Friday, December 04, 2009

Mailbag, Friday December 4, 2009

How about a new mailbag for all your last minute, the-deadlines-are-upon-us questions!

I also wanted to draw your attention to this guide to personal-statement writing, drawn from the comments in the last mailbag.

Finally, I had an applicant contact me looking for information on playwriting MFAs - not a topic that seems to get discussed much around these parts. Does anyone know of any resources on this? Leave that info, and your other comments, below.

396 comments:

«Oldest   ‹Older   201 – 396 of 396
MommyJ said...

Hey Frank,

I am very, very happy with the writing sample I sent. A couple of the poems have been published, and the whole set flows well even though they are disparate subjects and forms.

I am most definitely a grown up. My stepdaughter is a freshman in college and I have a senior in high school.

And I am still FREAKING OUT!!!

The one thing I can't control is my flaky prof who still hasn't sent the LOR, which was due two weeks ago. And I have only applied to one program, so I will not be sitting there in the spring trying to decide where to go.

Eli, I called Amherst and they said the LOR might show up tomorrow if it was submitted last night, but they gave me the fax # and said I could fax one of the generic LORs I have in my credential file from my master's. The woman at grad admissions said it takes about 24 hours after someone submits via the online system to show up so you can check it is there.

I take this to mean that even though this is late, they will still consider the application. I'm not dead in the water yet.

kaybay said...

Does anyone else think that McNeese State's program is really cool? I mean, you just email them your writing sample... no paperwork, no money, no GRE scores/transcripts. Well, YET, at least. I didn't think about applying to that school, but now I kind of think, why not? I think I'll do it!

kaybay said...

Let's all get off Frank's behind a little. I think he was just trying to cheer us up. I agree though, that this should be the place to air grievances, frustrations, questions, etc... because this process does really, really suck, and it's nice to have a support community, even if I don't know any of you people directly. Thanks, everyone, for listening to me gripe and whine!

Amy said...

@ kaybay

Hrm, I hadn't known that about McNeese until you brought it up, although I wouldn't apply myself.

I have heard through a reliable source that some students aren't too happy there because there's too much teaching (freshmen English comp*)and not enough craft-honing-ness.

Just a thought.

* Lemme tell you, from experience, teaching composition is dreadful and might make you hate the alphabet.

Kerry Headley said...

RE: Frank's request for something positive:

I feel very good about the samples I sent in. Now that I've recovered from the exhaustion, I also feel good about what is most important about the process -- feeling like I'm on the right track as a writer whether I get accepted or not. Having to choose samples and articulate why I write was a good and helpful experience for me. It focused me.

I obsessed over the details like page numbers and LORs like everybody else, but now I am enjoying having done it. I'm writing new pieces and getting on with things while I wait to hear how I did. I'm trying to let it go, but, of course, this is impossible.

To all who applied/are applying: Congratulations and good luck!

Mickey Kenny said...

I would like to add a proposition to any hard worker out there...since Seth had to depart.

Someone just create an online database of MFA instructor poetry. Many people have told me to apply to schools where I "agree" with their poetry. The problem is, I have spent countless hours trying to figure out who is exactly teaching at what program, and where to access their poems. I ended up buying a few chapbooks, and this is a good thing, but I cannot afford to buy every instructor's chapbook that I'm interested in. It would be great if programs were more forward with themselves, and offered an accessible place to read their work... ! Better yet, a database categorzing school, instructor, poem. If there is a place like this that I failed to find, I apolize, and please let me know. This isn't said in an angry/upset way, but more of a in-retrospect way. It was really hard to find who was currently teaching and any examples of their work.

Nadiya said...

Okay, ALL my LORs done. Phew.

I could kiss my recs. They rock.All four of them.

So anyone having trouble figuring out Oregon's SOP?

I don't know quite how to approach the angle of why I want to study there exactly, with specific faculty mentioned...how are you dealing with that?

Andrea said...

Frank, and others- to quote myself, of all people, from above:

Come on everyone, cheer up! All of these schools are looking for potential, not ready-to-be-published material. While I, too, am doubting myself, while I'm sickened at the idea of spending $1200 on applications with the possibility of 14 rejection letters, I also know that "the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice." Which is my way of saying that everything will work out as it's supposed to, and we will all find the little spot where we're allowed to nestle and thrive. Let's send some good vibes out into the ether.

Or at least get a little drunk, whichever works.

In other news, all 14 of my applications went out today! Hooray!

Andrea said...

Nadiya,

I applied in fiction to Oregon, and I was able to find excerpts of the fiction faculty's work and info about them just by Googling and using Amazon's "look inside" feature. I couldn't afford to buy any work so I used those things for researching faculty at most of my schools.

Sequoia N said...

Dolores, you can upload things for ASU? When I called the program a while back, they said they were having problems with the grad school accepting their materials (including recommendations) online. I just mailed everything.

Nadiya said...

Thanks DigAPony!

I hadn't thought of Google Books.

I do think it's a slightly annoying requirement though. Okay, let me be honest, I think it's a VERY annoying requirement.

Nadiya said...

Frank,

(Like MommyJ) I'm also happy with my writing sample. I think I have two strong and one good LOR. I'm happy with my personal essay, though think adapting it to various school reqs a drag. I'm not over the moon with the academic statement - but it'll do.

So, yeah, stressed out totally. But I'm good. :-)

The OldBoy said...

I just wanted to say, I have submitted my second application. These personal statements are eating me alive, but I will persist. Thanks to everyone for their encouragement. And good luck.

Carol H. Hood said...

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARGH! This one friggin recommender is KILLING me! He already missed NYU's deadline, I had to scramble and get my cousin to submit for me. Now Cornell's clock is ticking, despite the fact that I've called, emailed and spoken to him every day!!!!!!!!!

Why would you commit to this and flake? This is my future, God damn it! You should have just said no and stepped aside so I could find someone who actually WON'T let me down!

*breaths*

kaybay said...

One of my recommenders was wonderful with the hard copy letters, but can't seem to "find the time" with letters that need to be uploaded online. He is old, but still... I gave him the recommendation packet in October, sent five emails about Cornell's deadline, which is tonight, and called him yesterday to remind him. Lo and behold, it is December 15th and no letter, so I totally feel you.

I will say that I know Cornell is not as concerned about everything being turned in by the deadline as other schools (like Indiana). As long as everything within your control is in by tonight (sample, SOPs, etc), I think you'll be fine. I don't know what to say if he doesn't do any of your letters at all. Call you cousin, she seems pretty reliable! Sorry about your situation, the letters of recommendation are the worst part of this process, bar none.

Sequoia N said...

I think it may be time for a new mailbag

Dolores Humbert said...

Wanderingtree,

Yeah, ASU allows me to upload them, though I can't "preview" the files like other application-systems allow. So I think I'm going to just go ahead and send them hard copies of everything.

Ashley Brooke said...

To get positive, I too am feeling pretty good about my writing sample, though it's fleeting. One minute I think I've got a pretty good shot at Iowa, and the next I worry about being rejected from all of my schools. Given that I've applied to the full gauntlet of schools, including some that admit a good number of applicants, I do feel relatively confident that I'll get in SOMEWHERE!

I think that many of you will find schools as well, so let's all get ready to relax... once these apps are done! :)

3 down, 11 more to go.

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

Here's a more cheerful topic to discuss:

Has anyone found a good way to express gratitude to their LOR writers?

Mine were all very gracious (even if they occasionally caused me to have a near freakout moment).

Now that my apps are done I want to thank them in some way. Any ideas?

Anonymous said...

Kaybay! You're a godsend! I didn't even think about McNeese.

Does anyone know any appropriate ways to show gratitude to their referees? I was about to ship off some wine and plum tea, but I started asking myself "What would Emily Post do?" I don't want to make it seem like bribery or make them uncomfortable. I might just write a thank you note/card, but I'd feel much better if I could give them something more (considering they've provided recs for 12 schools).

