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Low Residency MFAs (2)
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ssd


Mar 17, 2006, 11:07 AM

Post #76 of 184 (3158 views)
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Re: [elli] Perils/Positives of New (Low-Res) Programs [In reply to] Can't Post

Oh, OK! Yes, I didn't know that. Thanks!

Best,
ssd


rooblue


Mar 17, 2006, 1:15 PM

Post #77 of 184 (3138 views)
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Re: [ssd] Perils/Positives of New (Low-Res) Programs [In reply to] Can't Post

ssd,
I've met many people who've done the Vermont program, and every single one of them has raved about it. I'm sure it has its detractors but I don't know who they are. It's a larger program as low-res go, meaning I think 100+ students, which is why I went with Warren Wilson instead. As a new program. Pine Manor is likely to be smaller, yes? so you might get more individual attention. Might, who knows? I agree with Elli that the faculty are what matters most. And, as has been said a million times on this board, just because someone is a terrific writer doesn't mean s/he is a good teacher. Dennis Lehane is a wonderful (detective) writer -- he's who I read when I want to take a break from literary fiction. Elli says he's a good teacher, and he's going to be at Pine Manor -- that's pretty neat. Good luck -- let the board know what you decide!


ssd


Mar 17, 2006, 1:23 PM

Post #78 of 184 (3131 views)
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Re: [rooblue] Perils/Positives of New (Low-Res) Programs [In reply to] Can't Post

Thanks for the encouragement, Rooblue. And yes, the new program is guaranteed to mean more individualized attention--I've had a lot of conversation with the program director about this. Will let the board know.

Best,
ssd


ElRi


Mar 17, 2006, 2:06 PM

Post #79 of 184 (3523 views)
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Stonecoast timing? [In reply to] Can't Post

Anyone heard from Stonecoast for fiction? Anyone from previous years have a sense of when they make final decisions?


wiswriter
Bob S.
e-mail user

Mar 19, 2006, 5:44 PM

Post #80 of 184 (3482 views)
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Re: [ssd] Perils/Positives of New (Low-Res) Programs [In reply to] Can't Post

It's an advantage to have teachers with experience in the mentor-and-packet format. There seems to be a trap newer low-res teachers fall into of writing a mere review of a student's work rather than teaching the student. It's a dialogue, not a monologue, and there's a knack veteran teachers seem to pick up with it.

Also you want to make sure the program has established clear guidelines about what's expected not just of students but of faculty. As a student you'll get pages and pages of requirements - are there requirements or standards on the other end? Some teachers come to low-residency programs unaware of how much work it is; it sounds cushier than it turns out to be. The short-cutters are exposed quickly and ruthlessly provided others have set the bar at the right level. The good teachers spend no less than an entire workday with each student's packet (I'm sure my mentor this term is spending more with mine). So for faculty it's basically one full work week a month at minimum for the teachers, plus the residencies. I'd be concerned that a brand new program hasn't established that culture or track record for faculty. It's something I'd be inquiring about if I were thinking about enrolling in the inaugural class at a low-residency program.


ssd


Mar 19, 2006, 7:08 PM

Post #81 of 184 (3463 views)
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Re: [wiswriter] Perils/Positives of New (Low-Res) Programs [In reply to] Can't Post

Thanks so much, wiswriter. I think you're right, which is why I decided on Vermont this weekend! They have such a great reputation, faculty who have been there a long time and know how to teach students in the low-residency format. Every student I've talked to from there has nothing but high praise for it. Sometimes I don't mind taking a chance--but I don't think taking a chance with a new program makes that much sense for me at this time. Thanks for confirming my decision!

Where are you, by the way?

Best,
ssd


coolshoes


Mar 22, 2006, 11:44 AM

Post #82 of 184 (3461 views)
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Low Res Acceptances vs. The New School [In reply to] Can't Post

Got accepted by The New School (nonfiction) and now I am confused. I live in commuting distance of the city. But I figured I would not get into TNS, so all my other apps were to low res programs (acceptances from Lesley, Southern Maine (Stonecoast), and West.Ct.SU; waiting to hear from Goucher).

Now -- do I low res or not? In one sense, I'm thinking TNS will provide more of a community of writers, give me more structure and help me make more connections within literary circles and publishing in Manhattan. However, the scheduling (2-3 nights a week) presents a challeng -- train timetables, snow delays, outrageous parking rates if I have to drive in. You also need to attend 5-7 other evening events (reading, panels, etc.) each semester -- a good thing, I know, but more commuting.

Does one ever turn down a "normal" program in favor of low res? Are "normal" programs inherently better?
As a mom, low res makes somewhat more sense -- easier for my family to cope w/me being gone twice a year for 10 days rather than running in and out of the city at rush hour several times a week for 2 years.

