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bighark


Jun 27, 2007, 12:42 PM

Post #151 of 357 (5514 views)
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Re: [MissEsquire] Well, that was helpful. [In reply to] Can't Post

Your question applies to people who are applying to PhD programs in English AND MFA programs or to people who happen to be applying to the MFA/PhD program at Cornell.

I just want to make that clear, since many of the people on this site apply to MFA programs only. The average MFA applicant does not have to take the Lit GRE at all.

Anyway, if you've been preparing for the Lit GRE all this time, definitely take the test. The worst thing that could happen is getting a score you're not crazy about.

If you haven't been preparing for the Lit GRE, though, I'd suggest skipping it altogether while you work on your portfolio and do some minor prep for the standard GRE.

While any reasonably literate person could score well enough on the standard GRE with little or minor prep, the subject exam is a completely different animal.
Even very gifted students need to prepare for the subject exams. A quick refresher a few weeks before the test won't cut it.

Good luck!

In Reply To
In terms of the Lit GRE, though, would you say it's better to write it while you're still studying the literature on the test? This was my line of thinking. Even if I wait a few years to apply to a PhD program, at least I wouldn't have to reread a truckload of books.




MissEsquire



Jun 27, 2007, 1:15 PM

Post #152 of 357 (5508 views)
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Re: [bighark] Well, that was helpful. [In reply to] Can't Post

Yes I actually took the standard GRE already and did well where it counts (ie. language). Hopefully they'll overlook my weak math scores.

So, really, all this combined PhD program hoohaw comes down to whether or not I can hack the subject test. Yikes! You can only write it in November and December, apparently. Is it just me or is standardized testing completely idiotic? We don't have much use for it in Canada.


blueragtop


Jun 27, 2007, 4:41 PM

Post #153 of 357 (5491 views)
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Re: [MissEsquire] Well, that was helpful. [In reply to] Can't Post

I got into programs where I didn't meet the GPA requirement and my GRE wasn't great. I still got funding. This is the story for a lot of people as well. It's been said a million times, but the top programs want the best writers. Plain and simple.


HopperFu


Jun 27, 2007, 4:51 PM

Post #154 of 357 (5489 views)
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Re: [bighark] Well, that was helpful. [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
You'd be considered a real M.F.A student because that's what you'd be--an MFA student (who happens to be working toward a PhD in English at the same time).

Yep. I think that's the same at most programs that have dual degrees. Also - and this I'm not totally sure about - I think you get your masters (as well as the MFA) as part of the process towards your Ph.D.

As for the question of when to take the test, I think that the GRE tests are all good for five years - but do NOT take my word on that - so if you think you'll apply in the next five years than it does seem to make sense to do it now, while you are familiar with the work, have the books, etc....


bennyprof


Jun 29, 2007, 10:34 PM

Post #155 of 357 (5445 views)
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Re: [HopperFu] Well, that was helpful. [In reply to] Can't Post

Quick question about grades...

I received a business undergrad in 2004, decided the world of real estate finance wasn't for me, and went back to school to pursue a degree in English (2nd undergrad.)

My reasoning for this was twofold: 1.) I wanted to study the literature I missed out on previously (which has definitely been worth it thus far -- got to study Paradise Lost with a respected Milton scholar!) and 2.) My business grades were less than optimal: 2.8. (I drank. A lot.)

I've now completed 36 hours of my second degree with a cumulative GPA of 4.0. (Funny what studying and showing up for class will do for you.) I also had a short story published last fall.

My question is this: I understand that grades don't factor in a whole lot with selection committees, but will they come up in discussions regarding funding/fellowships? Will my previous transcript hurt me with the university?

Do I even have to send it? I'm assuming the answer to that is yes.

Thanks in advance.


HopperFu


Jun 30, 2007, 8:20 AM

Post #156 of 357 (5429 views)
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Re: [bennyprof] Well, that was helpful. [In reply to] Can't Post

I'm almost certain you do have to send the transcript (most applications ask for ALL transcripts and degrees). Depending on the school, grades may come up in funding / fellowship discussions, but it is my understanding that later grades are heavily weighted (i.e., the grades you got your junior and senior year carry more weight than those your first and second year).
My assumption is that schools would weight your more recent work more heavily; if you are truly concerned about it, it is something you could address in your statement (or if there is a "anything else you want to tell us" section).
It seems like a good thing that you can demonstrate that you are now serious about your studies, even if you once weren't....
Of course, all of this will vary by school.
Helpful, huh?


bennyprof


Jun 30, 2007, 11:13 AM

Post #157 of 357 (5421 views)
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Re: [HopperFu] Well, that was helpful. [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
I'm almost certain you do have to send the transcript (most applications ask for ALL transcripts and degrees). Depending on the school, grades may come up in funding / fellowship discussions, but it is my understanding that later grades are heavily weighted (i.e., the grades you got your junior and senior year carry more weight than those your first and second year).
My assumption is that schools would weight your more recent work more heavily; if you are truly concerned about it, it is something you could address in your statement (or if there is a "anything else you want to tell us" section).
It seems like a good thing that you can demonstrate that you are now serious about your studies, even if you once weren't....
Of course, all of this will vary by school.
Helpful, huh?