I find that the best way to curb the impending panic is to simply not think about it. Folks, do not even look at the samples/statements/ANYTHING that you've already sent to an MFA program. We are powerless now. But we can still get drunk and start watching long marathons of our favourite TV shows. Good luck and god/insert whatever deity bless!

universalchampion said...

Re: tokens to gratitude to LOR writers--I talked about this with several people, including Directors and Professors who've written letters. The Directors of the school I worked at were flabbergasted at the idea of receiving a gift for writing a LOR (they hadn't ever received one). I also felt kind of bribe-ish at the thought of getting them a gift card or something. In the end, I got some rad thank you notes (I found some petite ones with typewriters on them) and sent them along with a fancy gourmet chocolate bar (Mast Brother Chocolate from Brooklyn being my personal fave). I'm no Emily Post, but that's the best I could do. cheers, c

Rose said...

Gretchen - rock on with the marathon tv show watching. Hulu + Hollywood Video = couch ecstasy. I only have a four applications to still submit, but I can sit easy for awhile.

I'm sorry for all the people having trouble with LOR's. My professors were amazing and had my letters done within two or three weeks of asking them. No one complained about the online uploads/special forms/etc. I'm surprised by how many people on here have profs who seem so uncooperative and, well, whiny. My recommenders made me feel like the letters were no inconvenience at all. All I gave back were little cards with a monkey and a few dozens bananas ("Thanks a bunch!") that I bought at Borders. Anything beyond that just felt excessive.

Best of luck everyone!

Unknown said...

I think I came across a pretty good way to thank my recommenders: I bought these beautiful cards from a reforestation organization that say "An orchard of trees has been donated in your honor." I figured that would be a good way to give back to those poor forests I destroyed for my applications...and the professors wouldn't feel awkward at receiving a gift.

J said...

@Jenna: That is the best kind of card ever!!! So clever!

Emma said...

Question concerning RESUMES:

I have what could loftily be termed a "lit resume" and then a "professional resume." The lit resume is not what one might call impressive, and the professional resume is mostly waitressing, with the occasional barista position thrown in there.

Do schools give a shit about waitressing, or should I just stick with the 'relevant' materials?

Hannah said...

Fishy and Gretchen - I gave my LORs a $15 gift certificate each to a local bookstore, which they seemed to appreciate.

Andrea said...

Emma,

Here's what I did, though I have no clue if it was correct/kosher/whatever: if a school asked for a resume but NOT a CV (or your literary resume) I just stuck both in. I wanted them to see my academic stuff well organized as well as my work history (which I'm assuming they are interested in for TA positions, just to make sure you've held a job and can be deemed responsible in the working world). In my opinion, try both. Anyone else?

Michael said...

I'm applying to a lot of schools, and I feel like I asked for letters a little later than the norm, so I got $30 Borders gift cards for my recommenders (Dunkin Donuts for my musician recommender). I don't think it's excessive at all. They really do deserve it.

Another thing related to LoRs: Has anyone received a physical letter back that was not signed across the seal? My one college prof who is a professional musician tends to march to the beat of his own drum, and even though I emphasized the point a million times over, he did not sign. I'm going to submit it as is, but was just curious what everyone else thinks.

Emma said...

@Dolores:

Forge his signature.

Dolores Humbert said...

Emma, I just went through all my comments, trying to figure out what you were referring to before realizing you meant that advice for Michael!

It IS good advice, though, haha.

But if the letter is in an official school envelop, I dont think you should worry about it. Let it lie as is.

Michael said...

It's just in an envelope I sent him. If 2 out of 3 are signed, I think I should be OK.

Emma said...

@ Dolores.

AHAHA.

Oops.

Eli said...

Hey MommyJ, thanks very much for the Amherst tip - turns out my recommendations are all in for it now anyway. it's a few other schools my LOR writers have gone AWOL on. Oh well...i'm sure it'll work out! Good luck - i'll cross my fingers for you and amherst :)

Sister Ray said...

I don't know how many of you guys are coming straight out of undergrad, or what you had to deal with to get into college, but I am, and this time 4 years ago I was sending out 15 applications to undergraduate schools - I come from a really competitive area in the Northeast. And that was - exhausting, to say the least. Somewhat scarring, even.

And now as I am doing these 12, including some to schools I really freaking want and didn't get into for undergrad (I'm looking at you NYU), I'm starting to feel like I am going to be just SO angry and bitter if I don't get into certain places. Or anywhere. The thought of getting 12 rejection letters is just...uggggh.

I'm glad that everyone here knows the same feeling though - we're all taking such a big chance on such a crapshoot that it's hard not to freak out sometimes. But I guess that's life, eh? Things are gonna work out somehow. And at the end of the day, a rejection is not going to take our ability or desire to write away from us. Hang in there everyone! Best of luck!

laura said...

Has anyone found information on how long the statement of intent for Houston should be? Could you link me to it? They are pretty terrible about answering their phone / returning calls, and I can't find instructions on their website.

universalchampion said...

Maybe I'm just finally starting to crack, but is anyone else having difficulty with the Syracuse online application? It's AWFUL! I can't list more than one school on the Basic Info page, and once I upload a document (into one of three mysterious Additional Info categories), lord knows if I'm matching the right doc with the right upload. Gah!

kaybay said...

UC - I second your frustration. I was irritated as a transfer student, because they say to send all transcripts from each institution attended, but also say only to list info on my alma mater. So, I emailed the graduate school about both parts of the application and they answered on one. So, I said "screw it," left off info about my transfer school and sent one transcript. They can figure it out.

The upload feature is very strange. I uploaded the teaching and personal statement in one Word doc, then did the resume separately. But I was also very confused. Syracuse was my final application, and I just got to the "f-it" stage and moved on.

Sequoia N said...

I uploaded everything separately except for the additional info bits which I compiled into one upload. Just label everything with clear headers to be on the safe side.

kaybay said...

Maybe I am the most unobservant person in the world, but I couldn't find a way to upload separate stories on many of the online programs like Embarq. I ended up putting the stories into one Word document for a few schools, since I just couldn't get the nerve up to email the graduate school about that. I figure no reasonable program would deny me for that, and it was only for four schools anyway. The only problem I thought about was the possibility of them thinking it was one story, but I think they'd be smart enough to figure that out too. Who knows...

Ashley Brooke said...

Almost all online applications give only one place to upload a sample. It is expected that if you have multiple stories that they will be in one document. Think about it this way: poets aren't going to be uploading ten documents!

Yarduni said...

Michelle -

Go to the home page of this blog, and look on the right for the tag "Application - Statement of Purpose" - there are many comments and remarks on this subject.
Also, do a google search for directions on how to writes SOPs. I guarantee you'll find a lot of helpful stuff.

Michael -

I haven't had any experience with this sort of thing, but I imagine it would cause a problem. No way of meeting up with him to get his signature?

Yarduni said...

To all those applying to Columbia -

How did you handle the essay requirement (commentary on a text published in the last ten years)? I've been tackling it sort of like a normal lit. paper (themes, symbols, etc.), but am not really sure what I'm doing.

Pema D said...

universal champion,
i had a kismet moment and wanted to share that i too love the mast brothers' chocolate--- and not only is the chocolate great, the brothers are CUTE!!

alright everyone,
stay strong and keep up the good work!

Rising Yellow Rose said...

Iowa does have students help in the application process. One of my professors is an alum and he has firsthand experience. Yikes.

universalchampion said...

kaybay + wandering tree, thanks for the notes of parallel experiences using embark. i also got into fuck-it mode (dangerous territory, i fear) and just uploaded what i could where i best figured it went.

luling: mast brother chocolate, FTW!

MommyJ said...

