[NB: See here for more information about what this is].
Participants (11) *
Florida State University
Diana J. Joseph
Minnesota State University at Mankato
University of North Carolina at Greensboro
Georgia College & State University
Poetry and Creative Nonfiction Faculty/Director
Queens University of Charlotte
Virginia Tech University
Dinty W. Moore
Fiction/Creative Nonfiction Faculty
Creative Nonfiction Faculty/Co-Director
* Current MFA faculty who are not listed here are nevertheless invited to join in the conversation. Please make sure you provide your name, university, and genre in your first post.
1. The comment-field below is intended only for faculty. The reason for this is two-fold: first, the questions for the faculty have been pre-selected, and we want to avoid a free-for-all in which applicants overwhelm faculty members with new questions; second, we want the thread to be easy for blog-users to navigate, which it won't be if it's hard to distinguish between faculty-posters and applicant-posters. Faculty should of course feel free to engage one another as well as the questions posed.
2. The faculty have been invited to answer whichever questions they choose. A large pool of questions has been provided, so it's by no means expected that faculty members will answer every question posed. We're grateful for any and all responses faculty are able to give, and invite the faculty to come back to this thread as often as they like to answer questions (as we expect this thread, and all of the Forums, will be archived and read/re-read many times by current and future applicants).
3. Questions have been stream-lined, as sometimes the same question was submitted in several slightly varying forms. While most of the questions in this first Forum are geared specifically toward the application process, it's expected that, as time goes on, more of the questions will be oriented toward the actual "in-program" MFA experience. The questions below are ordered roughly from most-asked to least-asked.
Questions for Discussion
1. What is your program's process for reviewing applications?
2. Is there any common application mistake which, in itself, would preclude an application from being accepted?
3. Is there anything else, besides the writing sample, that can really set an applicant out from the pack and significantly affect his/her chances of admission?
4. On average, what percentage of applicants find themselves seriously in contention for admission?
5. In reading applications, do you try to "balance" your program? Meaning, do you simply choose the best of the best, or do you look at the existing class and weigh how people will interact with one another? Do you want writers of different skill levels and ages? How much of the admissions process involves finding matches for particular professors' aesthetics? How does diversity factor into the decision process?
6. What do most people do the year after they graduate from your program?
7. What are you looking for in a writing sample? For instance, is raw talent preferred over present polish, or vice versa?
8. How are students prepared for their teaching assistantships, and (in your experience) do these assistantships ever become so time-consuming they impact students' ability/time to write?
9. How much time do faculty members commit to students in your program? How would you describe the relationship/dynamic between faculty and students?
10. What makes for a good workshopper, versus a not-so-good one?
11. What are some of the most common writing mistakes or faults in both applicants' and first-year MFA students' work? If you could impart some wisdom to someone who's at one of these two stages, what would it be?
12. What do you think is the best feature of your program? What would you most like to change, or are you hoping to change, about your program?
[NB: On behalf of the blog and its users, I'd just like to thank all the faculty members for participating!].