Friday, September 07, 2012

Mailbag, Friday Sept. 7, 2012

Keep the questions, support, rants, vents, and ideas coming!

38 comments:

wild d said...

Hello,
Just hoping to hear a few things about Portland State's MFA and University of Oregon's. I'd be applying for fiction in either case—I'll probably limit my application to these schools as they're the two programs I could do without moving my fiancee away from a terrific job. Anybody know how students enjoy these programs, and how they find the faculty?

Skoora said...

I am going to apply for grad school this week (by next Friday) and I've narrowed down my interests to three low residency programs: Solstice @ Pine Manor College (Massachusetts); Naropa University (Colorado); and Queens University of Charlotte (North Carolina). I'm wondering if anyone has information - pros and cons - for these schools. My focus is fiction. Any applying advice would be much appreciated.

Natasha said...

I'm researching Playwriting MFA programs. While many are connected to Creative Writing departments, as a whole the programs are divergent. Most of the resources I've come across are specifically focused on Creative Writing programs. What are the best resources you've heard of for researching playwriting programs?

Secondly, what are the pros and cons of 2- vs. 3-year programs? I know that for playwriting, there is usually a final production in the third year. Would I be at a disadvantage if I chose a 2-year program?

Liz said...

Would love feedback about nonfiction programs at Iowa, Minnesota at Minneapolis, UNC Wilmington, Hollins, UNH, Arizona, LSU, Wyoming, Montana, OSU, LSU, Notre Dame, Pitt, Columbia . . . the list goes on. Who out there is in a nonfiction program and wants to share? Convince me to apply to your school--or to avoid it!

Dani said...

Hey all,
I've been checking out this blog for the past couple of days and since I'm starting my grad school applications, I figured I would see what information I could get from some grad school applicant veterans :)

Does anyone have any information or experience with fiction programs or in general with these schools:

NYU
Brooklyn College
Boston University
University of Massachusetts- Amherst
University of Massachusetts- Boston
Roosevelt University
Indiana University
Wichita State University
Butler University
San Diego State University
University of California- Riverside

I've done my research on these schools, but I feel like there is always more to know. So if anyone can help me out with any information about these schools, I would greatly appreciate it :)

Thanks!
Dani

Blue said...

Hi! I was just wondering if anyone knows why Georgia State's MFA program is ranked so low (or rather, not ranked in the top 100 at all) according to Poets and Writers... The website makes the program look pretty good. Are students not fully funded? Is it because the program is less focused on workshop than most?

Blue said...

Correction on previous post: Georgia State is ranked 96.

Special K said...

@Liz if by OSU you mean Oregon State, I visited there because I happened to be in the area and the faculty and students were so nice. The faculty literally walked me around campus and showed me around, and the students took me to lunch. The CNF department is small but growing. Definitely got good vibes from that place.

Dan B. said...

Hello everyone!

I'll be attending a low-residency program for fiction in the winter, one of either Fairfield (where I've been accepted), USM's Stonecoast, Warren Wilson, or SNHU. I was wondering if anybody had any thoughts on the etiquette of asking for more time to make a decision. Fairfield asks that all materials for enrollment be received in their office by October 1st, but I'd like to at least hear back from all of the schools before I make a decision, and I'm not sure that will happen soon enough. I suppose I should just shoot Fairfield an e-mail and say precisely that -- it must be a common dilemma, right?

Also, if any alumni or fellow applicants have any thoughts or tips on these programs (or low-res programs in general), I'd appreciate if you shared them! It's so tough to choose with so many great faculty members and opportunities at every school...

RJ22 said...

Hi everyone,

Does anyone know of any full-residency programs that are novel-friendly, i.e. they encourage novel excerpt submissions during workshop or have novel-writing workshops, they have strong novelists in the faculty, etc.? I know UNC Wilmington is one such program, for example.

Also, if you know of any schools that are the complete opposite, please let me know as well.

Thanks in advance!

RJ

RJ22 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Laura Silverman said...

I'm working on choosing and revising my writing samples to apply to some MFA programs, and I was wondering, is there anywhere that I can find example writing samples?

