Sunday, November 30, 2008

New Mailbag--Dec 1, 2008

With deadlines approaching quickly and the old mailbag bursting at the seams, it's time to get a new one going.

No frills, no spills.

Just space for all your MFA-related questions and comments.


1 – 200 of 202   Newer›   Newest»
insertbrackets said...

Yay I am first with my overblown / obligatory update! I am sure you are all tired of hearing about me, but here it goes:

After suffering through a week-long period of self-doubt and depression, I feel rejuvenated by my mother's delicious stuffing, and have found my confidence once again! My final list of schools is as follows: Brown, Cornell, Florida, Indiana, Iowa, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio State, Oregon, Washington, and Wisconsin. I ended up adding two more programs than I initially planned to apply to in order to have a total of twelve schools. I feel satisfied with my choices and I think it is a good spread of different, yet difficult to get into, schools.

So, as far as the process goes, here is where I am at:
*I have paid for and submitted 8/12 applications. Florida, Iowa, Oregon and Washington are still pending.
*2/3 of my letters have been sent by my lovely recommenders.
*I have sent all 19 of my rather expensive transcripts too!
*The Personal Statements, Teaching Statements, Creative Writing Samples, and Critical Writing Samples have all been written, and Teaching Applications have been filled out.

This is my last week of class, then I have finals next Monday, a story revision next Wednesday, then I am home free! I am going to try and put together my application materials and send them out by the end of next week. Holy Jesus this shizzite is nearly over!!!

Good luck and much love to ALL OF YOU!!!1

Jesse Thiessen said...

insertbrackets, we are applying to six of the same schools!

*puts up dukes*

Anyways. I am working on my apps school by school, it just seems to work with my brain a little better. As of right now, 3/12 are done. UBC and Minnesota are in the mail, and the Ohio State envelopes are sealed and getting dropped off tomorrow morning. I'm working on Columbia's right now. Indiana, Iowa, UMass, Oregon, Michener, Roosevelt, Brooklyn, and Hamline are yet to go. In that order.

My question of the day: I just decided today to apply for both fiction and non-fiction at Columbia. Is anybody else doing the dual app thing? How's it working out for you?

insertbrackets said...

You can rest you dukes my dear Jesse. It appears that we are applying in separate genres (I'm poetry)!

But if you want a fight, I WILL DESTROY YOU!

Adrienne said...

I've fallen a bit behind, but my writing sample is done, transcripts are sent out, letters of recommendations are good... All I need to do is finish some apps, tweak the personal statement a little, and send out GRE scores. For now I'm just going to just worry about the programs that have December 15 deadlines and hope that I can get it all done.

We're applying to eight of the same schools (fiction for me), so apparently we both have fabulous taste.

Joe Ireland said...

What do you all think of using resume paper for your personal statement? I figure, it makes sense, since it's sort of like a cover letter. Not sure, though...

Patti said...

Why doesn't NF get as much attention as Fiction? There are several schools that offer both, and it can be argued that with NF, the job prospects are better. I'm applying to schools that offer both, and I had to do a lot of my own research-- a lot of the schools (like University of Houston) don't even advertise they offer both.

I think there out to be a separate forum for the kinds of updates posted in the comments so that the people who do have questions don't get lost in the long mix.

Bsquared86 said...

My app update . . . I had a slow start but I think I've got the ball rolling fairly well now. I crossed one program off my list because it never felt right to me.

I'm currently fighting off little nagging questions about whether I'm fit for an MFA program. Sometimes I think I've got it all figured out and I know for sure that MFA is the way and other times I wonder if I'm crazy! LOL.

And, as I always ask . . .

Anyone applying to (or know anything about) CalArts or Otis College of Art & Design?

Thanks in advance!

mizbee said...

Totally frantic. I'm applying to Michener, Iowa, Michigan, Oregon, Florida, UNC-Greensboro and Wilmington, Virginia, St. Mary's and Boston for poetry. Recommendations, transcripts, and GREs are done, but my sample is only 3/4 finished and my statements of purpose are still in outline form. Only thing to do is breathe, think, and work.

Here's what I'm wondering: Do people think it's better to write straightforward statements in letter or traditional essay form, or to try something a little more attention-getting and interesting? My instincts are making me lean toward the latter, but I've been working as a commercial book editor for 5 years, and I think that maybe I'm just used to reading (and responding to) snazzy agent cover letters.

Thanks and good luck to all.

e/m said...

UC Irvine is out- this month I am sending out to Iowa, New Hampshire, NC at Wilmington, Brooklyn, Sara Lawrence and Minnesota in Poetry. My manuscript is good. My personal statement is straight forward but too straight forward maybe? I am applying to 10 schools nerves are killing me.

Abbie said...

After months of procrastinating, I'm finally feeling like I'm making headway:

3/12 applications paid for and submitted
9/12 read for submitting, once I finish my SOPs for those schools
11/12 writing samples printed and mailed
All GRE scores sent
All transcripts taken care of
Teaching/Fellowship applications filled out but not mailed

I found a misplaced comma on the first page of my writing sample after I submitted it to the first school. I fixed it on the copies for other schools, but I keep beating myself up over submitting that extra comma on the first application, even though it's just one comma.

Overall, it's a relief to be (almost) done with the application process, but it's a little frightening now that it's almost completely out of my hands.

Anonymous said...

Question re: Nonfiction Sample Content

In my nonfiction writing sample, I take a friendly view toward marijuana a couple times--mostly in the context of how I'm trying to gain co-worker acceptance through its occasional use. (I turn it down at times, too.)

It is far from the central theme of my sample, but should I be worried that I'm going to come off as a pothead?

Any thoughts appreciated. Thanks.

kt said...

I printed out and stapled my sample for my first three schools and just realized I didn't add my name/page number to the header. I've corrected it for the rest of the schools, but I'm worried. Do you think my poems will get separated from each other, or should I be ok?

Bess said...

Oso -

I think you'll be fine, after all we all need some kind of "medicine" to stay sane (at least that's what I might use it for), and NF is not always pretty but it is honest. I say lay it all out! I haven't gotten that far in my work but when it comes up I plan to tell it like it is.

My update:

GRE done and I did 40 points over my goal, verbal anyway.

2 LOR writers have turned them in, may have to call up my old boss and harangue him.

Finally have more time to work on writing sample and SOP.

Finally got money to pay for apps.

Talked to a student who called from Georgia, and it sounds awesome! Really hope I get in to GCSU. Except the writer I was looking forward to working with is taking a leave for the first year. Sigh.

So....almost done! If my kids every get well enough to be at daycare I can probably get done!

Good luck to all!

Kerry Headley said...


I decided to apply to programs that offer both fiction and nonfiction. I plan to base my writing samples on nonfiction. I'm not applying til next fall, but I'm curious about where you are applying, if you would be willing to share.

So far my top choices are Iowa, UNCW, Alabama and Arizona.

I tend to agree with you about the nonfiction market by the way...


leslie said...

you're all amazing me.
i'm applying to iowa, virginia, george mason, oregon, umass, michigan, unm, brown, unc, and montana for fiction.
i have most of the applications done and ridiculous fees paid, but am seriously hung up on my personal letter. i know i just need to stop over thinking and breathe, but easier said than done.
taking the gre in two weeks but decided to stop stressing about that.
one recommeder is mia, and that's freaking me out, but also pretty normal of this person; he'll probably pull through. better pull through.
ughhh, can't wait to be done!
though a nightly bottle of wine may be necessary while waiting to hear back...

bri c said...

okay alright, i have:

4/10 applications submitted (houston, michener, cornell, virginia)
GRE scores submitted
2/3 recommenders have submitted
theirs, and the third i'm haranguing tomorrow

everything else is pretty much complete, minus minnesota's extra essay.

and i FINALLY sorted my international transcript/current institution nightmare, so i can start sending out transcripts tomorrow. which means even more money flying out the window. i am going to be giving out some laaame christmas presents this year.

insertbrackets said...

Adrienne, we definitely have fabulous taste! Good luck to you.

I can commisserate with manuscript woes. I sort of turned the cornell one in ahead of the others (since they wanted it uploaded) and have since reordered and revised. I think I took out one poem, but the first 8 or so are the same as what I am sending everywhere. I am worried that it might cost me, but in the long run I can't do anything about it. I doubt sending a revised version would merit me any extra points anyway. It would probably just fluster them!

And my personal statement is nicely balanced between attention grabber and straightfoward "this is what I want and why I am doing it." The trick is to not ham it up, which can happen if you are careless and focus too much on the shock-and-awe of your experience. I wrote it very similar to how I imagine I would present myself in person. It's a little tongue-in-cheek and chiding, but I think it also communicates my experiences and serious commitment to the craft!