Good news ... Excellent news!!! The late LOR is NOT a deal breaker! I called the MFA program office directly to find out if my application was out because my second LOR was not in yet. The application must be in by the deadline and they strongly recommend that the writing sample be in by the deadline but other pieces are not so critical. "Some people don't have transcripts," she said. "They have to graduate first."

So I am not going to freak out about this any more. I have one LOR from a former prof who laughed at me when I said I did not expect to get in, another outstanding, and the generic backup I just asked my former grad program to fax. Now I am going to worry the cat climbing the Xmas tree and ride my daughter about getting her undergrad apps in.

I found a nest in this year's tree with a small spotted egg tucked inside ... a harbinger of good fortune for the coming year, I will believe.

inkli__11 said...

Hi,

I had my undergraduate transcripts sent out around late October or early November. Most my schools that offer online application status checks say that they have not yet received them. Is is possible that, since they received my transcripts very early before they had opened my file or received any other materials from me, that they weren't kept and processed?

I know it's supposed to take some time for them to update the status pages, but they have my other materials (transcripts from a semester of grad school and test scores) listed as received, and those definitely would have arrived later than my undergraduate transcripts.

Thanks.

Sequoia N said...

Call the office and let them know when you sent your materials. I worried about this too since I sent most of my app materials way early. A couple of online status checks still say I am missing materials, however, I have been assured that the programs have the materials.

mj said...

I had a similar thing happen with my transcripts, SHL. I can only think that since I sent them out earlier than other materials, it just took them a second to match them up with the correct file, and then ANOTHER second to update it all online. I would keep in mind that, as we've been discussing a lot in this forum, transcripts are one of those "okay to trickle in" things; if everything else in present in your file, the school will most likely contact you if they're missing one such item.

Carol H. Hood said...

Well, I'm trying to get Columbia, Sarah Lawrence, Boston, Iowa, Brooklyn, Hunter, and Miami all out this week. Dying.

Philip Christopher said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
kaybay said...

Speaking of missing application materials, has anyone received their SASE back from UFlorida? I sent them my writing sample on the 4th of December and have not received the envelope back, but I have received the envelopes from Iowa and Bama, even though I sent those out two weeks later... should I be concerned? I believe the school is on Christmas break starting tomorrow, should I call? I tried emailing and the email got kicked back to me. What do you think?

pnasty said...

Laura,

Fewer than 1,000 words. They have some other specifics that they'd like included, as well.

Link: http://www.class.uh.edu/cwp/__docs/UHCWP_MFA.pdf

Brad

Emily X.R. Pan said...

Re: demonstrating gratitude to my LOR writers -- they were all professors I knew really really well. I picked out a book for each of them that I would recommend based on their tastes, and sent those along with some nice thank-you cards.

Unknown said...

Ever find the most banal things holding you back during a "grand pursuit"? My University of Alabama app's done... statement written, unofficial transcript printed, manuscript re-revised... all that's missing? Black ink. Stupid printer.

BTW... 1 done (Michener), 13 to go.

Sigh.

Trilbe said...

I feel ya, Gena! I was telling a friend yesterday that doing these apps -- I've done 10 -- killed me this semester. Along with my full-time job and full load of classes, the work I had to do for these applications almost broke me. His response, "What took so much work?" It's impossible to explain to people who aren't doing these how much effort goes into the thing: choosing schools, finding out each schools requirements, preparing for the GRE, taking the GRE, Personal Statements, Statements of Purpose, Statements of Objectives, fellowship applications, applications for assistantships, soliciting recommendations, following up with recommenders, ordering transcripts, delivering transcripts, finding lost transcripts... And the Writing Sample! Oy!

Unknown said...

Yup, Trilbe-- a lot of "unseen" time consumers. Another misconception between fellow students that's been getting to me is the assumed relative ease of getting into a Masters of Fine Arts versus other MA programs. I get a lot of "I'm sure every school will admit you!"... which is not so much a show of my prowess as my compunction to hang with "uninitiated" friends. Friends who don't listen to my odds and prefer to think I'm being modest when I share my doubts of across-the-board wins. Oh well. At least I won't be terribly surprised with my first "small" envelope.

On a positive note, until I can run out and buy ink, I've moved on to the all-electronic apps. Thanks Syracuse, Vandy.

3 done, 11 to go.

Eli said...

argh, i chose (well, i had no choice) the worst recommender ever - he is a busy journalist and knows my writing well, yet i emailed him yesterday asking him to finally do my final three recommendations, and he emailed back saying: 'i've been in X (famous global danger zone) for two weeks; i am aware there is one request pending'.

No, dude - there are three requests pending! Shit! I hate asking him to make this a priority when he clearly sees it as so trivial... Argh. And I'm being so relentlessly grateful and nice to him and getting nowhere. Can't he spare a thought for a spoilt young westerner in their struggle for an MFA degree??!

At least it won't matter if they're late. But still. *ties self up in knots*

Anonymous said...

For those worried about procrastinating LOR professors:

Awhile back, I had a pretty candid conversation with a teacher in a major MFA program; and he told me that, based on his own experience as program director, late LORs aren't all that big of a deal. He said that it's not unusual at all for stuff (LORs, transcripts, GRE scores, etc) to trickle in throughout the Spring semester.

He also reminded me that most online applications now require that you name/list who your recommenders are. So if they don't get a LOR from someone, they know exactly which recommender has dropped the ball.

Basically...try to get your LORs in on time, but realize that it's not the end of the world (for most programs) if the LORs are a little late.

Eli said...

nice one, michael, thanks!

SeeMoreGlass said...

pleeeeeeeease new mailbag?

Mickey Kenny said...

I'm thinking about adding a more experimental prose piece into my poetry portfolio. The thing is, the piece is completely dependent upon an illustration my friend drew. We self-published a little chapbook (that I mention in my SOP), and I hope to work with him in the future.

My question is, can I place an illustration in my portfolio... or is that simply out of the question??

Thanks

Terrence said...

Hmmm...

Does anyone wonder how race/ethnicity play into the admissions process? Is there affirmative-Action for underrepresented applicants to MFA programs? I'm sort of curious about this.

Thoughts?

Terrence said...
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Dolores Humbert said...

Terrence,

It really depends on the program, though it goes without saying, the quality of your writing sample trumps all other factors. I know, though, that schools like Rutgers-Newark, V-Tech, ASU do seem to favor diversity. (I can see that you love Junot Diaz. I'm a huge fan myself, but I'm so sad he's at MIT. Do they even have a creative writing program?! Ugh, those computer kids are lucky! Would love to have him as a mentor!)

Has anyone received a confirmation email from Colorado State yet? Saying they got your materials?

Ashley Brooke said...

MFA programs should NOT be considering race or ethnicity. In fact, I detest that some applications ask and seem to require answers. Diversity of talent or perspective, on the other hand, can be important, and may often correlate with ethnic diversity.

There are some schools that offer special fellowships for underrepresented groups, but you have to get in first with your writing sample.

Mickey Kenny said...

Dolores,

I just got an email from Colorado State saying they didn't receive my SOP!! Nightmare came true. However, Marnie was extremely nice and thanked me for my thorough "Application Content List," and gave me leeway for the oversight, asking me to send it ASAP. Long story short, they're moving through the pile as we speak, and they are a very considerate bunch, I'm sure you'll hear if everything is in order shortly.

Terrence said...

Dolores and Ashley,

Hmmm, that's complicated considering the subjectivity of the entire process. Sometimes, we applicants speak of manuscript quality as though it's a GRE score: all pretty and easily defined.

I wonder if two "equal" manuscripts are written, one by a minority and the other by a non-minority, who would have the edge. Is it a coin toss? (Not: SHould it be a coin toss?)Can you blame the admin for accepting the minority to boost the program's diversity? (That sort of blends into your point about diversity of perspective, Ashley.)