Yes, that is helpful. Thanks.

I figured as much, although I wasn't sure. I'll have to evaluate the cost/benefit ratio of mentioning it in my personal statement and clearing the air versus leaving it out and hoping they'll figure it out for themselves (or overlook it.) I'd hope the fact that I've gotten an A in every course I've taken since coming back to school would offset it quite a bit.

And it's not like my average was in the low 2's, which might have been a bigger obstacle to overcome.


HopperFu


Jun 30, 2007, 1:48 PM

Post #158 of 357 (5414 views)
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Re: [bennyprof] Well, that was helpful. [In reply to] Can't Post

My advice (in general, though specific here) is that unless it is something really egregious ("the reason I was in jail for ten years...") or something that you think will profoundly help your chances of getting in ("there wasn't anywhere on the application to mention the $100M endowment I want to give the program") don't do anything to raise red flags on your own....


ellen362


Jul 1, 2007, 2:45 AM

Post #159 of 357 (5390 views)
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Re: [bennyprof] Well, that was helpful. [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
Quick question about grades...

I received a business undergrad in 2004, decided the world of real estate finance wasn't for me, and went back to school to pursue a degree in English (2nd undergrad.)

My reasoning for this was twofold: 1.) I wanted to study the literature I missed out on previously (which has definitely been worth it thus far -- got to study Paradise Lost with a respected Milton scholar!) and 2.) My business grades were less than optimal: 2.8. (I drank. A lot.)

I've now completed 36 hours of my second degree with a cumulative GPA of 4.0. (Funny what studying and showing up for class will do for you.) I also had a short story published last fall.

My question is this: I understand that grades don't factor in a whole lot with selection committees, but will they come up in discussions regarding funding/fellowships? Will my previous transcript hurt me with the university?

Do I even have to send it? I'm assuming the answer to that is yes.

Thanks in advance.


Bennyprof,

My grade situation was similar. Yes, you do have to send all transcripts. Your past can show your new-found determination to be the best writer you can be. I'm now in a top program.

Ellen362


bennyprof


Jul 1, 2007, 8:34 AM

Post #160 of 357 (5384 views)
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Re: [ellen362] Well, that was helpful. [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To

In Reply To
Quick question about grades...

I received a business undergrad in 2004, decided the world of real estate finance wasn't for me, and went back to school to pursue a degree in English (2nd undergrad.)

My reasoning for this was twofold: 1.) I wanted to study the literature I missed out on previously (which has definitely been worth it thus far -- got to study Paradise Lost with a respected Milton scholar!) and 2.) My business grades were less than optimal: 2.8. (I drank. A lot.)

I've now completed 36 hours of my second degree with a cumulative GPA of 4.0. (Funny what studying and showing up for class will do for you.) I also had a short story published last fall.

My question is this: I understand that grades don't factor in a whole lot with selection committees, but will they come up in discussions regarding funding/fellowships? Will my previous transcript hurt me with the university?

Do I even have to send it? I'm assuming the answer to that is yes.

Thanks in advance.


Bennyprof,

My grade situation was similar. Yes, you do have to send all transcripts. Your past can show your new-found determination to be the best writer you can be. I'm now in a top program.

Ellen362




Thanks. That's truly great to hear. And congratulations!

Which program do you attend, if you don't mind me asking?


gcsumfa


Jul 1, 2007, 3:43 PM

Post #161 of 357 (5369 views)
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Re: [MissEsquire] Well, that was helpful. [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
Yes I actually took the standard GRE already and did well where it counts (ie. language). Hopefully they'll overlook my weak math scores.

So, really, all this combined PhD program hoohaw comes down to whether or not I can hack the subject test. Yikes! You can only write it in November and December, apparently. Is it just me or is standardized testing completely idiotic? We don't have much use for it in Canada.


If you're that worried about the subject test, then why take it? Just worry about getting into the MFA program for now and apply for PhD programs in your last year of your MFA program. Most of the top PhD programs don't even require the subject test anyway. Columbia even has a statement on its website that basically says, "we think the GRE Lit Exam is a complete joke."


(This post was edited by gcsumfa on Jul 1, 2007, 3:47 PM)


MissEsquire



Jul 1, 2007, 6:18 PM

Post #162 of 357 (5356 views)
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Re: [gcsumfa] Well, that was helpful. [In reply to] Can't Post

Really? This is great to know. You're absolutely right about not focusing on the PhD at the moment. Thanks for the advice, everyone.