On an unrelated note, is it just me, or do stamps cost A LOT of money!?

Brett said...

Here's an update on my previous mailbag question of which schools will need study abroad transcripts:

I called all 14 of the programs to which I'm applying, and sure enough, I got a random scattering of yes and no. I'll have to send the foreign transcripts to five schools.

Adrienne said...

I had a close call today. One of my recommenders (with the December 15 deadline looming) tells me that he isn't going to write my letters. As of last Monday he was fine, so it was quite frustrating and frightening... Luckily I was able to secure another professor, but OH MY GOD that was a torturous two hours.

Kim said...

I sent Irvine today and I'm thrilled it's out!
My statement is done. I've been tweaking it over and over again, and I'm finally happy with it.
My short sample is done too.
GRE's are sent. Got my transcripts sent/to send.
Letters are out to Irvine, and a combination of out/in progress for other schools.
Now I need to work on varying length samples and statements. I'm applying to 15 schools. Yikes.

The main thing I have left to do from scratch is a CV/resume. I've never done a resume with an academic bent--they've all been for crappy jobs, or teaching jobs. Does anyone have suggestions in terms of what information is best to include and how to format, or a link to some samples I could look at?

Kerry Headley said...

Does anyone have any experience with applying to programs while abroad? I am seriously considering teaching English in South Korea for one year. I'll be in Seoul, so I'll be close to lots of western conveniences, but mailing in writing samples could get expensive.

I had originally planned to have all my letters and transcripts sent to me so I could mail them off in big bundles to make sure all the stuff stays together. Now I am not so sure. Does anyone have any thoughts on this?


Courtney said...

I just fed-exed my Irvine app. I think I asked the lady at the counter four times if it would be post marked today. I should feel my first bout of relief but instead, its more like additional anxiety...One down, twelve to go!

PARTISAN said...

Ahhhh we're getting in deep now....

Where I am in the process:

*I've paid for and submitted 4/14 applications online.

*All my letters of recommendation should be resting at their respective schools.

*Transcripts are ordered and at my house or prospective schools.

*GRE done and scores sent.

*I thought I had done my final tweaking on the personal statement but now have gone back to tweak some more. Will it ever end??

*I had picked my short list for the writing sample (the 10-12 top poems) but have been getting very different top 10 lists from my friends who I also assigned the task to. Ahh! Must go back and rethink a little. Only a little. None of them are writers so it's difficult to know how much weight it should be given.

*Still haven't done Michigan's two separate essays....

*Teaching statement is more or less done, but I'm not a terribly huge fan of it.

*My goal for this week is to send out Minnesota, Wisconsin and Illinois. I have the next two days off from work. This should be doable.

And, for the record, my list (because isn't it fun to compare?):

Minnesota, Michigan, Virginia Tech, Illinois, Virginia Commonwealth, Hollins, Penn State, Wisconsin, Southern Illinois, Vanderbilt, Notre Dame, UNCG, Indiana, Wash U.

Clayton Clark said...

A lot of overachievers on here. Or are you achievers and I'm feeling a bit under?

Letters: 2/3 submitted; now considering a gift for them (creative or a visa gift card?)
GRE: Done
Transcripts: Done
Applications: 0/15 done, 5 started; i'm taking the incremental approach, to parallel my paychecks.
SOP: Damn near done
Teaching and Supplementary Statements: Not even close
Critical Essay: Done
Writing Sample: Waiting on friends currently in an MFA to give me some feedback on order; All needs 1 last revision for good measure.

In poetry (Sara, looks like we're more than half the same. good luck):
Wash U (STL), Univ of MO-STL, Illinois, So Ill Carbondale, Indiana, Purdue, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Ohio State, Arkansas, Virginia Commonwealth, Old Dominion, Vanderbilt, Alabama, Louisiana St.

All Hail April 1st!

PARTISAN said...


It will be a fight 'till the death!

Joking, of course.

To April indeed....

Caitlin said...

are those of you who are applying to Minnesota uploading the same statement for all three of the essays on the online application?

Clayton Clark said...

Frantic, squared:

I wrote 3 separate mini-essays for the Minnesota app. The website says: "This is a separate statement from the one required as part of the Graduate School application but may include the same text."

So I'm mailing my SOP to them as a separate document of its own. It's more or less the same stuff, just written differently/in 1 piece.

More strangely, 4 more of your finals were on my top 20. I think this blog, along with the Suburban Ecstasies, will have a tremendous effect on the # of applications at certain programs.

Anonymous said...

Clayton: Spot on. There are no more sleeper schools.

PARTISAN said...


I think you're exactly right. And it's a little scary.


I called Minnesota and asked about this requirement (I know Tory (insertbrackets) also emailed or called) and we were both told that you could use the same essay for all three.

Now, my answer from Minnesota was slightly ambiguous, but I'm going with this. Hopefully it all works out alright.

Adrienne said...


I wrote three mini essays, which were actually a thousand times better than my personal statement. Who knew?

leslie said...

definitely no sleepers.
i am applying to u of new mexico in albuquerque (bc its the one place my boyfriend said he'd be excited to move to...) u of oregon and george mason, in addition to all the others that everyone else is. we'll see i guess, come on aplril!
adrienne, terrifying about recommenders, glad it worked out! i hope thats not what my missing person is thinking. i cant think of any other options this close.

Unknown said...

I completely agree with the no sleepers comment. For Minnesota, I wound up writing two extra, smaller essays that weren't quite as good as my SOP. I'm just hoping they will look at my SOP first.
Right now:
10/18 apps done
Recommendation letters in progress
Writing sample: done, and I'm hoping that submitting a 26 pg. sample to schools that have a 20 pg. requirement won't kill me.
Personal statement is still being tailored from school to school.
Scores and transcripts, at least, are done.

I'm currently having trouble with the UMass Boston app. (do you need to write three statements or one?) and the Virginia Commonwealth app. (recommendations online?) and am waiting to hear back from the respective programs. I'm also about ready to tear my hair out from all the differences and discrepancies from app. to app. I decided to apply to such a large number of schools because this is my third year in a row trying to get into a program, but now I'm wondering if I'll go insane before I even finish.
That said, my heart goes out to everyone trying to work through finals -and- applications right now.

Shoot, I need to think about recommender gifts.

insertbrackets said...

Yeah, the program coordinator for Minnesota basically said to submit the same thing if I wanted to (which I did!) Between applying to twelve schools, tutoring ten college freshman, editing an undergraduate literary magazine AND managing an LGBT newsmagazine, as well as writing an honors thesis, taking a fiction workshop (not the genre I am applying in), and learning French, I don't have the time to write three mini essays the selection committee probably isn't going to read.

If you did, more power to you. I have to get my last two letters + envelopes to my recommenders tomorrow. Then I can rest...for a minute.

MaryAlice said...

Did anyone else send in their Stegner check today, at the very last possible moment after they uploaded their statement and writing sample, at the almost-very-last-moment?

And who ARE all those 1400 or so people who want the same thing I want? (Actually, for fiction, it's probably 800 or so people who want what I want?)

Abbie said...

franticfrantic -

I also emailed Minnesota about the extra essays. The email they sent me must have been less vague then the one they sent Tory, because they told me it was fine to just upload my SOP three times, as long as I still mailed a copy to the English Department. I got the feeling that it wasn't a huge deal either way.

Jennifer said...

Elizabeth -- I am so totally with you on the Virginia Commonwealth application. They wanted so much extra stuff with their TA app that I almost gave up and didn't apply. For whatever it is worth, they got regular-old-in-the-mail letters from my recommenders (including the extra one I had to have sent in because of their request for extra letters that address TA abilities).

Luke Johnson said...

Hey MaryAlice--

I sent in my Stegner and Provincetown apps on pretty much the last minute, too.

But I'm in poetry so we're not competing, and it looks like I'm the only person that answered so I'm assuming we're the only ones who applied. Looks like we've got it locked! See you in Palo Alto.


martin said...

I accidentally sent my GRE scores to Virginia's Engineering School. D'oh! I just saw "ENG" and assumed English Department.

I just need my last recommender to do his online letters and then I begin the task of making sure everyone has everything.

Good luck to all.

Brit said...

Is anyone out there applying to UNC - Greensboro? If so, do you know if they even request letters of rec? I know they don't ask for an SoP.

