.

They probably do have your materials, but it wouldn't hurt to double check.

Anonymous said...

To everyone who isn't all done or even half done:

I'm 1/14th of the way done (sent Iowa yesterday). This self-selected comment-posting community represents, I'd guess, the top 1/100th of MFA applicants, the summer-schedulers, overachievers, detail-diggers, etc.

With deadlines stretching out through Jan. and into February, don't let the understandable venting of "It's done now" make you feel like you're behind.

Anyone else want to balance out the "I'm all done!" comments with fractions below 1/10? Let's hear it.

pablo said...

Memphis wants a printed copy of my online application. Anybody have any idea how I can print my app if I already submitted it?

michelle said...

re: Michener status reporting
I took Katie's advice and emailed them. They were extremely nice and let me know they did have everything, but the department website doesn't talk to the grad school website, and also, the grad school website is behind, with the volume.

Just in case anyone else is worried :)

PARTISAN said...

Illinois, Minnesota, UNCG, Wisconsin and Michigan have been received by the schools (Illinois even sent me a nice, semi-personalized email thanking me for applying and letting me know they had everything. Much appreciated!)

I plan on sending out Indiana and Notre Dame before Christmas and then the remainder to get out around the New Year are:

Wash U

Yeesh. I still don't like that list.

I continue to debate over VCU. If I'm not ready to jump in the Charles River by Jan. 1st, I may suck it up and finish that app. If I'm not feeling it, I'm not feeling it.

And I will say the schools that have been a real pleasure to correspond with have been Hollins, Vandy and Illinois. Also, I like that Wisconsin added a little note on their site about not disqualifying anyone for missing materials, just to put some worried minds at ease.

On the other hand, there's been a few schools that really need to weed out some of their office people, it seems.

I can't wait to return to that thing other people refer to as "normal life."

JayTee said...

Hey Oso--you are sooo right. I'm 4/16 as far as applications go. Finals, full time work, and a missing recommender (now complete) slowed me down completely and I'm living Sunday to drive across country! So yeah...I hope to be finished with all of them by January 1 and if I do that I'll still feel way ahead of the game.

I got all my schools submitted that needed apps in December. I hope everyone else is all set with apps that are due on Dec. 15-18 as well!!

Trokee said...

Haha, I beat you all. I have 0 finished. Got to get that Cornell one in by Monday! ach!

loremipsum said...

I am a little concerned that I see a lot of people on this blog applying to many more schools than I am. I focused on low-res schools because that suits my life best, and I feel like my list is pretty complete, but I still get the nagging feeling that I should be applying to more places.

I only have UC Irvine signed, sealed, and delivered. All my other deadlines are in January and beyond, but I plan to get those done before Jan. 1 so I can move on to just worrying about where I'll get in. Still left to do: Iowa, Pacific, Bennington, Vermont, and Warren Wilson.

Corey Van Landingham said...


Mangomo said...

Hi Everyone,

I'm just coming out my lurking-ness! I'm applying in Poetry to

Sarah Lawrence
UC Irvine
Hunters College
San Jose State University

and for an M.A. in Lit to
San Francisco State University
UC Santa Cruz

My top choices are definitely an MFA on any of the east coast schools but I applied to some programs here in the Bay Area, CA just to make sure that I cover my butt hopefully. We'll see!

So far, only UC Irvine is in. I'm turning in two more this weekend (UC Santa Cruz and NYU) and the rest are due after New Years so I'm going to try and knock them off over winter break.

Anybody else applying to some/most of my schools? I've only really seen UC Irvine being mentioned and none of the others..

JayTee said...

Hey Mangomo,

I'm also applying to NYU like you. That's one of the apps I've got in already, thankfully. Good luck!

MonicaJBrown said...

Enjoy your road trip. Now's a good time to go because cheap gas prices. Have you ever been to monument valley? Beautiful!!

insertbrackets said...

Okay, everything is mailed off as of yesterday. The only thing I have left to do now is pay for and submit Florida's and Oregon's applications, which I shall do with my next check. For all intents and purposes, I am done.

Now. The dread. Sets in.

JayTee said...

M.- Wow! I took a look at Monument Valley and it's actually near my route! So maybe I will see it.

These have been the busiest few weeks of my life! I'd been following MFA blogs and forums for the last 2 years and I was still in no way prepared for all of this!