Personally, I appreciate programs who pay attention to race during the process. A good melting-pot of ethic/cultural backgrounds, I think, only serves to better the program (assuming that everyone's writing is sufficient).

Elizabeth Benedict said...

For anyone interested in another perspective on MFAs, and an interesting contest to enter, please see my new piece on Huffington Post, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/elizabeth-benedict/its-christmas-dont-get-an_b_397189.html.

For more on how many famous writers became writers, go to http://mentorsmusesmonsters.blogspot.com.

THanks!
EB

beej said...

I'm a little sick about something... I'm also in the midst of a CUH-razy time in my life, have been moving all over the country, lots of personal challenges, et al. Basically, I ended up finishing my app for Michener at 4 am in a Motel 6. I did as well as I could on it, but now that it's in the mail (20 minutes before the post office closed on the postmark deadline), I seriously regret leaving some things out of my personal statement. Mainly that I particularly want to go to Michener so that I can study poetry and fiction. This is hugely important to me. This question is probably a no-brainer, but it would be a bad idea to send them a follow-up letter, right??

Carol H. Hood said...

I've never really considered how much is taken into account with race/ethnicity/gender but my personal opinion is that I'm more interested in a diverse faculty than a diverse class. Being mentored by someone who cannot relate to you in any way, shape, or form is a step backwards in my book.

Ashley Brooke said...

Terrence,
I agree that it would be a good thing if the writing samples were truly equal. That's hard to come by (like you said, it's not like having two scores of 600 or something, both will have different strengths), but I don't see why they shouldn't if it really comes down to it.
But really, I don't think that anybody should need the "extra boost," since all of our samples are brilliant, right? :)

Ashley Brooke said...
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Ashley Brooke said...
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Ashley Brooke said...
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laura said...

kaybay: Does UF suggest sending an SASE anywhere on their website? I couldn't find any mention of SASEs, and a lot of programs say that they won't return anything to applicants. I don't know, though. I didn't dig very deep. Did you just send it to verify delivery of your application? I've just been obsessively tracking all my packages.

kaybay said...

Laura - I just assumed they would send it back, but the website doesn't say anything about a SASE at all. So, I guess you're right, maybe they won't send anything. Since you also can't check your status on their website, I feel a little in the dark. Should I call them, or just assume everything is okay? I applied online, but sent transcripts, samples, recs, etc... in one envelope. If they have my app and fee online, but never get everything else, do you think they'd call me? I'm not so much worried about the $30 as I am about not even being in the running for my top choice school.

Carol H. Hood said...

I've gotten so used to uploading samples, then there's Columbia, lol.

Yarduni said...

4maivalentine -

I'm taking advantage on the comment you just made, and repeating to you a question I previously posted here but received no answer. The critical essay Columbia ask for: do you have any idea what is expected from us? Is it supposed to be an analysis? A critique?

Unknown said...

@Yarduni - I am currently an undergraduate at Columbia and I whined last week to one of my writing professors about this requirement -- he is a significant, old school member of the faculty -- who said that the Literary Essay is just to show that you are a competent academic writer, who can do as well in seminars as in workshop. He suggested that I just take an old paper and cut it down to the appropriate size, which is what I did.

Yarduni said...

Trilbe -

Oh man, I would love to do that, but my papers are all on literature older than 10 years, so I had to write a new one. But what you mean to say is that it should be sort of a literary analysis? Themes, symbolism, etc.?

Unknown said...

@Yarduni - With less than 1,000 words, I focused on the interplay between only two poems in Michael Longley's _Collected Poems_. I used these pieces to introduce Longley's background as a classicist, talked about how these two poems reflected both Longley's interpretation of Classical Greek literature and his position in the Irish poetic tradition. I spoke briefly about the language in the poems and then called it a day. My professor said not to sweat this requirement, commenting that pretty much anything would be fine as long as I didn't sound crazy and/or developmentally challenged.

Yarduni said...

Trilbe -

Thanks! You really helped relieve the pressure!

Carol H. Hood said...

Yarduni-Now you have given ME the chance to rant! So, I was totally confused to what they wanted, so I called their office to ask.

The guy was like, "Well, you know, a literary essay!" And I was like, "...uh? I mean I have an idea but then I don't." And he was like, "You know, like the ones you'd write in high school, analyzing the Great Gatsby."

So I was thinking to myself, okay, yeah, don't have any old high school papers saved that could ever be worth MFA quality. Lol.

I was a Psych/Bio major in college, so I've contemplated turning in a thesis on a psych journal article, but in the end, I just chose a book I've read, and developed a thesis from that. If you were lucky enough to have an old thesis from undergrad, use it!

cb said...

Does anyone know of any MFA program/student blogs? I think I remember there were a few addresses floating around before.

kaybay said...

Chloe - I don't know if you know about the MFA Chronicles, but here's the link if interested:

http://mfachronicles.blogspot.com/

Terrence said...

Ashley,

I definitely agree that our experiences make us, but can you deny that minorities often have certain experiences in common with one another? There is a book that discusses this well. "Why are all the black kids sitting together in the cafeteria?"

The point being that race/ethnicity (and whatever other way you can define a minority) I feel, shapes a strong program. If everyone in the workshop is from the same household, you'll get different stories and perspectives, but you will hardly grasp the breadth of human experience (with flecks of racial tension, political awareness, yadda yadda) nor the variety of morals and standards. Of course, this is a bigger example, but it expresses the advantage of diversity in a CW program.

When I said that the admission process is subjective, I meant it for a different reason. The subjectivity allows for several writing samples to be viewed as equal. I'm not sure if a person can read 300 stories and then confidently (not definitively) rank them 1-300. Thus, when a minority makes it into the highest echelon, say the top 10, and the committee can't decided which 9 should make it into the program, in my opinion, the minority's voice/writing sample gains an edge.

Either way, yes, all of our writing samples are brilliant and bound to be in the top 10-20 :)

Anonymous said...

If minority applicants are given any kind of advantage it should be given to minorities who don't write about being Black, or Asian, or Mexican, or Indian, or whatever. There are too many expectations put on minority writers to write from their cultural or racial backgrounds. I think (i don't know for sure) that editors, publishers, MFA application readers love and find it very exciting when minority writers write about their culture but would a Black, or Asian, or Mexican, or Indian writer be taken seriously if their racial identity was not central to their creative work? I would guess that it does happen but probably not that often. If I'm wrong please let me know because I have done absolutely no research on this.

RugbyToy said...
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RugbyToy said...
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Carol H. Hood said...

As a minority writer, I am personally offended that anyone would have the audacity to discredit my work because I write about my own culture. I write about my own culture because I am proud of where I came from, because I have stories that have been inspired by my family and so forth.

Just like any Caucasian, who tells stories whether it be folklore or contemporary, they are not discredited for their work. Their work may or may not be looked at as brilliant.

It is the same for minority writers and to even discourage us from writing about our own culture is absolutely atrocious.

If anyone is to discredit me because I am a minority writing about minorities, then I would not want a thing to do with their program anyway.

That being said, I want to be accepted to a program for my talent and my unique prospective. If I have obtained these qualities from my experience of being a minority woman, then so be it.

Sequoia N said...

4mai, I think you missed the point. Minority writers are definitely Not discredited/discouraged for writing about their own cultures. In fact, it's almost expected that minority writers write about their own culture, about "the exotic" (as deemed by the white, male dominated publishing industry). Well-established writers have talked about this issue in interviews, editors and agents have admitted (sometimes indirectly) to the biases (Oh, so sorry but I just accepted a story from a Chinese author this year). It's just that minority writers sometimes feel pressure to write about their culture (even if it's not REALLY their culture) and to take advantage of their ethnicity to sell books/market themselves. Sure, not every minority writer writes about their own culture or with characters stemming from the same ethnicity but most do.

Sequoia N said...

