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ericweinstein
Eric Weinstein


Nov 18, 2009, 4:04 PM

Post #276 of 329 (7437 views)
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Re: [StellaBella] Specific versus general? [In reply to] Can't Post

The only thought I have is this: the SoP is not the place to get inventive or be creative. Your application MS is the place for that. If you try to pack too much into the SoP, you run the risk of not answering the questions the program is asking you to answer ("Why do you want an MFA? Why are you applying to this school in particular?") and coming off as a little bit... well, "out there."

It's been said a couple of times here in the Speakeasy and was echoed by the program coordinator at the NYU MFA open house, so I think it bears repeating: the MS will make or break you. If it makes you, the committee will review your letters of recommendation and SoP to make sure you're not insane or a jerk. That's it.


Hans Landa: You'll be shot for this!
Aldo Raine: Nah, I don't think so. More like chewed out. I've been chewed out before.


(This post was edited by ericweinstein on Nov 18, 2009, 4:05 PM)


KrisB


Nov 24, 2009, 7:26 PM

Post #277 of 329 (7274 views)
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Re: [ericweinstein] Specific versus general? [In reply to] Can't Post

Hello All,

One school that I'm applying to asks for a 500 word autobiography. Did any one have to write one of these? While I know I shouldn't I'm tempted to begin, "I was born in..." Please help me not do that!
Does anyone have an example of this that I might be able to read?


meory


Nov 25, 2009, 2:37 PM

Post #278 of 329 (7218 views)
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Re: [KrisB] Specific versus general? [In reply to] Can't Post

Is this for Sarah Lawrence? That's the only school I'm applying to that requires an autobiography. I went to their open house and asked the professors about it, and they basically said to use it to write about whatever I thought was important, whatever I would want the admissions committee to know. It doesn't have to be a life story or anything like that, but it can be used to say why you write, what writing means to you, anything that you think matters about you as a writer or just as a person, but doesn't fit into the statement of purpose. I also got the idea that the autobiography can be a lot more creative than the statement of purpose. At first, I was dreading this additional requirement, but after I got this advice it seemed less daunting, and I'm actually enjoying writing it.


Woon


Nov 28, 2009, 6:19 PM

Post #279 of 329 (7095 views)
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Re: [meory] Specific versus general? [In reply to] Can't Post

I always found these Statements of Purpose or Personal Statements somewhat ridiculous. To me, they serve only to give the applicant more writing space to further BS the Admissions Committee. I especially don't like the ones where they ask me to carefully articulate why I want to attend so-and-so school, besides wanting to learn, the location, and time to write. I mean, what else is there?

Let's take Iowa, for example. Truthfully, I want to attend Iowa because it is supposedly the top program in the land. As for location, I've lived all over so I'm flexible. As for faculty, I've read works by Lan Samantha Chang, Ethan Canin, James Elle McPherson, and Marilynne Robinson and frankly, although I think they're competent, I wouldn't consider them my favorites. If they released a new book, I wouldn't run out to buy them. Know what I mean?

Do I think I can learn a lot from them? I'd be lying if I said "Yes." Frankly, I don't know whether they're good teachers or not and I wouldn't know, at this point, whether they would be a good fit for me. But I know enough about myself to know that not only am I flexible and adaptable wrt location, I'm adaptable to people. And I think I can learn to like Iowa and probably learn from Chang, Canin, McPherson, and Robinson. But I don't know for sure.

And if Iowa or any other school wants more info in the Personal Statement than that, I'll be entering BS territory, because that's all I got.


meory


Dec 3, 2009, 8:48 PM

Post #280 of 329 (6920 views)
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Re: [meory] Specific versus general? [In reply to] Can't Post

Any advice on this one? "A 3-5 page personal statement focusing on the role of the candidate's reading life in his or her development as a writer." I was thinking about talking about various writers who have influenced my writing in some way, but I'm really not sure how to approach this.


Zuleika Dobson


e-mail user

Dec 5, 2009, 10:25 PM

Post #281 of 329 (6843 views)
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Re: [Woon] Specific versus general? [In reply to] Can't Post

Anyone interested in trading SOPs and some brief feedback?

It's Saturday night... but I'm secretly glad to be working on this.


"Every spectator is a coward or a traitor."


