Friday, January 22, 2010

Mailbag, Friday, January 22

Lots of good discussion going on concerning, amongst other things: Is-my-application-complete anxiety, typo anxiety, plan Bs, teaching abroad, the weather conditions of various programs, how to distract yourselves from the aforementioned anxieties, what makes for good teaching and good critiques, and books to read. Did I miss any major threads?

Some links, gathered up top here for ease of access:

Seth's application response time database, which is up and running for the 2010 season.

(Some other resources Seth has made available at this time: Lists of low res programs, creative writing PhD programs, playwriting/dramaturgy programs, and screen/scriptwriting programs.)

As Seth has noted in the comments, he'll be posting a bunch of other good stuff on February 1st, once his contractual obligations to PW magazine allow it, so check back on the Suburban Ecstasies blog then.

And here are a few awesome ways to distract yourselves from general application anxieties, grabbed from various comments (thank you, commentators.)

Puppy webcam!

A poem! "It's the time when we are waiting to be told."

Satirical stick figure games!

Add your own favorite books to read, websites to visit, and things to do to reduce the anxiety, below, as well as open season on other topics, of course.

869 comments:

«Oldest   ‹Older   201 – 400 of 869   Newer›   Newest»
alana said...

Someone told me today that University of Arizona requires GRE scores to determine financial aid. Is this true? I've never seen anything about that on their site, but I'm scared I'm missing something.

Ryan said...

Alana, I don't know about U of A specifically, but I do know that, for the most part, if the school doesn't have a fully-funded program, and offers competitive funding, part of the qualifications can often be grades/test scores. This has nothing to do with admission, by the way. Just the aid package you could get.

Jamie said...

@Madeline
I'm sorry to hear it! The worst is feeling that you've done everything right and that now someone else's problem/issues will negate all your work.

Your case is really about as cut and dried as it gets. It is not your fault; you could not have known this.

You're also in good shape bc you're acting before the deadline, not after.

First, I would contact the professor who's been fired. Maybe they're overreacting to this bad event in their life. The fact is, they taught you in class and had an impression of you, and that's not going to change by them getting fired. You could remind them that you still value their recommendation, and gently mention that you'll be in a real jam if they can't do it. (That is, assuming you value it.)

I would already be thinking ahead from this. If you're emailing, don't wait for a reply - email or phone others. Be very plain and upfront about what you're asking for - an emergency letter turned around in a week. If you get a commitment and others commit after, just say you lined one up and thank them profusely.

I would say go in order of former teachers, then employers/supervisors.

I would recommend against you using the intern letter because of the date and also, it's an intern - you had power over them at the time they wrote the letter (or close to it), schools don't ask for letters from students, and they might not be the best writer/evaluator of you.

But don't delay - you're still in the game. Play your cards now.

Good luck!

universalchampion said...

Distracting reading here: this is an enjoyable and somewhat heartening essay on how tiring writing can be:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/booksblog/2010/jan/22/my-new-novel-al-kennedy

cheers, c

Ben McClendon said...

@Madeline

Do you work? I've been out of college for several years, so I emailed programs and asked about alternative recommenders. All of the ones I talked to were happy to have letters from supervisors where I work, and a colleague who's been my mentor. That might be your way out if it's a possibility. Good luck with your pickle. If you stay calm, whoever is on the other end of the phone/email can do so, too. Hang in there!

Laura said...

Rebecca,

Personally, I find that the more experience I gain critiquing others' writing, the more able I become to critique my own. Also, I think it's easier to think critically about a piece of writing when you are distanced from it, so advising someone else about their writing can be easier than thinking of ways to improve your own.

All of the workshops I've taken as an undergrad have helped me so much with these skills; also, I'm a writing tutor (mostly composition, though). I've found that I really love helping others with their writing. I used to think I would be a terrible teacher because I would never be sure what to advise students to do, but I've gained confidence with the experience I've gathered, and am now really hoping to teach. Of course I'm nowhere near being an expert or anything, but I would worry less about if you are guiding students in the wrong direction, and more about just giving honest feedback and supporting their growth & development as much as possible.

Eeyore said...

little poet -- I feel for your fiance. Terrible thing to to go through just for an inconclusive result. It did make me very grateful, however, that I was in there as a healthy person. I could get through the night and next day and then leave--unlike people struggling to be well in hospitals.

Also, Firefly? The best!

I'm going to go out on a limb and ask how many Arrested Development fans are out there?

the duchess said...

@ salt

to follow-up on your question a while back - I applied to a broad swath of schools across the US (poetry: NYU, Cornell, Brown, UMass Amherst, Columbia College, Iowa, Indiana, ASU Tempe, and UCSD).

I'm originally from southern CA, went to undergrad in northern CA (Berkeley/SF love!), and have lived in NYC for 7 years (amazing that I have survived).

I want to go back to the SF area but I thought I'd give MFA applications a go before moving back.

re: liberal states/cities: This is something that concerns me as well and it's been great to hear everyone chime in.

re: TV obsessions - I am finishing rewatching the final Buffy episodes tonight! And super excited about Lost!

re: New Orleans - I'm going there tomorrow and will try not to obsess about the MFA waiting game.

Eli said...

Late on this, but I've heard much that testifies to Firefly's awesomeness. i have a massive soft spot for science fiction which actually has some depth and intelligence to it, so i can't wait to get my hands on it. Thanks for the reminder guys!

Eeyore: Arrested Development is a fine, fine show. One of the top five comedies of all time (imho)...and i have a raging, unjustifiable crush on Jeffrey Tambor. As George OR Oscar.

ps.i have given up trying to keep up with the rapid rattle of different conversations going on here as my brain's fried...so i'll stick to the Bluths. They're all i'm good for right now.

I imagine one day the MFA blog might actually have its own forum, a la the Speakeasy. Right now, it would work a treat - it would go awfully quiet it the summer though.

Jenna said...

@Eeyore

one Arrested Development fan here :) I've been watching episodes as a distraction the past few weeks.

Eeyore said...

They're making an Arrested Development movie. It's due 2011.

Eli said...

My response to the film news? (if only i could cutely link it):
http://images2.fanpop.com/images/photos/3600000/Lucille-Animated-gif-arrested-development-3695222-275-155.gif

Jamie said...

My distraction? Akira Kurasawa festival at Film Forum.

You kids! Get yourself some cultah!

Eli said...

Ok. I admit it. That's excellent. The first time I saw Ran it took me about two weeks to get over it. I'm a real King Lear girl and Ran blew my mind. Lucky you!! You're right, Kurosawa is a good way to go at this juncture. Alas, I'm stuck at work for too great a part of every week and never actually get round to doing/watching/passively consuming very much of this lovely stuff. (And i do actually read, too, CONSTANTLY, if any MFA adcoms are spying on us...). Vicarious Kurosawa thrills are good enough though...what's your favourite of his films, then, Jamie?

Trilbe said...

Arrested Development fan here! I have a huge crush on Gob (which, pretty much, explains my dating history).

Have you AD fans seen "Michael Cera Delivers the Rape"?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QEWGCbu-0kc

It's sooo wrong! But it's so funny!

Jamie said...

Book of Eli, of course I'm psyched to see Ran for the umpteenth time. Recently, though, I've cooled to such grand male dramas - we're all killing each other, the world is ending, etc. True, perhaps, but a little too solemn and final, especially since they seem so accurate. (Though perhaps we're all killing each other because solemn males are starting wars and letting their sense of tragic history goose their egos.) I had the same exact problem with The Road (tho I didn't see the movie) and Avatar.

So we'll see how I react to Ran this time, a few years older and deeper in (spiritual) debt.

Other than that, my favorites are probably his noirs Stray Dog and The Bad Sleep Well. (Yes, it's more male-driven violence, but somehow the noir seediness isn't as sententious and grandoise to me.) Also Dreams - that movie started as a dream for me - what I'd dream staring at its poster in a boring 10th grade english class - then fulfilled when I finally saw it.

Kitty in a Cathouse said...

OMG Trilbe! I'd never seen that before! hahahahahah!

Amy said...

Just wanted to echo what someone said at the beginning of this thread about signing up for Zoetrope and reading through submissions: good and productive distraction while waiting.

It's true that the short stories run the gamut and that really helps with putting this app process into prospective. I'm also not one to share my writing sample with *known* MFA applicants because I'm a little insane and can't handle it. But being able to read SOME type of writing sample is helping with getting an abstract understanding of what's floating out there.

I mean, really though, the numbers don't lie. And the numbers are atrocious. 2-5% admission rate? I should have signed up to become an astronaut while I applied to schools this season.

Arna said...

