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HopperFu


Mar 30, 2007, 10:52 AM

Post #101 of 213 (2937 views)
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Re: [seemingmeaning] MFA General questions [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
some were accepted in top schools with really low GRE scores and a low GPA...

Some schools have minimums for these, but the reality is that if your scores don't totally blow it doesn't matter; for the most part the GRE / GPA is a requirement for the graduate school, which is not the same as the writing program (though you do have to get approved by the grad school, and a GRE / GPA that is off-the-charts low is going to be a problem).
The writing sample is really where everything hangs in the balance. For 90% of the applications to any program the GRE / GPA doesn't matter at all because the writing sample disqualifies you in the first place.
I suggest getting the GRE's out of the way with and taking care of Letters of Rec, transcripts, other paperwork, etc., as early as you can because then it's just one thing that's out of the way, and most of that is pretty brainless.
Statements of purpose are important, but they - along with letters or rec - don't matter one whit if your writing sample isn't good enough to get you into the final round.

As for writing samples, my suggestion is to try to write as many stories as you can between now and whenever you start to apply, and to try to get critical feedback on as many of them by as many different people as you can. Then, work the hell out of a few stories to try to make them as good as possible. In general, the more you write the better you get, and the more you write the more likely you are to have a gem that you can use to apply with....


seemingmeaning

e-mail user

Mar 30, 2007, 10:54 AM

Post #102 of 213 (2936 views)
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Re: [eesa] MFA General questions [In reply to] Can't Post

Hello essa,

Say, how about taking the GRE two years before? Is that too much or enough time?


HopperFu


Mar 30, 2007, 10:57 AM

Post #103 of 213 (2934 views)
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Re: [seemingmeaning] MFA General questions [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
I wonder if I should call or e-mail my professors. I called up one of my former professors to ask if she can take a look at my book review ...

You can wait until it is closer to the time; say August of the year you are applying. Three months is plenty of notice. Just make sure you have a list of three people who will give you EXCELLENT recs.

As for the book review, while it is cool (Mo Review is a good journal), it will make almost no difference for your applications. You can't use a book review anywhere on your application (I suppose under the resume parts you could). Don't expect to submit a book review as an example of your work. You are applying on fiction, so that is what will be considered by application committees


seemingmeaning

e-mail user

Mar 30, 2007, 11:05 AM

Post #104 of 213 (2924 views)
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Re: [HopperFu] MFA General questions [In reply to] Can't Post

So, okay. Three months before the deadline (which the deadline for most schools fall between December and February, correct?). As of now, I have a list of three professors that will write recommendations, along with one more prof as backup.

I suspect a book review will not fall under the rubric of a 'writing sample.' Jokingly I asked a rep from Cornell if a book review is acceptable as a writing sample; luckily, she knew I was teasing :)


eesa


Mar 30, 2007, 11:06 AM

Post #105 of 213 (2922 views)
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Re: [seemingmeaning] MFA General questions [In reply to] Can't Post

Two years is more than enough time, but I don't think it's too much. Your scores stay good for five years, I think? You can take the test pretty close to the application due dates, but you won't want to deal with it then. But you could wait till the summer before to take the test, if you wanted to. I suggest buying a review book and working on it when your life isn't especially busy, but only take the test if you're sure you're going to apply so that you don't waste a lot of time and money.


wilmabluekitty
Wilma Weant Dague

Mar 30, 2007, 11:07 AM

Post #106 of 213 (2922 views)
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Re: [seemingmeaning] MFA General questions [In reply to] Can't Post

It seems that NYU would be a natural for you, since you're in NYC. Doesn't Edwidge Danticat teach there?


bighark


Mar 30, 2007, 11:15 AM

Post #107 of 213 (2915 views)
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Re: [seemingmeaning] MFA General questions [In reply to] Can't Post

GRE
Your GRE scores are good for up to five years, so there's absolutely nothing wrong with taking the test early and applying later.

Letters of Recommendation
Ask for your letters around the end of September / beginning of October. ou may want to quote December 1st as the day by which you hope to receive the letters. Since the earliest applications are due on December 15, this will give your writers plenty of time to compose something for you while still give you some wiggle room in the event that someone ends up missing the deadline (it happens all the time).




seemingmeaning

e-mail user

Mar 30, 2007, 11:16 AM

Post #108 of 213 (2914 views)
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Re: [eesa] MFA General questions [In reply to] Can't Post

Eesa,

That's good. I think I am certain that around 2009 or 2010, I plan on getting a MFA. So, most likely, I'll take the GRE this August just to get the gargoyle off my shoulders. I already have a book I bought three years ago (GRE for dummies), which, I think is one of the best study guides out there.


eesa


Mar 30, 2007, 11:19 AM

Post #109 of 213 (2911 views)
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Re: [seemingmeaning] MFA General questions [In reply to] Can't Post

The test changed a lot since I took it, so you will probably need a new book. The website has some details about the changes, I'm sure, but I don't know what they were.


seemingmeaning

e-mail user

Mar 30, 2007, 11:20 AM

Post #110 of 213 (2911 views)
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Re: [wilmabluekitty] MFA General questions [In reply to] Can't Post