Anonymous said...

i've noticed quite a few people are applying to brown's program. brown is my top choice and i would be thrilled to go there if i got in because i think it would be such a great fit for me.

i'm curious to know how other applicants feel about brown labeling themselves as a "creative and intellectual center for the U.S. literary avant-garde". did that label influence your decision to apply? and do you even believe the program really does look for "avant-garde" writing since practically no other program seems to blatantly announce an aesthetic preference.

Abbie said...

Done: Cornell, U of Minnesota, Amherst, Indiana, Syracuse, U of Alabama, Vanderbilt, U of Florida

Not done: Texas State, Southern Illinois U Carbondale, Louisiana State, Minnesota Mankato

At least my done list is longer than my undone list. Progress!

Adrienne said...


I'm fiction. I don't know much about Bowling Green, so it's nice to hear a positive endorsement. I like the layout of the program, the opportunity to work on the Mid-Americaa Review, and the fact that it's relatively close to home (I live in Indiana). It seems like a good fit for me, except for the fact that I can't get any teaching experience. But I would be excited to get into BG for sure.

Jesse Thiessen said...

So funniness: I'm home in Eugene for the weekend (I grew up here), and so I was all excited to go down and drop my Oregon application off in person. I get there and find the office is closed on Fridays. Curses. I was able to leave it with a super-nice girl at the general admissions office though, so stamps were saved.

On that note, FWIW, if anybody wants to know anything about Eugene or the U of O as a school in general, let me know. I only moved away three years ago and still have a lot of connections to both city and school.

Anyways. 6/12 done now! Halfway there! Done are: UBC, Minnesota, Ohio State, Columbia, Michener, and Oregon.

Left to go: Indiana, Iowa, Amherst, Brooklyn, Roosevelt, and Hamline.

I just printed out the Iowa financial aid application and am about to cry. So much info! I'm going to try to knock out them, Indiana, and Amherst before Christmas. The other three will get done in January.

Good luck everybody!

Corey Van Landingham said...

So I'm a bit confused-- what is this financial aid application? Do I need to fill those out for every school? In addition to the other application? I thought those kinds of things were to be filled out after accepted. If anyone could explain that would be wonderful. Thanks!


Mangomo said...

unsaid: cool! what genre are you applying in? i can't believe they are making poetry samples double spaced and only 10 pages! blah!!!

The most annoying thing also just happened to me! My husband, who never ever ever opens any mail, especially none addressed to me, decided to poke open a letter of recommendation that a professor mailed back to me! I'm sooooo annoyed! His excuse is that he was sleepy and he doesn't know why he did it! Aah! I just emailed the professor asking (begging) her if she can just re-sign the flap and pop it back in the mail. I soooo hope she's not planning on being out of town or something next week! The deadline (its for Columbia) is Jan 2nd so I have to mail it at least by the week of Dec 22nd. *sigh* Really cuts it close but we'll see!

JayTee said...

I'm poetry too, Mangamo! I think I missed the part about the poetry sample having to be double-spaced at NYU though! Wait....ok I just looked it up and it definitely says the poetry sample for NYU is 10 single spaced pages.

I almost had a heart attack! lol

Mangomo said...

Ack! I HATE it when they do this! If you download their GSAS Application Appendix (its a PDF file with all the GSAS programs info:, the creative writing program says its 10 pages, double spaced. UC Irvine has inconsistencies on their department website too! I'm definitely going with the single spaced then. I'm SO glad I said that to you because I was seriously going to send in like barely 6 poems.

Nikolai said...

I have 10 out of 11 online apps filled out; three of those already submitted (because they didn't require the SOP to be cut-and-paste into the online application). Recommenders have all of the necessary materials. Statement of purpose has gone through two drafts and just needs a last read. Manuscripts just need a few adjustments and then they can go in the mail. The only thing I really need to put serious work into is the critical writing sample that Washington and Purdue require.

I really wish that everyone did things the way Arkansas does--send the manuscript and, if they like it, they make you go through the rest. Saves headaches and money.

Anna said...

Re: unsealed recommendation.

Recommendations do not actually have to be sealed. You actually have the right to see them if you get in. Schools encourage you to waive your right to see them. Unless you promised your recommender you wouldn't read the letter, you can just stick in a new envelope yourself.

Unless you're like totally paranoid that the admissions committee is watching you at all times and they are obsessed with the confidentiality of recommendations, and the recommender's signature across the flap, like it matters.

I mean really, what are the chances that your recommender wants to write something great about you that he or she does not want you to know about?

Anonymous said...


Wahida said...