I'm finishing up writing samples (poetry), but everything else is nearly ready to be sent off:
Vanderbilt, NYU, UI-C, UC-Boulder, Notre Dame, UNC-G

marsupial said...

Hi Brit,

There is a rec form online that you can download, so yes, I'm assuming that Greensboro wants one. I think they ask for three.

Matthew Mahaney said...

I'm fairly sure UNCG requires rec letters, and I think they have a form to be attached to the letter, printable off the grad school website.

Brit said...

Found it. Thanks for the help!

Doransan said...

As my fellow applicants know, the time for submission is rapidly approaching, if not already past. I have more or less finished my samples, but I am having a hard time finding people to critique them. My friends are few and far between to begin with, and the number of creative types whose criticisms I value are thin. Is there a place where I can send my stuff to just have a glance at? Does anyone know if such a forum exists, or do I just need to get some better friends?


Unknown said...

Balancing senior projects (in psychology!) and applications to MFA programs is going to be the death of me.

I'm applying to 7 schools -- I was feeling like I was applying to too many, but it seems like I'm on the low end. I'm applying to three poetry programs (NYU, Columbia and Sarah Lawrence), three prose programs (U of Michigan, Brooklyn and Hunter CUNY) and one multigenre (Rutgers Camden).

I've sent my transcripts, my letters of rec are being written/sent, I've finished my poetry portfolio (Mostly. NYU's poetry portfolio maximum page limit is 10, double spaced! Cutting them down is going to be a challenge) and slogging through my prose portfolio work. The personal statement refuses to par itself down, which has been the major demon aside from time management.

I took the GRE over break and I can't decide if I did well enough or not.

Frantic, panicked but not too far behind (I hope!)

Unknown said...

Doran - there's the MFA seeker google group. We've been a bit inactive lately, but the feedback has been generally good, I think.

G said...

Martin, I hate to laugh at your misfortune, but you just gave me a good lol. I appreciate it, and hope there are smarties at the engineering department who can re-route your scores.

MaryAlice said...

Luke -- We are so there! Actually, YOU are so there. That moving day poem is fine writing.

Mozelle said...

I think I'm going to jump off a roof. I sent off my first application in November -- to UBC. I read my Statement three times, sent it to someone else, read it again, and missed a mistake every time (apparently my proofreader did as well). Okay, okay, don't panic. One school. No biggie. Then I put in three more applications after fixing the typo. And I opened the Statement just now to make some more changes and found one more! A bad one! First sentence: "purse" rather than "pursue". Someone shoot me. We got a foot of snow here this weekend. I think I'm going to go out and bury myself in it.

Anonymous said...

Hang in there, champ.

insertbrackets said...


I mailed off everything to Brown, Cornell, Ohio, Minnesota, and Wisconsin today.

I plan on finishing the job next week...after finals.

And AKZombie, don't worry too much about that faux pas. We've all made mistakes like that. I am sure that on that particular phrase they will cut you some slack.

Alex said...

I am 100% done as of today.

Oregon State
SF State

We shall see what comes of it as it has effectively bankrupted me. I'm excited at the prospect of time to write but I know the odds of getting accepted are long. I was planning on freaking out but I've decided that it would be best to wait until February for that so instead I will get back to work on my book and try not to think about it. Good luck to all of you.

Kerry Headley said...


Congratulations! Congratulations to all of you! You go!

Luke Johnson said...

Mary Alice-

Thanks for the happy words. Made my day.


I wouldn't worry about it too much. Two years ago, in the first poem of my sample that I sent to all ten schools, I had a line that was supposed to read "houses next to years" but actually read "houses next to ears." Places saw past it and accepted me. People typo (yes, that's right, typo is a verb). They understand.

Home stretch folks. Good luck all!


Musical Writer said...


My final list of schools: University of Florida, University of Houston, Eastern Michigan University, Ball State University, Western Washington University, University of New Orleans, University of Alabama, and Notre Dame

I am Bankrupt: the Musical right now. Financial Aid cannot come any sooner in the Spring. OOOOOOOOOOOOOMG.

+ All GRE scores sent (as of today).
+ Transcripts sent (as of today).
+ Applications submitted.
+ Checked on all 3 of my reccommenders. One of them flaked out, but thank God my backup came through. Their letters are coming out like a factory! My writing samples are being dropped off to them tomorrow, so their letters should be out by Monday.
+ Statement of Purposes, Financial Aid SOPs, are done and printed, waiting in the manilla envelopes as well as Teaching Assistantships Applications
+ 6 poems need to be printed on campus.

Things I Need to Do:

1) Get someone to grammar check my good/first non-fiction essay.

2) Revise, revise, revise, revise my second non-fiction essay. I have until next Friday. And then that's it. Time's up. Sending them out to Notre Dame and UNO.

Trokee said...

As someone who goes through the slush pile of a literary magazine, if I don't like someone's writing, then typos bug me (mostly as evidence of their inability to construct a readable sentence.) But if I like their writing (even a little bit) I notice the typos, but read right over it.

And I'm guessing if someone is reading your personal statement, then they already like your writing.

Hope that helps.

Adrienne said...


Is anyone else having trouble ordering score reports from the ETS website? I have all my information correct, but it's not letting me do it. It says that my request cannot be processed. I am freaking out- December 15 deadlines are approaching!

Trokee said...

My friend is having issues too, but if you call ETS, you can order scores by birthday or something like that.

Abbie said...

I found a typo in the first page of my writing sample. Luckily, I caught it after only sending it to one school, and fixed it for the other 11. My favorite part: I definitely proofread it without noticing it, and so did my proofreader.
I also mailed my writing sample out to Amherst without the cover sheet, which I had to mail out the next day.

I just keep repeating "there are worse things, like genocide or vikings pillaging a village." It could be worse. At least I haven't mailed any SOPs to the wrong schools. That would be worse.

trout said...

has any one decided not to apply to university of oregon @ eugene because of how heinous that TA application is? i mean, i already feel like i have bothered my recommenders enough. the thought of having to re-call them all and ask them to write another paragraph about my teaching potential makes me weak. is it worth it??

Jennifer said...

Trout -- I went through this with the Virginia Commonwealth TA application. What a nightmare. I had to get another recommender to write me a letter addressing whether I would make a good TA. One of my other recommenders had thrown in a line about "she'll be a good teacher if she decides to do that," and so I'm counting that as one of the 2 letters they require addressing my teaching ability.

I also hate their essay requirement and their expository writing sample requirement. For the latter I just sent a motion I wrote (I'm a lawyer). I definitely don't have any old papers from classes or anything (I'm almost 40).

So yeah, I'm with you on the monster TA application thing. I was very, very close to saying screw it, but I've managed it all.

thin said...

I sent in my Stegner app (fiction) about a week ago...

and I'd really like to forget I did that.

Adrienne said...


Thanks! It worked, and you have saved my skin.


PARTISAN said...

Couldn't VCU have stated that they require a five page expository writing sample on their actual webpage, rather than on a supplemental PDF??!!

I know it's my fault for not reading everything as thoroughly as I ought to, but I can't help but think a requirement that large should be under their main admissions requirements (or perhaps the web page they have dedicated to the materials you need to send them?) Oh, wait, it's not there either.

If it wasn't for you kind people I wouldn't have checked on this requirement. I chose to not apply to Purdue because they had a similar requirement. Now I don't know what to do. VCU has already received my letters and GRE scores but I certainly don't have a five page expository writing sample for them.

They're either getting the ax or they'll have to settle for some freelance articles (which are a much truer testament to my writing than an expository paper I wrote five years ago.)

Sorry for the rant. This application process is making a crazy person out of me.

farren said...

In the process of filling out online apps, I have found hidden letter of recommendation cover sheets. Here is the problem: 2/3 of my LORs are in my hands already.

How vital is this component to the application process? If a letter comes without an attached cover sheet, will it be disregarded or otherwise cripple my application in some way?

Jennifer said...

sara e.g.,

Send the freelance articles to VCU and then don't give it any more thought. I sent them a motion I wrote opposing a request for attorney's fees and costs in a tax case. I'm sure a couple of freelance articles are better than that!

Oh, and while I'm at it, I have to rant that I HATE writing their teaching statement. Sigh. Other than this one VCU TA thing, I'm completely done with all of my apps, so I just really hate VCU at this point.

Adrienne said...

Sara & Jennifer-

I cut VCU about a month ago for those exact reasons. I respect adn admire your willingness to keep on truckin'.


PARTISAN said...