WanderingTree


Dec 5, 2009, 10:40 PM

Post #282 of 329 (6836 views)
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Re: [Zuleika Dobson] Specific versus general? [In reply to] Can't Post

I'd be game. I have one program left, but the SOP is a little different from the others. Hit me at D19NPrimo@gmail.com


Zuleika Dobson


e-mail user

Dec 7, 2009, 3:50 AM

Post #283 of 329 (6751 views)
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Re: [meory] Specific versus general? [In reply to] Can't Post

Still whoring out my SOP, if anyone is interested in feedback swapping at the eleventh hour.

(Note: WanderingTree was very helpful, but I think the more feedback, the better.)


"Every spectator is a coward or a traitor."

(This post was edited by Zuleika Dobson on Dec 7, 2009, 3:52 AM)


edamame40
Ray O

Dec 18, 2009, 6:52 PM

Post #284 of 329 (6553 views)
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Shorter vs Longer-ish [In reply to] Can't Post

I'm sure it has been discussed already, but for those currently applying: many schools have a 500 word or so limit for the SOP; others give you leeway to make it longer. Do you think it advisable to make it a bit longer and detailed in those cases, or do you think shorter is generally better? Do they give you room just to see if you will spaz out and try and tell your life story?


Lux


Dec 19, 2009, 1:32 PM

Post #285 of 329 (6508 views)
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My personal statement was a trainwreck... [In reply to] Can't Post

Y'all, I'm pretty sick about this. Sent off my Michener application just under the deadline. Unfortunately, my life has been totally nuts lately. I literally finished the app the night before it was due, at 4 am in a Motel 6 500 miles from home. Um, yeah. I didn't procrastinate on it, was working frantically for weeks, but now that I look back on what I wrote? My personal statement was totally off.

I was tired. I just had to finish it, and I overedited, screwed up, and don't feel like I really answered the questions they asked. I also didn't emphasize the fact that I want Michener in particular because it lets you study two genres, which is hugely important to me.

I suppose it would be totally out of line to send a follow-up letter? Or a revised version of the statement? Man.


Trilbe



Dec 19, 2009, 2:44 PM

Post #286 of 329 (6487 views)
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Re: [Lux] My personal statement was a trainwreck... [In reply to] Can't Post

Did you at least mention your Primary and Secondary genres? Michener was kind of snarky about putting them prominently into the statement, "Don't make us dig for the information!" I'm no expert, just an applicant like yourself, but if you didn't put that info in there at all, you might be well served to use the forms they sent with the UT EID on it and resubmit that Statement. They seemed quite demanding about including the Primary and Secondary genres, in bold, in that Statement.


Lux


Dec 19, 2009, 2:52 PM

Post #287 of 329 (6481 views)
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Re: [Trilbe] My personal statement was a trainwreck... [In reply to] Can't Post

I listed them in bold at the top. But I didn't explain why and the site kind of says you should give your background in those areas.


WanderingTree


Dec 19, 2009, 4:25 PM

Post #288 of 329 (6457 views)
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Re: [Lux] My personal statement was a trainwreck... [In reply to] Can't Post

Listing your genres in the heading is probably sufficient. As far as not addressing your background, that's a bit more problematic. What did you cover in your SOP anyway? I wouldn't submit another statement though.


Lux


Dec 19, 2009, 4:32 PM

Post #289 of 329 (6454 views)
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Re: [WanderingTree] My personal statement was a trainwreck... [In reply to] Can't Post

I just focused on why I write, my personal philosophies on how it affects our lives. That sounds very general but the statement wasn't terrible. It just wasn't what it should have been. Only having 350 words to play with made it darn near impossible to cover much of anything and I just kind of ran out of time, got exhausted, and threw something out there.


edamame40
Ray O

Dec 19, 2009, 5:34 PM

Post #290 of 329 (6421 views)
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Re: [Lux] My personal statement was a trainwreck... [In reply to] Can't Post

Lux, just remember the personal statement is of significantly less importance than your writing is. Anyway, it sounds like your statement was not that bad, you just realized it could be better; that is probably the case with most of us once we send it off. Speaking for myself, that is definitely the case. Then again with Michener, I think that covering everything well in 350 words is next to impossible anyway, so we just have to do our best.


ericweinstein
Eric Weinstein


Dec 19, 2009, 5:43 PM

Post #291 of 329 (6419 views)
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Re: [Lux] My personal statement was a trainwreck... [In reply to] Can't Post

Unless your SOP indicates that you are 1.) insane or 2.) a jerk, I wouldn't bother sending a new one. The writing comes first, and the SOP & LORs are used to make sure that potential acceptances aren't pieces of crap or psychopaths.