Ha, I'm glad I'm not the only long-time lurker just starting to post. It's nice to hear that everyone is holding up under the pressure. I'm graduating this month and I feel like I'm just barely holding onto my sanity : )

I've finished Michener, Minnesota, Syracuse & Cornell. I'm just putting the finishing touches on my sample for Michigan and then I'm mailing it out.

Still to go: U Florida, Rutgers-Newark, UMass Amherst & UMass Boston.

Good luck everyone!

PS- For people applying to Cornell, the website says they'll email you if they're missing anything. I submitted my app earlier this week, and now my online status for materials just says "check back later." Should I assume everything's fine, or should I email them? The deadline's Monday, but I don't want to nag...


samcutter said...

Re: unsealed recommendation

Hi Anna, your comment isn't totally accurate. If the school uses an official form or if the recommendation is submitted online, there is a space where you're supposed to waive or not waive your right to access the recommendation. If you read the waiver carefully, you can only access your recommendation after matriculation. And most schools destroy them once a student is matriculated. When students check that they do not want to waive their right of access, then not only does the recommender see this, but in the committee's eyes, the recommendation also loses some weight. It's always better to waive your right so that your recommender feels trusted. And not all recommendations are great. You'll be surprised how many bad or lukewarm recommendations come into an admissions office. I'm guessing this is because not everyone can come up with three strong ones. Most schools that don't use official forms usually ask that teachers seal and sign over the flap. I don't know, it's been awhile since I've had to ask for one. And my admissions experience was not at an MFA. So take all of this with a grain of salt. And the school I worked for was pretty obsessed with confidentiality. I think most places should be due to all kinds of legal reasons. There is always applicants and parents of applicants who threaten to sue for whatever reason.

chris.inkspot said...

Tomorrow I am finished. I got Notre Dame done on the 30th, save a few dollars, yeah me. Michigan, ASU, Alabama, Rutgers, Boise, University of Washington, U Mass, and Purdue are all going out on Saturday. That Michigan application was a pain. It kept crashing and I was ready to say the hell with it. I've also dealt with U Mass charging me three application fees, and a host of snafu's with other programs.

I'm glad to be done with this. Last year I applied to all private schools, got into a few, but no funding. So this year i stuck state programs, more or less.

I'm looking forward to writing poems again and not statements of purpose or teaching philosophies.

This blog has a been a saver. It's good to know others are as stressed as I am. Good luck all.

michelle said...

Hey Wahida,

We're applying to 8 of the same schools. Cornell's web status update is misleading. The right hand column says something like check back later for each item BUT the left hand column says whether each item is complete.

Good luck to you and everyone!

Emerald Green said...

Long time lurker, first time poster as well!

I'm all set with Brown and NYU, and just have to mail off writing samples to Wash U, Emerson, Brooklyn, and the New School.
Still have to finish the SOP for U San Fran and Bowling Green.

Dannigirl - were you talking about Washington U, St. Louis when you said you need a critical writing sample? Are you applying to the MFA??

Unknown said...

NYU and U of M are almost ready to go out, all three of my recommenders have been -amazing-.

This is really belatedly, but I live in Ann Arbor. And the town is really nice, great bus system (U of M students rider free, iirc!) and is a terribly awesome place to live.

To continue that conversation though, I've structured my prose portfolio around the 40 page limit for U of Michigan and now I realize I have to drastically trim it for my other apps! Ahh!

richmoy said...

This is my first post, but I've been reading this blog religiously since the beginning of the summer. I'm definitely among the "1 out of however many" group. Just sent everything out for Nonfiction at Iowa. Sarah Lawrence, Columbia, New Hampshire, Arizona, Arizona State and Hunter will go out after the new year.

Thanks for this blog. It has been a huge help!

Jesse Thiessen said...

Mangomo: Don't fret about the deadline, Columbia only needs a postmark of January 2. Check it:

Mangomo said...

Hey Folks! Thanks for all the advice! In all my glorious panic yesterday, I emailed Columbia asking what to do if a letter got accidentally unsealed and this is what I got:


Though we trust that this was a mishap, we must receive an original
signed and sealed recommendation-- to prevent people from sending
false recommendations. The waiver is really just in case people
request to have their recommendations sent back to them

Best, Admissions

So that's that! Hopefully this is the only glitch in my process!

eLily said...

welcome all the new posters (katie, mangomo, wahida, emerald, richmoy) It's good to have you around–– questions/concerns about particular program specifics and online application statuses etc. are usually best answered by other applicants, so the more the merrier.

Wahida said...