In Reply To

In Reply To
Yes I actually took the standard GRE already and did well where it counts (ie. language). Hopefully they'll overlook my weak math scores.

So, really, all this combined PhD program hoohaw comes down to whether or not I can hack the subject test. Yikes! You can only write it in November and December, apparently. Is it just me or is standardized testing completely idiotic? We don't have much use for it in Canada.


If you're that worried about the subject test, then why take it? Just worry about getting into the MFA program for now and apply for PhD programs in your last year of your MFA program. Most of the top PhD programs don't even require the subject test anyway. Columbia even has a statement on its website that basically says, "we think the GRE Lit Exam is a complete joke."



gcsumfa


Jul 1, 2007, 7:58 PM

Post #163 of 357 (5348 views)
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Re: [MissEsquire] Well, that was helpful. [In reply to] Can't Post

Yeah, I shouldn’t have said “most PhD Lit programs” though, because a lot of the top programs still require the subject exam; however, more programs are dropping the exam every year. UNC, which has an excellent reputation, doesn’t require the subject exam, along with Columbia and Duke (just off the top of my head).

The mindsets and goals for a Lit/PhD and an MFA are completely different, which means of course that how one applies to an MFA program differs completely from how one applies to a Lit/PhD program.

For instance, I know a Lit prof who often serves on admissions committees for PhD apps. He says they throw out SOP's (and an applicant’s admission candidacy) that mention a "love for literature…since childhood...I want to use my love of literature to change lives, etc." Yet, those kinds of comments might actually help in a CW SOP. Lit crit people today are less concerned with the kinds of aesthetic attributes of literature that creative writers tend to be concerned with and are more concerned with methodical, theoretical approaches to literature; they want to see that you have an idea of an active research agenda to pursue not only as a candidate, but as a future academic who can produce scholarly research.

Also, you might decide that a Lit/CW PhD better suits your needs after completing the MFA. To be completely honest with you, considering the depressed job market, there really isn’t a point in getting a Lit/PhD unless you have a unique, active research agenda that you want to pursue as a lifelong academic. There are folks who are genuinely interested in producing creative work in addition to scholarly work, and these folks earn MFA’s and Lit Phd’s, but if your main interest is creative writing and you desire additional literary studies after your MFA, I would just consider a Lit/CW PhD. This degree will still give you more lit and qualify you as a "generalist" (i.e. ability to teach undergrad lit courses), but your primary “research agenda” will still be your creative writing.


ellen362


Jul 2, 2007, 2:52 AM

Post #164 of 357 (5325 views)
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Re: [bennyprof] Well, that was helpful. [In reply to] Can't Post

Iowa.


bennyprof


Jul 2, 2007, 11:01 AM

Post #165 of 357 (5306 views)
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Re: [ellen362] Well, that was helpful. [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To




Iowa.



You weren't kidding about it being a top school!

I'm actually quite curious about that program. A lot is said about Iowa in this forum and elsewhere, and it would be great to get some firsthand information. If you wouldn't mind answering a few questions I'd greatly appreciate it.

1.) Does the tiered funding situation create tension between the students, as is rumored/assumed by many people? Do those who receive full funding get more positive attention from faculty? Conversely, do they have a big target on their back? In his book, Kealey seems to suggest that a tiered funding system would cause competition in the workshop environment (i.e. a well funded student would have his work ripped apart by his peers on a more regular basis because of his place at the top.)

Note: I recognize the possibility that some of the negative press about Iowa could be due, at least in part, to jealousy. Maybe they applied and didn't get in, or they know someone from Iowa who got a great publishing contract right out of the gate, etc...

2.) What was your writing sample like, if you don't mind me asking? (Subject matter and genre?)

3.) Is there a wide variety of writing styles represented at the school? Are there students who push the envelope, subject-wise? I've heard that Iowa is a fairly conservative program (not necessarily in the political sense, but with regard to a general standard of decency) and that most students are writing the type of fiction that would fit nicely into the Paris Review, Glimmer Train, or the New Yorker. But I'm wondering if anyone is writing horror, crime novels, comedy, satire, metafiction, experimenting with voices/points of view, etc...?


I suspect some of the rumors flying around about Iowa are inaccurate. I also know that an MFA program is largely what one makes of it. I would, however, like to find out which of my impressions might be partly true from someone who is attending, or has attended, the program.

Thanks,
Benny



vronsky


Jul 2, 2007, 12:07 PM

Post #166 of 357 (5295 views)
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Re: [bennyprof] Well, that was helpful. [In reply to] Can't Post

To answer your third question: I know of at least one science fiction writer who graduated from Iowa. His name is Kevin Brockmeier and he's great! And Kurt Vonnegut taught there way back when, if it makes a difference.

