Apr 6, 2005, 10:07 AM
Post #3 of 63
I don't know anything about Oregon State's program, but I do want to make a couple of comments. First of all, grades, awards and references don't have that much to do with getting into an MFA program. Being published doesn't have much to do with it, either. Two years ago, I applied to an MFA program I really wanted to go to, and got rejected, despite the fact that I have good grades, have some awards, and have been published. The critical factor to getting into the program of your choice is the MANUSCRIPT. If you scan through the various threads on this forum, you will see numerous discussions of the importance of the manuscript. This year, I completely revamped my application, and I got into several schools, including the one that rejected me before. At various points during the application process, I talked to people who worked in the program offices, and heard again and again about the importance of the application MS--over and above grades, publication credits, recommendations etc.
Re: [misbhaven] Oregon State Corvallis
The second most important thing is the personal essay. It's important that the essay be emotionally honest and focused. In my first go-around, I think my essay was too busy trying to impress people with how much I'd read and studied. The second time, I forgot about all that. I wrote about some genuine struggles I have in my writing, and I also allowed myself to make a few wisecracks, rather than forcing myself to sound formal and 'serious'.
Does prestige matter? Well, that depends on who you talk to, I think. There are plenty of people publishing good work who went to not-so-prestigious schools. Some programs (like Bennington's) have very tight relationships among the alumni, and so being a grad of that type of program might help if you submit to, say, a journal edited by another grad of the same program. Going to a place like Iowa or Columbia could work against you in some circles--there are people who hate those programs and will be prejudiced against them no matter what your work is like. IMHO, how well you do as a writer ultimately depends on YOU, how hard you work, how dedicated you are to your craft, and not on the name of your school.
Based on my experience, I think it can be worth it--if you don't get into the program of your choice--to take some time to revamp your application. Take some workshops. Have trusted friends and colleagues look over your MS and your essay.