Hi Michelle, we must have similar tastes! Thanks for the update about the Michener site, because I was wondering about that myself. About the Cornell site, I went to check, but I'm not sure the left column really means they've received those things? Besides saying "Transcripts Rec'd" etc, it says "TOEFL Rec'd," and I didn't take the TOEFL. I'm wondering if that left column is just listing the different requirements. Anyway, good luck, and feel free to message me if you want to talk about applications still left to go...

Hi eLily, thanks for the welcome.

leslie said...

the university of oregon SOP is frustrating me. i have little to say about specific reasons to study with their faculty, and always worry about listing my literary influences. what if i love virginia woolfe and my reader despises her? ughhh.
so close to done though. the uofo letter and the umass student essay edit are the last two things before sending all off on monday.

Nikolai said...

Emerald -

I was speaking of University of Washington. They have a critical writing requirement.

Didn't mean to freak you out!

Alex Pollack said...

I'm almost done, but have a few lingering forms (and a recommender who I hope can trust...)

Applying to Creative Nonfiction for:
UNC Wilmington
University of Central Florida
Florida International

I just got back from teaching English in Korea, and I'm jobless so...I'm looking for a gig because who knows what will happen with this MFA stuff. I know they say you should apply to more schools...I'm taking my chances. Want to stay in the southeast...

Good luck everybody! And if there's anybody out there applying to the schools above or in creative nonfiction in general, feel free to visit my blog and give me a holler. We can worry together!

Jennifer said...

I can finally write again.

I sent all of my apps in before Thanksgiving, and I was working really hard on my app stories up until then (I wrote them specifically for the apps). But after I sent the apps in I was super burned out from working so hard on those stories and from writing all of those darn statements of purpose and teaching statements that I haven't been writing at all since then. Until finally I began I new story this weekend.

Did anybody else have this happen? I'm just getting back into my habit of writing every morning now.

Katie Darby said...


I'm doing the opposite, actually. I'm on self-imposed 'sabbatical' for the next month because I feel like everything I was writnig was starting to sound the same; I'm forcing myself to only write bare bones if I have an idea so that I can go back to it fresh. I wish I was writing, but I know I need to breathe, too.

tony g. said...

I'm applying for fiction to:

Johns Hopkins

So far, only Iowa, Hollins and Johns Hopkins are done.

Adrienne said...

So, only about a week after discovering I made several typos to one of the stories in my writing sample I'd already sent out, I discover a typo in the FIRST LINE of my personal statement that I already sent to SEVEN SCHOOLS! I proofread. I really do. How do I keep making these mistakes? I can only hope that admissions committees won't reject me based on my random bouts of idiocy.

marsupial said...

To those applying to Irvine: have you received back in the mail your self-addressed, stamped postcard that you had to include in the packet? I'm assuming it was so they could let you know your application was received. I sent mine in the day before Thanksgiving and have yet to get the postcard. I realize it's still very early after the deadline, but 'tis the season to start getting paranoid about applications not reaching their destinations.

Jennifer said...

Marsupial, I got my Irvine postcard back a while back, but my app was in at least three weeks before the deadline.

Deja said...


My app to Irvine was sent in the week before Thanksgiving and I received my postcard back during the first week of December (about 10 days after they received my app).

eLily said...

Adrienne, it's very easy to make those mistakes. Proofreading your own work is a tricky thing because, to an extent, you've memorized your own work––you know what words follow which in each sentence––so you fly right over typos and other errors. (Believe me, I've done it. I think we've all done it.)

That's why it's important to have other people proof your work before you send it out.

But, all in all, if Admissions loves your writing, I don't think they'll hold it against you. So don't fret.

Clayton Clark said...

I'm on Oso's side at the moment.

2/15 apps done and paid for. But that will be 5/15 by the end of the week. I'm still going incremental with my app schedule. I had a scare last week with an MIA professor/recommender. It took him 2.5 months to write and send my letter.

Done: Wisconsin, OSU
Still to do: illinois, minnesota, wash u, indiana, purdue, southern illinois, VCU, old dominion, vanderbilt, UMSL, LSU, Arkansas, and Alabama.

I don't remember who said it, but yes, Arkansas is the model to follow. Turn in the writing sample and worry about the rest if they like it.

Anonymous said...

wow, i think i'm going to have incomplete applications. it seems to me my last recommender has let me down. he had over two months to write the letter and he is also well aware that today is the last day he can send it in for one of my schools. he never gave me any indication that he wouldn't be able to write it. he was very thankful for my polite reminders. i have and have never had any other people to ask to write the recommendation. this is very disappointing. however, two rec letters are in and the school with a dec. 15th deadline does say on their website they will review incomplete applications. hopefully what i have on file is enough to be competitive.

