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pongo
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Oct 14, 2008, 7:56 PM

Post #176 of 329 (6401 views)
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Re: [SevenFreckles] Sample Statements [In reply to] Can't Post

I don't quite see the advantage of reminding a school that they've already rejected you once, unless you're stressing your growth or something like that. In fact, I'd leave it out of all your SOP's unless it's a relevant part of your narrative.


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/


empiricalhubris


Oct 14, 2008, 8:36 PM

Post #177 of 329 (6396 views)
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Re: [SevenFreckles] Sample Statements [In reply to] Can't Post

The SOP is tough, tougher and more important than most admit. Mentioning your previous application might help you, if you handle it well. For example, if you were to discuss the changes you've made in your writing over the past year you might be able to better justify that you are ready to enter a program. Doing that would also show that you're able to be honest about and critical of your writing, a big plus as far as committees are concerned. I doubt most admissions committees would look poorly upon someone who was rejected before as they understand better than anyone how small acceptance rates are.

To reference my first sentence, the SOP is, generally speaking, the second most important part of your application (behind the writing sample). I'm about to make a bunch of claims. They aren't unsubstantiated conjecture; I've actually discussed this with several profs at my program and others who have dealt with committees elsewhere. When schools are deciding who they want, they're often faced with a significant number of applicants who are equally strong. The SOP helps them pick out the potential students who seem to fit with the program, whether it's attitude or focus or whatever, the best. That's actually extemely important to many MFA programs as most of them hinge so heavily on a "writer's community" of sorts. So, tailoring your SOP is extremely important in that it can "nudge you over the line," especially if you're an emerging writer. I know that if an SOP sounds like a form letter, programs will often drop the app. I found this out the hard way. When I applied, most of the SOPs I wrote were highly generalized. The schools that got those, for the most part, rejected me, even if they weren't as prestigious as some of the programs whose SOP I spent time with. Every program whose SOP I spent time with (either by discussing the writers on staff, the focus of the program, or even the opportunities presented by the school at large) admitted me. Of course everyone is different, but it might be something to think about as you get your stuff togehter.

Good luck and if you have any questions, just PM me.


HopperFu


Oct 15, 2008, 9:12 AM

Post #178 of 329 (6363 views)
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Re: [empiricalhubris] Sample Statements [In reply to] Can't Post

You might not remember me since you had three hundred applications, but I was one of the people you rejected! Here's why you made a mistake...

David is right. There is NOTHING to be gained by reminding them that they have already decided once that you are not good enough.
You can certainly - and you absolutely should - talk about the things you've done to improve your writing, but there is no reason to do so in the context of having been rejected the previous year.

And yes, if you can tailor your statement a little, it probably helps. That being said, if you look at examples that people have put up on these boards and elsewhere, you'll see that even within the same program, statements can be wildly different.


SevenFreckles


Oct 15, 2008, 10:51 AM

Post #179 of 329 (6347 views)
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Re: [HopperFu] Sample Statements [In reply to] Can't Post

I can see why it's best to avoid reminding them that I was rejected. I understand that completely--that's why I felt unsure about it in the first place. And I guess it's best to err on the side of caution. I'd rather rework my SOP so that it doesn't include that information that have it sway them against me...

But I wish it didn't work that way. For me, it was twenty times harder to decide to reapply that it was to apply in the first place. I think being able to pick yourself up from rejection, learn from it, and then share honestly where your coming from should count for something. Being a writer is about perseverance. I don't think we should be punished for or embarrassed by our failures. I think we should be encouraged to learn from them. I'm kind of torn. I'm not sure I'd even want to be in a program that made you feel like you had to get it right the first time, every time.

I appreciate everyone's advice. I certainly see the merit in it. I think I just feel a little frustrated at the process right now. Hmm...


germericanqt


Oct 15, 2008, 3:53 PM

Post #180 of 329 (6314 views)
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Re: [SevenFreckles] Sample Statements [In reply to] Can't Post

I think maybe the biggest problem with this line of reasoning is the fact that you're not alone. "I didn't get in, but look at me now, I worked hard and I'm back!" might be your individual triumph story, but for the committees, it's probably similar to "I've wanted to be a writer since..."