But how to compare the two experiences? It's not as if you can compare the programs exactly; it's a whole other dimension. Or am I making too much of this? Any input anyone?


ssd


Mar 22, 2006, 12:00 PM

Post #83 of 184 (3453 views)
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Re: [coolshoes] Low Res Acceptances vs. The New School [In reply to] Can't Post

Hi coolshoes,

First, congratulations on your acceptances! I'm someone who is turning down a "normal" school for low-res. I sat in on an NYU craft class last night (fiction), and I have to say, I'm still convinced that the low-res model is right for me. It's not for everyone, but I think in some ways, the low-res structure will ensure I am learning how to be a working writer. To me, it IS structure, knowing my advisor is expecting a packet of new work from me every 3-4 weeks. I've heard great things from low-res students; there is a misconception that there is no community just because you are not all in the same place. I know people who are still in contact with people from their low-res program years afterwards. The "community" I saw last night seemed to involve going out to drink after class. In the actual class, no one really spoke. To me, I don't really need to go to class to listen to a teacher speak; the mentor relationship seems like a much more intimate experience and one in which I will grow more as a writer. One student last night said you were basically left to your own devices at NYU. Most people were happy there--to them it was time to just write for 2 years. I need more of a guiding hand, though. In a normal program, your work might be "up" 2 or 3 times a semester, whereas in a low-res program, your material is being commented on consistently. I don't think you can ever say one program is inherently better than another--this is about finding what educational model works best for you. It sounds like as a mother, and someone who might have trouble coming into the city 2-3 times a week, a "normal" program might not suit your needs. I don't have those obligations, and I still know the "normal" program doesn't suit my needs. I think people need to ask themselves what they need out of a program and not get caught up in what some sort of mainstream route might look like. I am always so happy when people are matched well. I am happy for happy students in residential programs; equally, low-res programs are a great option for many others. They are not inferior. Good luck! (Doesn't Lesley need your answer by Friday? That's what they told me. I'm going with Vermont College, though).

ssd


coolshoes


Mar 22, 2006, 1:34 PM

Post #84 of 184 (3433 views)
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Re: [ssd] Low Res Acceptances vs. The New School [In reply to] Can't Post

Hi ssd
Thanks for your very good points.

Interesting that you sat in on an NYU class; first thing I did when I got my acceptance today was to inquire about that; but they do not allow that at The New School -- something about "the personal nature of nonfiction" and all that. Anyway. I am going to attend one of their nonfiction forums next week and try to meet & mingle w/some students and faculty.

Yes, it's true that the low res programs all have earlier deadlines for notifying them -- end of next week for Stonecoast, early April for Lesley (I'm nonfiction, maybe that's why my date is later than yours), etc. So the crunch is on.

I do see what you mean about the structure, deadline and mentor relationships of the low res programs and the discipline they will engender. I've always worked just fine independently, earning a living as a PR person/freelance writer for 10 years, so I know I could easily slide right into that model. On the other hand, I wondered if it was time to come out of the home office!
But when I think about all the time, energy and gas/toll/parking/commuting costs and stress involved in getting into and out of the city, the "normal" model gets less and less appealing.

Wishing you all the very best at Vermont College. And thanks again for your thoughts.


ssd


Mar 22, 2006, 3:40 PM

Post #85 of 184 (3400 views)
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Re: [coolshoes] Low Res Acceptances vs. The New School [In reply to] Can't Post

Hi Coolshoes,

Let me know where you end up! I can see why after working freelance for so long that getting out of the house/into the community would be an incentive to go to a residential program. I'm actually the opposite. I feel like I am ready to really focus in on my work--I'm tired of workshops and the normal lit. discourse. If you haven't been involved in them for awhile, though, it could be good. Still, I think your writing will improve as much, if not more, at a low-res program, so it's just a matter of prioritizing what's important to you. Good luck with the decision and let the board know!

Cheers,
ssd


trumped


Mar 22, 2006, 10:41 PM

Post #86 of 184 (3367 views)
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Low-Residency Programs (bennington, lesley, goddard, ww) [In reply to] Can't Post

I've been accepted to Lesley, Bennington and Goddard so far and am still waiting to hear from Warren Wilson and Antioch. Looking at the residency syllabus/agenda for Bennington from January 2006, I was dismayed to see an enormous amount of the curriculum being taught by graduating students (every morning for 3 hours). With all due respect, I would like to spend my residency time listening to the faculty speak rather than hear several 40-minute synopses of graduate students' critical essays. The topics were very specific and, I'm sure, interesting to the author. Has anyone explored this with Bennington or do any current/former students have an opnion on this? The Lesley agenda spent much more time on true craft sessions taught by faculty. I would also like to know what Warren Wlson and Goddard's formats are if anyone is familiar.