Katie Darby said...


That really, really sucks. I came really close to the wire with one of my recommenders (he finally sent them off Friday), and I know how scary that is. Good luck, and I hope it goes well, regardless.

This Is Wanderlust said...

UC Irvine and UC San Diego are out...

Still gotta pack up the Vanderbilt, Iowa, SDSU, CSULB, and Penn State applications.

Good luck, everyone. And, honestly, have a great holiday. Maybe get a little anti-cave tan to boot??

farren said...

Hey everyone! I just wanted to share last night's hilarious (and timely!) nightmare. I dreamed that Seth Abramson put together a ranked list of the top 100 MFA APPLICANTS--predictably, I was not on it.

I imagine I'll have a few more of these querulous nightmares before mid-march. Guh!

Anonymous said...

So my last recommender just emailed me and told me he sent the rec. letter out a week ago and his messages trying to inform me somehow were not getting through. So i was panicking for nothing. all is well.
i'm done, done, done. it's official.

goodluck everyone!

Mozelle said...

Adrienne - Same thing happened to me and I had a professor proof my letter! I sent it to four places. I was able to get hold of two of the schools and the nice folks there said they would swap out what I sent with a corrected version I emailed them. One school was (smartly, probably) avoiding the phone, and one I considered a lost cause because they announce admissions next month.

I am consoling myself with the wise words of several people on this site who have said that the admissions folks will most likely read the manuscript first, and if they like it, they'll "ignore" typos. Also, I'm taking a, "I don't want to be friends with them," stance on programs who, even if they like my writing, chuck me out for a typo. There's not enough Zoloft in the world to deal with a program in which having a typo is a metaphorical life or death situation.

Perhaps you and I should start a club: the First Line Typo Club.

Adrienne said...


I think we may have to.

PARTISAN said...

Is anyone else SO over reading your writing example? This application process has me so beat that I'm not even feeling the overwhelming cloud of self-doubt, but more of an "ehhhhh....I can't care anymore," about these same 15 poems. I simply cannot look at them. For. A. Long. Time.

While I know I'm just reacting to the sheer exhaustion that accompanies the application process, I can't even begin to get excited about notification time. Anyone else coasting on autopilot these days?

Calgon, take me away...

Courtney said...

Yes! Ok, Brown's application is finally out in the world. I swore to myself up and down that I was going to complete these things well before the deadlines--not like everything else I've ever done ever in my life, ever. Damnit! Im a deadline junkie--I have to have the pressure! I can just see myself locked in a room on New Year's Eve holding my breath before I click submit for the next batch of these puppies.
Lawdy. Anyone one else know they're uncontrollably doomed to wait until the last minute?

Sara--if I have to read all 36 pages of my sample one more time, I will projectile vomit. Completely over it!

Anonymous said...

i've been looking at my sample obsessively. Every time i feel like i'm not good enough to get into a program I look at my writing sample to remind myself that i am. maybe it's strange to draw encouragement from your own writing but it's been working for me.

JayTee said...

yeah, about the writing sample anxiety, I find that when I sit and THINK about my sample I end up convincing myself that my writing sucks and I won't get in anywhere. But then when I actually READ it, I feel better...mostly. I still have fears of not getting in anywhere but it helps a little.

Abbie said...

Adrienne and AKZombie - I'm in the same boat as you. First line of my writing sample: typo. The only two typos in the entire 30 pages were in the first paragraph. I caught it in time to fix it for 10 of the schools I'm applying to, but the first...lost cause. I just hope they keep reading through that first paragraph.

e/m said...

My UC Irvine application is done and out- but guess what? I did forget to include the SASE postcard.

I am trying to get the following schools out this week:

Sarah Lawrence
NC at wilmington
New Hampshire
UC Riverside

My manuscript is done- I have even written new things to add- but the self doubt is creeping in...blargh.

Mangomo said...

marsupial: I just received my SASE from Irvine and I sent my application out last week on Tuesday or Wednesday.

elily: thanks for the welcome! freaking out with everyone is so much more fun than freaking out alone!

insertbrackets said...

I am totally with you. However, it seems that I have memorized most of the poems in my sample, so now I am annoying everyone from my friends to casual acquaintances with my ability to recite them from memory. What a dark day. Actually, it's raining in LA, so that's not too unrealistic a description :-D

Last night I was just looking at some poems I wrote, but forget that I had written, over the last few days versus poems I wrote three years ago for my first workshop. Nothing pleases me more than seeing how much I've grown in the last few years (and honestly, in the last few months)!

