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MFA Fiction Programs - Questions & Concerns
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germericanqt


Oct 1, 2008, 9:13 PM

Post #201 of 344 (9121 views)
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Second Time (or more) [In reply to] Can't Post

How many, like me, applied last year and didn't get in, or got in but decided to reapply? Where did you apply and what did the outcomes look like? Do you feel more confident or less confident this time around? Are you reapplying to any schools? If so, why? If you don't get in this time, what will you do?

I applied to UC Irvine, U Virginia, Boston U, and Johns Hopkins. I was rejected by the first three and waitlisted at JHU. I feel like I have a much better understanding of the process this time around. I've applied to more schools, been more organized, and put more time in so far than I spent last year. I worked hard last year, but I'm better prepared this year. I wouldn't say I feel more confident, because I was pretty confident last year (mainly because I didn't comprehend how competitive the process is), but I feel pretty good. With twelve schools on my list, including six that have up to five times higher acceptance rates than the ones last year and one school that almost accepted me, I think I have a good shot. I'm reapplying to all of last year's schools but Boston U. Why? Because they're still some of my top picks, and I think that my writing sample this year is different enough and shows enough improvement that a school which rejected me last year might take another look. If I don't get in this time around, it's really hard to say what I'll do. I'll be heartbroken for sure. Might lose all will to live. I can joke about it, but it will be a tough experience for me.


HappyCianci



Oct 1, 2008, 9:32 PM

Post #202 of 344 (9119 views)
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Re: [germericanqt] Second Time (or more) [In reply to] Can't Post

I'm in the same boat, germericanqt. I applied to seven schools last year, was rejected outright by five, accepted at Notre Dame, and waitlisted (and later rejected) at NYU. I ultimately decided I wasn't enthusiastic enough about Notre Dame to spend my only MFA years there.

This time, my list of programs is twice as long. Like you, I included a bunch with much higher acceptance rates than say, Irvine. Although I'm still applying to Irvine hah.

I feel more confident this year, I think because I'm going to shop my writing sample around to all my poet friends, and get as much feedback as I can about what will make a strong addition, and what should be cut. Last year I believe I made the mistake of including too much new material, and of just generally going solo with my sample and SOP. MFA programs are about community, right? So I figure I had better get comfortable with the group ethos now anyway.

Well I wish you, and all the other veterans good luck this time around. I don't know what I'm going to do if I don't get in anywhere. Cry into my laptop until it sustains water damage, most likely.


empiricalhubris


Oct 5, 2008, 1:35 PM

Post #203 of 344 (9039 views)
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Re: [Miss Write] Transferring Programs [In reply to] Can't Post

Hey everyone,

I'm in the first semester of an MFA program and am thinking about transferring. Unlike many who have responded to this post, funding isn't an issue for me at my program. I've got a teaching assistantship, health insurance, and a full ride. The faculty is great, and one of my profs is helping me immensely outside of class. Some of the issues I'm butting up against are the location (too far away from home, which would be okay if the place was more interesting), the focus of the program (the program I attend has a specialization in a kind of writing that excited me when I applied but annoys me now in that it is going to distract me from writing), and the availability of solid workshops in my genre (most classes here are in others). The english dept. here also has very limited options as far as lit. classes go. The biggest issue puts me at hazard for being arrogant, but I'll just go ahead and say it: I don't feel as though this program will challenge me.
I know I'm lucky, having a supportive environment and a full ride, and I feel terrible for wanting more but I want to be at a program that will challenge me and help me grow (please note: I realize most of that is on me, I just want the best environment to do it in), not one that focuses on the genre or kind of writing that I don't want to do.
So here are my questions:
Am I being an asshole? Should I just take what I can and stick around until I'm done, working to develop and grow on my own and with the help of the aformentioned professor?
Has anyone else transferred succesfully? How did you go about doing it?