See this blog post for a thoughtful entry on the matter

http://elainepchiew.blogspot.com/2009/05/ethnic-writer-to-be-or-not-to-be.html

Carol H. Hood said...

Wandering Tree,

I completely understand the point being made here, and I still have a problem with it. Minorities are not some separate species that requires a lost Dead Sea scroll to translate.

I find that funny if you consider that the majority of minority writers are in fact turned away by agents and publishers who believe that there is no money in their relative genre, even if you consider that minority work could in fact be considered cross-genre.

I get the point that is being established and my point is, less focus on who is writing what, and more focus on what the message is that he/she/we/them are trying to get across.

Why should a minority be awarded for writing about a suburban white family over a minority who may have written a manuscript about his/her own family that may be arguably better? Because "all minorities write about themselves and should try something different!" What?

What kind of message is that sending? I have seen plenty of minorities who write about other cultures. In turn, are Caucasians branching out to write about other cultures and being awarded for being oh so open minded? Maybe, maybe not.

I say write about what moves you, because if it moves you, the audience will feel the passion, no matter what side of the world it comes from.

Sequoia N said...

I don't think anyone is arguing for authors writing about what doesn't move them, for the individual over content. Write about what moves you. That's a no brainer. But it's also important to at least be aware of the cultural/literary/economic landscape around you.

Anonymous said...

4maivalentine,

Like yourself I'm also a minority woman. I did mention that I believe people are very interested in reading the work of minority writers but mostly if they are about the experience of being a minority. I'm black but I do not write about being a black person in America. I never said that minority writers should not write from the perspective of their cultural and racial backgrounds. I would never dream of saying anything like that. What I mean is that it should not be the only way minorities are expected to write. I don't want someone to think that because I'm black the only thing I can speak on is black culture. I actually don't know a lot about black culture. I know what it is like to be me but I'm not an authority on the collective black identity. Yes, I could probably speak and write about my personal experience of being black in America but I can do other things too. And in fact, in my case, I can do those other things a lot better. If you feel the most authentic when you write about your culture then that's exactly what you should be doing. Writing about my race is not what I'm interested in and it's not anything I'm particularly good at either. But the expectation for me to write from the perspective of my race does exist and when that expectation is not met then problems arise.

What said...

I went through this process in 2007 for the 2008 school year. I set out to apply to 7 schools, dropped 2 applications because I changed my mind about the programs, and was admitted into 2 of the other 5. I changed my mind about attending for various reasons (one school had amazing funding but sucky locale, the other had awesome locale but sucky funding). I pretty much gave up on this idea until about 2.5 weeks ago when I decided to give this a try again and scrambled to make at the very least the Michigan deadline in a completely different concentration with un-workshopped writing samples. I had 3 referees, one who barked at me for asking and told me to find someone else for any other schools, and another who kept telling me it was inconvenient and put it off until the last minute. Now I'm looking for schools I care to attend/with decent funding that have January deadlines because it would be a MIRACLE if I got into UM.

Boy, am I having a good time.

Laura said...

Any advice on UMass Boston's personal statement? "A 3-5 page personal statement focusing on the role of the candidate's reading life in his or her development as a writer." I'm having a lot of trouble with it! What do they want? I can't think of how to write 3-5 pages on this subject in an interesting way, without repeating myself several times.

Sequoia N said...

Laura, I did something similar for the UM intellectual statement. I pretty much just chronicled how certain books and groups of writers, influenced my writing and literary perspectives. For instance, when I talked about writers like Calvino, Marquez and Borges, I addressed the use of the magical and surreal to portray/parallel aspects of reality. I also covered how immigrant fiction (from Malamud to Yiyun Li) played a role in my writing and the importance of cross-cultural exchanges in literature. On a craft level, I gave examples of novels and short stories that I kept going back to in order to learn how to successfully write dialogue, portray parallel story lines and create tension within a single passage.

Hope this gives you some idea.s

Carol H. Hood said...

Salt-

I think that you and I are another example on how sectioning off minority writers just doesn't work. It seems like you and I have had very different experiences.

We could dive into the whole, "what is exactly black culture?" philosophy but there aren't enough words in the English language to cover that. My experience with writing is that I've been asked to alter my own work because it doesn't fit whatever little box they would like to put a certain minority writer in.

I don't consider myself to be a collective expert on what the black experience is. I can only write from my perspective and odds are, it may or may not touch whoever it touches.

I was once told by a Professor that my story about a black woman working in advertising during the 70s wasn't believable. Why was that? Did the degree she received from Northwestern in marketing not work? Does the idea that she earned an entry position for her talent and spent ten plus years working towards Creative Director sound so far fetched? No, it begins and ends with, "It is hard to imagine a woman from the background during that time doing something so abnormal." Well, why is it abnormal? Sure, I could turn my character into a white male and be done with it, but what fun would that be?

I'm not saying that you have to feel a certain way. I'm probably just ranting, but it kills me to see ethnic writers struggle with the idea of if it's okay to write about something that pertains to them. Or if it's better for us to write about something else.

I definitely am not imploring you to write about being black if that's not what interests you, but at the same time, writing about your own ethnic background should not seem like a shackle. If anything, it should be liberating.

All this to say, I don't think that you'll lose an edge because you're taking a more general market approach. Seriously, if any committee decides not to accept you because you're not writing about what they think you should be writing about, then that is not a program you want to be in. It's definitely not one I'd want to be in.

SeeMoreGlass said...

4mai, i think your anecdote about your writing professor's objection is actually in line with what wanderingtree is saying.
the objection, as i understand it, is that minority writers are limited to writing about their identities AS PERCEIVED by the predominantly white male publishing industry.
this is a poor example, but for lack of a better one, i will use colin powell - one of the things people sometimes say about powell is that he is "a black white guy" or "not black enough." this is according to what those people expect a black guy to be like.
so when your writing prof finds your character unrealistic it is because of her preconceived notions and expectations.
the problem is when the publishing industry encourages minority writers to feed into the stereotypes to which they have become accustomed.

Trilbe said...

We are all Spartans, now! Regardless of race or gender, creed or income, we are able to understand each other's situations better than those that look like us or who believe what we believe. Until April 15th, we are one people, united by a common goal. Can I get an amen?

Laura said...

Thanks, WanderingTree, that was really helpful. Chronicling literary influences sounds like a good idea. Thinking about it, I realized that my influences are pretty strange in that most of them have absolutely nothing in common with each other... Also I'm applying in poetry, but I've been influenced by a lot of fiction & creative nonfiction writers.

I find it difficult to say exactly how each one has influenced me... It feels like more of a subconscious, intuitive sort of thing, than an act of conscious study. I'll read something, absorb something from it, then a while later, write something and realize it was possibly influenced by what I'd read.

Farrah said...
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Farrah said...

Amen, Trilbe!

kaybay said...

Sorry Trilbe, no amen here, we're applying to graduate schools not saving the world...

jessica said...

Carnegie Mellon has a great MFA program for playwrights.

laura said...

I came down with swine flu, and I haven't worked on applications all week. Ahhhhh!

Nadiya said...

@kaybay: well, it seems to be the same amount of work!

@laura: i haven't had swine flu and i still haven't worked on my applications this week. please don't make me feel any guiltier!

kaybay said...

Nadya - amen to that ;)

Dolores Humbert said...
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Dolores Humbert said...

Mickey,

That's great to hear Marnie contacted you! So sweet of her. I feel that many other schools would've just thrown you out of the running, even when it's not your fault/gets lost in the interdepartmental craziness. I haven't gotten a confirmation email but did receive the standard CSU 'set up your account' letter in the mail yesterday, so I'm hoping everything is good to go and ready to be critiqued! So exciting! Good luck! :)

As for the ethnic writer issue, I just wanted to say that ethnic writers who DONT write about their 'experience' shouldn't be praised MORE than ethnic writers who do. I think that concept is a just a bit faulty, salt. Just like I think being forced to write 'ethnonarratives' to satisfy the stereotypical and almost-fetishing editorial or public readership needs is wrong.