All I can say is I'm ready to forget this nightmare and spend my winter break reading me some Juliana Spaar. Time to reacquaint myself with the majesty of contemporary American poetry! Ha-cha!

Congrats to all who turned in apps today. From here on out, it should be a lot less frightening...I hope!

Emerald Green said...

I agree RE: writing samples...I simply can't stand to read any of them any time soon. I had the unfortunate experience of hearing back from two respected (but tardy) readers this weekend--after I sent out the samples--telling me they would have changed the point of view, main character, ending--take your pick. That was slightly unnerving, but I'm just trying to focus on the positive feedback I got prior to popping them in the mail!!

Anonymous said...

To anyone who's completed the Minnesota application:

Is there any supplemental financial aid application or information to provide (to English or grad school)? The online application's "have you applied or are you applying for financial aid" gives me the feeling that I've missed some link or webpage in the backwaters of the MN website.


Emily said...

Oso, I didn't see anything like that on the Minnesota website.

Adrienne said...

AKZombie & Speculations-

I feel like we need to start an effing Facebook group. Completely sad and ridiculous of us. Pity party!!


And I am totally over this whole application thing as well. I'm sick of talking/writing/reading about myself and my writing. I'm ready for this process to be over so I can like writing again and actually maintain some self-esteem.

Caitlin said...

i have found this whole process a little disheartening. two of my three letter writers have been incredibly difficult. i am having to re-send one set of letters because they forgot to sign the flap. i was also given a copy of the letter and there are several typos. i don't feel like anyone in my life truly "gets" what this is all about. it's nice to have a place where i know others take this as seriously as i do.

michelle said...

Me too, Adrienne!

I have a teaching statement to finish and then I will be done talking about myself. I'll only have UMASS's critique and expository essay.

I feel completely unable to write anything. Right this minute I'm struggling to write a thank you note to my recommenders that doesn't sound like my SoP. Yikes.

Warren said...


insertbrackets said...

Oso, I think all Minnesota would want is the FASFA, but I expect that is a given for all schools. As a current financial aid recipient, I fill out every year anyway.

They didn't have a supplemental aid document, or even a TA application, so that's all I can presume.

Emily DePrang said...

I have so many more panic-stricken questions after reading the comments here.

1. 16 schools??? How do you people have the money to pay $2000 in application fees and stamps??

2. Any other creative nonfiction people out there? Wanna holla and say where you're applying? I've seen, like, two of us.

3. The New School is well-ranked, at least for non-fiction, and I've seen nobody here applying to it. Do you know something I don't?

4. What financial aid app for Iowa??

As for me, I'm applying to seven schools. I've got Iowa and The New School done, and I'm waiting on rec letters so I can send Penn, Arizona, New Mexico, Hollins, and Montana.

I'm trying to wrap it up by Christmas so I can enjoy my holiday.

Thank God for this blog. When I talk to my friends about grad school they look at me with dead eyes.


Md23Rewls said...

Awesome blog, it's really helped me with a lot of the nagging questions I've had regarding various things. As for application process, I've been a bit behind the ball, but thankfully the only deadline I really had to rush on is Iowa's non-fiction program. Just got everything sent out to them on Friday. As for the rest, I'm applying in non-fiction to:

Eastern Washington

I sort of wish I had a few others on there, but six is a solid enough number, no?

Md23Rewls said...

Pigeoninthesun, I'm a creative non-fiction guy (although I thought seriously about applying in poetry for a little while). Looks like we're applying to three of the same places.

trout said...

i just wanted to point out (in case anyone missed this) that the arkansas application isn't quite as easy and rad as it seems. while it seems to just be asking you to send 3 copies of your writing sample, if you read on, it also requires in the envelope a graduate assistance application which asks for a critical writing sample, a teaching statement, plus the usual transcripts, gre's, letters, etc. while they don't make you fill out the laborious, tedious actual application, they're still asking a lot here in this first round-- actually, more than many of the other schools. i thought for a while that this would be the easiest application process, but upon closer examination, it's really not.

anyway, 5 applications out, 10-ish to go. fun times!!

JayTee said...