rooblue


Mar 23, 2006, 1:11 AM

Post #87 of 184 (3344 views)
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Re: [trumped] Low-Residency Programs (bennington, lesley, goddard, ww) [In reply to] Can't Post

Warren Wilson poster here, to answer your question. All graduating students teach a class; it's a requirement. But they're given in classrooms, as opposed to the lecture halls where the faculty give their lectures, and (generally) they're attended mostly by students in the same genre (fiction or poetry) although there are some crossovers. Faculty always attend as well. When the faculty lecture students are supposed to go -- they don't count attendance but you're really supposed to show up. When the students lecture we WANT to go, because the student lectures, in general, are tremendous. They spend months preparing them, and they're a big part of passing the program, and they're almost always focused on a very narrow craft issue. I mean they're really really good -- I take pages of notes.

I went to some of those Bennington lectures that you describe, because I was visiting a friend there. They were good, but they weren't about craft. But they were well-prepared and interesting and I did learn; don't discount who these students or are how hard they've worked to get where they are.


pongo
Buy this book!

e-mail user

Mar 23, 2006, 9:58 AM

Post #88 of 184 (3319 views)
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Re: [trumped] Low-Residency Programs (bennington, lesley, goddard, ww) [In reply to] Can't Post

Part of the Goddard residency has a bunch of graduating students' presentations, because that presentation is one of the graduation requirements. You have to lead a workshop or give a talk of some sort, as well as doing a final reading and turning in your thesis. But students are not required to attend those (I went to one where it was just me and the presenter; we had a fine time discussing the theory of hyperfiction).

The Goddard residency is aimed at two or three goals. First, you need to set up your study plan for the next semester. You do this in conferences with your advisor for that term. Second, you need to address various issues of craft. You do this in workshops with your advising group and in other workshops run by various faculty. A small number of those are required, but you can do them at any residency before your graduation. and third, you need to form bonds with the other students. You do this in parties, at readings, over meals, and in impromptu workshops that spring up in people's rooms and in lounges.

dmh


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/


trumped


Mar 23, 2006, 10:46 AM

Post #89 of 184 (3308 views)
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Re: [pongo; rooblue] Low-Residency Programs (bennington, lesley, goddard, ww) [In reply to] Can't Post

Thanks to rooblue and pongo for your insights on Warren Wilson and Goddard, respectively.

Another question: Bennington said that the graduate lectures didn't focus on craft issues because that's covered in workshop. Did you feel that the workshop time was enough to review everyone's stories AND work on craft issues or were you looking for more faculty lectures on craft? What ultimately made you choose your programs?


pongo
Buy this book!

e-mail user

Mar 23, 2006, 12:16 PM

Post #90 of 184 (3273 views)
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Re: [trumped] Low-Residency Programs (bennington, lesley, goddard, ww) [In reply to] Can't Post

I chose Goddard because I didn't do enough research and didn't know of any other low-res programs. (I did find that it was the right place for me, and I loved it, but that was blind luck.) Goddard is very process-oriented. They work in the Dewey tradition, where if you can understand the preocess (or your own process, since for something like writing everyone's process is idiosyncratic) yo can then teach yourself to do it better.

The amount of workshopping will vary from teacher to teacher. With Michael Klein, for example, most of the advising group meetings were workshops. With Sarah Schulman, we did a lot of imagination and craft exercises and some critical work. There are not a lot of lectures of any sort.

dmh


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/


coolshoes


Mar 23, 2006, 12:56 PM

Post #91 of 184 (3255 views)
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Any Goucher responses ? [In reply to] Can't Post

Has anyone heard anything from Goucher?


rooblue


Mar 23, 2006, 1:30 PM

Post #92 of 184 (3247 views)
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Re: [trumped] Low-Residency Programs (bennington, lesley, goddard, ww) [In reply to] Can't Post

At Warren Wilson workshop is pretty much focused on student work. When a larger craft issue emerges from that discussion, the craft issue might be briefly discussed in general terms, but always with an eye toward the specific work that is under review. Faculty really are not supposed to "lecture" in workshop; it's supposed to be a discussion. This is nicely balanced with the faculty lectures, which don't always focus on craft but often do. Faculty lectures from the January 06 residency included such topics as : "Meteorlogical Elements of Language/Climate in Stories" (Susan Neville) , "How Meaning Works in Stories", (Justin Cronin) and "The Death Plot" (Jane Hamilton). Those aren't the exact titles but you get the idea. Hope this helps.


willbell
Will

Mar 23, 2006, 1:40 PM

Post #93 of 184 (3237 views)
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Re: [trumped] Low-Residency Programs (bennington, lesley, goddard, ww) [In reply to] Can't Post

I will also add that there are 1-2 visiting writers per residency. During the Jan. 06 residency at Goddard, Walter Mosley read from a new work, met with students, and gave a lecture on the writing process.

