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Mae Fields



Dec 8, 2008, 5:22 PM

Post #226 of 329 (6557 views)
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Re: [Raysen] Another SOP question Can't Post

Then I was misled by your posts in the choosing an MFA thread. I'm glad you're not MacCauley. As stated before, good luck with your apps. M.


(This post was edited by Mae Fields on Dec 8, 2008, 5:23 PM)


__________



Dec 8, 2008, 5:47 PM

Post #227 of 329 (6548 views)
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Re: [HopperFu] Another SOP question Can't Post

Hey, thanks, guys, I appreciate it. Feeling somewhat foolish now, I will admit I came down on the side of silence. My poor friends -- they always have to hear it from a third party!

(Raysen, sometime after application season, you'll have to let us know if you really are Steven Seagal...)


six five four three two one 0 ->


pernicus


Dec 8, 2008, 6:24 PM

Post #228 of 329 (6533 views)
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Re: [Raysen] Another SOP question Can't Post

No one seemed to care that I'm James Franco


Raysen


Dec 8, 2008, 6:42 PM

Post #229 of 329 (6522 views)
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Re: [pernicus] Another SOP question Can't Post

I care that you're James Franco. What I don't understand is why you want an MFA when you've got that whole Hollywood thing going for ya.


unsaid78


Dec 8, 2008, 8:10 PM

Post #230 of 329 (6490 views)
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Re: [Raysen] Another SOP question Can't Post

It's too late...I am already convinced that you're famous lol. Please tell us what the big deal was after this app season is done!


www.mfachronicles.blogspot.com - Follow us as we begin our 1st years in MFA programs!


moomoocow42


Dec 8, 2008, 8:49 PM

Post #231 of 329 (6478 views)
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Re: [Junior Maas] Another SOP question Can't Post

I've got it. Raysen IS Steven Seagal. Just think about what he could put on his SOP. Something along the lines of "I'm also well versed in nine different forms lethal martial arts, and have killed people with the following everyday household items: Pencils. Toothbrushes. Paper clips. Navel lint. Do not make the mistake of rejecting me from your program."


My MFA Blog -- Watch me slowly lose my sanity.


PrivateI


Dec 11, 2008, 6:05 AM

Post #232 of 329 (6379 views)
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Another SOP question Can't Post

 So I am in the slightly unfortunate situation of just having realized that I want to get an MFA in creative nonfiction, which leaves me just days to scramble and get everything together as deadlines approach. I'm 4 years out of my undergrad schooling (BA philosophy) and a published journalist, though not actively freelancing right now. To be honest, I am not well-read, and so I have zero familiarity with the faculty at the schools I'm interested in. I do know what kind of programs appeal to me and what I want to get out of them. So my question is, must the personal essay I submit reflect some knowledge of the faculty's work and of literature in general, or can I get by with an articulate discussion of my goals, areas that need improvement, etc. ? I ask because it is crunchtime and I want to know whether I should give it a shot at the last minute or not. I do have what I believe to be strong manuscript material. Thanks in advance!

(By the way, I posted this in the creative nonfiction thread before I realized that this one existed. Apologies to anybody that bugs).


bighark


Dec 11, 2008, 8:02 AM

Post #233 of 329 (6374 views)
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Re: [PrivateI] Another SOP question Can't Post

Private,

You do not have to mention faculty in your personal essay. As a matter of fact, I advise people against doing that in general.

Good luck on your applications.


jlgwriter
Jeanne Lyet Gassman

Dec 11, 2008, 10:36 AM

Post #234 of 329 (6349 views)
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Re: [bighark] Another SOP question Can't Post

I'm in the middle of my MFA in fiction at Vermont. I didn't mention any faculty by name in my SOP. Agree with Bighark here. It could go against you to name particular faculty. Focus on your goals in your personal statement.

Good luck to you.

Just my thoughts.

Jeanne
http://www.jeannelyetgassman.com
http://jeannelyetgassman.blogspot.com


http://www.jeannelyetgassman.com
http://jeannelyetgassman.blogspot.com


pongo
Buy this book!