Thanks, but I'm really on the fence. I've been ranting all morning to my poor boyfriend. In addition to not properly fulfilling their expository writing sample requirement, I'm not sure I can conquer their supplemental teaching essay (I'm writing a different teaching essay for Indiana but VCU wants SO much more in there.)

I need to sit with it a day or two then decide if I want to cut them or not. There's really only so much a person can do, right?

Adrienne said...


The way I thought about it was, do I really want to go through a program that makes you jump through so many hoops? They make it so hard to apply that is it realy even worth it?

But, of course, this could be to weed out the weenies like me and get only the most intrepid of applicants.

I'm just so busy with school, life, other apps, etc that I just couldn't do it.

Best of luck on your decision!

Mozelle said...

Update and thanks! Also: rec forms

I appreciate the words of consolement from everyone. Seriously, yesterday I just wanted to walk out into the snow and let this flippin' state kill me (I'm pretty sure it's been trying for over twenty years now - its latest salvo was a foot of snow over the weekend). Then a friend of mine called to talk me down from the ledge with the advice, "Make friends with the admin assistants." There was nothing I could do yesterday as I discovered it late in the afternoon, but this morning I got on the horn and got two of the four (UBC is a lost cause I'm afraid - hope they adore my writing). I groveled, I promised favors, gifts, acknowledged that they were probably getting a hundred similar phone calls, and both women I talked to were fabulous (Pittsburgh and UNCW). I've hit a wall with Notre Dame - the admissions office has wised up and isn't answering. I have to call the program directly and I don't know how successful that will be. Urgh. So there you go - if anyone's as dumb as I am, there is hope for you.

For the folks with rec letters that might be missing forms - I discovered that UBC wants a form after the letters were signed and sealed. What are you gonna do? They didn't get their current year instructions up until the last minute. And I don't know how anyone could find those forms useful anyway - most of them just ask for the same information as in the letter, or worse, ask the recommender to rate the applicant. Science! After losing five years off my life yesterday I've decided that I simply cannot keep stressing or I'm gonna gain a hundred pounds over the holidays from all the stress eating.

Best wishes to all of you!

Anonymous said...

oh man, i'm done with applying (still waiting for one more rec to send in letters)... i didn't make any specific mistakes that i'm kicking myself over but rather one really general one. i don't think i put enough time into my applications. i sent things out very early. i felt as if i had to. this whole process made me so sick and i was desperate to finish it in as little time as possible to free myself of its burden. i had to detach from it.

oh the lessons learned. can't do anything about it now. oh well.

good luck everyone.

Emily said...

I feel rather behind...

I've only submitted one app online so far. I have three more ready to go, just need to upload a few documents and pay fees. The other 5 I haven't started yet.

I have my basic SOP done but need to tweak it for three more schools.

Teaching statement is started, but needs tweaked.

Writing samples are pretty well settled, just need to check through again for typos and print them out.

I have one set of recs in hand, another should arrive in the mail today. The third is up in the air. I emailed her Monday and asked when she thought they'd be ready for me to pick up; thank goodness, she's local so I don't have to wait for the mail.

Transcripts and GRE scores are done and where they need to be.

The first two due dates I have are Wisconsin on Dec 15th and Minnesota on Dec 20th, so those are the two I'm worried about first. The rest of my list is Michigan, West Virginia, Alabama, Colorado, Penn State, Columbia College, and the NEOMFA.

Andrew P said...

Has anyone else found that UNC-Greensboro doesn't seem to be receiving your materials? All the other schools, the ones who have status sites or will respond to my requests, say all my materials are received. But Greensboro, via application status and in response to an e-mail, attest to not having received any of my LORs/transcripts.

Besides that, I'm all done. Applied to, in poetry: Oregon, UWashington, UC-Irvine, Iowa, Vanderbilt, WashU St Louis, UMass - Amherst, Cornell, Penn State, and UNC-Greensboro.

I feel as if I should have researched more and applied to some programs that are probably easier to get into. Oh well, not changing anything now.

PARTISAN said...


I just checked my status at UNCG and it gave the dates that they received my LORs and other materials and said my application is being processed. Maybe give them a call?

Warren said...


michelle said...

subscribing (I'm a copycat, JM :))

Unknown said...

Ugh, VCU's TA app. really is awful. I managed to get through it, but I needed some chocolate when I was done. I'm not looking forward to the "student essay" replies on UMass Amherst and U of New Hampshire, either. Right now, though, UMass Boston is on the list for least liked application because of the 3-5 page statement they require. I'm currently banging my head on my computer to figure out how my SOP will magically double in size. Not cool. I do, however, love that UNCW gave me an app. fee waiver because I had previously applied, and UNCG did not require an SOP. North Carolina's looking like a pretty nice place . . .

pablo said...

could anybody tell me when the admissions people usually come back from christmas break?

michelle said...

savage detective,

I work at the University at Buffalo. While I work in the Engineering department and not admissions, I can tell you staff doesn't get the kind of break students do. In our department, most people take the week off between Christmas and New Year's and are back on the 2nd.

Jesse Thiessen said...


I don't think you have anything to worry about with UBC. I too sent them the rec without the forms, and from me and not the recommenders. I sent a similarly groveling e-mail to them and received no response. A lot of the schools I've seen makes it suggest that the form is not truly a huge deal, though maybe others can attest otherwise.

My big deal now is applying to Columbia in non-fiction. I've gotta scratch up a good paper on some non-fiction book I like it, and I don't have anything from my undergrad days that can help. Luckily it only needs to be about 3 pages, but still, on top of everything else right now I am definitely freaking. Also didn't notice their SOP needs to be double-spaced and two pages max. Editing time...

Oh, and having grown up in Eugene, I can attest that the U of Oregon in general is pretty intense about their GTFs (Graduate Teaching Fellows). In response to trout, definitely ask them. At worst they say no, and you don't apply, which is what you're considering now, so what do you have to lose?

Adrienne said...

Well, I'm making progress. I'm happy with my SOP and writing sample. I have all of my transcripts sent out. Most of my GRE scores are sent. Several apps are complete.

I just need to fill out some more apps and put together packets of documents to mail it.

It's stressful, but I feel good. Confident, even. I'm in one of those writerly manic states. Tomorrow I'm sure I'll be freaking out, but for now I am feeling goooood.

Jesse Thiessen said...

Something else I forgot to add.

In this time of overt nervousness, I've been thinking often of what an acting teacher told me years ago: The Admissions Committees That Be want you to be great. They're not looking for excuses to reject you because of some silly thing. They want to take out your sample and see the best person to ever put a pen (or inkjet printer, rather) to paper. They might even want it as badly as you.

Maybe someone else has different experiences that dash that idea, but I've been finding that thought comforting in the last few weeks.

Straight Black Water said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Straight Black Water said...

Anyone else find it deeply frightening and slightly ironic that we're all waiting impatiently for April Fools Day?

Patti said...

Hello Kerry Headley,

Sorry I didn't get back to you on this. There are several programs that I had accumulated that offer both fiction and non-fiction. I'm not necessarily applying to all of them.

In top-o-the-head order...

Notre Dame
University of Minnesota
University of Illinois (Urbana)
Mills College (they're "prose")
California State
University of Houston
University of Texas El Paso
University of Memphis
University of New Mexico
University of Pittsburg
Northwestern (practically a low-res program)
University of Arizona

Luke Johnson said...

Not to be tooting my own program's horn too much (well actually, yes, toot, toot):

Hollins doesn't divide genres in the traditional way. We accept 12 writers every year, but the ratios aren't fixed, there may be 2 CNFs 3 poets, 3 short story writers, and 4 novelists (the breakdown of my year) or any other combination. In the three classes that I've seen, there's been a different ratio every year. You can apply in multiple genres (send 5 poems, and 1 story, 1 essay 1 story, etc.) and once you get here, regardless of what genre you applied in, you can work in any genre you choose. Last year I worked with a writer who came in as a poet and did memoir for her thesis as well as a novelist whose thesis was a manuscript of prose poems. The theory being: good writing is good writing. I think that's the reason alumni have had success in every genre, though because of a certain pulitzer prize winner named Annie, our reputation seems to be strongest in Non-fiction. End of advertisement.


Michelle said...

Okay, I fully realize that this is the MFA blog, but does anyone have the inside story on the MPW program at the University of Southern California? I am curious and don't want to rule it out just because it's an MPW and not an MFA. Help?

Kerry Headley said...


Thanks for all the info you've shared on Hollins. I am applying (next fall) in nonfiction and find Hollins' approach very appealing. It's helpful to hear good things from someone who is there.

How is the funding these days?

