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GiseleF


Feb 9, 2011, 1:10 PM

Post #2301 of 2652 (15540 views)
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Re: [Gi] Low-Residency MFAs [In reply to] Can't Post

Ahhh, what's up with Bennington MFA?? I can't get anyone on the phone. Already left 3 messages and no one has called me back. I know it's supposed to be great program, but they are doing a great job at making me question if I should apply there at all! So frustrating!
Okay, that was my rant for the day...


GiseleF


Feb 10, 2011, 12:15 PM

Post #2302 of 2652 (15474 views)
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Re: [Gi] Low-Residency MFAs [In reply to] Can't Post

Okay, still nothing from Bennington, which is such a bummer. I was so excited about their program. It was definitely one of my top choices. But I just can't get a hold of them at all. Guess I'll keep trying...


lmorris


Feb 10, 2011, 5:14 PM

Post #2303 of 2652 (15452 views)
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Re: [Gi] Low-Residency MFAs [In reply to] Can't Post

Just got a call from Spalding. In for fiction!


pongo
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Feb 10, 2011, 5:54 PM

Post #2304 of 2652 (15449 views)
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Re: [Gi] Low-Residency MFAs [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
Okay, still nothing from Bennington, which is such a bummer. I was so excited about their program. It was definitely one of my top choices. But I just can't get a hold of them at all. Guess I'll keep trying...


What has the weather been like in Vermont? Is it possible they can't get in to the office?


The Review Mirror, available at www.unsolicitedpress.com

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

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GiseleF


Feb 10, 2011, 7:15 PM

Post #2305 of 2652 (15444 views)
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Re: [pongo] Low-Residency MFAs [In reply to] Can't Post

That did cross my mind, but I've spoken to Vermont college at least three times since I first tried reaching bennington. So... I don't know. I'm sure it's something... I just hope I can reach them in time. Their deadline is coming up.


GiseleF


Feb 10, 2011, 7:16 PM

Post #2306 of 2652 (15443 views)
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Re: [lmorris] Low-Residency MFAs [In reply to] Can't Post

That's awesome! Congrats! Are you waiting on any other school?


lmorris


Feb 10, 2011, 10:13 PM

Post #2307 of 2652 (15425 views)
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Re: [Gi] Low-Residency MFAs [In reply to] Can't Post

Just Warren Wilson. But I still think I'm going to Spalding even if I get into WW. Have you had any luck with Bennington? Have they usually informed people by now?


GiseleF


Feb 10, 2011, 10:22 PM

Post #2308 of 2652 (15423 views)
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Re: [lmorris] Low-Residency MFAs [In reply to] Can't Post

I am applying to WW as well. But haven't sent anything yet. And I didn't send my app for bennington either. I am pretty much done, but had a few questions. If I don't hear from them, I'll just send it as it is. It's just making me question if I should even apply... but oh well. Good luck with WW. I only heard great things about spalding. Congrats, again!


greenpenquills


Feb 11, 2011, 1:42 PM

Post #2309 of 2652 (15373 views)
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Re: [Gi] Low-Residency MFAs [In reply to] Can't Post

This is sort of long, but I hope it will be helpful both to those applying to programs and for any program staff reading this that want feedback on their admissions process.

I based a big part of my decision on where to go on how programs treated me during the application process and after I was accepted. I think it's an indication of how they treat and value students at their school. By far, I had the best experience with Vermont. They called me just to chat before even getting my application, they let me know when they received materials and what they still needed, and they were always quick at answering questions. They also sent me a ton of materials like brochures, newsletters, sample residency schedules, and even a sample lecture from a faculty in my genre. Plus, I got a personal email from a faculty member who read my sample, giving specific details about what she liked about my writing. This happened to be the only faculty member I really knew and admired before applying, so that pretty much sealed the deal. Spalding had a faculty member call me who wasn't familiar with my work and didn't seem that interested in talking with me. Lesley also had a faculty email me, which I appreciated, but I'd already decided on Vermont.