Dec 11, 2008, 1:46 PM

Post #235 of 329 (6316 views)
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Re: [jlgwriter] Another SOP question Can't Post

Let's see. You talk in your SOP about how much you want to work with a particular faculty member. The day before the committee reads your application, that faculty member takes a huge dump (literal or metaphorical) in the middle of a faculty meeting and storms out, swearing to resign.

Why risk putting your application at the mercy of more factors over which you have no control?


The Review Mirror, available at www.unsolicitedpress.com

Difficult Listening, Sundays from ten to noon (Central time), at http://www.radiofreenashville.org/.

http://home.comcast.net/~david.m.harris/site/


jaywalke


Dec 11, 2008, 3:08 PM

Post #236 of 329 (6298 views)
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Re: [pongo] Another SOP question Can't Post

Or x faculty member who is on the acceptance committee despises y faculty member mentioned in the SOP, and will do anything to keep another acolyte for their hated rival off campus. . .

Some faculties are healthy and mature. Others are like daytime Telemundo programming.


Raysen


Dec 11, 2008, 3:48 PM

Post #237 of 329 (6286 views)
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Re: [jaywalke] Another SOP question Can't Post

In something like the SOP, I think it would be wise to be truthful about yourself and your goals. For me, I didn't see the need to mention anything about the faculty members because, frankly, I wasn't familiar with most of them and the ones I was familiar with, I didn't particularly admire. I didn't see the need to mention this opinion, of course.

In the Texas MFA site, they mentioned that they didn't want to read about "Oh, dear me, I've always wanted to be a writer since I was a wee lad of five..." I imagine they get sick of that crap. I think they want originality and someone they can get excited about working with for the next two years. Give them that. After all, they have to get up in the morning every day with the same hangups and reservations and dread for life like everyone else. Give them someone to cheer for. Someone they can believe in.

I should add that I'm no expert at this sort of thing. I go mainly on instinct and intuition and my unique insights into the heart of man.


HappyCianci



Dec 11, 2008, 6:01 PM

Post #238 of 329 (6252 views)
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Re: [jaywalke] Another SOP question Can't Post


Quote
Or x faculty member who is on the acceptance committee despises y faculty member mentioned in the SOP, and will do anything to keep another acolyte for their hated rival off campus. . .


Most of us probably wouldn't belong in a program that succumbed to this caliber of petty behavior anyway. So like, if you actually get rejected on these grounds, then good riddance, x and y.


kvandegraaf


Dec 11, 2008, 7:59 PM

Post #239 of 329 (6229 views)
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Re: [HappyCianci] Another SOP question Can't Post

That's true, but there are a plethora of reasons that focusing on one or two specific faculty members might not be such a hot idea. As applicants, there's a lot that we're not privy to, such as the possibility that Professor X is going on leave for the next year or doesn't teach as much as the program might want you to believe. Or maybe Professor Y has actually already accepted a position at another university, but the program hasn't made the news public yet for obvious reasons. Or there could be less dramatic reasons...many younger professors get stuck on the admissions committees because, let's face it, it's a ton of work to sort through hundreds of applications. If you have a choice between an applicant that spends a portion of the SOP gushing about a professor that isn't you and a statement that focuses on the specific strengths of the department as a whole, it's possible that you'd be more attracted to the latter candidate. I'm not saying this is a hard and fast rule, and I'm sure many candidates that mention specific professors are happily admitted to great programs. It's worth considering, though, that there's a lot that you don't know about your audience when you choose to talk about specific people in your SOP.


HappyCianci



Dec 11, 2008, 9:58 PM

Post #240 of 329 (6210 views)
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Re: [kvandegraaf] Another SOP question Can't Post

Yeah, I agree with you, I just wish it were different. I personally didn't mention faculty in my SOPs except when it was requested.