I'm an optimistic writer. I feel that whatever program accepts you isn't going to pigeonhole you (as an ethnic writer) more than it does the white/middleclass/male/etc writer. If they do, leave. This goes for anyone, regardless of ethnicity. I think creative writing faculty (in my experience) push students towards the style that they think they are best at AND what style/market they have the best at succeeding. I think they're being honest and I appreciate it. Students, on the whole, can be a bit narrow-minded on this issue, as I think they liken writing about one's own ethnic experience as "playing a card." I think that's absolutely ridiculous! We all play the 'cards' we've been dealt, to some extent. Dorothy Allision to Dostoevsky! I think there's enough room in the literary landscape for both 'kinds' of ethnic writers. Your background doesn't limit what you can write, but it can certainly inspire it. Never feel guilty about this. Or feel compelled that as an ethnic writer, you SHOULDN'T write about your experience or that YOU SHOULD. Write what you want, what you love. No respected program or magazine or whatever is going to VALUE one kind of ethnic writer over the other. Chris Bohjalian doesn't write about the Armenian-American "experience" AND he has been HIGHLY successful. As has been Sandra Cisneros, Amy Tan, etc, who DO. If you see that a program is pushing you to write what you don't feel comfortable or inspired in writing, get out get out get out! Regardless of ethnicity.

And we have to remember about diversity ...there is NEVER enough. For every teacher telling you to write 'ethnically,' there are a hundred editors who will tell you that they already fulfilled that ethnic quota, sorry.

Do what you do best and trust that, at one point, someone is going to appreciate it. :)

Anonymous said...

dolores,

i never said they should be praised more. i never said they should be praised at all.

are you serious? where did you read that in my comments? i never suggested anything like that.

I could clarify further but I think I've said enough and I have no desire to have my words pulled apart then reformed into something completely different.

Carol H. Hood said...

Anyone applying to University of East Anglia or Goldsmith's College? They ask for VERY small samples.

Ido Wah-Nah said...

Nothing like pro-crass-t-nay-shun to motivate, is there? I just finished all the pieces for my first application, to Michigan. I'm half-way through Montana and Western Michigan, and not even thinking about Oregon, Idaho or EWU yet. I miss sleep so much.

Anyone else out there as far behind as I am?

Arna said...

@Michelle and @Ashley

Concerning Iowa's selection process:

While it is true that some Iowa MFA students are involved to some extent with the reading of the applications, I can tell you that the Director of the Iowa Writers' Workshop, Sam Chang, is a tremendously open minded and fair person; I can also say that while I was around the grad students and fiction faculty at Iowa it was widely held that Sam Chang personally reads every single application manuscript, and that her memory of these applicants (even ones not accepted) is extraordinary, bordering on superhuman.

I can tell you from my experience with the IWW, with the specific graduate students reading the manuscripts, and with Sam Chang (as well as Jim McPherson, also on the fiction faculty) everything was above board and fair-minded, even down to the admirable efforts of the women in the front office (Deb West and Connie Brothers) and the very humane way they deal with the process. I know there is a lot of fear/criticism about many schools' opaque, byzantine admission processes (and rightfully so), but Iowa is fair and transparent about what and how they do it, and I think the quality of their program reflects that.

Unknown said...

I'm also looking at Trinity College Dublin, but I can't figure out if there's any financing, it looks like there simply isn't.

Ashley Brooke said...

4maivalentine & Trilbe,
I think that problem with schools in the UK (and Australia and New Zealand) tends to be that the thesis requirement is part expository (which is why I assume the page requirements are so short - 12 pages of prose?), they don't offer much in the area of funding, and the programs are only one year. If you're from the UK, it might make more sense to go to one of these schools, but I don't see any reason for US writers to attend these programs unless that is the structure you're looking for in a program. There are plenty of other opportunities to travel abroad. I might not be aware of the specific details of some of these programs, so correct me if I am wrong, but these have been my impressions and the reason I haven't really considered programs in the UK or Australia. I did check out New Zealand programs a bit but I couldn't find anywhere the sounded right.

Ashley Brooke said...

Also Ireland.

Emily X.R. Pan said...

Procrastination in the form of whining and arm-flailing...

Anyone else here feel like you'll have shriveled up and died by the time we get to April?

One application down, eleven more to go. I'm so not looking forward to these next two months...

MommyJ said...

The first day of winter and I am done. My second reference is in for Amherst, though it's not the one I originally wanted, and my other program is all set. It's just another certification program though, not an MFA. I start there in January. That's for the marketable part of my life.

Good luck to everyone getting stuff in ... and next year when the letters start to come in.

Ido Wah-Nah said...

If my writing sample is 18 pages of poems, and the program is asking for 10-15 pages of poetry, should I go ahead and *gasp* cut 3 poems? Or should I hope they aren't too particular. My writing sample was balanced as a cohesive whole; it tells the story of my journey as a writer, while showcasing different aspects of my voice as a poet, and it matches my statement of purpose. It will be hard to cut 3 poems out, but I don't want to get nixed because I didn't follow directions. Help! (This question is in regards to Western Michigan, but I think Oregon too has a limit of 15). Thanks in advance for any advice offered :) ~Procrastinator Aubs

Rose said...

Does anyone know anything about Oxford's program (in the UK)?

Eli said...

As this board's current only UK dweller (i think), i can verify what Ashley said about lack of funding for UK creative writing Master's courses and them being only one year. CW PhD's are three years here though, and there are a good number of 'em. (Seth has a list...somewhere...).

Pretty much all MA (or MFA) degrees here, whatever subject they're in, cost approx £4000 for UK/EU students and £8000 for international students (so between $6,000 and $12,000). I haven't checked recently, i'm just going on what it was for when i did my MA, in a humanities subject, two years ago. There are tons of awards for MA students available - especially from the Arts and Humanities Research Council (www.ahrc.ac.uk) but the competition for them is intense, and creative writing, sadly, is far down the list of AHRC-award worthy disciplines. It sucks - we're very behind the US this way. Most MA students here pay their own way - work part-time or something - which usually makes it viable. That goes for all CW MA's too. I'd agree completely with Ashley that despite the fact these degrees are increasing in popularity over here, the reason why applications remain relatively low in comparison to the US, and why so few of you are coming here for your degree, is lack of funding.

Rose, I know nothing about the Master of Studies in CW at Oxford but I did my undergraduate there (in English) and I can't recommend the English department enough. It's just a great place to be. If you can afford it, I reckon that program would be awesome. Oxford's the kind of place that's small and quiet and academic enough to get good writing done, but crazy enough for some fun too. Go for it if you're interested in UK programs! :)

Unknown said...
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Unknown said...

I am applying to Columbia and they ask for a "response" to a work of literature published in your genre in the last ten years. I am wondering if they want an academic, analytic essay or something more like a book review? Anyone else applying to Columbia? What are you sending?

Yarduni said...

Madeline Stevens -

Check out the conversation conducted earlier on this page, starting with my question on Columbia. It goes: yarduni, trilbe, yarduni, trilbe, yarduni, 4maivalentine. We discussed the essay for Columbia and I think it would be very helpful to you.

Anonymous said...

Is anyone having problems with the online references?

My professor swears she sent hers in and multiple schools list her references as not being submitted. I'm not exactly familiar with this but I'm assuming that there isn't really that much of a delay between the time something online is sent and the time it is listed as received...

*breathing through a paper bag*

Bryce Perica said...

Does anyone know if Notre Dame needs hard copies of writing samples even though it is uploaded on the application website?

Thanks!

Bryce Perica said...