I tried to post the following on the recent blog article on More Intelligent Life about Seth Abramson's rankings, but it kept saying it was spam (?), so I thought I'd post it here, and anywhere else it might be read:


I think what's most annoying about the public and popular criticism of Seth Abramson is that it is almost completely undertaken from the point of view of people within the Creative Writing establishment. The AWP, the blog writers, faculty, etc. What I wish someone somewhere would talk about was how helpful the work of Abramson has been and continues to be to the prospective applicant, to the person struggling to enter the world of creative writing, in practice and profession. Not only did his rankings value the things that the average applicant values most (like financial aid), they did so over other, institutionally considered factors (like faculty surveys). This is particularly important because Abramson's work (done mostly at his own expense and effort, I might add, which apparently nobody likes to mention) flies in the face of the non-efforts of large institutions like the AWP which (as one glance at their web resources for MFA site can tell you) does extremely little to help someone who isn't yet in a program, or working for a magazine or university.

Look, I like the AWP and the Best American Poetry blog and a lot of other places that have been so cynical about Mr. Abramson. And I hate that the majority of this discussion has taken place via mostly inaccurate comment-string sniping. I even sort of hate that I'm writing this comment now, in this way. But the fact that this is the only way, outside of Mr. Abramson's work on the MFA blogs, that the voice of an MFA applicant with no connections can be heard is part of what I'm talking about.

Before the PW contract and before the consulting firm and everything else, there was only Mr. Abramson's desire to help the group of people who were being least helped by the ridiculous faux-investigations and rankings of magazines like U.S. News and World Report and The Atlantic. Almost all of his research and work was undertaken at no other profit than the assistance of prospective applicants and the public understanding of MFA programs. Until PW magazine showed an interest in the rankings and put them under contract, no part of his numbers or rankings were ever withheld from anyone who needed them. He stepped up and did what apparently nobody in the Association of Writing Programs, in Poets and Writers Magazine and in the blogosphere could bother to do (even though these are exactly the people who profit from the aspirations and site-visits of people who want to apply to MFA programs): actually help we who needed it. In light of this, the criticism of his person and work is especially insidious.

It's stupid to say that MFA programs can't be ranked. Of course they can. Of course they can be quantified according to categories of data relevant to a prospective applicant. Things like class size, financial aid, quality of visiting faculty, and success of graduates are not mysterious, ineffable qualities. Rather, they are features that schools which systematically value and work towards improving the quality of their program achieve. This is why, despite it apparently being impossible to rank MFA programs, every ranking or offhand opinion poll finds Iowa at the top. Iowa has proven to bring in respected visiting faculty, to financially support most of its students, and to encourage and strive for its students. Because it does this, that MFA program is better than one that does not fund well, whose visiting faculty is inconsistent, and who does not pay personal attention to its students.

Arna said...

(contd.)
I'm sick of reading about the uselessness of MFA programs. I'm sick of reading about how irresponsible Mr. Abramson's work has been. If anyone wants to know whether or not he's been helpful, whether or not his apparently terribly flawed evaluations have helped anyone to make good decisions, go read the 400 or so comments that are now being left weekly by MFA hopefuls on the MFA blog that Abramson initially wrote for. Go see how many of those people feel negatively about Mr. Abramson or what he's done. While I understand that this particular article was mostly just summarizing the criticism by others of Mr. Abramson, I'm sick of hearing that criticism parroted around the web. I wish somebody with a real voice (someone in the AWP or with a blog or with an assignment from a magazine) would stand up and talk about all the positive things that have come from his efforts. Even as late as this year, many, many MFA programs had misleading or incomplete websites; their funding was a mystery, their occasional bad practices (like threatening to withhold funding unless they received a commitment from a prospective applicant) occurred blatantly. That has changed and continues to change thanks to Mr. Abramson.

(contd.)
The stupidest part about all of this is that I of all people have a right to be angry at Mr. Abramson. I've planned on getting an MFA since fourth grade, researched MFA programs since high school and crafted my whole undergraduate career with the aim of becoming a better writer and being able to use a good MFA program. But now, thanks to his efforts, there have been record numbers of applicants at many of the top 50 MFA programs, and despite my commitment (and largely due to his campaign for open information), my chances of admission have lowered. But I don't hate Mr. Abramson; I'm not even mad at him. I'm not going to try to invent criticism of his methodology or intent. I'm glad that all that time ago he decided to help out. I'm glad that he decided that MFA programs should be responsible to their prospective students, that the role of (mostly for-profit) writing resources should be to actually help and inform prospective MFA applicants, and that people who have succeeded in the MFA game should bear a responsibility to the lowly applicants they once were. I am profoundly grateful for his advice, assistance, and efforts, and profoundly disgusted at the pseudo-exile his efforts have won him.

But, more than anything, I trust Seth Abramson. Anyone who actually takes the time to go back through resources like the MFA blog and read his thoughtful, personal, fair and FREE responses to the questions of prospective applicants can easily see why I would. If I am so lucky as to go to a top MFA program, I will remember what he has done for me (though I have never given him a cent), which is much more than I can say for any person who has criticized his efforts.

Orange said...

@Alana

I don't know if anyone answered your questions already, but you do not need GRE scores for U of A.

Ryan said...

Arna, I couldn't agree more with you. Seth has helped me out tremendously with his information. Without the resource of his rankings, I would be striking completely blindly into the MFA world.

I think what was most disturbing/surprising to me about all this wasn't that people didn't agree with him on what he was doing, but the way they lashed out, honestly, in a most juvenile way (eg. smearing someone on the internet). It shows a lot about the character of those people, who instead of directly questioning Seth sought to make him look bad, and about Seth, who, though I'm sure he would have (and surely could have) put their arguments to rest, backed down and took the heat. I think it's most unfortunate.

Eli said...

Jamie, did you call me Book of Eli?! Classic! Everyone's been saying that to me recently as the posters are everywhere. Agree that the solemn males starting wars & killing each other thing gets kinda tiresome, and i like your point that the seediness of noirs somehow dissolves the otherwise insufferable grandiosity of violent sausagefest flicks. I'll have to check out the Kurosawa noirs, and Dreams sounds fascinating too...re. violence in Avatar, my friend suggested that resorting to war at the end of it was too much hammering home of conventional storylines for us to bear, and we decided psychedelic shamanic diplomacy shoulda been the way to go. Obviously...

Trilbe, aww, little Michael Cera trying to do bad things! No!! He's hilarious, and still adorable of course.

Arna Bontemps - woah, good for you! My friend sent me the link this afternoon (she was like: "I saw the letters M, F and A, and thought of you") - and i tried to leave a comment defending Seth but yeah, it was marked as spam so I gave up. Nice one, though.

Here's the link BTW:
http://www.moreintelligentlife.com/blog/james-mcgirk/trouble-ranking-mfa-programmes

My point was that it's kind of condescending for people to have a beef with Seth's rankings, as it implies applicants can't think for themselves. His work is fantastically useful and demystifying, but it's a support as opposed to an oracle. It's fatuous to rail against his work. But, most likely, everyone here has massively benefited from Seth's advice so saying so here is preaching to the converted. Shame we couldn't get our comments up on the Intelligent Life website. Hmm.

Eli said...

Sorry, i got incoherent, but yeah, basically, I also don't get why people lash out at Seth and write pointless articles decrying the mass of helpful stuff he's done. I'd have been fucked without his help. It's bizarre.

Pema D said...

@Arna Bontemps AMEN! love your post. people love to be haters, and it's crazy. i was so overwhelmed by the whole MFA process and seth pretty much single handedly made it navigatable (i know, i am making up words). i feel so grateful for all the work he's done and it kind of astounds me how biting and off base the criticism has been.

@alana re the GRE scores at UA... i didn't see that either. I'm glad you mentioned this because I just learned about this too.

Have any of you out there sent GRE scores in for programs that say they are NOT required because they might help with funding package?

Seth, perhaps I can ask this of you too given your experience and knowledge of the funding situation-- How much do GREs factor into aid packages? (especially for schools who say they don't require them?)

Is it worth shelling out the extra $23 per school (and sometimes $46, bc you have to send scores to both the English Dept and Creative Writing Dept) if it may help improve our funding??

So, I called Iowa about this. Alana, I too am applying for CNF. Because while I didn't see it for Arizona, I saw on the IWW page, (different from non fiction program site) "The University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop does not require GRE scores for admission. However, student applications that include GRE scores may be more competitive for a greater range of financial assistance."

I was like, seriously? SHIT. ok, great. so I called Iowa NonFiction, and they basically confirmed, but the woman I spoke to made it sound like the GRE, while it couldn't hurt, was not likely to affect the funding package. From what I understood, it's the graduate college that determines the funding, and the Dept sends them a letter recommending the different candidates, and if the applicants' GRE scores are exceptional, then they might make note of it in the letter, and they only tend to do that for perhaps one candidate each year.

So I'm still left wondering, what qualifies as "exceptional" GRE scores--- anybody have a take on this? And, given this situation, is it still worth it to shell out to send the scores? It seems somehow misleading to say the GRE is not required....and for it to then open up greater funding opportunities, but not have that clearly spelled out. For so many of us, whether or not we can/will attend an MFA depends on the funding we receive.

Thoughts? Advice?

alana said...

@luling

Thanks for making the call. Hopefully they don't matter too much because I didn't even take the GREs and only applied to schools that didn't require it. I'll be pretty upset if there was some tiny disclaimer on the UA or NWP website that says something about GREs being required for financial aid. Maybe the best thing to do would be to call UA and double check.