Any advice or thoughts are much appreciated.


owenj


Oct 6, 2008, 9:48 PM

Post #204 of 344 (8922 views)
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Re: [empiricalhubris] Transferring Programs [In reply to] Can't Post

I'm not sure if this is the case, but I have a feeling very few programs are going to take credits from your MFA program, so you'd probably be starting over, although I would say that's what you want to do anyway, since part of your graduate experience is getting to know the people with whom you're working. If anybody knows this to be different, please correct me, I'm not 100% on this. Anyway, it doesn't hurt to apply and see what happens. You might be at a disadvantage in that you've done a year of work where you are and are going to raise some questions, I think, as to why you want to go somewhere different, but you might as well try and find out.


spamela


Oct 7, 2008, 1:30 AM

Post #205 of 344 (8896 views)
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Re: [empiricalhubris] Transferring Programs [In reply to] Can't Post

I am not being snarky or trying to be dismissive when I say that I think an MFA program can be as challenging as you need/want it to be at the writing level. From the workshop perspective, certainly, sometimes, a workshop might seem more like a workshop-lite, or a workshop-with-many-polite-and-kind-people-but-not-a-critical-or-dissenting-voice-in-the-bunch. However, it was my experience that at some point during my MFA program, no matter how critical or lite my workshops were, they just stopped mattering in terms of my own work. At some point, you sort of run off on your own path and maybe start turning in work that is less important to you anyway because, frankly, the workshop model isn't always the best model in regards to learning the craft of writing. Sometimes, running with your own weird and crazy ideas is.

This is all a long-winded way of saying: I wouldn't try to talk you out of transferring, but be aware that a lot of people I know who've gone through both reputedly "tough" and reputedly "easy" MFA workshop experiences have all felt, at one point, that the workshop just wasn't...totally...working for them anymore.

That's in the feedback sense. In the teaching sense, I think they're generally useful in that they teach you how to teach workshops.

Of course, if not being academically challenged enough is your main concern, I'm not sure there's a way to figure around that. Just wanted to relay a workshop opinion from the other side of the (post MFA) fence.

In any case, good luck to you! I hope you find the perfect place for you.


spamela


Oct 7, 2008, 1:47 AM

Post #206 of 344 (8894 views)
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Re: [spamela] Transferring Programs [In reply to] Can't Post

and now I see that I misread the word "availability" in your post as "quality"! Oops. Obvs, having an MFA does nothing for the old close-reading practices. So, sorry if my comments are absolutely unhelpful to you. But that's my story and I'm sticking to it.


Tabby


e-mail user

Oct 7, 2008, 1:46 PM

Post #207 of 344 (8848 views)
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Re: [empiricalhubris] Transferring Programs [In reply to] Can't Post

I have heard of one person transferring, but more for personal reasons than being unhappy with the program. I have no idea if this person lost credits. Given the MFA is so short, maybe the "transfer" was more like a "do over." I did transfer a few lit credits from an aborted MA, so if you choose to reapply, then maybe use this time to knock a few of those out.

I notice it's only October, so maybe you're having an initial panic? The hard part is you could transfer, and not be any happier. The MFA is anything but a perfect process. I remember having to completely readjust my preconceived notions. Ah, so many star-glossed ideas that came tumbling down. If you are making those few friends, establishing those one or two professor contacts, and can stand the area, and you're not going in debt...that's more than a few checks in the plus column. Having one professor who works with you one on one is a huge asset. I know people who went their whole MFA getting very little face time.

Of course, I'm no help because I loved my program, loved my friends, loved the place, blah, blah, and more blah. The MFA wasn't what i thought it would be, which isn't to say I didn't come to love what it was. Was that because I'm adaptable? Arrived wanting to love? I certainly know people who griped through the very program I went through all swimmy-eyed.

Sadly, this is one of those sucky "nobody knows the right decision but you" things. Hope the situation becomes more clear one way or the other.