Hi Pigeon,

Since 16 schools is the exact number I'm applying to I'll answer your question. I have the money because I work and have known for 2 years that I wanted to do an MFA so I started saving. I'm not rich, by any means, so I'm desperate for funding so I applied to as many funded programs as I could but those seem to be the most competitive so I added some other good schools with less funding. I wouldn't have felt comfortable applying to less schools so I worked my ass off to make applying to 16 schools happen. My application fees are a small investment if they save me from spending tons of money on an MFA degree.

Katie Darby said...

Hey Pigeon,

I started saving last year-- and I applied for fee waivers at most of the schools I applied to. (Sad day: I am poor enough that many of them were granted.) I only applied to twelve programs, but it was a managable expense because of my "fund" and my poverty, haha. :)

Babelle said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bess said...

Hey, pigeon! I'm a CNF too, though it looks like the only school we have in common is Montana, where I live. I'm only applying to 4 schools. I have read about fee waivers, but I thought they were only available if you had already applied there in the past. Too late now, damn!

But also I have 3 kids and only applied where I would want to live with them. Big cities are not my thing, and if I'm moving out of state I want to go south or Washington (I looooove rain).

Anyway, hit me up on my blog if you want. It's a very meager blog so far as I just started a couple months ago.

Good to see other CNF applicants! I'm not as stressed as some, probably because I only have 4 apps to worry about.

Adrienne said...


I was really hoping to finish all of my apps by Thursday, which is the day I go home to my dial-up connection for winter break. However, my laptop started having serious malfuctions. I took it to the computer center on campus and they are going to have to have it longer than they expected because they have to WIPE OUT THE ENTIRE THING. Luckliy, they said they'd back up all of my files, which I am glad of. It was so messed up that I was only able to back up my homework, writng, and graduate school materials before I took it in to them. They said they'll take care of my pictures and music for me, which is a relief.

BUT that means until then I am stuck on my old, ancient laptop that I can't trust to keep a window open long enough for me to fill out any apps. My sister/roommate has a laptop she's been letting me use sometimes but she needs it for a big group project in her communications class most of the time.

It's all stressing me out. Doing it at home is going to take forever because instead of ethernet, I'll be doing it on a dial-up connection. STRESS!

I should, though, stop talking about this and study for my Shakespeare: Histories and Tragedies final that I have at 3.

Emerald Green said...

I feel your pain. My hard drive died right before Thanksgiving and I didn't back up anything. (Who ever heard of a one year old Macbook dying??). I had just emailed my sister the first draft of one of my stories, so I was able to recover something. Thank God for Gmail. I now back up my writing daily. =)

Unknown said...

Yesterday I finished my applications for Brown and Cornell at 10:30pm after editing and editing my writing sample for 24 hours. I have been reading everyone's comment and I just wanted to respond quickly as I can to some of them. This blog and the comments have helped me along the way, so here's my two cents.

1. To avoid typos in my work, (because I always make them) I sent my writing sample and personal statement to four friends. Living in a city with so many writers many of them were trilled to edit my work because it helps with theirs. I also hired an editor who happened to be my friend and she really worked hard on my writing sample. She gave me a break on the price.

2. To shape up my writing sample and improve my writing, I took several writing workshops months in advance of deadlines. And during this process, I met with a couple writing friends bi-weekly for brunch, writing and critiques.

3. For my personal statement, I tried to talk about each faculty's work though I never read the entire book. I read book excerpts, interviews, etc to give me a sense of their writing. And I google each faculty of all the universities that I am applying too.

4. My most favorite line in my writing sample and personal statement I chucked because it was more about vanity ( Yo, know that words that sounds really good, and leave you thinking i'm a good writer?) these words actually made my text weak.

5. 10 Schools. 1 Editor. 13 Transcripts. 4 Writing Workshops. This MFA application is costing me a lot but I figure it's will be wort it when I get accepted to the schools of my choice. Earlier this year, I was riding my bike and this guy ran the red light and knocked me over. Because of his mishap, I was able to pay for all this from his insurance. If this didn't happened, I would of applied to 5 schools.

Md23Rewls said...

One thing that's made the process much easier for me is that I haven't had to worry about the writing sample much. I wrote a personal essay last spring that won an award from the University of Idaho (U of I has an awesome English program--if anybody's applying for an MFA here, I think you'll love the teachers). I revised the essay over the summer just to keep working on it, then I started thinking about MFA programs in September and the piece naturally fit.

Personal statement on the other hand. . .ugh, that thing has been annoying me to no end. I'm confident in my writing and think I'm going to be successful in an MFA program, but it feels really weird to have to sell myself via the personal statement.

Katie Darby said...