I know that sounds a bit silly, but do any schools post examples of past applications they've accepted? I think I'm a good writer, and I've been writing my whole life, but so have a lot of other people, so I just want to know if I'm completely out of my depth and don't know it.

Liz said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Liz said...

@Special K, thanks for the insight. I was referring to Ohio State, but it's awesome to hear about programs that seem so positive.

@Laura, have you looked on the programs' websites for their literary journals? I assume they'd give you a good idea of what the schools like.

Emily said...

I second Liz with a desire to hear more about nonfiction program options. The post dedicated to nonfiction programs is a bit outdated.

Emily said...

I second Liz with a desire to hear more about nonfiction program options. The post dedicated to nonfiction programs is a bit outdated.

Guerrilla Girls On Tour said...

I am in my first semester at Queens University Charlotte. I chose the program because it had a larger student body (there are about 80 of us) the faculty is also large and diverse and the cost is lower than most low res. I was accepted for both playwriting and nonfiction (another plus for me). The program also works off a workshop model in the distance learning portion - there are 3 other writers in my pod and I have to read and critique their work as well. I like this aspect very much. I'm really very happy at Queens and recommend it. I applied to 4 programs and was accepted at 3. Once I got the first acceptance I emailed the other 3 and asked for them to let me know the status of my application as I had another offer. They all got back to me within a week. I'd be happy to talk to anyone about QU!

Silas Hansen said...

Hi @Liz (or anyone else applying to Ohio State), I'm a 3rd year in nonfiction and would be happy to answer questions. Shoot me an email at silas [dot] writes @ gmail.

Edwin said...

I've been doing a lot of research into MFA's, but I haven't heard much about overseas programs. Can anyone tell me about UK MFA's, or guide me to a place that does? I'd like to be able to compare the experiences I might get with on in the US.

Kayleigh said...

Hi all, I am starting work on my applications and hoping to tick a few things off the to-do list. Is it safe to send transcript and GRE scores this early, or is there a chance they'd get lost if sent in too far ahead of the rest of the application?

TheIronCage said...

Kayleigh,

You can go ahead and sent your GRE scores and transcripts. Schools will typically begin a file for you and add to it as the rest of your materials trickle in.

Jen said...

Hi,
Although I'm not in an MFA program I do write (fiction) as a hobby. Any recommendations for textbooks or books on creative writing? Thanks in advance.

TheIronCage said...

Jen,

http://www.amazon.com/

mackie said...

I'm writing my personal statement, and I'm trying to decide if I can mention fan fiction without hurting my chances at acceptance. I had writer's block for years before fan fiction helped knock me out of it, and it, along with the fandom community, has been a big part of my life as a writer the past few years. I'm just not sure how admissions committees feel about it. My writing sample is (or will be, once I've finished writing it) all original work, but if I'm talking about who I am as a writer and how I got here, I feel like I have to mention it. Thoughts?

NiniJD said...

Jen, I just started The Portable MFA in Creative Writing. While it is super cynical about MFA's (which is not a great mind set for me) I think it does offer some helpful and motivating advice and useful tools. I have read a number of books like this though, and I still don't find anything to improve my writing as much as just reading contemporary short story collections or lit journals. But, I would recommend The Portable MFA if you want something that offers more clearcut "teaching" of writing.

Jen said...

@NiniJD Thanks much! I'll look into that book.

Perpetual Pilgrim said...

Hello all,

I am currently in the process of reaching poetry MFA's. I'm interested in something a little off the normal track - I am interested in having room to study world literature and foreign languages more than in having a great deal of required English courses. So I am looking for programs that either a) offer that as some sort of potential emphasis or b) are very flexible with their electives and don't have loads of required courses.

What are the most flexible (residential) programs out there, off-hand?

Blue said...

Hi! Is it too late to post on this thread? I am filling out applications for next fall, and I have a question about recommendations. So far, I have asked a teacher/mentor who has taught and worked with me in an online fiction writing program over the past two years. I have also asked one of my undergrad professors. I am trying to decide about the third. I could ask another undergrad prof. I went to a good school and did well as an English major, but I was not doing a great deal of formal creative writing then, and it has been six years since undergrad.
Should I ask someone who can speak more to my abilities now? I teach high school, and a colleague could vouch for me being the kind of person who follows through and works hard. Or I could ask a friend—the leader of the writing group I attend monthly. The only thing about these two options is that they aren't associated with an institution... Would it be better to stick with a traditional college professor? Any advice? Thank you!