As for the workshops filling up, don't be afraid to advocate for yourself. There's always a way in. There's always more money for somebody. Administrators and faculty love to whine and moan but can't nobody but no one play Chicken Little like a bunch of academics.

http://www.postmfa08.blogspot.com/


http://www.kellykathleenferguson.com


luvrbuoy


Nov 5, 2008, 10:32 AM

Post #208 of 344 (8723 views)
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Re: [Tabby] Transferring Programs [In reply to] Can't Post

"At the patron's request, this post has been deleted."




(This post was edited by motet on Nov 28, 2008, 6:44 PM)


jaywalke


Nov 5, 2008, 11:14 AM

Post #209 of 344 (8708 views)
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Re: [luvrbuoy] Transferring Programs [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
The instructors have created an environment wherein I cannot feel comfortable and learn. <snip> I've requested a transfer to this University's main campus back in the states at this semester's end, but am being told "no". I've been offered a refund of the entire semester's tuition to withdraw immediately.


Since I'm not there, all I can do is read between the lines on this one. Here's my $.02; spend it as you will.

Being offered a full refund to withdraw and simultaneously denied a transfer means, "we do not want you in our school, but don't have the balls to kick you out." I doubt that even the director is enthusiastic about your private sessions, so how much are you going to get out of them? At this point you are out, what, 8 weeks of time? Why flush another 8 to gain some empty credits? If it were me, I'd take the money and run. This has been a learning experience no matter what. Use the time and funds to travel and write on your own.

The first line up there is a bit disconcerting, and it may be why no one else is willing to tackle this question. It projects a victim's POV, a me vs. the world type of dynamic with no personal responsibility. As I've said, I can't (and really, really do not want to) know the specifics of your situation. Maybe you've really gotten the shaft. Perhaps you're an angel among a dozen pricks (because this sounds like a situation where other students have chimed in as well, as is their wont and prerogative). However, Occam's Razor suggests otherwise, and at the very least some shared responsibility.

The only reason I mention this last point is because you are talking about transferring. MFA programs are, to a very large extent, what you make of them. If there are workshop difficulties in your current location, there are no guarantees they will disappear in a new location.


luvrbuoy


Nov 5, 2008, 11:57 AM

Post #210 of 344 (8696 views)
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Re: [jaywalke] Transferring Programs [In reply to] Can't Post

Thanks for your response. I did request help not a "reading between the lines" and your judgement. I never professed to be an "angel among pricks", and if I failed to present personal responsibility according to your standards, please forgive me.

Can a school just decide to kick someone out? Yes, there is more to the story here. There was no disciplinary action, simply the biased actions of a teacher. As a paying student, it is my right to get the education, is it not? From what I can see, yes, I have been given the shaft. And, yes the instructors have created this environment by not managing their classroom, nor teaching from a syllabus. I was "invited" into independent study with the assurance that I would be granted a transfer. What was I to do, say "no"?

This has been a traumatic experience. I am not simply here on the forum to whine. That was an honest request for help from those who have successfully transferred out of MFA programs. Compassion is appreciated.


bighark


Nov 5, 2008, 12:40 PM

Post #211 of 344 (8686 views)
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Re: [luvrbuoy] Transferring Programs [In reply to] Can't Post

I think jaywalke gave you some good advice. Abandon the credits--they're useless anyway--and get your refund.

If you're able, get a recommendation from someone at your current school. If that's not possible, then be as gracious as you can on your way out. Never say a negative thing about your experience to anyone on anything official--that goes especially for your next round of applications.

If you must, acknowledge your participation in the program and state simply and dispassionately that you left because it wasn't a good fit. That's it. That's all that's necessary. Anything more than that makes you look like the guy who can't play nice with others no matter what you have to say.

Anyway, I have not doubt that you can move on from this program to another. People do it all the time. Life happens. People get divorced or have babies or take calls from their sister saying that mom isn't well and you need to come home. People overestimate their ability to write and work and study or else underestimate the financial strain of being in grad school without funding. People get homesick. People get lonely. They don't like their cohort or teachers or whatever. The point is, people leave MFA programs all the time. Some of those people find new programs. Some don't.