Bennington was very distant and difficult to get a hold of. I've heard that from a couple other people as well. Spalding was slow to get back to me when I had questions about applying, didn't send me a notice that they had all my application materials, and I also wasn't impressed with them after I got accepted. They seemed impatient when I tried to follow up on questions I'd asked that they hadn't responded to for days. They sent me my acceptance letter two whole weeks after the call and it didn't even have any additional information in it that would have been helpful. Bennington sent me a letter saying they wouldn't notify about decisions until mid-March, and I decided not to bother asking them if they could make it sooner or trying to hold off my other schools.

Anyway, I'm really happy with my decision in choosing Vermont. I think these schools should really try harder to be responsive to potential students. With Vermont's reputation, they really didn't need to go above and beyond in terms of helping applicants apply and make their decision. They didn't only care about me after I was accepted, but were so great the whole way through. And once I was accepted, they did their best to give me all the information I needed without me even needing to ask for it. That meant a lot to me.


jlgwriter
Jeanne Lyet Gassman
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Feb 11, 2011, 4:13 PM

Post #2310 of 2652 (15352 views)
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Re: [greenpenquills] Low-Residency MFAs [In reply to] Can't Post

Congrats, greenpenquills, on choosing Vermont! You will love Louise and Rachel. They go out of their way to make you feel comfortable, and if you ever need anything, they can find it.

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


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


GiseleF


Feb 11, 2011, 6:02 PM

Post #2311 of 2652 (15336 views)
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Re: [greenpenquills] Low-Residency MFAs [In reply to] Can't Post

I so agree with you greenpenquills! Very well put. I say this as I wait for a return call or email from Bennington. It's just too bad. I'm sure it's a great program, but at this point I don't really think it's the place for me. Vermont and Warren Wilson on the other hand are rockstars! And I hope at least one of them will take me. I can't say enough about how much they guided me through this process. They are amazing. No wonder they are doing so well. Good luck in Vermont.


lmorris


Feb 13, 2011, 5:30 PM

Post #2312 of 2652 (15278 views)
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Re: [greenpenquills] Low-Residency MFAs [In reply to] Can't Post

I think you're totally right that the way the people in the office treat their MFA applicants is typically a good reflection of the school. It sound like Vermont has a great staff, and it sounds like they know how to treat their students! What a good choice! It's unfortunate you had that experience with Spalding, because mine was the exact opposite! They e-mailed me when they got my materials, they were extremely friendly and chatty on the phone when they called to accept me, and they've gotten back to me on all my questions immediately! Part of the reason I love them is the same reason you love Vermont: they treated me great! I'm sorry you had a bad experience with them and Bennington (whom I have had no interaction with), but I'm glad Vermont was a good choice for you!


greenpenquills


Feb 13, 2011, 5:52 PM

Post #2313 of 2652 (15274 views)
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Re: [lmorris] Low-Residency MFAs [In reply to] Can't Post

I was surprised that Spalding was like that with me because I'd heard so many people say how friendly and helpful they were. I'm not sure I would have picked them over Vermont in the end, but it would have made the decision more difficult. I really felt passed over by them. The director was very friendly and chatty when she called to accept me, but that was the only time I really felt acknowledged by them. Maybe I applied at a busy time or something.

Are you definitely going with Spalding or still waiting on other schools?


lmorris


Feb 13, 2011, 6:01 PM

Post #2314 of 2652 (15272 views)
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Re: [greenpenquills] Low-Residency MFAs [In reply to] Can't Post

Still waiting to hear back from Warren Wilson, but I think even if I get accepted in WW, I will go to Spalding, because I like their option of a nine-month semester. It works for my full-time work schedule. I never applied to Vermont, but I've heard great things about them too!


maybemd


Feb 14, 2011, 8:30 PM

Post #2315 of 2652 (15212 views)
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Re: [Gi] Low-Residency MFAs [In reply to] Can't Post

You'll have to be more patient. Both the application deadlines for Warren Wilson and Bennington Colleges for entry in the upcoming summer residencies are March 1st. Don't expect acceptance calls from either program until three or four weeks after the application deadline; in other words, the last two weeks in March at the earliest.