Pema D said...

and to address other stuff:

@Jamie So sorry to hear about your flaky rec. I think the fact that medical issues were involved will help ease the tardiness for adcom-- but either way, it's not your fault. And they must, year in and year out, see profs do this to their students. Just get another letter in and I'm sure it won't be held against you. While every good letter helps, I can't imagine a late one would make or break you.

@ everyone talking about the Wire.... Harvard sociologist William Julius Wilson said the Wire has done done more "to enhance our understanding of the challenges of urban life, and the problems of urban inequality, than any other media event or scholarly publication" and teaches a class on the show. ! for a second, i wish i was at harvard.

my roommate, total film buff who majored in philosophy and aesthetics said, "The Wire is the most beautiful thing my eyes have ever seen."

Hope those endorsements bring the Wire to more people. I am a Wire proselytizer.

Lastly, this morning I got a phone called with a number I didn't recognize. The old woman on the other end of the line sounded very strange and confused, and kept saying, "Charlotte? Charlotte?" But instead of telling her she had the wrong number and hanging up, I kept her on the phone while I googled the area code, 561, to see if it was UNCW. it was palm beach.

Pema D said...

@alana yeah I really wouldn't worry about it if you didn't take the GREs at all. At least Iowa made it seem like the scores rarely make a difference in their funding recommendations. But it does suck if other schools are using not-required info to make important decisions without saying so, bc it's not just about getting into the school it's about getting max funding too.

Kerry Headley said...

It doesn't make any sense to me that programs would make a point to say that the GRE is not required and then fail to mention that you won't be competitive for funding if you don't send scores. That would be really stupid and totally misleading for no apparent reason. I assumed that I did not need them for schools that said I did not. If this is not the case, well, they can ask me for the scores later.

Jamie said...

Thanks, everyone for the good wishes re letters.

Update: 8 of 12 schools affected have told me that they are accepting the late letter (my sub writer has already uploaded it to online systems and is mailing it today). The rest haven't replied yet. The general impression, usually explicit since I asked, is that it won't negatively affect my application.

Despite this (so far) OK resolution, I do not advise anyone to do this if you can avoid it, unless you like contacting your old teachers in a desperate way asking for an absurdly rushed favor; then contacting all the schools you applied to to ensure the change is OK. Especially right when you think you're done. It doesn't ease the nerves let me tell you. Choose reliable people, set an early deadline, and have a backup. You'll sleep better guaranteed.

alana said...

@luling and Kerry

I got this information second-hand, so I'm pretty sure it's not true. I just wanted to double check because the person who told me seemed quite certain. It certainly wouldn't be right or fair if that were the case.

Andrew said...

Lurker here, with a question: how do you sign up for Zoetrope/view the submissions? Can't seem to figure it out. Many thanks...

Also (possibly obvious) I applied in fiction:

U's of Alabama, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Oregon, Wisconsin; Colorado State, Texas State; Washington U; Western Michigan

Amy said...

Andrew,

Yeah, the Zoetrope thingy is a big confusing to navigate.

Go to the Virtual Studio (http://www.all-story.com/virtualstudio.cgi) and join it. Then you can go to the "Writing Building" where you can submit and review stories within "Short Stories."

Good luck!

Nick McRae said...

(I already posted this on TSE, but I figured I should put it here, too)

Just letting you all know I was accepted to North Texas' PhD program in poetry today via e-mail!

Not sure if the other acceptances for UNT will be going out today or not, though I doubt it. The director just let me know because he was e-mailing to ask for a CV for a UNT fellowship nomination and thought he'd go ahead and give me the good news while he was at it!

Unsure of funding this early, but ecstatic nonetheless!

Much love,
NM

Juliana Paslay said...

Hooray to Nick! Congrats! Congrats! Somebody heard something! woo!

Danielle Wheeler said...

Congratulations, Nick!

I had a feeling that things were going to start heating up this week. Whoop!

Jamie said...

Awesome, Nick!

Are you by any chance related to Gus from Lonesome Dove?

Pema D said...

YAY NICK! Mazel Tov!!

Unknown said...

Congratulations, Nick! I'm glad someone heard something good today; nice start to the week :)

Nick McRae said...

@Jamie - Don't I wish. That is my Dad's favorite movie, btw.

@other folks - Thanks!

NM

frankish said...

Congrats, Nick!

Cheers!

Trilbe said...

@Nick - That's fantastic! You're knockin' 'em dead this year, already!

Kerry Headley said...

Congratulations, Nick!!!!

Ben McClendon said...

@Nick

Way to go! I hope it's the first of many.

Courtney said...

Congratulations! So happy to hear some good news this morning!(Lonesome Dove is my dad's favorite too!)

universalchampion said...

@nick congrats! good news on a dreary day!

Ashley Brooke said...

Nick, Congratulations! It's about time! :)

Danielle Wheeler said...

Does anyone else still have their transcripts listed as 'not recieved' on their Isis for Iowa? All my other schools have updated their sites, and everything seems to be in but this one stinkin' transcript that I KNOW was sent in October! I don't want to keep bugging them...unless they really ARE missing.

Eli said...

Nick, what everyone else said! Nothing's ever gonna stand in your way again indeed (not even the Fulbright!)

Jeff Griffin said...

Nick--

Great news. Congratulations! Wishing you continued acceptances in these coming days.

Danielle--

I just checked my transcript status on Iowa's website and they have received them (back in early December). Wouldn't hurt to get in touch with them to see what the deal is. If a missing transcript is the biggest problem faced in the application process, though, you're doing well!

-M.

Sequoia N said...

Congrats, Nick!

re: Andrew on Zoetrope

Also, you'll have to make sure to review 5 stories before you are given full access to the short stories wing. The stories that appear on your read page are given to you at random. There's also a Flash Fiction wing if that's more your thing.

Sasha said...

@ Nick
Congratulations! One school down, ? to go :P

@ Danielle
Iowa says lists my transcript as received, too.

Brandy Colbert said...

nick, that's great news! big congrats!!

golightly said...

@Nick - congrats!!

Andrew said...

pencore, WT, thanks. Nick, way to go!

Lauren said...

@ Courtney from wayyy back in the comments...

I just about laughed myself out of my chair re: what you said about eating meat and preservative-laden cheese once you leave LA.

Awesome. Made my day :)

Danielle Wheeler said...

Did anyone else just get an email from Brown's admissions office and nearly have a stroke? It was just some informational thing about April 15th and whatnot. Blerg.

Eli said...

Danielle, yes!!! 800 or so of us, right? Fuuuck. I wish I could be oh so robotic about it, but it seems not.

Danielle Wheeler said...

I know. I'm here, working the reference desk, and I was in the middle of helping a patron when I clicked over to my gmail. Bad choice. I'm sure they saw the blood drain from my face.

Which brings up a good topic. Anyone told their employers that they are applying to grad school? I've told the library system I work for (I'm only a substitute, so it isn't a big deal) but I definitely won't be telling my new job unless I get in. Obviously. What about y'all?

Pet & Gone said...

yup freaked out when i saw that brown email. guess i knew it was too early to be hearing from them though.

phillywriter said...

Yep, I had the Brown heart attack too, while at work clandestinely checking gmail for info on my super-secret grad school apps. No, I haven't told my employer anything, and I feel like I'm living a double life right now and being dishonest at work! But with the acceptance rates as low as they are, I just don't feel comfortable telling my boss until I know I'm going somewhere.

Nick McRae said...

Thanks for the congrats, everyone. Fingers crossed for all of us!

NM

Morgan said...

congrats Nick! that is super awesome!!!!!

also, yes, email from Brown. Heart leaped. February, get here fast.

Brandy Colbert said...

good question, danielle. a few people at my job know i'm applying, but i haven't officially told my main supervisor. i figure if i do get in, i'll let them know by the end of may and offer to help them find my replacement while i finish up my last few months here.

universalchampion said...

re: telling yr employer what's up

I'm lucky enough to be an overqualified office manager for a hip little preschool, and they've been supportive from the start of my crazy mfa ambitions. since it's an academic calendar, I don't have to sign a contract for next year until march or April, hopefully which by then I'll know heads or tails of my next bold move. and if nothing pans out, my school is happy to keep me on staff, answering the phone and ordering finger paints and fixing the occasional broken toy.

my biggest conundrum is what I'll do on the off chance that I get into hunter. the hours of this gig would jive with their evening classes, but who wants to work a daily grind while doing a full time mfa program? then there's the idea of trying to work part time (tutoring? babysitting? busking? bar tending?) and hack it in new York. anyone else in a similar boat?