I don't think it'll be possible to transfer credits, at least not anywhere reputable, but that's not necessarily a bad thing.

If I were you, I'd take the refund and assemble a new batch of applications for the 2009-2010 admission year. If you hustle, you can still make all the major program deadlines.

Good luck, and I hope the next school works better for you.


jaywalke


Nov 5, 2008, 12:54 PM

Post #212 of 344 (8679 views)
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Re: [luvrbuoy] Transferring Programs [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
Thanks for your response. I did request help not a "reading between the lines" and your judgement.


Allow me to extend my deepest apologies. I must have misunderstood the line:

"Any and all advice is appreciated."


HopperFu


Nov 5, 2008, 12:55 PM

Post #213 of 344 (8678 views)
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Re: [bighark] Transferring Programs [In reply to] Can't Post

Everything Bighark said (with props for saying it so well) but wanted to emphasize the point that you will probably be better off in your applications if you do NOT think of this as a transfer, but rather as applying again.
Leave what baggage you can behind (and off your applications).

Cut your losses now. Today.


germericanqt


Dec 22, 2008, 3:44 PM

Post #214 of 344 (8487 views)
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Familiarity with the Faculty [In reply to] Can't Post

Some of the programs emphasize the importance of knowing the faculty's work (I'm thinking of Oregon in particular here). I didn't get around to reading work from all of the faculty before writing my statements of purpose, but since then I've managed to read something by at least one faculty member at almost all of the schools I'm applying to. Do you think I should let them know somehow that I've done my homework (since it doesn't appear in my application anywhere)? Or maybe at least at Oregon, especially since I greatly enjoyed Laurie Lynn Drummond's book of short stories?


RaoulDuke
Cobra Cobachi

Dec 23, 2008, 1:06 PM

Post #215 of 344 (8402 views)
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Re: [germericanqt] Familiarity with the Faculty [In reply to] Can't Post

I think if you do it with style it would be good. Maybe making a connection between the writing of the faculty and your own? I wouldn't go too overboard with it, but a brief mention would behoove your application, for sure. It's one thing I wish I would have done in my personal statement. Here's something I heard one our fiction professors say in workshop last semester: "I barely even read the statement of purpose. I just go straight for the manuscript, and if it's a borderline story, I might take a look at the SOP." Something to consider.

Good luck, happy holidays.


moomoocow42


Dec 23, 2008, 1:53 PM

Post #216 of 344 (8387 views)
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Western Michigan Address? [In reply to] Can't Post

Is anyone else having difficulty finding out the proper address to send the Western Michigan application materials to? I used the document provided on their website, which asks us to mail them here:

Dr. Jana Schulman, Graduate Director
Department of English
Western Michigan University
Kalamazoo, MI 49008-5331

Which seems very vague to me... No building number? No P.O. Box? I probably should've done the proper research before sending the stuff through the mail, but I was anxious to get my materials out of my hands and out of mind. Now I'm checking the confirmation number given to me by the USPS daily, with still no confirmation of delivery. For all I know, the application's sitting in some no-man's land, undelivered. Anyone else having this problem, or have run into this problem?


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


germericanqt


Dec 23, 2008, 2:21 PM

Post #217 of 344 (8380 views)
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Re: [RaoulDuke] Familiarity with the Faculty [In reply to] Can't Post

No, I've already sent in my SOP's. I was wondering whether it's a good idea to e-mail some kind of an update to the graduate department, like, "Hey... just so you know, I read so-and-so and I think I could really gain a lot from studying with them because so-and-so." I'm guessing it's too late for that kind of thing and an e-mail would probably hurt my chances more than help them. I wish I could stick it in my SOP!