In a perfect world though, we should be able to discuss who we're excited to work with. It's a pretty major part of the program, after all.


pongo
Buy this book!


Dec 11, 2008, 10:04 PM

Post #241 of 329 (6207 views)
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Re: [HappyCianci] Another SOP question Can't Post

My first wife went into a particular graduate program (not in writing) specifically to work with one particular scholar, who promptly (just after the interview with the ex) announced a two-year leave of absence.


The Review Mirror, available at www.unsolicitedpress.com

Difficult Listening, Sundays from ten to noon (Central time), at http://www.radiofreenashville.org/.

http://home.comcast.net/~david.m.harris/site/


aiyamei


Dec 12, 2008, 8:07 AM

Post #242 of 329 (6151 views)
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Re: [HappyCianci] Another SOP question Can't Post

I just want to mention that for hundreds of years, at universities/institutes of higher learning across the world, the model has been for students to seek out like-minded professors/mentors/sages to which to apprentice themselves. A major part of education is learning how to know yourself well enough to know who you want to learn from. There is no shame in it. There is also no shame in admitting that writing has different 'schools', that it is not a case of fiction is fiction is fiction.

Hannah Arendt went to Heidelberg because of Heidegger, Plato hung around Socrates before there was even such a thing as a school.


Joe A. I.


Feb 10, 2009, 11:57 AM

Post #243 of 329 (5968 views)
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Re: [hapworth] Statement of Purpose Can't Post

Here's a question for people applying to Bennington, or who have applied in the past: How did you approach their application essay? The program asks for "a two- or three-page essay discussing your reading life and your engagement with the literature of other writers." What I find odd is that they don't ask you to address the issues that most schools ask you to address: what you want to get out of grad school, what attracts you to their program, etc. Should I talk about this stuff anyway, or simply focus on what the prompt asks me to address (i.e. "my reading life")?


silkentent
Margaret DeAngelis


Feb 10, 2009, 2:28 PM

Post #244 of 329 (5903 views)
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Re: [Joe A. I.] Statement of Purpose Can't Post


In Reply To
Here's a question for people applying to Bennington, or who have applied in the past: How did you approach their application essay? The program asks for "a two- or three-page essay discussing your reading life and your engagement with the literature of other writers." What I find odd is that they don't ask you to address the issues that most schools ask you to address: what you want to get out of grad school, what attracts you to their program, etc. Should I talk about this stuff anyway, or simply focus on what the prompt asks me to address (i.e. "my reading life")?



Wow, that's an interesting application essay prompt! I've worked a lot with high school students applying to undergrad schools, and my advice was always to stick with the prompt, and if it asks "why do you want to come here" don't spend a lot of time telling them how terrific their schoool/program is because they already know that and they've heard all the cliches a million times. Find a really specific and personal reason that this school and no other is the right one (even if you have to think of a dozen different specificities for a dozen different schools). Many of my young people were successful in getting their first choice schools/scholarships, an outcome no doubt having nore to with them than with me.

The Bennington prompt ("Discuss your reading life . . . ") reminds me of a story a friend tells about himself as he approached the last round of examinations/interviews before ordination and the conferring of his DMin. He prepared by thinking through all the plans he had for building new congregations, for forging alliances with community organizations, for working on denominational concerns at the local and statewide synodical level. He was going to change, if not the world, at least central Pennsylvania for Christ!!

The first question, about the only question, his review board asked? "How's your prayer life?" They wanted him to describe it, to say how it helped him stay in touch with the divine, how it helped him understand his place in the work he was about to undertake. It threw him, and he sputtered and stammered a good bit.

He was, of course, successful in achieving ordination and getting the degree, but the experience showed him where he was taking some things for granted and not being intentional enough about them, and how to think about all aspects of his preparation for his work.

I've never applied to an MFA program (dropped that idea for the near term in October, might pick it up again for the next round of application season), but I say, give Bennington what it wants.