Vermont's application deadline is February 18th so they will start making acceptance calls sooner, on or about the 11th of March. And yes, they are much more active in letting applicants know that their application packages have been received.

Spalding has rolling admissions, as does Goddard, so they can accept you any time after your application package is complete.

Did you use Bennington's electronic application process or snail-mail? Guess you've been trying this number: 802-440-4452 and e-mailing them at writing@bennington.edu

Double-check to see if your college transcripts made it to all the program's admissions offices before the deadlines. I used the automated transcripts system at my undergrad school to accomplish that.

Best of luck, and although it's hard (believe me I know) do be patient. Try not to make your final decision until after you've heard from all the programs you thought worth applying to, that you paid to apply to. Then re-think it, and contact them again with any questions that occur to you. Then make your selection. It's an important decision so give yourself time to mull it over.


(This post was edited by maybemd on Feb 14, 2011, 8:39 PM)


maybemd


Feb 14, 2011, 9:07 PM

Post #2316 of 2652 (15204 views)
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Re: [maybemd] Low-Residency MFAs [In reply to] Can't Post

P.S. Although it's tempting to go with a program that seems to be "treating" you, the applicant, the nicest, I don't think that should be what decides you. When choosing a physician, don't immediately sign up with the doc with the prettiest office or the best automated answering or filing system. Choose the professional with whatever qualities you hold most important, whether it be their credentials, track record, reports from past patients (i.e., graduates of the programs), or the books and papers they've published.

Warren Wilson doesn't have the most user-friendly or informative website (that's an understatement) but they offer access to some of the best teaching faculty in the country. The acceptance phone conversation with their founder was one I'll always remember. I intend to absorb as much of her teaching philosophy as I can and know it will influence the way I one day lead classroom and workshop discussions.

I didn't want a rogram that would coddle me and compliment my work but one that would embrace me as a writer and demand and build on my best efforts. There's lots of camaraderie with my fellow students, and tons of warm gestures from my teachers, but that's alongside a tough writing and annotating schedule and incredibly deep feedback.


(This post was edited by maybemd on Feb 14, 2011, 9:16 PM)


GiseleF


Feb 14, 2011, 10:05 PM

Post #2317 of 2652 (15195 views)
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Re: [maybemd] Low-Residency MFAs [In reply to] Can't Post

Thank you for your insight. It's always nice to hear from people that are going through all that we for now just fantasize. :) I'm still in the process of sending in applications, so I wasn't expecting to hear a decision, just had a few questions about the process. But I received an email from bennington today which answered the questions I had. And even though I never considered the idea of not applying there, I know that if/when I have to choose (here I'm hoping I'll get to choose), my experience with the program will play an important role.
I love WW btw, and I really hope to get in. Everything about it sounds amazing.


GiseleF


Feb 15, 2011, 5:22 PM

Post #2318 of 2652 (15143 views)
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Re: [Gi] Low-Residency MFAs [In reply to] Can't Post

Just got an acceptance call from Stonecoast! So exciting... if anyone has any information on the program, I'd really appreciate it.


GiseleF


Feb 15, 2011, 11:55 PM

Post #2319 of 2652 (15111 views)
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Re: [Gi] Low-Residency MFAs [In reply to] Can't Post

Question: One of my recommenders seemed to place a huge weight on how many agents are attending these residencies. He basically thinks that if there's a low number then the school is not really producing enough marketable material. What are your thoughts on this?


pongo
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Feb 16, 2011, 8:10 AM

Post #2320 of 2652 (15089 views)
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Re: [Gi] Low-Residency MFAs [In reply to] Can't Post

An MFA is a high price to pay for a few contacts. I took mine to improve my writing.

Of course, if meeting agents is what you want from a program, then use it as a criterion. But hanging out in the right bars in NYC is probably just as effective. And you could pick up a sideline as a prostitute, as well, which pays better than writing and provides a lot of material.