Have you (or anyone else) heard anything about other CNF programs? It never gets discussed much here.
(I have a list of 9 schools that I like.)


Anonymous said...

Here's my check list:

GRE: Check. Did better than I thought and I wish it mattered.

Transcripts: Check

Writing sample: The first bump in the road...freaking out over which stories are stronger. So sick of them, a strange loathing of them develops.

15-page Critical essay: Meh, but check.

SOP: Check. Struggle with tone. Don't want to be too breezy. Or sentimental or effusive or flippant or boring or pretentious or nerdy.

LOR: OMMMMGGGG. Nervous breakdown, check. Two unequivocal yeses, but still waiting for them to finish. One teacher, who really encouraged me all term and responded rapidly to my emails, now after four days, won't return my emails. I hope he didn't die or something. Mostly, I worry that he's changed his mind and is trying to tell me that he thinks I suck. I really don't have a back-up recommender unless it's one of my writer friends and they say don't ask your friends. Maybe I'll ask my mom. Haha.

Best of luck, everyone and peace,

Anonymous said...


JayTee said...

Lisa- my last recommender has gone AWOL too!!!! Why is it that the worst part of the whole application has nothing to do with me really??? Why doesn't she want to be a team player?! UGH! Yeah, so I have everything ready to go accept for her stuff. If all else fails, I'm sending my application packets out on Tuesday and I'll just mail her letters whenever she finishes them. I no longer wish to care about it anymore lol

Kit said...

hey folks! applying in poetry. question about online apps. has anyone had any luck tracking their application materials online at montana, minnesota, or purdue? all three places claim that you can track your app status & supplementary materials online, but for the life of me i sure can't see where! all i see is confirmation that my online app has been submitted. before i get on the horn with the admissions office folks, just thought i'd check if anyone here had discovered the secret.

Corey Van Landingham said...


Jennifer said...

ok, I have no idea what this "subscribing" thing means. Can someone explain?

marsupial said...

Is anyone applying to The New School? Their website says a fiction sample should be 20-30 pages, but their online application instructions say "up to 20 pages," and any pages beyond that will not be printed out.

If anyone has encountered this and already contacted the program about it, please let me know. I've already bugged the admissions office once today--they require 2 transcripts from every place attended, "even if you only took one course." Well, I took one course at Penn as a high school student way back in 1994. At TEN DOLLARS A TRANSCRIPT, I cannot justify this expense for one course, which appears on my official undergraduate transcript, anyway. I've asked them to please waive this requirement of me. We'll see what they say.

Taylor said...

Good luck to everyone applying to Indiana. I'm currently doing my undergrad at IU at the moment and love the department. I'm studying poetry and all of the professors have been amazing. It has been especially nice to study with Ross Gay. So great.

Anyway, I am applying to the low residency programs at Lesley and Drew at the moment. My applications will be going out soon. A good friend of mine just got into Drew in their first group of students for the low residency MFA, so I'm hopeful. Good luck to all.

Alex said...

Ironically enough i was a Drew undergrad. I loved it, though I didn't study poetry. The train station is literally a five minute walk from campus and from there, 40 minutes to manhattan

Mike Valente said...

Hi Everyone,

Glad to see so much interest in Notre Dame!

Zombie -- don't sweat the typo. I'm not exactly sure how admissions gets conducted here, but if your personal statement was sent to the admissions office or if it was separated from the writing sample and put in a folder with your transcript, GRE, etc, then I doubt that the faculty will see it until the very last minute. And that might happen at all of your schools.

Mike Valente
it's snowing outside
University of Notre Dame

Warren said...

ON Columbia's Literary Response within the last decade does anyone know if short stories are allowed?

It says literature... not novels....


trout said...

thanks for everyone's advice about the university of oregon TA application.

i also keep wanting to strike syracuse from my list because of the obnoxious teaching statement they require, but i just started reading a george saunders book and it's pretty rad. have other people already applied for syracuse and written this teacher thing? the thought of having to write it after all the stuff i've already cranked out makes me want to lay down and sleep forever.

another thing i'm finding extremely annoying is the u of texas word count restriction on their statemant of purpose. (by the way, this is a hidden requirement that is not easily visible. it's 350 words.) i mean, i tormented myself creating a well balanced 2-3 page s.o.p. like everyone else wanted, and now texas wants half of that. what i wrote has a beginning, a middle, and an end. there's not an obvious chunk i can just snip out. annoying.

ok. sorry for all the complaining. it's all so stressful.

Michelle said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Adrienne said...

Well, my replacement letter writer has yet to do my online letters... I keep checking my email to look for notifications. Also, I need my letter for Minnesota so I can mail that in with my packet. It's just making me a little bit nervous, since things are due December 15.

And I just saw that Michigan wants its stuff by the 18th, which gives me an ulcer.

I need to me more organized.

PARTISAN said...


I just saw this, too. Ahhhhh....

Well, that takes two weeks away that I thought I had to work on it. Looks like I'll be skipping sleep next week...

Is it April yet?

JayTee said...

Hey trout,

I just chopped up my personal statement for Michener last night. I took out a lot of specifics but I think it came off okay. It was kinda worse than my typical revision process, I got rid of a lot of lines I was proud of lol.

In other news...I'm picking up my last set of letters from my final recommender today! I got her a Jane Austen dvd as a gift and I'm excited to give it to her. I hope she doesn't have it already. Thank goodness she came through for me!

martin said...

My last letter writer needs to get on the ball with his online recs. He's graying my damn hair! Michener's deadline is Dec. 15th and Minnesota's is Dec. 20th. For some reason, though, I want to believe that these are dates for application submission and that letters may be received later. Or am I foolish to think that?

Courtney said...

Martin--Im wondering the same thing. My last letter-writer has admitted to not even glancing at the huge, organized, beautiful packet of information I gave him weeks ago, but says not to worry because "they just expect the letters to trickle in." God, I hope he's right! Are there any admission people out there? Or current MFA'ers who can attest to this?! I could cry!

MonicaJBrown said...

I thought U of Michigan was due Jan. 1st!!?!?!

The 18th?

Where did you find that info, Adrienne?

MonicaJBrown said...


This is from U of Michigan's website:

We will start accepting applications for the 2009-2010 academic year in September 2008. Applications and supplemental materials must be received by January 1, 2009 to meet our deadline..

Emily said...

Adrienne - you said Michigan changed their deadline to Dec 18th????

Good thing I started their annoying-as-sin online app this week....

I will be so glad when this is over. And when I get my last set of recommendation letters. Oh Tammy, where are my letters???????

Ha ha, I'm going a bit crazy, methinks ;)

JayTee said...

I also have Michigan listed due on Dec. 18. I wonder if they updated it and changed it to a later date after I gathered my info. Either way, I'm getting all my apps out by Dec. 9.

leslie said...

I believe Michigan is due on jan 1, however, their site explains that the admissions office is closed for winter break and in order to get everything processed, it should be sent by the 18th. I remember being confused by this when I found it so I just wrote down the due date as dec 18th to be safe.
hope that helps!

Anonymous said...

When you send your transcripts, do you just stick each in an envelope and send it?

(Assuming you got them in official sealed envelopes from your school and are sending them out yourself?)

Adrienne said...

Oh, gosh! Sorry to freak everyone out. The due date for Michigan IS January 1st but on their website they say that due to the university being closed for Christmas they would prefer to have everything in by December 18th. It's just as Leslie said.

They really should just change their due date to December 18th if that's what they expect. It lulls one into a false sense of security.

leslie said...

agreed. it takes so much sifting through differnt links to figure everything out. they really don't want to make it easy!

Bess said...

I haven't seen many people applying to the schools I'm applying to. Maybe this is a good thing...but is anyone applying to U of Alabama Tuscaloosa, GEorgia State College and University, and Eastern Washington University?

I live in Montana and know U of M has a great MFA program, plus I adore Judy Blunt and Debra Magpie Earling's work, so of course I'm applying there too, but sort of hoping I get in an out of state school.

Going out of state would be such an adventure for me - and my family! Anyone else with small children? I have 3, the oldest of which will be starting kindergarten at the same time I would start school. This definitely affected my choices.

Kerry Headley said...

I'm applying to U of Alabama, but not until next year. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

Hi unsaid---did your LOR turn up? Mine did, after a sent a third email. He says he usually has students write a rough draft; it shows him why they feel they're ready for grad school. So I'll be writing a shameless plug for myself that I'll turn into him to adapt. It feels weird, but I'm just glad to hear from him. Whew. Hope your hanging in there.

Emily said...