Cratty said...

universalchampion - I'm not employed right now, but looking for a job. I have a few leads in my chosen profession (journalism), but from what I've been told, one of the gigs is very involved and would require serious commitment for at least a year. The money they're offering is sooooo tempting, but I don't want to be the deuche that lies and says "Yeah, I'll def be around for the long-term," the ditches if one of these school works out (which I most certainly would - a cuz a journalism salary [and the scope of things one gets to do] isn't the most enviable in a third-world country.) So that's my prob. Oh, and I'm eating - a lot! I try to read; I try to jog, but my mind keeps going back to food. Most of my days are spent thinking of what foods I could put together (or mindlessly scouring the fridge/pantry when food supplies drop). And then I eat . . and eat . . . and eat. Today I ate eggs w/ fried green plantains, oranges, soup, curry goat w/ white rice, breadfruit, peanut butter (on the spoon!), pickles, ackee w/ saltfish, left over stewed pork and drank some syrup from a bottle. Then I sat down and thought about my applications out there in limbo, so I opened a can of corned beef. I feel so sick at nights.

Sequoia N said...

I'm wondering about the whole part-time work thing as well. I mean, I could technically live off the stipends at all of the programs I applied to but, in some cases, I'm going to be really cutting it close. I do have some savings, but I don't want to dip into that as much as possible. Also, given the economy, how easy would it be to find a part-time job that also offers enough flexibility to coincide with an academic schedule? Bar tending? Yeah, I did that for a couple of years and while you can make decent money for the time you put in, it can also be a lot of added stress. Tutoring? Could I get enough hours? Busking? I've misplaced my snazzy knee cymbals. Babysitting? Do people hire male babysitters? (Do parents trust people with beards?) I used to be a professional event planner (everything from huge city events to upscale birthday parties for spoiled kids) but that soaks up so much time. And looking at craigslist ads and campus bulletins for the programs I'm applying to doesn't turn up a whole lot.

Morgan said...

FYI all,

National Book Critics Circle Finalists!

http://bookcritics.org/blog/archive/national_book_critics_circle_announces_finalists_january_23_2010/

Kitty in a Cathouse said...

I can't remember who also said they were applying to McNeese University (sorry, too many names!) but I thought I'd let you know that I just received email confirmation directly from Amy Fleury saying she had received all of my materials. A little light in all of the darkness, I thought.

Tyler said...

@Rebecca

Freshman composition courses are more about how to compose a coherent essay. Expository, research, argumentative, and persuasive writing are the main goals of early writing courses in college.

Those courses are intended to prepare students for writing for the rest of their college career, and for many, creative writing is not a part of that career.

And it's easier to critique an essay than it is a story. They tend to be so much more mechanical in what they necessitate. So no worries!

Farrah said...

@ Nick--Congratulations! May it be the first YES of many for you and the rest of us!

@ Danielle--I had a missing-transcript-heart-stopping moment with Iowa, too. All 3 of my transcripts were in the same envelope, but only 2 were logged in as received. I emailed the admissions office. My transcript WAS there (though it took several days for my application status to reflect that) and they apologized for their mistake. Hopefully the same will be true of yours.

Jessa said...
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Elissa Cahn said...

So, I applied to Illinois (one of the early notifiers), and I just received a phone call from a number I didn't recognize. "Is this Elissa?" My heart leaped. "Yes, this is Elissa." "Hello, I'm so-and-so, and I'm running for Illinois senate..."

It may be awhile before I recover.

Elissa Cahn said...

Also, for all the other Wire fans out there, have you seen The Corner? It's a mini-series by the same creator about similar subject matter, and it's fantastic.

Jessa said...
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kaybay said...

Oooh ooooh, I want to chime in on Arrested Development! Love that show! It's tops for me for all-time fav, followed by Curb your Enthusiasm and Seinfeld. If you can't tell I love me some Jewish humor :)

I even made my boyfriend a sweatshirt (yes, I made it for him) that said "Mr. Manager" on it because he was working as a manager at a store at the time. He's a bigger fan than I am, so he wears it all the time. Awww...

Unknown said...

Elissa,

I'm sure that if you could've punched that person through the phone, you would have XD

And I've seen The Corner. My mother actually used to work in Bon Secours Hospital when we lived in Baltimore, and I volunteered at their AIDS clinic while I was there. Interesting experience.

Unknown said...

hey all,

i think a couple people were discussing Illinois as being a potential early notifier this year. (looks like last year they got word out late january/early february.)

just got an email from the department letting me know that my application was complete, and that "Decisions on the applications will be made in March."

maybe they're just trying to like, throw us off their scent, but i thought i'd throw that out there for anyone on the edge of their seat. to say, you know, sit back, or something. CALM DOWN LASSIE. that type of thing.

long waits woooo

Unknown said...

@ Elissa Cahn

didn't see your post before I posted. That is BRUTAL. and also pretty funny. we should all start keeping heart attack tallies. like, number of times a telemarketer or politician with an interesting area code turned your innards into your outards before you finally actually received a phonecall from a school.

if i don't start consuming less caffeine, i'm not going to make it. anyone seen bill murray in coffee & cigarettes? the sketch called "delirium"? that's sort of how i've been behaving, i think.

Emily Walker said...

I just got a call from a number I didn't recognize. Turns out someone gave my number to a credit card company they are trying to refinance payments with. UGH!!! I'm just going to crawl back into bed now.

Eeyore said...

Regarding whether to tell your employer --

I've told my coworkers and boss (who wrote me a rec letter, actually -- I'm a few years out of school). But I work in publishing so everyone is super supportive (albeit insanely uninformed about my actual chances of getting in anywhere, which are even lower since I only applied to 2 schools). So that's actually annoying.

Regarding Arrested Development --

I would totally wear a tshirt that said Mr. Manager (despite being female). That's hilarious!

Regarding Kurosawa --

Have to reject any implication that AD is less "culture"d than AK's films. Regardless of your position in that debate, my favorite AK is Seven Samurai -- Ran was just too dark.

Dolores Humbert said...

Charles,

March?! I was hoping to cross something off my list, either way. Man.

All this waiting makes me feel horribly guilty for all those times a guy gave me his number and I never called him back. Touché, Karma, Touché.

Unknown said...

@Charles and other Illinois applicants: I have some gossip!

Can't name my source because he/she is an alum, and I don't want to get him/her into trouble, BUT:
1) they've had a record number of applicants this year
2) as far as poets go, they're only taking TWO (you read that right) out of all the many applications. TWO. I don't know if the same holds true for fiction. We can all blame the lovely Rod Blagojevich for this turn of events.

So. I have a feeling they will not be early responders this time (nor, I suspect, will many programs).

:( February is going to be hard!

Amy said...

Hey Adam, just to be totally clear, this is Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, right?

Unknown said...

Yep! UIUC.

Elissa Cahn said...

Thanks for the info about Illinois, and also for the support re. afformentioned heart attack! Of course, I should have known that I'd hear from Illinois sometime in March, seeing as how I got that same e-mail... Somehow, that information was lost on me.

Charles, your post made me think that maybe I should put away the French press? ...Who am I kidding? Like that'll ever happen!

Amy said...

Hrm... I'm starting to wonder if the majority of schools are going to notify in March/April because of the large number of applicants. Perhaps the notification dates from years past will be irrelevant this year?

Dang.

kaybay said...

I was just about to post that exact comment. I guess it puts me at a ease a tad.

Ben McClendon said...

@pencore

The high application numbers might just mean that the schools are under a bit more pressure and the procedure is a bit more hectic than usual, not that we hear significantly later. It's no secret to them that people are applying to 10+ schools, and in order for everything to sort out with those who get multiple acceptances and have to choose, they can't drag their heals too much. Look at it from their perspective. I doubt they have any more incentive to really drag out the process than we do.

Sequoia N said...

Hmm. I wonder how many people applied to Illinois. Last year it was one of those programs that didn't get as many applications as one would think. Of course, I'm sure a lot of people noted this on Seth's website.

Amy said...

@ Xataro

I get what you mean about it being more hectic in the admissions offices, but it will still take a bit longer to process all the apps just because of the volume... unless they amped up and recruited more readers.

I can't wait for Feb 1st when Seth can post the numbers of apps for individual schools (and then subsequently have my heart beat out of my face.)

Ashley Brooke said...

I know, right? February, please!

I'm thinking that schools will be notifying perhaps a bit later but not insanely later. I guess it depends on the school.
The only school that has included in an e-mail an idea of when they plan to notify was University of Kansas. They expect notifications to go out the second week of February.

Amy said...
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Amy said...

Is there anyway to petition that the schools ALL notify AT ONCE.

I wonder if that might be more/less soul-crushing/exuberating?

Unknown said...

@Wandering Tree: A little bird told me 200+. The little bird, however, was guessing, so take that for what it's worth. Oh, rumors.

@Xataro: a really good point about the motivation for these programs to respond asap.

Imagine if they all responded the last week of March! It would be a disaster for them. While I'm sure programs aren't unfamiliar with fighting for accepted applicants, I'm also sure they don't want to fight with, oh, every other program out there.

Plus, say a program accepts four applicants the last week of March, and two say no? There's a big risk you'll be digging deeeeep into your wait list. In an era of 10+ programs per applicant, it's not unthinkable, and I'm sure these programs will do their best to avoid that.

That said? I'm still not presuming to hear anything for me (acceptance or rejection) until after February.

universalchampion said...