From what I can tell, there are LOTS of us who didn't make it who are trying again this year. I went through the same process as you, trying to decide whether to include that piece of my narrative. I think in the end I decided just to focus on the "here is what I'm working on to improve my writing" aspect, leaving out the "here we go again. Please recognize my genius this time!" part. (Although I did throw in a bit about "writer's tenacity" on one or two of them). The reason I'm unsure is because I've tailored each SOP to each school, and between length adjustments and constant reworking of my central theme, I'm not sure exactly what each of them says without double-checking.


v1ctorya


Oct 15, 2008, 6:47 PM

Post #181 of 329 (6290 views)
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Re: [SevenFreckles] Sample Statements [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
So this is my second round of applications and I'm working on a new SOP. I feel rather compelled to mention my first attempt at an MFA acceptance in my statement. That round of rejections really taught me a lot. I don't know how appropriate that would be though. It seems like it might draw too much attention to my failure. Any thoughts?

Also, what about schools that I'm reapplying to? Should I mention that specifically at all? Gah! I'm probably stressing myself out needlessly, but please help!



There are, I beleive, two thoughts on this. One is that it shows you stayed focus, that applying wasn't just a whim last year, and that you have determination and dedication to your craft.

The other is that you are right away admitting to your failures, not your strengths, and why do that? On a first date you point out the best qualities, not that you've gone out a lot of times and never gotten a call back or whatevers. On a date, the person in front of you is the only one that matters, not the past, not the guy you're seeing the next day, him. And I kind of follow that philosophy when applying to schools - that one is the only one that matters, at least in the essay I'm writing, not my baggage, that school and our future relationship together.


byandby


Oct 15, 2008, 9:27 PM

Post #182 of 329 (6273 views)
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Re: [SevenFreckles] Sample Statements [In reply to] Can't Post

The first time I applied to programs was two years ago. I was wait listed at two places, but ultimately rejected everywhere. I applied again last year, only to the same schools because of some unexpected recommendation issues. Because I contacted schools and had them reactivate my application from the previous year (some schools waive the fee for your second time around! and by reactivating you save money on sending GRE scores and transcripts!) I knew that if I got far enough along in the process, they would probably know that I had applied the previous year before and not gotten in.

I wanted my SOP to make sense should the application reader have that information. So, my essay talked about the things I did differently in the past year-- I mentioned writing classes and writing groups and the way I restructured my schedule so I would have more time for writing. If I was wait listed at the school, I mentioned being wait listed. If I was outright rejected, I didn't mention that I had applied the previous year, but I did my best to make my essay work for all readers, whether they knew I'd been rejected before or not.

I got into two schools and was wait listed at a third (out of seven schools; interestingly, I was immediately rejected by the two schools that had wait listed me the previous year). And now I'm well into my first semester at a competitive program with full funding + TA stipend and i love it love it love it. Good luck! Second times a charm!


SaundraN


Oct 18, 2008, 1:47 AM

Post #183 of 329 (6193 views)
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Re: [byandby] Sample Statements [In reply to] Can't Post

 Can anyone recommend sites that have examples of statements for MFA in poetry? Or, could you post your examples here?

I would love to read examples by those who have successfully gotten into poetry programs.

Thanks,
Sandy


HappyCianci



Oct 18, 2008, 11:16 PM

Post #184 of 329 (6148 views)
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Formatting [In reply to] Can't Post

 
The SOP--

Single or double spaced? Single or double spaced?????


HopperFu


Oct 19, 2008, 9:12 AM

Post #185 of 329 (6123 views)
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Re: [HappyCianci] Formatting [In reply to] Can't Post

Single unless specifically stated otherwise.


Raignn



Oct 19, 2008, 10:17 AM

Post #186 of 329 (6116 views)
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Re: [SaundraN] Sample Statements [In reply to] Can't Post

Just a reminder to everyone, I'm more than happy to send along my statement of purpose/personal statement and teaching philosophy to anyone who needs. Just send me a PM!


Raignn



Oct 19, 2008, 4:57 PM

Post #187 of 329 (6084 views)
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Re: [Raignn] Sample Statements [In reply to] Can't Post

I actually found the post where I wrote up my thoughts on Midwest schools, it's here: http://www.pw.org/speakeasy/gforum.cgi?post=268325#268325


HappyCianci



Oct 24, 2008, 2:48 AM

Post #188 of 329 (6008 views)
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Mentioning Faculty [In reply to] Can't Post

Is it really unwise to mention faculty members whose work you enjoy, who you are interested in learning from? Tom Kealey advises against it, but I could see programs being attracted to applicants who show a specific interest in working with their writers. I'm torn.


sovietsleepover


Oct 24, 2008, 5:02 PM

Post #189 of 329 (5944 views)
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Re: [HappyCianci] Mentioning Faculty [In reply to] Can't Post

Don't gush; limit yourself to a couple sentences. What if you're accepted, and then your favorite writer leaves or goes on sabbatical or turns out to be an incompetent jerk? The admissions committee already has a sense of accepted students' typical experiences with that faculty member, and doesn't want a student's happiness to henge on a single person (no matter how awesome they are).