Does anyone know if Notre Dame needs hard copies of writing samples even though it is uploaded on the application website?

Thanks!

kaybay said...

Bryce, I really can't imagine that they would want that, and I didn't see anything on their website requesting hard copies of the writing sample. I would upload your sample online and then wait to see if anyone contacts you about submitting a hard copy, but I'm almost 100% sure they want everything online. Good luck!

Bryce Perica said...

Thanks, kaybay. That is what I am thinking too. It's just good to hear it from someone else.

I'm just so nervous about screwing one thing up.

kaybay said...

I think what they mean on their website by "all hard copies should be sent to..." is that all transcripts, recommendations, etc... should be sent to that address. I say that because at the top of the website it says, "ALL applications should be submitted online" and "please include the following with your application."

Sequoia N said...

Re: ND

Only transcripts (and fees/recommendations if applicable to you) need to be sent via mail. Everything else is online.

Luke Johnson said...

Aubs-

Cut the three poems. They can only hurt you. For serious. Sending them will only show the admissions committee that along with being a poor self-editor, you can't follow directions.

LJ

About said...

Anyone else get a letter from Portland State University asking for immunization records. It said my application will not be considered until they receive them. How weird is that?

Hannah said...

I'm wondering if it would be better (to reach the 30 page suggestion for Indiana) to send a flash fiction that is similar to my other two short stories or to send one that is a bit more experimental? Thoughts?

Courtney said...

7 DOWN, 6 TO GO! There is something so incredibly fulfilling about dumping those packets in the mail box and hearing the flap clang shut. Fly away little pretties! Bring Mama some good news!

I hope everyone is feeling great about all of our hard work! Have a restful Xmas break!

Ido Wah-Nah said...

I've tried to find the answer to this question on my own, but when you're as far behind on this blog as I am, it's virtually impossible to catch up. I have a question about an expository writing sample for Montana (and Oregon).

I majored in English, concentrating Creative Writing from Eastern Washington University, and as a result had (and still have, 2 quarters left) the unique opportunity to work with students and faculty in EWU's MFA program. As a result, I have numerous potential writing samples. I'm just unsure which direction to go. I have several more traditional english papers with typical subject matter(shakespeare's lear and christina rossetti's poem goblin market), and I have two essays that are craft essay's written for creative writing classes. One is short - 5 pages - identifying elements of craft in a poem by Julie Gamberg; the second is what I consider to be my best writing, but it is really risky I think. It's a 5 page essay about Thomas Lynch (Nonfiction contemporary writer) written from the writers perspective, and then an essay I wrote which is meant to emulate Thomas Lynch's voice and technique. While I feel this is my strongest writing, is it too far off the track of expository?

Stymied in Spokane

Anonymous said...

WHOOOO! Done with all 14 apps! Strangely enough... I feel bereft. Let the distractions begin! Happy holidays, folks.

mj said...

Aubs--

Stick with the more traditional one. This is such a minor part of the application---practically all they are looking for is that you can write a coherent paragraph--that you wouldn't want to risk throwing them for a loop because you decided to include what sounds more like creative work than expository work.

Sequoia N said...

Hannah, I wouldn't send anything too experimental to Indiana, but I'd just go with whatever is strongest. Also, Indiana's page limit is somewhat flexible as technically 30 pages is just a suggested minimum (not max).

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About said...

Received an ACCEPTANCE letter today from Otis College of Art for the MFA CW program!

Surprisingly early. Apparently they do rolling acceptances as applications are completed. Yay! At least one of my 12 schools wants me.

Kerry Headley said...

Congratulations, Xavier! Nice to know so early.

beej said...

Panic! Just emailed Iowa to ask this question, but they're out of the office for the holiday until AFTER the deadline. Does anyone know, please: if applying to both poetry and fiction, should I submit two separate applications and application fees? Should the personal statement, etc. be different on each? The website mentions that each sample portfolio would need its own coversheet and can be mailed together, but nothing further about applying to both genres.

Sister Ray said...

QUESTION: Does U Florida need you to do the Statement of Purpose for the application to the graduate school? The MFA program says they don't require it but I was doing the online part and that was in it...anyone know??

Also, I am starting to panic a little bit as I have been getting my grades from this semester and some are less stellar than I was hoping...I know that the writing sample comes first above all else but as my GPA is not awesome to begin with I'm afraid that the schools might look at these recent marks as evidence I shouldn't do grad school, which I would like to prove isn't the case. Should I just address it in the Statement of Purpose and hope for the best?

Thanks!!

kaybay said...

Sister Ray - I don't think that the department will read the sample, but I know that it makes you upload something, so you might want to post a generic sample just to be safe. That's what I did. I kept it short, simple, 500 words or so, and just addressed why I wanted an MFA, etc... Since it's not a requirement of the department, I can't imagine them actually reading it. I think it's required to accommodate every other program with the school.

About your grades - I don't think it will hurt you, but I did address issues with my grades in my personal statement. Just make sure that with every negative you address, put a positive spin on it (i.e., I worked a lot during college and my grades suffered, but I want the opportunity to focus entirely on my studies as a graduate student). Something like that. Good luck!

Sister Ray said...

Thanks kaybay, I feel better now! Or as much as that's possible... :) Good luck!

Nadiya said...

Anyone have any details on the Iowa SOP? I can't seem to find anything on their website...

laura said...

Sister Ray:

Under the personal statement section of the UF online app, I wrote "Personal statements are discouraged for MFA applicants" or something along those lines.

It seemed like UF was firm about not wanting a statement of purpose / personal statement, and I decided to respect that despite the online app confusion.

inkli__11 said...

Brenda,
I emailed Iowa about the personal statement and they said one statement for both genres. Can't say for sure about the application fee, but I just assumed I wouldn't have to pay it twice, so I only did one online application and paid just one fee.
Hope this helps!
-S

Yarduni said...

Hi Everyone

How does everybody feel about writing sample page limits? If a school asks for 30 p. but I believe my very best work adds up to 20 p., do you think just go for it?

Ashley Brooke said...

Being under the page count is always okay, as long as your sample isn't obscenely short.

Ashley Brooke said...

As for applying in two genres - The only schools I've found that mention this always ask for two of everything, including applications and fees, so I would really check with the people at Iowa. If it's too late to do that, I would just be safe and send it twice... or at least make clear which genre you prefer to be considered in.

Ashley Brooke said...

In case anybody else missed this like I did - Writing samples (hard copies!) have a deadline of January 1st for Syracuse, while the other materials seem to have a deadline of January 9th.
If I hadn't triple checked this I might have been late. I just put it in the mail today and figured I'd say this in case anybody else missed the same detail.

Happy holidays, everyone!

Rising Yellow Rose said...

Hi guys,
I took the GRE three times and could not lift my math scores (I've always been just awful at math). Though I did quite well in the verbal, I could notbreak back the 1000 minimum that some schools say is a requirement. A professor of mine says that my writing samples are stellar and the programs often override the graduate school requirements. Has anyone had any experience with this?
BTW: Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays everyone!

Carol H. Hood said...

Merry Christmas!

7 out of 15 apps left, now time to watch my niece and nephew open their gifts.

Terrence said...

Michelle,

That is almost always the case. If the program really wants you, hardly anything will stop them. Imagine universities fighting for the best football players in the country... same deal here: the performance can override anything, especially test scores.

Rising Yellow Rose said...

Terrance-
Phew! That's really nice to hear!
Michelle

Eli Lindert said...

Ashley: I just noticed that about Syracuse too! Do you know if this a postmark date, or a "received-by" date? If it's the atter I'm not even going to bother.

Also, regarding the teaching statement and SoP for Syracuse, do you think we should upload these to the online app or send them to the address they request the manuscripts to be sent to?

Ashley Brooke said...