@WanderingTree -- i think male babysitters are aces, but then again, i live in new york, where anything goes. my other part time job fantasies involve becoming manager to a few of my friend's bands, thus gaining the flexible life of a musician and not answering any phone calls/emails until, say, noon, and having all morning to write. this, though, would involve my friends paying me handsomely for managing them, but really i think they could only offer pancakes and dating advice and free bicycle repair as payment. sigh.

re: the waiting game and all our speculation. i would give anything for this all to be over! it's going to happen right when i forget about it, right when it finally escapes my mind for ten seconds. it'll be when i'm on my lunch break, or when my phone is dead, or when i'm in mexico in march for five days (c'mon, spring!).

meanwhile, i am beginning to slowly, unsteadly, painstakingly write again.

Kerry Headley said...

I have found it helpful to write/edit. I still refuse to read my samples, but I'm working on new stuff. Of course, Intervention and Hoarders is on tonight, which is a lot more fun than revising. Plus, it makes me feel comparatively healthy.

Anonymous said...

So, I'm dropping out of the MFA race. I've decided not to pursue the MFA even if I am accepted to either one of the two programs I applied to. I must admit that I mostly applied because I wanted to leave New York City and make friends. I'm sick of this place because it's dirty, crowded, and too overwhelming for my sensitive nervous system. I also don't know anyone here and was looking forward to going to school to meet people as that has always been the only way I've made friends (I'm not exactly the outgoing hyper-social type, nor do I want to be). Basically, I wanted a new place to live and a new experience. The MFA sounds awesome but it wasn't my top priority. I've been writing mostly on my own since forever and I think it works pretty well for me. There are tons of workshops in NYC for me to take advantage of anyway. I already have plans to complete a poetry manuscript and probably don't need the MFA to help me along even though it would be a cool opportunity. I figure I can design a pretty OK situation where I am now. I could probably make more of an effort to meet people and make sure to retreat from the chaos of the city as much as possible.

Good luck to everyone! Wishing you all the best!

Gummy Bear Sacrifice said...

Wait, wait, hold the phone! I never got an email confirmation from McNeese State! Is it time to panic?

Sequoia N said...

Adam, compared to some other programs, 200+ (rumor or not) is a beautiful number. Yeah, you know you're in MFA Land when the prospect of 200+ applicants for less than a handful of slots gives you hope.

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

200+ is not a beautiful number when there were 130 last year.

Mostly Swell said...

@Salt
Seriously?

@Charles
Coffee & Cigarettes - what a great flick. And I didn't know of anyone who agreed with that, until I saw your post. Bill Murray was hilarious. What did you think about Tom Waits and Iggy Pop? That was the "Somewhere in California" diner scene. ("I can smoke because I quit." and Tom Waits looking at the jukebox selections to make sure Iggy wasn't in there either.)

@UniversalChampion
Do you actually ever have ten seconds where all of this escapes your mind? You must be a high level Buddhist or something. Even if I'm not actively thinking about it, my neurons are on high alert, another red alert day.

Re: Firefly series. Way cool.

Unknown said...

Such a flurry of comments today!

@Alana--Kat is right. UA doesn't require GRE for admissions. It's not as clear about financial aid, but I did find this quote in their letter from the director "awards of teaching assistantships are based largely upon faculty evaluation of your creative sample." So I think you're good. I applied and didn't even send them my GRE's because it didn't seem like they wanted them.

@Nick--congrats. That's so exciting.

re: Seth hatred--It's about power. What Seth is doing is taking away the power from the programs and AWP (fast becoming irrelevant) and putting it in the hands of the applicants and the students. The rankings prior to his were largely decided by the programs themselves if you read between the lines. Seth developed a quantitative analysis that attempts to impartially measure schools in a variety of areas that would affect an applicant's decision. The rankings system before this was largely useless as it just gave programs an arbitrary number determined by what I can only guess was 2-5 people writing and erasing lists on a blackboard. (Someone correct me if I'm wrong; it's entirely possible.)

I for one was extremely pissed to read the backlash from all the schools and the AWP (the letter to the editor in the new PW? wtf?). I think it's pretty clear they're just mad they dropped in the rankings so their only solution is to cry foul and say they didn't get to be interviewed or provide their own input (which I believe they had multiple opportunities to provide correct and current data, they just refused).

I can tell I've lost my point when I've devolved into run-on sentences and way too many parentheses. But yeah, it's about power.

And I too am very grateful for Seth's work. And the MFA Handbook, which I ordered online. It was just a nice resource that helped demystify the process (to steal someone else's line above).

One more small point, I already had my prospective list set before the MFA rankings came out in November. (I had a nice assortment of 1st-4th tiers, which were almost all magically 1st and 2nd tiers in November...curses!) But if any of the program officers at the schools I was applying to had written something negative about Seth's work, I would have crossed them off my list. That shit ain't cool.

Laura said...

Re: the job discussion

I've been thinking about this a lot, and it's now turned into a new source of panic on top of the will-I-get-in panic. Since I stubbornly insisted on staying in the northeast, I applied to a lot of programs that offer only partial funding, or no funding. Granted, a lot of them are state schools so they aren't THAT expensive, but it still means having no income, so I'll need to get a job. Now I've started freaking out about the economy and being able to find a job wherever I end up living, one that will work around the times I'll have to be in class. The worry is amplified by the fact that next fall I'll only be a recent college graduate with very minimal work experience. AHH.

Cratty said...

Wow, Salt. I guess it's cuz I'm so obsessed with the MFA process that it takes some effort on my part to understand where you're coming from. You sound genuinely content with your decision, so I hope that this is the case. But I wanna ask: is this something you're absolutely certain about? What brought on this decision? Was it sudden? Or have you been labouring with this for a while? I hope I'm not being presumptuous with all these questions; but the MFA is a phenomenal opportunity - I do hope you're perfectly secure in your decision if, indeed, you do pass up on an offered opportunity. But, you know, you know what's best for you.

Emily Walker said...

Is anyone else starting to get really attached to certain programs they applied to? I started checking out books from profs in some of the programs and now I'm getting my hopes up.

David said...

Who has gotten phone calls informing them that they were accepted to a particular program?

How does say, Michigan or New School inform people.

Kitty in a Cathouse said...

No No No, 4maivalentine! I'm sure they are doing it all week, I just wanted to let you know (in case you hadn't received one yet) so that you wouldn't freak out (like I did) when I saw the email.

Anonymous said...

Hi Cratty,

I have been thinking about it for a while. I was thinking about it before I applied and during the application process. It wasn't really a sudden decision but things kind of fell into place recently and I realized it probably wouldn't be such an amazing opportunity for me as it might be for someone else. I was excited about the MFA but not enough to be really committed to it. I have always felt very hesitant about allowing so many other people into my writing process for such an extended period of time. I need to be very alone with this. I don't think I want that level of guidance or community. I also only applied to two schools. I probably wont have to pass on an opportunity after all.

Rosie said...

Hey people, I've got a weird question. Will any schools reject you for filling out a FASFA? Because when I applied to two schools last year and was rejected, a friend told me it had to be because I'd filed a FASFA. They're very supportive of me and refused to believe it had anything to do with my writing...and yeah, I think they were trying to make me feel better, too. But they implied that schools don't like to accept people who need financial aid. True? False? Eastern Washington actually requires the FASFA if you want to be considered for a teaching fellowship, but what about other schools that don't offer full funding?

I finished my ninth and final application today, so now I'm finding new things to panic about, HA.

frankish said...

Your friend's comment about the FAFSA thing sounds ridiculous. I wouldn't worry about it.

Cheers!

Ryan said...

Emily, honestly, even if I happened to get into Iowa (knock on wood), if I also got into Houston, I'd probably go to UH unless I had no funding at all from them (unlikely). Tony Hoagland is by a long shot my favorite poet, and everything points to him being an excellent prof. and mentor as well.

I agree with you, Riah. Am I the only one who thought of that Rage Against the Machine song Take the Power Back? haha

Unknown said...

@Rosie

I'm not an expert, but here's my two cents. The fafsa is just for financial aid. You would not be accepted or rejected based on whether or not you filled one out (at least in grad school, I don't know what they do in undergrad). Most places that have guaranteed funding (Vanderbilt) don't even require the fafsa. For some school-based financial aid, you may have to fill it out but not necessarily. (It's a good idea to do it anyway.)

Your friends probably were trying to cheer you up. But really getting rejected has nothing to with them not liking your writing. It's just not the best fit for the program and vice versa. We're talking about 10 people being accepted out of 600. It's a bit a crapshoot anyway.

Rosie said...

Thanks Frankish and Riah! I'll fill that sucker out post haste.

Ashley Brooke said...

Emily,
I've been careful not to get too attached to any specific program because I don't want to be disappointed. There are certainly some programs I think about than others, though not even because they're necessarily my top choices, but I'm sure I would be able to quickly change my mind about some of those "other" schools the instant that they would accept me.
For example: I hardly ever even think about Brown, and I almost consider it a joke that I applied. Like, who the hell do I think I am? So I don't think too much about Rhode Island, or Robert Coover, or any of that, but on the off chance that I were to get in, I'd dive right in.