Sinéad said...

Edwin, not sure if you're still checking this thread, but I'm at an MFA program in the UK. I'm at Kingston University in the suburbs of London. Www.kingston.ac.uk

You can also see our MFA blog at:
Www.NoDeadWhiteMen.wordpress.com

I haven't done a US MFA program, but it seems different to the ones I looked at in that it's more self-directed. Also, you are encouraged to write across genres through a series of optional, not-for-credit events and workshops.

Bret said...

Hello,
I'm interested in applying to low-residential Playwriting MFA programs for next fall. After looking at all available options, it appears to me that pretty much all programs are going to cost me at least thirty-five/forty thousand when all is said and done (tuition, travel, room and board, etc.) While a few programs have some token scholarships (i.e., one to two thousand dollars), there do not appear to be any programs that offer their students anything of a substantial nature.

I guess my question is this, "Are all low-residency MFA programs essentially 'Cash Cows'?"

Granted, low residential students generally can't be Teaching Assistants; however, there seems to be residential programs that offer a 'full ride' without having to TA.

Maybe I'm just missing something. Are there any low-residential MFA programs that offer substantial scholarship money for their students on the basis of merit? And if not, why not?

Jennifer Moffitt said...

Greetings!

I'm applying to all the Florida schools (sans FAU) for fiction - my husband works from home and can move anywhere in the state, so this would obviously be the easiest move for us. But since this only makes six schools, I'd like to apply to a few out of the state to round out my chances, just in case I got in somewhere great that motivated us to make a move =)

I don't know where to begin though - I've been reading lots of books and articles and suggestions, but narrowing it down is tough, aside from the obvious heavy hitters that I could apply to just for the privilege of receiving a rejection on their letterhead.

Any guidance would be much appreciated!!!

Jennifer Moffitt said...

Greetings!

I'm applying to all the Florida schools (sans FAU) for fiction - my husband works from home and can move anywhere in the state, so this would obviously be the easiest move for us. But since this only makes six schools, I'd like to apply to a few out of the state to round out my chances, just in case I got in somewhere great that motivated us to make a move =)

I don't know where to begin though - I've been reading lots of books and articles and suggestions, but narrowing it down is tough, aside from the obvious heavy hitters that I could apply to just for the privilege of receiving a rejection on their letterhead.

Any guidance would be much appreciated!!!

Liz said...

Hi all,

I am trying to write a resume to submit, and I'm trying to find good examples. Does anyone know of a good template to use? I've written resumes, but for job applications, and I'm not sure how to order this one.

samw said...

Hi,
I am currently an undergraduate, and I am interested in a Creative Writing MFA. However, the school I am attending does not have creative writing as major. I am planning on majoring in english with a minor in creative writing. How would programs view this? Does it hurt my chances?

SEAN777 said...

@samw

first and foremost programs care about your writing sample, everything else is secondary

if you send them a manuscript that blows them away, nothing else really matters for the most part

so you don't need to worry, not being able to major in creative writing should not hurt your chances

although I would suggest you start thinking now about which instructors/professors you want to write recommendations for you

If possible I would suggest one or more of the recommendations come from a CW professor or instructor

good luck!

mfawritergirl said...

Hi MFA Bloggers,
Long time lurker, first time commentor.
So I finally pulled the trigger and applied to my first couple of low residency programs, AND just got my first rejection (despite the lurking and reading all about it, it hurt). Anyway my question is, the letter was really really vague and from the Graduate school and NOT the creative writing program, so woud it be ok to reach out to the admissions counselor had been working with to ask for some specific feedback? I'm assuming they just didn't like my sample, so I will be lookig at it some more, but if its not that, I would liike to know. Anyone have any thoughts/experience with this?

Thanks!

Liz said...

@mfawritergirl--wow, that is alarming. I don't want regular admissions counselors being the ones who ultimately judge my writing sample. Please let us know what you find out.

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