Hi all,

I'm applying to 11 schools for CNF but graduated from U of Pitt as an undergrad. For those applying to Pitt(specifically NF), a work of caution: out NF department has pretty much collapsed. One retired, one didn't get tenure and will be gone after next semester, and Lee Gutkind is leaving to go to Arizona. I don't know if this affects anyone, but wanted to get the word out just in case.

MonicaJBrown said...


I'm not applying to the schools you listed, but I did live in Atlanta for four years and it's a fun place.

If you get in and decide on Georgia State, and have questions about the city, let me know.

I'd definetly recommend living IN the city, NOT the suburbs due to sprawl and traffic.

Adrienne --

No worries. I'm going to send the rest of my apps out next week, so should make the 18th/1st deadline. You're right though, schools should be careful how they word deadlines -- lack of clarity in that area can be panic-inducing.

Best of luck everybody!

Jennifer said...

Hi Tanya -- I applied to Alabama in fiction.

Corey Van Landingham said...

Mailed Wisconsin and Michigan today, and finished Cornell last week. Only 12 more to go, gulp. Most of my online apps are filled out, and my poetry sample and SOP are done. I still need to finish working on my critical essay, and "grading" the paper for Amherst's TA app. I hate all the extras!

Bess said...


Good luck, maybe I'll see you there!

Alex said...

I also applied to Alabama but Im a little bit nervous about the South, being a San Francisco Jew

Warren said...

If you can handle San Francisco, Alabama's got nothing.

Kerry Headley said...


I so know what you mean about Alabama. I am a Bay Area dirt-worshipper and thought that I would never go to the deep south. And then I read more about their funding and the program and thought, "Eh, I'd have plenty to write about..."

Maybe I'm just a funding whore. Not necessarily a bad thing...

leslie said...

alabama was the one place my boyfriend scratched from the list. he was given one veto, so i had to take it.
sounds like a great program though.

for michigans essays:
anyone have a feel of how different they should be?
for montana and umass:
how long are expository samples supposed to be?

Alex said...


I am also a funding whore. Where are you in the Bay? I never thought Id want to move again, after leaving here for New Jersey to do my undergrad but damn if none of the programs here will pay me to attend.

Kerry Headley said...


I'm in Santa Rosa and wrapping things up (BA Communications) at Sonoma State University as we speak.

I decided to consider teaching English for one year in South Korea. I probably will, which means I will be applying to grad school from Seoul. Once I was willing to consider living in South Korea, Alabama didn't seem so bad. It's actually one of my top choices now. Tuscaloosa is supposedly the most progressive city in the state, but who knows what that means?

Whores unite!

Unknown said...

I'm applying to alabama. i grew up and live in l.a., and thought of living somewhere like alabama sounds totally rad. although, i would need to be able to buy, like, tofu, you know? maybe mentioning tofu in alabama would get me shot, but i'm still applying. plus, (this might be kind of lame) i like their website a lot. maybe not the best criteria for where to spend the next few years of my life, but the tone of it makes me feel good.

courtney-- i too created a beautiful, huge, impeccably organized packet for my letter writers. i am extremely proud of it. given what a chaotic mess my own life is, i really think i rose above my hugely stunted skills of organization here. however, my final letter writer doesn't seem to be swayed by its perfection, and is not calling to tell me it's time to pick it up. i don't want to over email him, but i'm getting suicidal. what if he didn't get my message saying where i'd left it? what if the faculty boxes in the english department blew up? or (as someone else on here worried) what if he died? i'm thinking the perfect packet wasn't enough, and maybe i should have offered to sit down in front of him and put everything directly under his pen. i'm serious.

JayTee said...

Thanks Lisa...Yes, my last letters are now in my hands and ready to go out with my applications. It's scary when you lose contact with a recommender! Good luck with that rough draft. Seems like you could use your personal statement for that, maybe?

Mozelle said...

Mike V. -

Your words were like blessings from Heaven in regards to Notre Dame. It's one of the schools I really, really, really want, so when I was unable to get anyone on the phone I was crushed.

Emily at Pittsburgh -

Awesome news about the NF! Hope someone else wants me! Jeezy creezy . . .

In regards to Alabama -

To all of you who are thinking or are unsure about applying to Alabama (I'm applying) all of my "people" are from there, and the vast majority of my relatives still reside in tiny Valley and Opelika. I lived in Dothan for about a year when I was in junior high. Coming from central Illinois, it was a bit of culture shock, even surrounded by relatives, and having visited. I will tell you that as long as you do not disparage football at UA, you will be fine. Just say, "Auburn sucks!" a lot, and you can fly under the radar for the most part.

And for the person upthread who was asking about what NF programs folks were applying to - I'm applying to 14:

University of British Columbia (even though, since November 4th, I no longer feel the need to flee the country)
University of NC Wilmington
University of Pittsburgh
Notre Dame
George Mason
University of Arizona
University of New Mexico
University of New Hampshire
Florida International University
University of Alabama
Georgia College and State U
Old Dominion University

If you want to go to a school but don't see NF as an option, it pays to ask someone at the school. That's why I'm applying to Vanderbilt and Alabama. It's been said before, but good luck everyone! If we can make it to January, then it's only three months of chewing our fingernails!

Kerry Headley said...

So, wait, Vanderbilt does offer NF? Are you submitting an NF writing sample for them? Why would they not specify this on their website? I had to dig a little on Alabama's site, but it clearly lists NF as an option.

Well, dag, I might have to add Vandy if this is true.

Corey Van Landingham said...

So I have all but 5 online apps filled out now, yeah!

I'm just trying to bust it all out this weekend... 15 schools is killing me. One thing that is keeping me from applying to the last couple schools is the possibility of getting an internship with Tin House in the next couple weeks... I feel like that would be great to put on my resume.

Kerry Headley said...


P.S. -- Thanks for the Alabama tips. I echo the concerns of the person worried about finding tofu. Is there a don't-ask-don't-tell policy in regard to football? I don't give a crap about football and I sense I would have to hide this like a secret sin. Still, I'm a devoted funding whore...

Kerry Headley said...

AKZombie: One more note, and that's it. THANK YOU so much for your note on Vandy. I just looked at the website, which was obviously updated and now very clearly spells out NF as an option. I guess it pays to keep checking sites of schools we wrote off. I'm not applying until next fall, so we aren't in competition, but we are applying to a lot of the same places.

Thanks again and good luck!

Mike Valente said...

AKZombie --

Do you mean to say that you were unable to get anyone on the phone in the CW office? Or the Admissions office?

I understood it as they stopped taking your calls when you began asking about your cover letter...I'll shoot an email to the CW office to find out why the phones haven't been picked up.

If you're trying to reach the graduate admissions office, then you're on your own.

MonicaJBrown said...

Ummm... being from the South, I am a bit disturbed by some of the comments about Alabama. Sure, it's not San Francisco, but it's not deliverance either.

And, umm, we do have tofu here.

And Jewish people live here, too.

P.S. Flannery O'Connor, William Faulkner, Charles Wright, Claudia Emerson, Black Warrior Review...

MonicaJBrown said...

P.S.S. Southern Review, The Sewanee Writer's Conference, The Meacham Writer's Workshop, etc...

And I can guarantee you our rent's cheaper. :)

Kerry Headley said...


Point taken. For the record, I am really excited about the possibility of living in the South. I wouldn't be applying to UNCW, Alabama, George Mason, Hollins, Houston and now Vandy if I weren't intrigued. The only place in the Midwest I am willing to apply to Iowa.

I freely admit that I've had a media-created skewed image of the South. I look forward to experiencing the things that people love about it, including the lower cost of living. Try to give us Californians a break though. We're used to health food everywhere and progressive values. (Of course, we did just majorly disrespect gay people with Prop 8.)

When I look up Southern towns on Wiki many of them talk about their particular BBQ sauce. Meat and the bible just don't get that level of focus here. Thanks for your input though. I'm not a hater. Just out of the loop.

A said...

A question to those applying for fiction at Texas (and I'm sure there are many of you):

The requirements for the sample say one to two stories of approximately 30 pages. Is anyone sending three stories that total 30 pages? I picked out what I think are my three best pieces for the 30 page total schools and I would hate to have to leave one of them out.

Jennifer said...

Adam, I sent Michener 17 pages total, 2 short stories and one piece of flash.

They do seem pretty serious about their requirements, though.

Jennifer said...

A question about Iowa's supplement to financial aid application. . .

This thing is a PDF but it doesn't allow me to fill the fields. . . meaning I can't type on it on my computer. I have printed it out and I'm just writing the information out by hand and attaching my teaching essay.