All that to say, be sure you're [implicitly] clear that you can be happy at the university regardless of whether you make it into favorite writer's workshop.


bighark


Oct 24, 2008, 7:12 PM

Post #190 of 329 (5925 views)
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Re: [HappyCianci] Mentioning Faculty [In reply to] Can't Post

The strategy of displaying a "specific interest" really only works if the particular faculty member you plan on mentioning is on the admissions committee (she might not be) or if the admissions committee members reading your SOP aren't offended that they weren't mentioned instead of the other person.

I don't think mentioning a faculty member is going to harm your application, but it might not necessarily help it.

Good luck.


HopperFu


Oct 24, 2008, 10:14 PM

Post #191 of 329 (5900 views)
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Re: [bighark] Mentioning Faculty [In reply to] Can't Post

internecine politics in academia can be particularly complicated. Tread lightly.


murasaki
Marie Mockett
e-mail user

Oct 25, 2008, 12:42 PM

Post #192 of 329 (5860 views)
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Re: [HopperFu] Mentioning Faculty [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
internecine politics in academia can be particularly complicated. Tread lightly.


We need an "MFA Application" Magic 8 ball.


moomoocow42


Oct 29, 2008, 2:31 PM

Post #193 of 329 (5740 views)
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Re: [murasaki] Mentioning Faculty [In reply to] Can't Post

A really nitpicky/paranoid question. Would it be an effective strategy to talk about the kind of stuff you'd like to write in your SOP? I hesitate to do this because my writing samples do not necessarily reflect the kind of writing I'd like to explore -- I don't want to get into a situation where I cannot put my "money where my mouth is." But at the same time, I really want to mention the kind of writing that I'm interested in because I think that it opens up a compelling line of conversation about my background, something that I want to talk about in my SOP. Anyone have any wisdom to share on this subject?


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


HappyCianci



Oct 29, 2008, 8:47 PM

Post #194 of 329 (5689 views)
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Re: [moomoocow42] Mentioning Faculty [In reply to] Can't Post

It's only one opinion, but I would avoid talking about it in a regular SOP.

It's okay to take different directions with your writing once you're in a program- they expect and want that of their students. But you might come off flighty or defensive of your writing sample if you bring it up in your SOP. I'd leave it out unless it is specifically requested.


pongo
Buy this book!

e-mail user

Oct 29, 2008, 10:35 PM

Post #195 of 329 (5665 views)
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Re: [HappyCianci] Mentioning Faculty [In reply to] Can't Post

I think it's fine to mention your goals as a writer in your statement of purpose. Isn't that pretty much what it's for?


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/


moomoocow42


Oct 30, 2008, 2:06 AM

Post #196 of 329 (5643 views)
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Re: [pongo] Mentioning Faculty [In reply to] Can't Post

Thanks for the input, HappyCianci and Pongo. Good points. As always, I think it's rapidly becoming a case where I'm really really overthinking things. Back to the grind!


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


HappyCianci



Nov 13, 2008, 8:30 PM

Post #197 of 329 (5514 views)
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UMass [In reply to] Can't Post

UMass- No SOP?


Linzetta


Nov 20, 2008, 4:28 PM

Post #198 of 329 (5388 views)
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Re: [Banyon] Favorite Authors Statement? [In reply to] Can't Post

I can't find on UNCG's website if they even want a SOP at all! Does anyone know if they do and what they want? I'm going to include one just in case but it would be nice to know some specifics...


HappyCianci



Nov 20, 2008, 5:59 PM

Post #199 of 329 (5372 views)
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Re: [Linzetta] Favorite Authors Statement? [In reply to] Can't Post

Linz-

No SOP for UNCG!

I emailed them and they said not to send one.


Linzetta


Nov 20, 2008, 6:32 PM

Post #200 of 329 (5363 views)
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Re: [HappyCianci] Favorite Authors Statement? [In reply to] Can't Post

Happy,

Thanks for the info! V. Bizarre of UNCG. I haven't come across any other school that doesn't want one. More than okay with me though. One less to worry about.

Linz

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