Happy holidays to you, too. :)


HopperFu


Dec 23, 2008, 2:39 PM

Post #218 of 344 (8375 views)
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Re: [germericanqt] Familiarity with the Faculty [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
I was wondering whether it's a good idea to e-mail some kind of an update to the graduate department, like, "Hey... just so you know, I read so-and-so and I think I could really gain a lot from studying with them because so-and-so."


As you've indicated, this is not a good idea.


germericanqt


Dec 23, 2008, 2:44 PM

Post #219 of 344 (8374 views)
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Re: [HopperFu] Familiarity with the Faculty [In reply to] Can't Post

I know. Deep down I know that. Just as I knew, hoovering over the "add" button, that it was a bad, bad idea to add Professor Drummond as a friend on facebook. It's these MFA crazies, I tell ya. They're getting a hold of me already.


jaywalke


Dec 23, 2008, 2:46 PM

Post #220 of 344 (8373 views)
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Re: [moomoocow42] Western Michigan Address? [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
For all I know, the application's sitting in some no-man's land, undelivered. Anyone else having this problem, or have run into this problem?


Regarding USPS -- I can't calm your fears, other than to say that this is their busiest time of year.

Western's English Department members all have their offices in the same building (Sprau tower), which is the tallest one on campus. The post office can't missi it. :-] I'm sure it will make it to the right place.

Remember that nothing happens on campuses between when grades are turned in (mid-December?) and when the semester starts again. Faculty disappear like the wind, and staff take time off, even if the offices are scheduled to be open. My building has 250 12-month appointment occupants, and I think there are a dozen people here today.


(This post was edited by jaywalke on Dec 23, 2008, 2:48 PM)


HopperFu


Dec 23, 2008, 3:08 PM

Post #221 of 344 (8366 views)
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Re: [jaywalke] Western Michigan Address? [In reply to] Can't Post

File under redundancy, but don't worry about the address thing.
For most colleges and universities the mail gets delivered to their mail room and they sort it by building.


moomoocow42


Dec 23, 2008, 3:27 PM

Post #222 of 344 (8359 views)
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Re: [HopperFu] Western Michigan Address? [In reply to] Can't Post

Thanks for the prompt and detailed responses, Hopper and Jay, I really appreciate it. Whew. That's a load off my mind.


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


germericanqt


Dec 27, 2008, 6:02 PM

Post #223 of 344 (8237 views)
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MFA vs. Ph.D [In reply to] Can't Post

I decided last minute to apply to my alma mater's BA to Ph.D option, mostly out of consideration for my significant other (I'm still pretty set on going out-of-state, just to get a new perspective and fresh ideas). I'm just wondering if the benefit of having a Ph.D in Creative Writing instead of an MFA might outweight some of the disadvantages. I'll still get workshops, in-depth study of craft (perhaps even more in-depth than an MFA might offer) and I'll have a more impressive credential (especially considering that Utah is ranked #2 on the list of creative writing Ph.D's). I think it will all come down to which MFA programs I get into, but I thought I would see what others think. If it's down to MFA at the Michener Center or Ph.D at Utah, I'm off to Austin, no question. (I know, dream on, right?) But if it's Notre Dame vs. U of U, or even Alabama vs. U of U, I might have to stop and think.


germericanqt


Dec 27, 2008, 6:24 PM

Post #224 of 344 (8234 views)
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Re: [germericanqt] MFA vs. Ph.D [In reply to] Can't Post

CRAP! How come I didn't hear before that Vanderbilt is waiving the application fee?

I so, so want to apply now... but I've already asked my recommenders for an extra, eleventh hour LOR and I dursen't do it again. *sigh*

Is anyone else already obsessing about schools they should have applied to?


v1ctorya


Dec 28, 2008, 5:54 PM

Post #225 of 344 (8171 views)
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Re: [germericanqt] MFA vs. Ph.D [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To


Is anyone else already obsessing about schools they should have applied to?



Yes, and I applied to 13 as it was. I'm still thinking, "why did I leave off that school again? And that one? How come I didn't hear about that one? What really stopped you from applying to Alaska again?"

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