Anyone else have this problem or have you all been able to actually type in the PDF document??

marsupial said...


If it's not an interactive PDF with the fields highlighted where you can put in information, then you cannot type into the document. So far I've only found one application that provides an interactive PDF. Just print it out and neatly write in your information. You could mess with a typewriter if you really wanted to, but if these schools were adamant about typewritten answers, then they should switch to interactive PDFs!

michelle said...

If you have access to Acrobat professional, it is easy enough to add the fields yourself in a pdf form. I am surprised that they don't bother to insert the fields--even if they don't set it up to be interactive and receive the info.

MonicaJBrown said...

Hi Tom, Seth, and anyone who may have an opinion on this...


In the personal statement, should I include research I would like to pursue in graduate school?

The reason I am asking is because schools like Iowa do ask applicants to "describe any research you wish to pursue..." on the application.

I do have a thesis, but am concerned it will not resonate with all the members of the admissions committee.

I ran my thesis by a professor and she approved it, thought it interesting, but my idea for research is close to being within her area of specialty.

Do you think I should include a statement about my research in my SOP or should I leave it out except in instances where I am asked about research directly??

Thanks! I am fine tuning my statement, about to get apps. in the mail, and still on the fence about this.


Bess said...

I'm way up in Montana and am SO excited about the prospect of going to Alabama or Georgia. I have always wanted to live in the south and this would give me an actual reason to move other than just wanting to get out of MT. Not that it's a bad place to live, but do go to the Western part, like U of M. That's where it's most beautiful.

We also have our share of stereotypes...some think we ride horses to school (which I admit I always wanted to do) and don't have indoor plumbing. :)

Jennifer said...

Let the panic begin. . . I just checked my status online for UVA and check this out, all the right info was there, including my first and middle names, but the last name was totally wrong. I emailed the department contact about it, but what if I hadn't checked??? I never would have received any mail from them.

michelle said...

Anyone else using their SOP for Minnesota's online application--I'm wondering how you managed the upload, since the three statements are mandatory.


PS: Good Luck everybody!

Jesse Thiessen said...


A lot of people have posted here that they e-mailed Minnesota and they said it was just fine to upload your SOP for all three essays.



*checks website*

Looks like next week is officially canceled for me. Good luck, everybody!

Emily said...

Lindsay - I liked Alabama's website a lot too. That's not really a "reason" I'm applying there, but it helped with just getting a good vibe about the place.

I think any large university community is going to have a niche where everyone fits, even Californians (ha ha) or queer vegetarians from Ohio (like me). Or at least that's what I'm hoping.

And I'm STILL waiting for my last set of recommendation letters..... ugh!

insertbrackets said...

I am having slight panic attacks because I mailed transcripts last Saturday (to Graduate Schools), and I mailed my first five packets (to Brown, Cornell, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin) on Tuesday, and none have been received yet as far as I can tell. Okay, I know that it might take a little while for them to update their information and let me know they've got everything, but I am deathly afraid I did not put enough stamps on the transcripts (I had the sense to weigh/measure the big packets at the post office) damn envelopes. I ordered my own transcripts, then used address labels to readdress them to those schools (and others), so the return address should be to the registrar. Ack! Ack! Ack!

Also, Ohio says they don't have my GRE scores yet even though I ordered them on the 16th of November. So, it will be about a month from the due date next Monday that I ordered them. Should I be panicking!? Or is mail just really fucking slow!?


Kerry Headley said...


I think it's too early to panic about your transcripts.

On the GRE's, some schools will accept a copy of your own score report until the official scores arrive. You could ask about this. I haven't taken the GRE yet, but if it were me I would call to verify the scores were sent.

It's probably all fine, but it's understandable to freak a little.

Good luck!

Adrienne said...


I understand your nervousness. I had to order my GRE scores via telephone because the site won't work for me for some reason, and so far none of my schools have received them yet and I ordered them on Wednesday. I think it's too soon for me to be worried, too.

Kerry's idea is really good. Also, you know you can always call them if you start to get too freaked out.

Good luck!

Raina said...

Just a note about filling in those pesky .pdf forms: i.e. graduate assistant application forms, applications to English/Creative Writing departments.

If you have a Mac, there is free .pdf editing software called Formulate Pro. Works similar to Adobe Acrobat Professional and is available from

Hope that helps some of you!

Jennifer said...

You know what is really awful about having finished all of the apps? Now the waiting has begun. Ugh.

Unknown said...

Everyone here can understand what this means better than anyone else in my life right now:
I. am. Done. I think I might cry.
All that's left is to take the packets to the post office, and then make sure to follow up with the schools that everything has arrived. One of my recommenders has sent all her letters already (so awesome) and the other two are reliable souls. I started researching/writing a new story in June, and now, 18 apps. later, I have my life back.
Thank you -so much- to everyone who helps out and posts on this blog. I've gotten worlds of information and reassurance from what gets written here. Good luck to everyone as you work through your lists.
I am off to play computer games, eat chocolate, and hopefully not chew my hands off before April.
Happy holidays, all!

Big Mike said...

it looks like there are quite a few people applying to notre dame on here. i have a question for those of you who are. Are any of your recommenders having a hard time uploading their letters into the "apply yourself" online application system? One of my recommenders emailed me today about it and it has me a little concerned. any thoughts?

Adrienne said...

So I keep having these unrational (and yet somehow frighteningly possible) fears that I made a typo in my address and will now never know whether I am accepted or rejected from any school EVER.

Eduardo G said...

When a program says something like "10 pages, single spaced" of poetry, does that mean 12 point Times New Roman and no columns and no margin shuffling? Because I have a few poems that go over onto a second page with just a line or two.

Anonymous said...

This is crazy, people! This is crazy!

Who was it who said that an 18-page writing sample is fine and dandy?

Because it looks like that's all I have to send, folks, no matter whether they're asking for 20 or 25 or 30!

(And maybe it'll be 17...)

Oh sweet midnight runny nose
I work at Domino's

Warren said...

How many of you friends are sending 25 when asked for thirty?



Warren said...

** 25 PAGES ...

JayTee said...

Adrienne-- your last comment just cracked me up! lol I'm going to be overseas when acceptances come out so I'm convinced that (should I be accepted) they'll try to notify me once and then give up on me if I don't get back to them right away.

Things are only going to get crazier, I'm sure!

Jennifer said...

Oso -- I sent 17 pages total. An 8 page short story, a 7 page short story, and a piece of flash. I'm not worried about it.

(I'm worried about other things, like how UVA had my last name wrong).

Unknown said...

Oso - My sample worked out to 27 pages, and that's what every school got, whether they wanted 20, 25 or 30. I decided that instead of trying to edit my two stories down just for three schools, I would throw myself on their mercy and hope my writing is good enough to make them ignore it. Though now I'm scared they might just reject me out of hand.

Jess T. said...

congrats to those finally finished with the process...although i'm afraid the waiting game may be even scarier! i have a sort of silly question about personal statements. for schools that allow you to upload the sop on the online application, are you still printing out a copy and sending it with your writing sample? i'm thinking that i should send a hard copy to every school, because wouldn't they want to read it right after they've seen my sample?

PARTISAN said...


I think you're right. I've done this on all my apps. I figure if they don't want it, fine, but I'd rather play it safe.

Emily said...

Am I correct that NF samples (and fiction) should be double spaced, and the SOP should as well? Someone mentioned single spaced poetry, but I am assuming that is just for poetry.

Finishing my writing sample (the last thing I need to do! WHY oh WHY am I revising that last when my nerves are shot?!?!? What was I thinking???

Good luck to everyone as deadlines approach!

Unknown said...

Emily - I double-spaced my fiction sample, but most of my SOPs were single spaced, unless the school specified they wanted double on their site. Mostly it was to save paper. Sometimes it was because a school wanted a one-page statement, and with double spacing that gave me only 300-400 words to work with, when my statement ran about 500-600.

Jennifer said...

I double spaced my fiction sample and I single spaced my SOP (which came out to two single spaced pages). I did my SOP in the form of a letter and it looked weird to have it double spaced.

Emily said...

Good to know! My sample is double spaced, and SOP is different for each school. Most seem to have word limits as opposed to page limits, so I'll see what looks best.

Anyone else applying in NF?

My list (in case other NFs are out there and interested!) is: Iowa, UNCW, Montana, Minnesota, Oregon State, Colorado, Hollins, New Hampshire, Arizona, New Mexico, and Wyoming.

Adrienne said...