We should probably move this discussion over to the Iowa thread...


pongo
Buy this book!

e-mail user

Jul 2, 2007, 10:16 PM

Post #167 of 357 (5259 views)
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Re: [maggiekate] Well, that was helpful. [In reply to] Can't Post

I believe Joe Haldeman went to Iowa, too.


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/


bennyprof


Jul 2, 2007, 10:28 PM

Post #168 of 357 (5258 views)
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Re: [maggiekate] Well, that was helpful. [In reply to] Can't Post

Thanks, that's good to hear! I'd like a little diversity, writing-wise, wherever I go. A place that encourages different genres and styles, rather than simply accepting people based on their chances to win the big awards, which tend to go to authors with a certain familiarity of tone... namely "quiet, but powerful." Is that an unfair assertion? Probably.

That's not to say those who write in said tone aren't amazing authors... they are. I just like a little chile in my soup, if you know what I mean. (You might not. In fact, I'm not sure that metaphor even makes sense... sounded right when I typed it, though.)

I think my rant is unconsciously directed at a compilation of O'Henry Award-winning short stories I picked up the other day. I read four of them at random, and they might as well have been written by the same person -- the voices were nearly identical! (Albeit, one was clearly written by a British author, but still.)

Rambling now. Off topic. Sorry.

Ellen, I'd still love to find out your responses to my questions... anything you might offer would be incredibly helpful.

Thanks!
Benny


Kadence


Aug 8, 2007, 7:56 PM

Post #169 of 357 (5186 views)
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Back to GPA's [In reply to] Can't Post

Hey everyone,

I thought I'd return the thread talk to GPA's. I had two semesters in a row where I failed all of my classes. I had personal stuff going on and I wasn't able to 'withdraw' in time. Is this something I should address in my SOP, or not? my GPA is shit (2.6), but my last 2 semesters I averaged a 3.9. any advice would be greatly appreciated.

-Kadence


"Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind." -Kipling


piratelizzy


Aug 9, 2007, 12:53 AM

Post #170 of 357 (5167 views)
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Re: [Kadence] Back to GPA's [In reply to] Can't Post

Spend no more than a short paragraph explaining what happened. But put the emphasis on your having bounced back from the problems. Explain why that's all behind you now. Turn it into a positive. But do it briefly and move on. Devote most of your SOP to explaining how you expect to grow as a writer in the next few years. And remember that, in most cases, your writing sample trumps just about any weakness in the rest of your application.


'sup?!


Kadence


Aug 9, 2007, 12:58 AM

Post #171 of 357 (5164 views)
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Re: [piratelizzy] Back to GPA's [In reply to] Can't Post

thank you. that's what i suspected, but i needed to hear it to be sure. i appreciate the advice. cheers. -k


"Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind." -Kipling


Scrat1


Sep 4, 2007, 12:33 AM

Post #172 of 357 (5088 views)
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Re: [Kadence] Back to GPA's [In reply to] Can't Post

What is the difference between the computer GRE and the paper GRE? Which do most people take? Which would you recommend I take?


bighark


Sep 4, 2007, 9:05 AM

Post #173 of 357 (5071 views)
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Re: [Scrat1] Back to GPA's [In reply to] Can't Post

The computer GRE is an adaptive test. It will respond to your performance and measure accordingly. If you answer an easy question, for example, it will offer you a medium question. If you answer the medium question, it will give you a hard question. Tank a hard question and you'll get a medium question and so on and so on. The paper test is static. You get what you get.

Although the two different tests do exist, I'm pretty sure that you won't get a choice in the matter. Unless you're living in a country that doesn't have a computer testing center, you'll take the computer GRE and that's that.


Scrat1


Sep 4, 2007, 1:52 PM

Post #174 of 357 (5050 views)
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Re: [bighark] Back to GPA's [In reply to] Can't Post

Well that certainly makes my decision easier. Thanks for the info.


bennyprof


Sep 14, 2007, 8:01 PM

Post #175 of 357 (4980 views)
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Re: [pongo] Well, that was helpful. [In reply to] Can't Post

Here's an interesting question for anyone who cares to answer.

-I'm almost finished with my second undergrad and plan to apply to MFA programs this winter.
-For my first undergrad (which I received in business) my GPA was 2.8.
-My cumulative GPA so far for my second undergrad is 4.0.

I just found this on UC Irvine's Website under requirements for an MFA applicant:

"A bachelor's degree [which, I assume, means completed?] with a minimum 3.0 grade point average is a prerequisite for admission to the Program."

So... does this mean UC Irvine is out of the question for me, even though I have a perfect GPA in my degree in-progress (since said degree is not yet complete)? Did I screw myself with that 2.8? Or will they take into consideration the superior transcript?

Granted, UC Irvine was a long shot to begin with. But I'd still hate to take it off my list!

Thanks.

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