Hey wilmabluekitty,

I met Edwidge Danticat last November when she did a short reading at St. John's University. Right now she lives in Miami and did taught at NYU (and UM--Miami, not Michigan) for a while. I had NYU on my list, but, later scratched it off the list. :(


seemingmeaning

e-mail user

Mar 30, 2007, 11:23 AM

Post #111 of 213 (2908 views)
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Re: [eesa] MFA General questions [In reply to] Can't Post

Oh really? Does the GRE still include the writing portion? I remember that's one section I didn't want to deal with, especially if I were to write a something on some bogus topic!


piratelizzy


Mar 30, 2007, 11:29 AM

Post #112 of 213 (2902 views)
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Re: [seemingmeaning] MFA General questions [In reply to] Can't Post

For letters of rec, I think I noticed one or two schools state that they must not be older than a year. But other than that, I´d say secure them early. (I think two years is much too early, but you could ask in the summer before you send off your apps.)


'sup?!


jaywalke


Mar 30, 2007, 11:46 AM

Post #113 of 213 (2890 views)
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Re: [bighark] MFA General questions [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
GRE
Your GRE scores are good for up to five years, so there's absolutely nothing wrong with taking the test early and applying later.


As a matter of fact, it might be better to take it now. Starting in September the GRE is going to change dramatically. ETS mentions a little about it on their website, but it is also covered in the Princeton Review study guide (_Cracking the GRE_, which was $20 well-spent, IMO). The test is going to be much longer--something like 4 hours to finish! Ugh.


seemingmeaning

e-mail user

Mar 30, 2007, 1:24 PM

Post #114 of 213 (2851 views)
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Re: [jaywalke] MFA General questions [In reply to] Can't Post

A 4-hour test?! That's bonkers! Does that include the writing portion as well?


seemingmeaning

e-mail user

Mar 30, 2007, 1:32 PM

Post #115 of 213 (2845 views)
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Re: [jaywalke] MFA General questions [In reply to] Can't Post

 
GRE general test change in September link from ETS website:
http://www.ets.org/portal/site/ets/menuitem.c988ba0e5dd572bada20bc47c3921509/?vgnextoid=784c73e2fed90110VgnVCM10000022f95190RCRD&vgnextchannel=bf8146f1674f4010VgnVCM10000022f95190RCRD


storyends


Mar 30, 2007, 10:45 PM

Post #116 of 213 (2795 views)
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Re: [seemingmeaning] MFA General questions [In reply to] Can't Post

  2009 or 2010? Wow, talk about not procrastinating. That's quite a bit of advance planning you're doing.

I find this very interesting. Do/did most people put this much pre-planning into their application process? Personally, getting an MFA had been something I'd tossed around for three years since graduating college, but I didn't do any work toward applying until August 2006, when I knew for sure that going for an MFA was what I wanted. Asking my references for letters of rec was the moment that I officially felt like I was "on the clock", point of no return. I did all the application work in the subsequent five or so months*. If I'd made up my mind to pursue an MFA, I don't think I would have the patience to let an application cycle pass by, much less two, unless I had some sort of prior commitment that I knew would preclude me from enrolling earlier.

By the way, since UW-Madison is your top choice, you should keep in mind that they accept poetry and fiction students in alternating years. The fiction classes are entering fall of 2008 and fall of 2010. I almost certainly would have applied there had they been accepting fiction writers for this incoming class. So you either have nine months or two years and nine months to apply to UW-Madison!

-storyends

*Of course I was still working on my writing before then (though not specifically with MFA in mind) and I was already casually studying for the GRE (if by "study" you count subscribing to a bunch of Word of the Day email lists). This was my version of early preparation.



In Reply To
Eesa,

That's good. I think I am certain that around 2009 or 2010, I plan on getting a MFA. So, most likely, I'll take the GRE this August just to get the gargoyle off my shoulders. I already have a book I bought three years ago (GRE for dummies), which, I think is one of the best study guides out there.



ptld


Mar 30, 2007, 11:14 PM

Post #117 of 213 (2789 views)
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Re: [storyends] MFA General questions [In reply to] Can't Post

I only decided to apply to mfa's in late August, and like you I started feeling like the clock was ticking as soon as I asked for letters. It was nice though, two professors that I asked said I was the first to ask. I felt like I was more on the ball then I actually was. Though application process was frantic, I really don't know if I could have done it any other way. I needed that sort of pressure and approaching deadlines (which is part of why I want an mfa). I'm hoping among other things to treat myself to a little writing bootcamp.


seemingmeaning

e-mail user

Mar 31, 2007, 1:09 AM

Post #118 of 213 (2772 views)
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Re: [storyends] MFA General questions [In reply to] Can't Post

Ha! That's true, storyend. In fact, the choice to attend a MFA program by 2010 was based on UW-Madison's acceptance policy. So, for sure, this should give me enough time to work on my writing, study/retake--if necessary--the GRE, etc etc.


madgraceflint


Apr 1, 2007, 2:43 AM

Post #119 of 213 (2706 views)
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Re: [creative8] Preparing for an MFA [In reply to] Can't Post

I'm also curious for those of us who haven't been in undergrad for a while what people recommend as far as getting feedback for writing.