MD23Rewls: I actually got into Idaho last year, but couldn't swing it financially, so I'm applying again this year. It's good to hear that-- I'm in the Midwest, and almost no one out here has any information on them at all! Did you go there for undergrad or just meet them through the competition? I'd love to hear about your experience.

Good luck with the personal statements!

Md23Rewls said...

Katie, I'm just finishing up my senior year at Idaho this week. Graduated on Saturday. First, Moscow is a really nice college town. Pretty much everything is in walking distance and it's pretty laid back. I'm going to miss the atmosphere here. As for the program, I've gotten to know some of the professors pretty well. In particular, Brandon Schrand (who just came out with a memoir and is really starting to gain momentum as a published writer) and Joy Passanante (who has been teaching here a long time) are both people I've worked extensively with on my non-fiction.

Joy and Bob Wrigley are the two big poetry profs. I've taken more poetry courses than anything else--I actually took the grad level poetry course from Joy last spring because she offered it to me. Wrigley is pretty flamboyant. Some people don't like him because he has a pretty sharp edge, but he really knows what he's talking about and I have a good sense of humor, so I enjoyed his style. Daniel Orozco is the main fiction guy. I just took my first course from him this semester. He hits things pretty hard in workshop. I haven't had the chance to take courses from Mary Clearman Blew or Kim Barnes, sadly, but I hear they're both great teachers.

They're all very open and attentive. God knows I've bugged them with enough random writing questions over the years, haha. I can't say enough about Schrand or Passanante, though. Those two have been such great helps with my writing. Any other questions about the program, just holler at me.

Katie Darby said...

:) Thanks so much! I know this sounds new-agey and silly, but I just got a feeling from my dealings with the program-- mostly through Brandon Schrand, actually-- that it was a good place to be, but I hadn't really heard from any students. I really appreciate your help! (I'm applying in poetry.)

Katie Darby said...

MD23Rewls: Congratulations, by the way! :)

MC said...


If it means anything, I second MD23Rewls's comments on the MFA at the University of Idaho--especially in regards to poetry. Robert Wrigley is a remarkable poet, and very little is quite as beautiful as Moscow and the Palouse. I currently have a friend attending who has only positive things to say about the program. My best wishes to you and to all of you preparing to take that deep breath before the responses start pouring in...

eLily said...

I think the Weekend Edition was a success (short-lived, but, as is every weekend.)

Take follow-up and all new discussion to the new mailbag.

Anonymous said...

Okay, I just found out about this blog today. Ive ONLY applied to University of Michigan, Virginia, San Fran, and Miami. Everyone makes me feel like I should apply to more. AHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!! I had been seriously thinking about Penn State but wasnt sure. And UMASS (Their deadlines are the 15th)What to do what to do???? And I wasnt that nervous at first, but now I feel like dying!!! I think Ill apply, right now!

JonesyCA said...

Hi All,

I've been a silent participant for some time here, and it's been quite encouraging to read the posts as I've been trudging through the application process (what a process!). This is my THIRD time applying.

The first time I applied, I was a freshman in college working toward my BA in Literary Writing. I only applied to one school and was accepted. (amazing, right?) Silly and immature as I as, I decided not to attend, not even to defer a year, because I had no guidance and as I saw my college years closing, all I could focus on was the supposedly insurmountable debt that I was incurring and how much I missed my home state.

The second time I applied, I decided to try 3 schools all in the same state: Cal Arts (asked me to please apply again once I'd gained more life experience), Cal State Long Beach (did not get accepted due to technicality - make sure ALL your materials get in on time!!!), UCI (my DREAM school at the time - dumped).

Fast forward many I am. Trying "one last time" and trying, above all, to get it right this time. I find myself at the witching hour finalizing the package to send to the very last school and I'm having some See's and wine...yippeeeee! Because I am DONE with applications. Whew! Methinks I'll be celebrating ALL weekend. Here are my choices this go-round:

U of AZ
U of OR
Texas State, San Marcos

I opted NOT to take the GRE again, even though my scores were good the first time. That was 5 years ago. My question is, how does NOT taking the GRE factor into TAship decisions? Does it matter much at all?

And for the rest of you out there...are any of you that are going back after years outside of academia quite nervous about it? Are you feeling even the slightest bit hesitant about leaving your comfort zone (i.e. family, friends, places of residence) for this adventure?

Thanks!!! :-)

Warren said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
JonesyCA said...

OOPS! I meant, I was a SENIOR in college working toward my BA in Literary Writing when I was accepted. Sorry about that!

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