Uuuugh! Vanderbilt makes me want to DIE! For some reason, they wouldn't let one of my recommenders send in her letter online. So she mailed it. A few days ago. And then today I get an email from them telling me to make sure she sends two forms and two letters when she mails it out. Too late!

What should I do? Have her send in another letter (which I am loathe to do since I ask her for so much already) or just let it go as it is and hope they write it off as her error and don't care that much?

Emily said...


If I were you I would call Vanderbilt and ask them if just the one is okay. If they tell you it's not, then email or call the recommender for another letter - don't worry, I'm sure they are used to doing this and realize there are always some sort of last minutes crises.

On another note - for those applying to Iowa, I just realized the instructions say to upload the writing sample to the online application. Buuuut I submitted my online application a few days ago - sans writing sample. Anyone make this mistake as well? I was going to call Iowa and see what they say, but I don't want their first impression of me to be the girl who didn't follow instructions.


Jennifer said...

Emily -- What?????????? I already sent my writing sample to Iowa in the mail and I don't see anywhere on their website that is says to upload it, I only see where it says to send the manuscript to the Dey House address. . .

Did you mean personal statement instead of writing sample?


Adrienne said...


I thought it said to mail your sample into Iowa...

And thanks for the advice!

Emily said...

Don't panic yet - it may just be for the NF program. From their Website:

"You must also complete the Online Program Application, which includes

* Your statement of purpose (see above), copied and pasted into the online application.
* Your writing sample (see above), uploaded in .doc or .rtf format."

I may be the lone NF person, so it may not apply to you Jennifer. Now that I think about it, I don't even remember if I uploaded a personal statement. Holy. Crap. I. Might. Freak. Out.

Emily said...

Ignore past comment. Turns out there is a SEPARATE online program app just for copying and uploading required documents.


Can't wait til this process is over.

Bess said...

I cry corrupt bargain! Man, I wish Montana didn't want that expository writing sample. Now I have to dig through my old papers (I graduated 10 years ago!) and see if any of them are decent. Though in my head I know I must have one that will work, I'm having anxiety right now because I can't find them! Back then I had a word processor and don't have any disks with my work so if I can't find one.....I'll have to write one real fast? That probably won't happen so here's hoping I find the box!

Got my app fees mailed off today, finally! Now just need to refine my SOP and cut it down a bit. My writing sample is pretty much done, maybe just some last minute changes. What else......

So my first app is due 1/5, but my last app isn't due until March. When do you all expect to be hearing back?

Emily said...

(so I notice there are two Emilys here - I'm poetry Emily, not the NF Emily who was just posting about Iowa)

Anyway... I still have not heard back from my MIA recommender, but I lined up a backup today. Phew! Sooooo relieved!

And I completely rewrote my SOP last night. I think I like it. Must reread it today while no longer under the influence of too much coffee late at night.

Jesse Thiessen said...

Hey, question to all y'all about teaching statements: How have you been formatting them? I'm not sure whether to do it like my letter-like SOP or to do it more like an essay.

I also assume it probably shouldn't be more than one page single-spaced or two pages double-spaced?

Anybody have any words of wisdom to lend on the subject?

Alex said...

And now its panic time. Illinois and Minnesota have their deadlines next week and my last recommender just left the country until the 21st before I get him to sign the damn envelopes. I am now bordering on complete meltdown. This is unhealthy.

Jennifer said...

Jesse -- my SOP was a letter, but my teaching statements were two page doubled spaced essays with "Teaching Statement of . . ." at the top.

Adrienne said...

I guess I'd just sort of like to give a shout-out to Vanderbilt. I've had many issues with applying there (no fault of their's, all human error) and they have been super fantastic to work with. Four e-mails I've sent them, and they have responded quickly, pleasantly, and helpfully. Even if I don't end uup being accepted or going there, I think I will recommend them to anyone just based on character alone.

Molly Mae said...

I am trying to decide between two stories to send in my manuscript and have an interesting dilemma. I had submitted one of these stories to the literary magazine of a certain MFA program months back. About a month ago, I received an email from the editor of this magazine -- who also happens to be the director of the MFA program -- asking if my story was still available for publication. He said they were debating which stories to publish in their next issue, and they hadn't made any decisions yet, but my story was one they were considering.

I haven't heard back from him since, so I'm assuming they decided to pass. However, they liked it well enough to "almost" publish it, I guess.

So my question is: do you think I should send this story with my MFA application, or the other one? I'm inclined to say this one, but wanted to get some other opinions.

Adrienne said...


I guess it depends on how you feel about your second piece. If you think it's of better quality than the one they almost accepted or that it is more representative of the work you're doing now or want to be doing in a program, then I'd send in the second one. If you really feel like your first story is the better of the two, then go ahead and send it in. I mean, you do know they like it.

Does anyone else feel the need for a new mailbag?

Warren said...


Read it. Figure out why they didn't publish it. Fix it. Send it.

- Leroy

Warren said...

How many of y'all specifically referenced your writing, the manuscript you're submitting, within your statement of purpose/personal statements.

eLily said...

Mailbag on a Thursday? That's crazy!

I'm just kidding. It's the end of the semester. Things are hectic.

But then, things are only bound to get more hectic with the holidays. How's tomorrow?
Special Weekend Edition

marsupial said...

Hi LeRoy,

I referenced one of my stories in my statement.

Jennifer said...

Hi LeRoy -- I did not. I'm not against it, I just didn't happen to do it.

Kerry Headley said...

Question about the LOR: Is it wrong to have a writing partner write one of them? I already have one of my writing teachers and an academic adviser who are both very familiar with my work. The third person I was considering is also a current teacher of mine who has seen a lot of my writing, but I don't know if I trust her to be reliable. I definitely trust the writing partner. Anyone have an opinion?


eLily said...

Kerry, in theory it sounds all right, but I'm concerned an admissions committee might not find any value in it, unless this writing partner is published or somehow established.

Maybe others will disagree.

michelle said...


I think if it's a successful partnership it will be a great reference. If you worked together for a long time, or earned money, or were published, or the work is ongoing, I think your partner could attest to your work habits, the quality of your work, what you're like to do business with. I'd hesitate only if it were a short-term thing, or personal,or if the work itself is something you wouldn't want to describe to the committee. IMHO :)

leslie said...

i agree with michelle. i still have a missing recommender (eek!) so reliability should be a major factor.
a question about samples:
unless it is specified, what are people putting at the top of each page on writing ssn? program applying to?

MonicaJBrown said...


Are any other U of Michigan applicants having trouble making the distinction between the "Statement of Purpose" and "Personal Statement?"

I'm really excited about U of M's program, but am aggravated by this requirement! My academic and personal "journey," as the website calls it, are coorelative. It is much clearer to discuss them together in one letter as I did for other schools! Grr.. I tempted to upload the same letter twice, but don't want them to think I'm a smartass.

Forgive me U of M., I still love you, I'm just ready to get apps. in the mail and I'm struggling with this last bit.

Anyone else?

MonicaJBrown said...

haha forgive my typo. That was supposed to be I'm tempted, not "I tempted..."

I'm losing it. :)

Warren said...


What fascinates you about Michigan? I've started an application but am equivocating on finishing it.

I've been to Ann Arbor and didn't like it.

What do you see in the program?

- L

leslie said...

i did have that problem, very annoying. i just went with something more anecdotal for the personal statement, something that seemed too long to go into in the statement of purpose.

PARTISAN said...

Hi M. and Leslie--

I had the same problem. I finally figured a way to do it, but not without struggle. I also don't think the two statements together are as strong as my one SOP for other schools. So much "personal" information correlates to "academic" experience, but I found it better in the academic statement to go more on my actual research interests (um, besides just writing poetry, which is tempting to say.)

Yes, I think it's a bit excessive, but I love what they have to offer too much.

And I've been to Ann Arbor, and found it very charming. It seems like a very lovely place to spend two (or three) years.

JayTee said...

I did the 2 separate statements for U of Michigan. I used a form of my SOP for one and then did a personal history for the other one. I just covered major factors that determine who I am and where I am at this point in life and how I feel the school can contribute to my continued success lol. I "lol" but that's really what I did.

MonicaJBrown said...

Unsaid, Sara e.g., Leslie --

Thanks. Michigan's lovely double SOP treatment is now completed and submitted. (And I did write two seperate statements... and I agree with sara. I think my combined statement was stronger than the two seperate ones. C'est la vie.)

LeRoy --

I like Michigan's faculty, their finding, and what I hear of ann arbor. :) I've never been there, so that's about all I can offer you. Maybe check out the P&W speakeasy for more specific insight to the program.

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