Salt,
What? I guess that your situation makes sense once you've explained it, it just seems so strange because you've been pretty active here. Good luck with your writing elsewhere! Can I ask, though - where did you apply?

Sleitenberger said...

Oh, let the panic begin :-) I've been a cool cucumber, but all of the sudden I'm panicky... am I the only Illinois applicant that didn't get an email re: the status of his/her application today?

On a semi-related note, does anyone know much about Northwestern's program? They appear to have a great faculty, and the students I've talked to are happy, but I'm wondering why the degree is awarded through the school of continuing studies. Thoughts?

Finally, my contribution to the procrastination waiting game: www.failblog.com. Good stuff!

Sleitenberger said...

www.failblog.org! Sorry for the misleading post.

Sequoia N said...

re: Illinois Email

I just checked and I got the "March notification email" in the last week of October (when I submitted my application). So, I'm thinking this email might just be a form letter that doesn't necessarily reflect any changes in how long the admissions committee will take to make their decisions.

Anonymous said...

Hi Ashley,

I applied in poetry to U of Arizona and Eastern Michigan (MA).

Ashley Brooke said...

Ok, the impending doom is hitting:
I was just browsing around AWP, and I discovered something about Penn State requiring a 3.5 undergraduate GPA. Not even close. Try a 3.16, with the transcripts most schools received showing a 3.0 (I retook a class in the fall and had a F taken off my record). I didn't apply to LSU and OSU because I didn't have the 3.2! A 3.5? Hell naw.
I also had a some trouble with my Virginia Tech application. Two of my LOR writers had to e-mail their letters because the online forum was being weird. I worry this makes my application incomplete. Nobody ever confirmed my VT application materials had all arrived. I e-mailed once and heard nothing.
So, that's two schools I can cross right off...

Ashley Brooke said...

salt,
If you receive an offer, I'm sure you'll have at least a moment of hesitation before you say no!

Ben McClendon said...

@Sara

I got the same email from Illinois back in early December. It also mentioned March as their decision timeline.

Anonymous said...

ha!, yep Ashley, you're right. when the time comes I'll think about it again and make a decision then. I'm pretty solid in how I feel now, but you never know....

Rose said...

Conversation refresher, anyone?

Of all the places you applied, which do you think is the most beautiful? I don't mean the town, but the campus itself.

I just read a list of the top 10 most beautiful campuses in America, and it listed Cornell (not surprising, it has gorges) but also Minnesota, which really surprised me.

Ryan said...

AB, it's the writing sample. I'm sorry you didn't apply to OSU and LSU because of the GPA, but honestly I doubt that keeps most people out of any program. That figure is mainly in effect (from what I understand), because it's the Grad. School's general requirement, but like pretty much everyone will tell you, if the program wants you, they usually want you and they will get around hoops like that.

Cate said...
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Sequoia N said...

Ashley, don't worry about the GPA at all. A few people applied to the schools you mention (OSU, PSU) AFTER doing a bit of research and calling the programs b/c they were worried about their low (as in below 3.0) GPA. In many cases, they were encouraged to still apply. A couple are now in programs (the same sort of program that mentions a GPA cut-off). And there was someone on P&W last year who mentioned having an atrocious GPA and still got into Iowa. Obviously not every program is able to bend the rules but it's just something to keep in perspective.

Cate said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sequoia N said...

Also, when graduate schools state a min. 3.0 GPA they often don't include the small print. In many cases, you'll discover that the min. GPA is for the last 60 credit hours (approx. junior and senior yrs).

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

Am I the only one that thinks it hurts more to get rejected from an MFA program than almost any other kind of program out there? I think it's because so much of the work I put in wasn't just personal on a scale of "this is what I want to do with my life," but more on a personal "this is who I am" scale. As in, getting my poems rejected is more a piece of me getting rejected than if I were rejected from an MA, for, say, poor GREs. But that may have to do with what I think about poetry/art and its relation with the creator of each piece.

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

Thanks everybody! I know this is usually true, but I worry with Penn State because they're only taking a VERY small number (4?) of people anyway. If they cut down to 10 applications, GPA can come into account. Skipping out on OSU and LSU was basically because I don't want to be able to blame my GPA when I don't get in. I want to make sure that I am not counting on being the exception.

I can't be sure which campus I think is the most beautiful since I haven't been to any of them, but Montana sure does look gorgeous in photographs!

Pema D said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Pema D said...

ashley brooke, it's my understanding that in general, the GPA requirement/"requirement" comes from the grad college, not the creative writing department. the individual department's preferences should override an arbitrary thing like GPA. my GPA is under 3.0 and i say, f that! we're smart, we can write, and in the wise words of R Kelly, sort of, GPA aint nuthin but a number!!

Emily Walker said...

@Rose

Hands down, out of all the places I applied, Vancouver, Canada is the most beautiful. I did my undergrad there and lived there five years and no matter how bad the weather was, I just loved the view (beaches+ skyscrapers + snow-capped mountains). UBC specifically is gorgeous, but it's such a weird mix of architecture and landscape.

@little poet

I have a vague memory of someone posting on here last year that going through the MFA admission process was like "having someone reject you, and as you left the room you got beat by 13 people holding Klingon beat sticks".

Sequoia N said...

Emily Walker,

I believe you're referencing the Klingon 2nd Right of Ascension.

*Cowers head* I can't believe I know that.

Unknown said...

@ Mostly Swell

Yes! Tom Waits is always a win. I really just loved that whole movie. The Roberto Benini dentist scene was so so good too. I couldn't watch it without chainsmoking though. (But you know, it's ok, because I never go a day without quitting.) I think people just don't really have the patience for it, maybe. (The movie I mean, not smoking or quitting smoking.) I don't know many people who've actively disliked it, just lots of people who have fallen asleep during it and not appreciated how brilliant it is. Fools! All of them.

I'm a big fan of Jim Jarmusch in general, but I think he does fragments better than continuous storylines. Have you seen his other films?

@ Emily

I've avoided getting overly attached to programs by spending lots of time looking at programs that I didn't apply to and getting attached to them and regretting not applying, instead. Although I did make the mistake of reading all the Spring 2010 course descriptions for the Literary Arts program at Brown. (Where I did apply.) Drooled all over myself. Would cry myself to sleep if I wasn't an insomniac.

The problem is, it's hard to do lots of research about the programs in order to be better informed when we eventually (hopefully) have tough decisions to make, without getting overly excited and attached. The good thing though that I've found is that as I go through my list, I'm excited by every single program. I think I'm getting too attached to them as a group, though, if that makes sense. That maybe doesn't make sense.

Long post! Sorry all. Will shut up now and go read a book.

Eli said...

WT - there ain't no shame in science fiction, lad! Hold your head up high... (as it gets thwacked back down by klingon beatsticks).

Re. beauty. I'm a zealous Americanophile in general and think the country is stunning. Britain is beautiful, but I see it through tired eyes. There's not the expanse, the awesomeness...and I do long for that - expansive skies (or oceans). There are so many rich and seductive mythologies tied to different parts of the American landscape that it made choosing schools a joy (and would do too next year, I guess); i'm a total psychogeographic whore in that respect. Dunno which I fantasise about most. Amherst is meant to be gorgeous - there's an album called Massachusetts by the Scud Mountain Boys which has wormed its way into me over the years; and there's a romance in something Massachusetts-way, i'm sure of it. At least, seems so from over here.

Agree about Vancouver, though, Emily. Beautiful place! Edge-of-the-world-vertigo feeling.

Eh, fuck it, I'll go anywhere that'll put the Klingon beatsticks away and welcome me with open tentacles.

Ryan said...

Eli, re: american beauty and myth, have you read American Gods by Neil Gaimon? It's a phenomenal book, especially if you're into mythology at all, or love a good read that's lightly literary while being fun as hell.

Eli said...

I have, yes! Read it last year and was extremely impressed, and intrigued by the premise of Gaiman being a foreign writer living in the States, knowing he had to write something that would help him disentangle and make sense of some of its most powerful mythologies. It was great. From the little I've read and much I've heard of Gaiman's stuff (didn't Xataro describe his books as 'like crack' for his students?!), there's much to admire of good old Neil. Haven't actually read anything other than American Gods though, not even Sandman. Keep on meaning to...

Jamie said...

Wow folks, I am seriously done here. Submitted my last app of 15 on Sunday; followed up w 12 schools Monday re LoR issue (I've mostly dodged that bullet, it seems); and now I'm just done.

What do I do? What a crazy feeling! Will it give way to panic and nervous waiting soon?

Mostly Swell said...

@Jamie
LOL If you hang around the blog, yes, the waiting will lead to panic within 24 hours. But hasn't it already? Congrats on getting it all done. Glad the LoR worked out. And I trust that your sig other still thinks you're a hero?

Mostly Swell said...