Goddard's residencies offer a great balance of readings (faculty, students, visting writers) and craft-based workshops. I went to 12 workshops, 5 advisor group sessions, and a lot of readings during the last residency. In my advising group (Sarah Schulman), we workshopped each other work allowing approx. 40-45 mins. per piece. The faculty workshops are 1 1/2 or 3 hours long and other writing exercises and discussion of craft. A few are designed more as lectures...

Will


wiswriter
Bob S.
e-mail user

Mar 23, 2006, 2:30 PM

Post #94 of 184 (3228 views)
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Re: [trumped] Low-Residency Programs (bennington, lesley, goddard, ww) [In reply to] Can't Post

Hi trumped...I'm in my third semester at Bennington. Congratulations on getting in.

First of all, some of the graduating student lectures ARE about craft - they just aren't required to be. Personally I think some of them are a bit light and I've said this in my residency evaluations. But, as people have said above, from the standpoint of being interesting, as a whole they're usually on a par or maybe even better than the faculty lectures because so much goes into them. As Liam says, you spend a year on one 40-minute lecture, it better be good.

As for craft, you get so much of it in a low-res program between the packet responses and the workshops. I mean, I'm getting 40-50 pages of single-spaced instruction from my teacher this term, much of it talking about craft issues specific to my work and the issues I'm raising with her in my correspondence - not to mention phone calls and e-mails and the workshop I had with her at the last residency and the conference I'll have with her next residency. If I had any more craft instruction I think it would be coming out my ears. In my experience it's a lot more crafty, so to speak, than what you typically get in a traditional university workshop where your work is up once in a while for an hour and then you go away for weeks on end.


trumped


Mar 23, 2006, 2:35 PM

Post #95 of 184 (3225 views)
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Re: [rooblue] Low-Residency Programs (bennington, lesley, goddard, ww) [In reply to] Can't Post

Very helpful. Thanks again. It seems as if you feel you got a good dose of faculty lecture and experience during your residency which is encouraging. How has your semester experience with advisors been? Did you get adequate feedback and guidance on your submissions? Any advisors stick out as being particularly helpful?

What made you choose Warren Wilson over some other programs?


trumped


Mar 23, 2006, 2:38 PM

Post #96 of 184 (3224 views)
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Re: [willbell] Low-Residency Programs (bennington, lesley, goddard, ww) [In reply to] Can't Post

Good information. Why did you choose Goddard over other programs? Anything in particular? Any advisors stick out as being particularly helpful with you work?


trumped


Mar 23, 2006, 2:45 PM

Post #97 of 184 (3221 views)
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Re: [wiswriter] Low-Residency Programs (bennington, lesley, goddard, ww) [In reply to] Can't Post

No doubt about the benefits over a traditional program. And I'm glad to hear your point of view on the issue of craft instruction. It's very important and a large part of why we undertake the financial burden of getting the degree. Are you in fiction? If so, who have your advisors been and which ones stand out as being the most instructive. I noticed that Bennington's fiction faculty is 75% female of a similar demographic (age, race). Has that ever been discussed?


willbell
Will

Mar 23, 2006, 3:27 PM

Post #98 of 184 (3208 views)
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Re: [trumped] Low-Residency Programs (bennington, lesley, goddard, ww) [In reply to] Can't Post

Quick answer: I didn't get into Bennington. My writing sample for Goddard was better--it contained shorter, polished pieces in two genres rather than one 20-page story that needed a lot of work. I chose Goddard over Fairleigh Dickinson because positive feedback from students and alumni, the faculty, and I had a better sense of how Goddard's packet process would work with my writing.

That said, Goddard has been great.

But, in all honesty, I'd probably choose Bennington if I had the choice.


AAuchter



Mar 23, 2006, 3:51 PM

Post #99 of 184 (3197 views)
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Re: [wiswriter] Low-Residency Programs (bennington, lesley, goddard, ww) [In reply to] Can't Post

Hi, Wiswriter! I just accepted Bennington's offer, so I will be there in June. How do you like it there? Who are you currently working with? Any tips/advice? Pros/cons?

Thanks!


trumped


Mar 23, 2006, 4:09 PM

Post #100 of 184 (3190 views)
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Re: [AAuchter] Low-Residency Programs (bennington, lesley, goddard, ww) [In reply to] Can't Post

Just curious AAuchter, where else were you considering? I've been accepted to Bennington as well and am trying to make my final decision.

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