(Nothing personal to anyone intended in that last paragraph.)


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/


GiseleF


Feb 16, 2011, 12:04 PM

Post #2321 of 2652 (15063 views)
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Re: [pongo] Low-Residency MFAs [In reply to] Can't Post

Whoa... maybe I should have explained it a little better...
His thoughts are that if there are agents around, then it probably means the program has found a formula that's working for their students and is helping them produce great writing. It's all I meant to ask. I'm not pursuing an mfa for contacts either, but if/when I think I have something worth pitching, it wouldn't hurt to have the access. My question was if people attending programs right now feel that way.


pongo
Buy this book!

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Feb 16, 2011, 12:09 PM

Post #2322 of 2652 (15062 views)
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Re: [Gi] Low-Residency MFAs [In reply to] Can't Post

If agents are trolling around the program, the program has probably found a formula that if crams most of the students into, and that formula is commercial writing. That's fine -- many of my friends make good money writing -- but it isn't what everyone wants.

I'm also just a little leery of an agent who is out there looking for clients. I'd rather have an agent who is busy working for the current clients.


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/


bighark


Feb 16, 2011, 12:21 PM

Post #2323 of 2652 (15060 views)
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Re: [Gi] Low-Residency MFAs [In reply to] Can't Post

If a program is teaching by formula, you should avoid it like the plague.

Use your time in an MFA program to find and develop your voice, and don't worry about trying to sell something while you're there.


maybemd


Feb 16, 2011, 1:22 PM

Post #2324 of 2652 (15046 views)
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Re: [bighark] Low-Residency MFAs [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
If a program is teaching by formula, you should avoid it like the plague.

Use your time in an MFA program to find and develop your voice, and don't worry about trying to sell something while you're there.



Amen.

If the recommender wanted to suggest a way to connect with agents, then the recommender should have recommended conferences located within easy agent-striking distance of NYC, not an MFA program. Conferences that include agent panels and "pitch to the agents" slots.

Most reputable MFA prgrams will not much care about hooking their students into the publishing scene. At least not until they're about to graduate. As said previously they will, and should, focus on helping their students develop as a writers.


(This post was edited by maybemd on Feb 16, 2011, 1:23 PM)


maybemd


Feb 16, 2011, 2:14 PM

Post #2325 of 2652 (15034 views)
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Re: [Gi] Low-Residency MFAs [In reply to] Can't Post

Interesting that the recommender thinks agents want to hawk "great writing". If I were an agent, I'd be interested in finding writers of stuff that I can convince publishers would sell. I might want to talk to MFA students because they'd been pre-screened to be serious about their writing -- no hobbyists in that crowd! -- but would I want to meet the most literarily-adventurous, envelope-pushing student? Big no.

Great writing does not translate into ready marketability. Matter of fact, genera/popular writing sells much, much more readily than literary fiction. Basic good writing skills help sales numbers but the general American reading public is not very interested in reading literary-type works, which is what MFA programs have traditionally stressed. That stuff is too challenging, and weird, for Joe- and Jane-Blow reader. Sad, but oh so true.

It's the same for graduate music composition programs. The vast majority of concert music patrons do not appreciate contemporary works, with their experiments in atonality and bizarre time signatures and use of instruments. Just the lay of the industry's land.

So your recommender is right: If what you really want to get out of an MFA program is publication, then you should search out an MFA program designed towards that end. Touting of the agents attending their residencies would be a good part of that plan. Some programs recently began offering genera, or popular, fiction MFAs through their programs. Or you could research your favorite authors, find out whether or not they teach, and pursue admission into those programs.
http://www.usm.maine.edu/stonecoastmfa/
http://www.setonhill.edu/...cs/fiction/index.cfm

P.S. Gi -- I'm wondering what you like to read. Recently read titles? You can PM them to me if you want.


(This post was edited by maybemd on Feb 16, 2011, 2:20 PM)

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