Hans Landa: You'll be shot for this!
Aldo Raine: Nah, I don't think so. More like chewed out. I've been chewed out before.


Lux


Dec 19, 2009, 5:47 PM

Post #292 of 329 (6417 views)
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Re: [ericweinstein] My personal statement was a trainwreck... [In reply to] Can't Post

Thanks guys. Guess I'm just kicking myself because I could have used it to much greater advantage than I did. I'm also thinking the SOP is kind of a writing sample in itself, so I feel like it is important. But, I did the best I could, and if asking to resubmit something would be more harmful than helpful, then I'll just have to live with it. :)


ericweinstein
Eric Weinstein


Dec 19, 2009, 5:49 PM

Post #293 of 329 (6415 views)
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Re: [Lux] My personal statement was a trainwreck... [In reply to] Can't Post

To me, the primary question is: "Did I send the strongest writing sample I'm capable of?" If the answer is "yes," there's little else you could do to improve your odds (assuming, as noted above, that you didn't portray yourself as an asshole in the SOP or get a letter of recommendation that mentions your disruptiveness in the workshop and general jerkbag behavior to peers and professors).


Hans Landa: You'll be shot for this!
Aldo Raine: Nah, I don't think so. More like chewed out. I've been chewed out before.


Lux


Dec 19, 2009, 5:52 PM

Post #294 of 329 (6414 views)
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Re: [ericweinstein] My personal statement was a trainwreck... [In reply to] Can't Post

I definitely don't sound like an asshole in the SOP, just... not as good as I could have sounded, by a long shot. As for the rec letters, I didn't see them but I am hoping they're positive. :) Thanks. Guess I'll just wait it out and do better on future ones.


Lux


Dec 19, 2009, 5:53 PM

Post #295 of 329 (6413 views)
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Re: [Lux] My personal statement was a trainwreck... [In reply to] Can't Post

The main issue was that I wanted Michener b/c of the dual genre study. I write fiction but have published (and also love to write) poetry. I submitted a fiction sample as my primary genre, but my application etc. lists various poetry publications, so maybe I'll get lucky and they'll figure out for themselves that a dual genre would be ideal for me.


OldScribe2000


Dec 19, 2009, 6:03 PM

Post #296 of 329 (6401 views)
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Re: [Lux] My personal statement was a trainwreck... [In reply to] Can't Post

Although it was in the last hour, you still did the most important thing: you finished. Consider this training for what you'll encounter in grad school when you have multiple deadlines stacked up, little or no sleep, and you're working away from home.


In Reply To
Y'all, I'm pretty sick about this. Sent off my Michener application just under the deadline. Unfortunately, my life has been totally nuts lately. I literally finished the app the night before it was due, at 4 am in a Motel 6 500 miles from home. Um, yeah. I didn't procrastinate on it, was working frantically for weeks, but now that I look back on what I wrote? My personal statement was totally off.

I was tired. I just had to finish it, and I overedited, screwed up, and don't feel like I really answered the questions they asked. I also didn't emphasize the fact that I want Michener in particular because it lets you study two genres, which is hugely important to me.

I suppose it would be totally out of line to send a follow-up letter? Or a revised version of the statement? Man.



Lux


Dec 19, 2009, 6:39 PM

Post #297 of 329 (6387 views)
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Re: [OldScribe2000] My personal statement was a trainwreck... [In reply to] Can't Post

The part that gets me the most is that what I wrote could be mistaken for a general statement, since it doesn't specifically refer to the Michener program. Darn it.


edamame40
Ray O

Dec 19, 2009, 8:43 PM

Post #298 of 329 (6350 views)
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Re: [Lux] My personal statement was a trainwreck... [In reply to] Can't Post

If nothing else, the length will speak to its Michener-ness, in that few of the schools have such an insane word limit -- none that I encountered, though I am sure there are some out there.


Lux


Dec 19, 2009, 10:29 PM

Post #299 of 329 (6326 views)
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Re: [edamame40] My personal statement was a trainwreck... [In reply to] Can't Post

Very good point. :) Thanks.


vaquero


Dec 20, 2009, 10:28 PM

Post #300 of 329 (6258 views)
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Re: [Lux] My personal statement was a trainwreck... [In reply to] Can't Post

Okay, so for whatever reason, I had written down on my application cheat sheet that Michener wanted 500 words. As such, I submitted a statement that was exactly 500 words. Michener is pretty, er, stringent. Should I submit a revised statement that's under 350 or just hope for the best?

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