@Charles
Re: Jim Jarmusch and Coffee & Cigarettes. I was thinking about that movie a lot last night after posting to you about it. The giving away the dental appointment scene, Jack's Tesla Coil, The Cate Blanchett twins, Vinny Vella Jr and his Wasabi peas, Alfred Molina (I'm now reading the DVD case - LOL. I don't have it entirely memorized) Glad to meet another enthusiast. I think you're right about his short pieces. He does tend to be slow and intellectually driven with little to zero action, which is difficult to adjust to in our early 21st century blitz. I loved "Dead Man" with Johnny Depp. I couldn't stick with his earlier work - the one with Tom Waits in jail, where they were all jumping up and down shouting something about ice cream. I might have to try it again, since it supposedly is one of his classics.

And back to Iggy and Tom. (Not an exact quote.) "You can call me Iggy, no, call me Jim... well, whichever you want, no, call me Iggy, call me Iggy."

"Alright, Jim"

fellow insomniac. maybe I'll go back to sleep.

Mostly Swell said...

@Charles
So, I just reminded myself of his other films by way of Netflix's website. Others I've seen and liked are Broken Flowers, Midnight Train, Night on Earth. And the Tom Waits in jail one is "Down by Law".

Mostly Swell said...

@Charles
and Ghost Dog
Maybe if I put Coffee and Cigarettes on, I'll go to sleep.

Lauren said...

@AshleyBrooke,

I applied to OSU even though my GPA is a stunning 2.85.

So I guess I'm going to hear the overwhelming sound of my phone NOT ringing all this week (they're early notifiers) ... And yes, then I will wonder whether it was my GPA or my writing. But it did say right on the MFA page of the OSU website that they'd consider applicants who did not meet the criteria if they had a very promising writing sample.

Anyway. Nothing I can do now but wait. *Sigh*

Lauren said...

Okay, something just occurred to me. U of Florida says they do not have my transcripts -- according to my online status. But that's IMPOSSIBLE, given that I mailed them myself all together with everything else in one big packet, yes?

I guess this is an example of the English dept. not communicating with the Graduate dept.?

So, should I bother calling? Has ANYONE heard anything from Florida? (i.e., one of those 'we got all your stuff' emails, or anything else at all?)

Ugh. This process makes me want to poke myself in the brain with ice picks.

Jamie said...

@ Swell - the thing w sig was something I'm still getting used to in a relationship: you share all of it. That includes crisis feelings where you're thinking your year of work might just got f%&*ed. So it's not what she thinks of it or me, just the fact that if I got through it, she goes through it. Part of me really wanted to hide the issue as a form of denial to myself. It makes the whole thing more real, which is scary and empowering, depending on the thing.

Actually, to opine a little more, I got married last year, and the funny thing I noticed is that applying is like an engagement in many ways. There's this final thing, and this long process with all these little details.

And I think in both cases the process carries the threat (and generates the nervous energy) to overwhelm the bigger meaning with all the little fetish-y details. In each case, getting the details right is very important, but, just as I found it very helpful to step back sometimes and think about getting married, I want to go big picture for a while on this whole MFA/writing/America thing. Yes, I said America.

phillywriter said...

Resurrecting an old topic: Whether to let the acceptance call go to voicemail

I had planned that if I received a call from an unfamiliar number (a potential acceptance call!) that I would just let it go to voicemail so that I could call back when I'm more composed and have a list of specific questions handy. I know some people on the MFA Blog concurred with this plan, but a similar thread on the P&W Speakeasy didn't mention this as an option, but instead focused on ways to calm yourself down when you answer the call.

Any more thoughts on this? Do you think it's OK to let it go to voicemail and call the person back? What are you planning to do? I just don't want to say something idiotic or forget all the questions that I had intended to ask. But some people on the P&W blog (including people who were accepted last year) indicated that they took a cheat sheet of questions around with them everywhere so they'd be prepared to answer the call when it came. I'm just afraid I'll be a blubbering mess if I answer the call! Thoughts? Any drawback to letting it go to voicemail?

Andrew said...

Anyone get a confirmation from Michigan or Montana about receipt of supplemental stuff?

@Mostly Swell..."Ghost Dog" is the shit, favorite Jarmusch movie by far.

Ben McClendon said...

Re: the call

If I get a call, whether I answer depends on when it comes. If I'm teaching, it's going to voicemail, even if it's God him/herself.

Otherwise, I'll probably answer. I'm lucky (in some ways) to be the type who has my emotional circuits running on a delay so that the impact of what happens tends to hit me afterwards. I doubt I'll have any clever questions, however, and will likely just follow up a day later or so.

universalchampion said...

@Lauren Yes, bring on the ice picks. I just called Hunter to follow up on how my online app status says no transcripts (sent priority mail last week from the same stupid island of Manhattan on which Hunter College rests...shoulda just hand-delivered the crap), no GRE scores. The woman I spoke to could only say they have over ten days of mail to sort through, so my status won't reflect my materials being received until that's done.

Huh.

Meanwhile, my newest panic = that I've applied in the wrong genre. I waffled between CNF and Fiction for weeks before finally marrying myself to a fiction writing sample, but now I'm all second thoughts. I'm already drafting which CNF programs I'll apply to next year, and how to best compose the humbling e-mail asking for letters of rec again. I think this topic was hashed out in an earlier thread, but is anyone else battling second thoughts?

re: picking up the phone or not. If I should get a call, I am picking up that damn phone call come hell or high water. I'm sure the octave of my voice will be ten times above what I sound like as a normal person, but so be it. Plus, you can always call back with questions once the initial shock has worn off. I do hope that I'll remember to ask about contacting current students, funding, health care, and when they'll need my decision by.

Rose said...

@ Andrew

I called Montana for receipt of materials confirmation (after assuming they would have called me had something been missing). I left a message on the directors answering machine, and a few days later, she e-mailed me to let me know files were missing.

I suggest calling.

Ryan said...

may be a stupid question, but how do you check the status for Florida? I can't seem to find it on the myUFL page...

Lauren said...

@little poet,

I am sorry I don't remember how I got on to UF's site to check my status.

I seem to recall that after I applied, they sent me some sort of ID number in the confirmation email. Then I had to log on with that, which then prompted me to choose a username (they suggested first initial/last name) and a password, and then there was a link to check status.

Sorry I'm being so vague and unhelpful.

Amy said...

...well it happened last night. I was so anxious about decision time that I had the terribly restless sleep imagining and anticipating hearing back from Iowa.

Up until now, I was a pretty cool cucumber, but maybe it was because I had too much caffeine yesterday and it just got me all whacked out. (I write that now, sipping on another big tumbler of coffee.)

Anyone else having these mini-spazz-fests yet?

Mostly Swell said...

@Andrew
Yo! Ghost Dog
And re: Michigan, I followed my status on the wolverine webpage for prospective students. It took quite awhile for the transcripts to show up as received, but they also warned that it would. Did you scan and upload a digital "unofficial" copy? They say as long as they have that, the official copy can follow later, as a confirmation of what you scanned. (That's all Graduate Admissions stuff. The English Department returned my little post card - and I sent all of that in one package, so I'm not worried about their part being piecemeal.)

Courtney said...

Just confirmed receipt of materials @ Montana and was informed that they aren't going to begin reviewing until Mid-February. Yikes! That feels like decades away.

Mostly Swell said...

@Jamie
I get it. Damn, that's hard. And, I suppose the in-laws aren't helping any. I'm rooting for you.

Mostly Swell said...

RE: voicemail versus answering the call. I suppose if your voicemail message is some weird cutesy thing that only your friends understand, you might plan on answering. (I'm being judgmental, but I'm thinking in terms of first impressions with academia.)

But, honestly, it can't possibly hurt to let it go to voicemail. Would they penalize us? What if we were in the bathroom or just took the trash out? I can see how they might appreciate just getting the voicemail, so they can get all the notifications done in one sitting. I am compiling my list of questions, though. So I'll be ready. I'm also going to ask about visiting and attending a workshop.

cb said...

@Courtney

Mid-February! That does feel like ages. Do you think that means they're reading submissions now, and will convene to winnow them down in Feb? Or that they haven't started reading yet? Seems like it would be impossible to have answers by early March if the whole process doesn't start until mid-Feb.

Pet & Gone said...

what kinds of questions do you guys plan on asking during the phone call?

Jamie said...

@ Brandi - My questions: "[my friend's name], is that you? Are you just f%^&ing with me? You sure? Really?"

@Swell - I don't know if I'm clear, actually. She's awesome and has been through the whole process. And I'm lucky enough that I love my in-laws, love spending time w them, and they're very supportive too.

Ashley Brooke said...

Lauren,
But your GPA is from some 10 odd years ago, isn't it? I wouldn't worry about it. And didn't you rock the GREs?

Re: Montana
I never received confirmation that everything had arrived, but I had my delivery confirmed on my writing sample. I hate to call I school that gets some 500+ applications....

Jeff Griffin said...

Hey everyone--

Good news to report. Got an acceptance just now in the mail from Chatham (full res./Poetry). My first acceptance. I'm wishing you all similar luck in having your first notifications be acceptances! What a great feeling.