Margaret DeAngelis
Markings: Days of Her Life
http://www.silkentent.com/Trees


Raysen


Mar 4, 2009, 8:01 PM

Post #245 of 329 (5724 views)
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Re: Michigan Can't Post

Michigan had us prepare a Personal Statement and an Academic Statement of Purpose. The Academic SOP had to be under 500 words, if I remember correctly. I think my submission was at 620 words (or thereabouts). I hope that wasn't the reason for my rejection. At the time, I obsessed over the word limit and worried that my application would be rejected on a "technicality." If there was one thing I remember the most about my Michigan application, it was the fact that I went over the word limit. To this day, I can't shake this "mistake" from my consciousness.


(This post was edited by Raysen on Mar 4, 2009, 8:03 PM)


WanderingTree


Sep 5, 2009, 6:35 PM

Post #246 of 329 (5561 views)
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Re: [Raysen] Michigan Can't Post

A little late but . . .

The Michigan SOP (both of them) just specified that you write up to 2 pages (single or double spaced) and did not specify a word count. I called the program last year and they said to follow the directions on the program website NOT on the grad school application or Rackham website. I believe they've updated the program website so this is clearer.

I'm starting to work on the michigan essays which will definitely be a lot different from other programs given that there are two essays and there's more flexibility in terms of word count. How are people going about the intellectual statement? I'm finding it difficult not to have overlapping information between the two essays.

(This post was edited by WanderingTree on Sep 5, 2009, 6:40 PM)


KrisB


Nov 2, 2009, 6:10 PM

Post #247 of 329 (4982 views)
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Re: Different Purpose Statement Question Can't Post

While I know it's super to mention one's desire in eventual teaching in a personal statement, which I certainly will do, is it wrong to mention something like the desire to work for a literary magazine?

I currently intern at one of the most prominent literary magazines and aspire to one day become a staff member of a lit journal like it. Is this something that application reviewers would be glad about or indifferent to? Though I want to become a successful novelist, I also want to assist other unique writers in getting their voices heard.

I'd appreciate any comments as to whether or not this aspect of my ideal literary career is something I should mention in my personal statement! Thanks so very much.

Also, I'm just beginning my applications now for early January deadlines. I'm hoping to get my applications in before Christmas however. I'm freaking out because it still feels like I'm behind. Am I behind? Or, are most of you other 2010 applicants beginning yours now too? Ahhhhh!


BLUECHEESE


Nov 2, 2009, 6:35 PM

Post #248 of 329 (4974 views)
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Re: [KrisB] Different Purpose Statement Question Can't Post

Yeah. Totally. I think this actually makes you more of a realistic applicant. Most students are not going to get tenure track positions as faculty of MFA programs or whatever (or become the next star novelist). Be honest, and simple. By keeping it professional, people mean don't go on some bullshit-y rant about how emo you are about your love of emo.

I'm really to old to know what emo is, but I thought it was effective here.


KrisB


Nov 2, 2009, 6:57 PM

Post #249 of 329 (4972 views)
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Re: [BLUECHEESE] Different Purpose Statement Question Can't Post

Hah. I am not quite sure where emo applies here, but I definitely get what you mean, and really appreciate your advice. It's a hard blend of not assuming a too humble or too dreamy voice. I used to shout "I am going to be the best writer in the entire world!" from rooftops. Now when people ask if I'm a writer, I bow my head for a weird "no"/ "yes" thing and say something like "ummmmm".

I was tutoring last week and a couple of the six graders shouted at another passing six grader, "You're so emo!" And I said, "Guys, what do you think emo is?" And they said, "You know, like cutting your wrists."
To which I replied, "It does not mean cutting your wrists. And that is not nice at all."


BLUECHEESE


Nov 2, 2009, 7:41 PM

Post #250 of 329 (4963 views)
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Re: [KrisB] Different Purpose Statement Question Can't Post

Ha. Kids are funny.

I'm almost 27. So it is really before my time.

I just see these bourgeoise sub-culuture wannabes hanging outside of Barnes & Nobel trying to act cool while smoking and wearing black.

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