Ahhh... I just submitted my writing sample to the University of Wyoming, and I accidently included a short flash piece that took me over the 25 page maximum to 28. I always advise others not to do this, and given how easy it would be to cut that short piece, it looks like I simply ignored the page limit. Blahh. Watch out for dumb mistakes! I only meant to include that piece for places that asked for longer samples... Of well, at least I didn't get obscenely long.

Ashley Brooke said...

Eli,
It just says "The deadline to submit writing samples is January 1st" and "MFA/Creative Writing applicants must submit a writing sample on or before January 1st." For some reason I got the impression it was a received by deadline somewhere, but I can't find it now. I would just try to be safe and get them out by monday and have them over-nighted or at least sent priority.

I uploaded the teaching statement and SOP online, but also included the SOP in my hard copies because the basic information sheet suggests that it be included. I had to put my SOP and my teaching statement in one document.

Yarduni said...

Question Regarding Teaching Assistanship Applications:

Should I fill them out and send them even if I have no teaching experience (which means leaving them virtually blank)? Of course, I prefer not to look like an idiot, but I really need any kind of financial support I can get.

Jennifer said...

Ashley -- Chances are very good that Wyoming won't even notice.

Sequoia N said...

Yarduni,

Fill it out anyway. You should also really think about ANY experiences/skills you have that could be transferrable to the classroom. In some cases, teaching assistantship applications are required as part of a complete application, so you might want to double check before opting to not do it.

Ashley Brooke said...

Thanks, Jennifer. I guess if they love my sample, it won't be a huge issue, and if they hate my sample, it won't really be an issue either. :)

laura said...

Is anyone else having problems with the postal service losing their packages to Florida State? All of my other applications have been mailed without any issues, but the postal service lost my first packet to FSU. Then, I tried mailing it again, and they lost it a second time! I'm running out of official transcripts. :( I sent my materials to the address posted on FSU's website:
* Office of Admissions
* Florida State University
* 282 Champions Way
* PO Box 3062400
* Tallahassee, FL 32306-2400

Is anyone else having this issue? What the heck, USPS? Maybe some angry mail person is also applying to Florida State, so they're just tossing anything headed toward admissions. Haha. :-X

Sequoia N said...

Laura,

Are you sure they lost your packet? How much time did you give the office to find/process materials? A lot of admissions offices are going to be backed up at least a month esp. around the holidays.

laura said...

WanderingTree:

I paid for tracking on all of my mailings, and both attempts to mail Florida State were lost while being "processed" in a sort facility. Florida State never received them, and the postal service doesn't offer any official confirmation for me to prove to Florida State that I actually tried to mail it to them way before the deadline. USPS told me just to print out the tracking information, and give FSU that as confirmation. Ugggh. And who knows if a third attempt will work? The postmark deadline is January 1st, so I have to decide whether or not I should try again within the next few days or just wait a little longer for USPS to find one of my previous mailings.

Stress!

laura said...

Part of me wants to say "whatever, obviously the universe/USPS does not want me at Florida State," but I am so in love with their program. I want to work with Erin Belieu so bad!

I wish I lived closer to their program. I would hand deliver it! But, alas, I live in California, which is probably why my postal service sucks this much.

Ashley Brooke said...

Laura,
why don't you send another via UPS or anybody but the post office?

kaybay said...

Hi Laura, I was under the impression that everything had to be submitted online for FSU. Could that be why they "never got it"? Just a thought.

Laura LP said...

kaybay:

No, they still need official transcripts mailed to them. ETS also needs to mail them official GRE scores.

-Laura

Laura LP said...

Ashley:

That is my plan if one of the packages doesn't show up by the 30th. But I used to work in a mail room, and it always seemed like UPS and Fedex lost packages way more often than USPS. Oh well. :(

-Laura

universalchampion said...

here's a question out of curiousity (and slight paranoia): which schools customarily send e-mails saying that they've received complete application packages from you? I've gotten such kind e-mails from Purdue and the University of Kansas, and am wondering which other schools practice this (and if any of the seven other applications I've sent out into the world aren't being confirmed).

Meanwhile, related but unrelated: my well-meaning Aunt was very excited to gift me this Xmas with a copy of the Portable MFA--which, if anyone else had come across this book, is more or less a giant list of reasons why you shouldn't waste time with MFA programs. Sheesh! Not helpful! cheers, c

kaybay said...

So, out of curiosity and the need to post something right now, what are you guys doing during the wait?

Sequoia N said...

Writing, reading, and recovering from a cold.

Gummy Bear Sacrifice said...

I want to travel. Actually am looking into planning a group rate trip if any of you adventurous MFAers want to go to Egypt, lol!

Eli said...

Now everything's almost wrapped up? I guess i'm actually gonna have to do some work at my job instead of just pretending to (whilst scanning my writing sample for spelling errors, rewriting my personal statements for the zillionth time and bullshitting my boss beyond all reasonableness...)

Also, what WanderingTree said - get over my cold :)

Brandy Colbert said...

long-time lurker, first-time commenter. :) applying to six or seven schools for fiction, with only syracuse left (and possibly hunter college, vanderbilt, or both). feeling a bit crazy.

i am not looking forward to the next couple of months, but i also plan to pass the time by reading and writing. and maybe i'll finally get back into taking regular tap dancing classes like i've been saying for the past, oh, five years or so.

beej said...

I'm just... so burned out. Still some applications left to go. I have to stagger them/ hold onto them until the last second, because the fees add up so quickly. But most of what is left is fairly easy to do. My writing sample is in good shape, all the ducks are in a row. Except for one thing. The Personal Statement for Iowa. I'm totally stranded on it. It's driving me nuts.

Ashley Brooke said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ashley Brooke said...

CarolHenny,
I'm planning to travel as well. I just finished up undergrad and I don't have a job, plus I have a bunch of frequent flier miles. If I had enough to go to Egypt, you could count me in. I have only enough points for travel to Central America or Europe... so I'm planning on either Belize, Costa Rica, or Spain/Morocco.
Let me know what you decide regardless, especially if you find a really good deal!

I'm almost entirely done with my applications, I just need to get a few more copies of my transcripts and finish up one online application. I can't believe it!

universalchampion said...

Brenda -- I SO hear you. Burn out is exactly where I'm at, too. I've got three more to go, also staggered for app fees/my best attempt at not collapsing on my desk. When it's all said and done, I'm really looking forward to, well, writing. It's been weeks since I've taken time to just work on my stuff. If nothing more, I'll never again say I don't have time to write--this whole app process has been like having a second job!

Gummy Bear Sacrifice said...

MORNING RAAAAAAGGE!

Now I know why they say don't check over your samples once you start sending them. Why? Because what did I do this morning? That's right, check over my sample. Yup!

Guess what happened? Yes, that's right, I came across a section that I suddenly hate with a passion. I completely revised it, yup! Four portfolios, sealed up in an envelop, ready to go, now have been torn open so I can print out my new samples, uh huh!

But what sucks the most about it is that I know I've already sent four writing samples off, all with that blasted paragraph! Optimism and hope against hope? Shot to hell! Happy freaking New Year!
*rolls around on the ground in melodramatic hysterics*

Thanks for "listening!" <3

laura said...

Yayy. Florida State received my second mailing today, although the first mailing is still lost somewhere in the postal system. Yay for not having to stress about that anymore!

kaybay said...

That's good Laura, glad to here it's at least half resolved. I sent my GRE scores to UCF in November and they are still not showing as being received, even though everything else says "complete." I'm going to call once Christmas Break is over, but in case they swear they "never received them," what do I do? I have confirmation from ETS that they were sent. Would they make me pay again? Anybody have experience with this type of thing?

chad said...

as the deadlines approach, and as the deadlines pass, i am both comforted and disturbed by a very short Oscar Wilde quote:

I have spent most of the day putting in a comma and the rest of the day taking it out.

Gummy Bear Sacrifice said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
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