-M.

frankish said...

M, congratulations!

Chatham seems like an interesting program, though I don't know a great deal about it.

Cheers!

Jamie said...

@ M. - Don't you know that you are a shooting star? Don't you know?

---

Just heard from Boston U. They don't seem to like a paperless application, so they're now requesting that all applicants send them two copies of writing sample + statement. Completely after the fact. That's right, folks, save those printer costs. Boost my mailing costs.

Oh well, at least it's nice to know not all the f__ups are on my end.

But oh. Whoever sent that email put everyone's email address in the recipient box, not the bcc box. If anyone's interested, there are about 100+ names (already; BU has a March 1 deadline). I won't say whose names...but OUCH! Way to mishandle your data.

Arna said...

Day of crazy emails:

Hello BU Meltdown, which seems almost unbelievable to me.

And also, someone's been asking the UW-Madison director too many questions? So now I have this email saying I'll hear their decision by Feb. 12.

Mostly Swell said...

@Jamie
Oh no, I didn't mean it like that. I was just acknowledging the inherent pressures of a recent marriage. It's maybe a both/and - but really not my business. I was just trying to be supportive. Obviously, if they're supportive at all of your pursuing a creative writing career, they are stellar people. I think our society still has a significant gender bias against men pursuing the creative arts. Even as a single and independent woman, I get that reaction from people (complete strangers, actually. LOL). When I commented on the in-laws, I was remembering the poet David Whyte speaking on an audio recording I have of how hard it was to see the reaction from the in-laws when he told them he was pursuing a career as a poet.

So, no worries. And again, I was just trying to be supportive.

Arna said...

That someone not being me, in case that wasn't clear.

Sequoia N said...

re: questions to ask

- What is the funding for the next 2-3 yrs (in other words, is the info on the website accurate?)

- If I would need to work a little in the first year (due to funding discrepancies btw. years), how difficult would it be to find work w/ flexible work on/off campus? Does the dept/program help in this respect?

- Can I be put in touch with some current students?

- Housing: Will the program give admitted students the names folks graduating so we can take over their apartments/houses (if they are leaving the city)?

- And then there are a bunch of program/school specific questions regarding curriculum, interdisciplinary project possibilities, summer work/funding, ability to take classes in other depts. etc.

- And most importantly: Who is your daddy and what does he do?

Sequoia N said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Amy said...

WT,

I sincerely cannot imagine that I will be composed enough to ask and/or comprehend questions of that complexity.

I think the only question I'd be capable of answering, should I be accepted (insha'allah) is, "Really?! SERIOUSLY???! REALLLLLYY??!?!???!!?!??!?!?!??!"

Sequoia N said...

Pencore, I agree. I think if you didn't have questions already written down, it would be difficult to articulate everything on the fly. Of course, you don't want to sound like you're reading questions.

"Um, okay now question #2B . . ."

Unknown said...

Thank God for this blog! I'm glad I knew to expect an email from Wisc-Madison so that I did NOT have a heart attack seeing my inbox. also, I had my first MFA-related dream last night--people getting into Iowa and me being nervous. argh! I didn't think it would happen to me! le sigh.

Jamie said...

@ Swell - All good. No offense taken, and thanks for the support!

I feel just the opposite, actually. I see male-created and dominated traditions everywhere I look in the arts, especially in areas of the arts that are more commercially viable. And I see that domination reflected when people talk about such things as "woman poets."

I think that, if women face the pressure to be homebound and reproductive (or to do these things AND have a career), men still face the pressure to be breadwinners and "support" their mates, where the only acceptable "support" is financial, of course. I think people of both genders face this sort of social pressure any time they think of "fulfilling" (ie, low-paid) careers, in arts or otherwise.

Sequoia N said...

I had an MFA related dream a couple of days ago as well. Although mine was set at a program or graduate school party. Everyone was just standing around awkwardly and sipping on cheap wine until I took a small velvet bag from my coat with the words "Pocket Rave" stitched on it. Inside the bag? Two glow sticks, an ipod filled with music, and a small strobe light. Needless to say, I brought the house down.

Cate said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Amy said...

This blog has been so invaluable in so many ways, but the comments-section-tip-off to stray e-mails is SUPER DUPER valuable. Thanks Cate!

Andrea said...

Just wanted to toss my hat in the ring- nearly threw up/screamed (simultaneously!) when I first saw the UW-Madison email. Why do they torture us so? Also, who remembers how many people they're admitting? I'm drawing a blank.

Amusing quote of the day:

"Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal." -TS Eliot

Mostly Swell said...

@Diggin'Ponies
UW-Mad, 6

@Jamie
Oh, I'm all too familiar with the gender bias toward women, in any field, big bread or small. Painfully familiar, actually. I was just being "cool" and "sensitive" to the male thing - it's hard both ways.

L. Lewis said...

Re: this whole UW Madison heart-stopping email, is it possible it means that we should know if our application is complete by Feb. 12 because they got so many applications and are still compiling them?

Not trying to be pessimistic, but Feb. 12 is soooo soon! And last year they notified in late Feb...

Brandy Colbert said...

M, congrats to you!

yeah, i've been relatively calm until now, even with the false alarm e-mail from brown yesterday. but the wisconsin one ... well, let's just say i'm glad i couldn't see my face before i actually processed the first few lines. eek.

Mostly Swell said...

@Jamie
I don't think it's such an issue in the MFA program arena - but in terms of societal views and resultant book sales, yes. Even in terms of what we teach. I was just responding to a friends inquiry about authors I enjoy, and I was embarrassed at the disparate number of men versus women I was familiar with. And I'm a feminist!!! (Self proclaimed, but maybe not, if I have this bias on my own bookshelf. Yikes! Alas, I am a product of our society.)

Nick McRae said...

@ M. Johnson

Congrats!

Mostly Swell said...

@Zoe
Did you get log on information for their portal? That's where I got my info on app being complete. As I recall, they did not return my post card. (I might be wrong about the latter, it was a while ago.)

Nick McRae said...

Also, as to acceptance phone calls:

I doubt I'll get any actual calls since I'm in Slovakia. But I guess that all depends on whether program directors have to worry about getting flak from admin for making international calls on their office phones. Even so, I'm still going to have a heart every time a call from an American number pops up on my cell!

Luck to all!

NM

Danielle Wheeler said...

M. Johnson- congrats! Looks like a cool program.

Everyone else- I found a phone app. that basically displays the locale (city, state) of each incoming call. I think it was like $2, and I'll probably cancel it after this notification season, but it could defniniely come in handy.

Farrah said...

I, too, am confused by the Madison email. As their deadline was 12/15, I can't imagine they're still entering received documents into the system . . . Yet if they have a record number of applicants, how could they get through the piles sooner than in previous years? Could we possibly be notified as soon as 2/12? And will the status page indicate if you've been rejected? Any insights or more nervous energy to throw in the mix?!

Nick McRae said...

@Danielle and others

Last year I memorized all the area codes for the schools to which I applied. One day I got a call from a code I didn't recognize. Turns out it was Gary Short calling from Ole Miss, only instead of using his Mississippi landline, it turned out he was calling from his cell phone, which had a Montana area code! So, moral of the story, just because someone calls from a non-MFA area code doesn't mean it's a telemarketer! Not necessarily, anyway ;)

Happy hunting!

NM

Cate said...

Wisconsin email -

At first I took “anxious to have some word ” and “application status” to refer to acceptance vs. rejections...but after reading the email several times “application status” probably means complete vs. incomplete.
They did notify on Feb. 14th one year. However, I would think that more applications = later notification date.

Thoughts? Am I reading it right?

Gummy Bear Sacrifice said...

Boston meltdown bwahaha! And to think I almost sent them paper copies anyway! Had the envelop and everything. I mean it isn't funny, but it is...

*crickets*

Anyway, gotta go print out those forms, but I'm quite sure I'm screwed on the SOP. I think I accidentally saved Iowa over my Boston SOP, so guess what I'll be doing today? That's right! Rewriting it! :D


Bwahahahaha!

Farrah said...

@Cate
You're probably right. They went on winter break right when applications were due and they just started back this week. They probably are still entering info into the system. It says on the page to allow 14 days for status updates. Okay. Deep breath. Probably closer to their bitter-end-of-February notification dates of years past.

Brandy Colbert said...

i still think it means that we will hear by february 12, but maybe that's just my uber-optimistic side (finally) emerging.

Jeff Griffin said...

Thanks for the congrats, everyone.

-M.

Ben McClendon said...

Congrats, M!

phillywriter said...

If the Wisconsin e-mail was intended to refer only to whether an application is "complete" (as opposed to accepted/rejected), I think Robyn Shanahan will be receiving many, many phone calls on February 12. I initially interpreted the e-mail to mean acceptions/rejections would go out by February 12, but this seems impossible. I won't be surprised if we see a correction/clarification e-mail from Wisconsin soon.

Farrah said...

@phillywriter
I bet you are 100% correct. In fact, it wouldn't surprise me if we got one by the end of the day.

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