I've been in two poetry workshops and one short fiction workshop during and after my undergraduate work. I've had mixed experiences (a workshop I took during my undergrad was led by an incredible writer who was a lackluster teacher) with the benefits of workshops, and would like to get a better sense of what to expect on the graduate level.

I've been researching online writing courses (I'm currently living and working out of the US), and was also wondering if anyone had any positive or negative experiences with:

The University of Wisconsin-- Madison

UC Berkeley Extension School
Stanford's Continuing Studies Program
UCLA Extension Writer's Program

Berkeley and Wisconsin seem to say that they offer classes which one can finish in 6-12 months-- does anyone know if that means their classes are more tutorial-based with one teacher guiding your work and not as much student interaction?

Also, I've been more primarily a poet in recent years, but my original love was in fiction, and now I seem to be leaning towards creative non-fiction or memoir, would it be too basic to take a beginner course that touches on all these genres to figure out what sort of concentration to aim for in my application?

Thanks in advance.


casicasi


Apr 2, 2007, 2:52 AM

Post #120 of 213 (2621 views)
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Re: [madgraceflint] Preparing for an MFA [In reply to] Can't Post

madgraceflint -

I have taken an ucla extension class in fiction and I'm getting ready to take another one. Overall I liked the experience as I felt my writing improved a lot during the eight weeks. Some of the things I liked was the format was easy to navigate and I liked the classroom like setting, instead of a tutorial sort of program.

I was going to try a class with a different program, but it seems like ucla's extension program has the most variety, maybe I try one of those tutorial classes later.

One thing about ucla's program is that if the instructor usually sets up certain deadlines so if you are going to be away from internet access it might be difficult to complete the assignments although my intructor was pretty flexible. There are was also some students who didn't take the class as serious as other, but I would say about 70 percent of my classmates put a lot of effort into their critiques and assignment.

I hope this was of some help.


madgraceflint


Apr 2, 2007, 10:55 AM

Post #121 of 213 (2579 views)
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Re: [casicasi] Preparing for an MFA [In reply to] Can't Post

Thanks so much casicasi! I'm probably going to have intermittent e-mail access through the summer, so perhaps one of the more flexible programs might work better this go-round. I just want to make sure that I get some good feedback on my work, and some more tools for the revision/creation toolbox. I'm a little nervous.

From my experience with workshops, sometimes the teacher might not get what I'm trying to accomplish with something, but another student might, so the variety of opinions is helpful.

Or there's the nice cheerleading sort of workshop where work is considered "good", but feedback on what makes it good or how to go about generating good work is kind of limited.


Moonshade


Apr 2, 2007, 1:54 PM

Post #122 of 213 (2520 views)
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Re: [madgraceflint] Preparing for an MFA [In reply to] Can't Post

madgraceflint, I took a UCLA Extension Writer's Program about two years ago and I was very pleased with my work from that class. The Intructor gave weekly assignments of 1. reading and posting comments on the stories, 2. critquing other classmates work and, of course, 3. submitting your own material.

I took the fiction (short story) course and I learned a great deal over those eight weeks. I would be up for taking another course through them too.

If you're not to sure which genre you want to concentrate in for your application, I think it would be wise to take a course that touches on all of them. It sounds like the genres you're interested in would go under the umbrella of "creative writing." It's best to know exactly what you want to write, and what your strengths and weaknesses are before you apply. With the rise of MFA applicants, you'll want the strongest application possible.


__________



Apr 2, 2007, 2:01 PM

Post #123 of 213 (2516 views)
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Re: [Moonshade] Preparing for an MFA [In reply to] Can't Post

You know, you guys could just get together for free.

If that $500's really burning a hole in your pocket, hell, I'll take it...


six five four three two one 0 ->


seemingmeaning

e-mail user

Apr 2, 2007, 2:23 PM

Post #124 of 213 (2501 views)
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Re: [Junior Maas] Preparing for an MFA [In reply to] Can't Post

Sorry to go off-topic here, but for those--like myself--interested in applying a MFA at Syracuse, Brooklyn College, and UW-Madison, the GRE is not required. Yes, folks, I repeat, the GRE is not required to get into their program. Yipee!


malber


Apr 3, 2007, 2:35 AM

Post #125 of 213 (2418 views)
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Re: [seemingmeaning] Preparing for an MFA [In reply to] Can't Post

right, but it IS required by a lot of others... people recommend taking it so that you don't limit yourself to places you can and can't apply.

as for OSU's program: take another look... i'm probably heading there next year, and it seems amazing. Lee Martin was a finalist for the pulitzer, Lee K. Abbott is considered one of the masters of the short story, and Erin McGraw and Michelle Herman both have fantastic reputations as well. just some thoughts. they're a program on the rise, i should think. plus, everyone is funded (a good number with fellowships!) and Columbus is a pretty cool city.

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