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sibyline


Mar 15, 2006, 2:45 PM

Post #51 of 793 (6369 views)
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Re: [knjay] Decision making process... [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To

Sibyline, you raised some valid points that I had not considered. Having been on the other side of the fence, how would you suggest a waitlistee ascertain whether or not they might face such faculty disagreements should the get accepted?


What I would have done had I not withdrawn from the Michigan wait list and possibly gotten accepted eventually is to meet with as many professors as I can and read between the lines. I think it's important to remember that professors are human beings. They have many biases and imperfections. They will divulge those biases if you ask them the right questions.

On the other hand, being accepted off the wait list is not necessarily a bad thing, especially if a person isn't necessarily satisfied with the current direction of his or her work. Coming from the wait list gives you drive, and something to prove. What you need to be careful of is making sure that no one you're going to work with is going to not like your work due to unjustified personal biases, or due to aspects of your work that you don't want to change.


lytonyawename



Mar 15, 2006, 3:19 PM

Post #52 of 793 (6325 views)
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Re: [staple] Has Anybody Made a Final Decision? [In reply to] Can't Post

Well, i thought about it and even if i got into someplace like Brown, as cool as that would feel (and I would frame that letter for sure), it's only two years and 8 classes compared with 4 years and 16 classes. that's a killer comparison for me. next, indiana: but on the whole i just don't feel like it's as perfect a match and i have no great pull towards that area of the country. Arkansas? well, first they take forever, apparently. second, i don't know if there's funding... that's an open question too. oregon? oh, i'm sure it's lovely there and i would love to spend some time there someday. it seems perfect as far as climate without so much conservatism... but, again, i don't think the match is as perfect. Las Vegas? well, that would be interesting, and i love the international requirement, but there's a lot of unknowns and i visited the campus once and wasn't that impressed with the school at large.

sometimes, in either a show of narcisism or honestly, i think i didn't put as much into my applications to other schools. I sent different stories to each, trying to accurately reflect my range writing while slightly appealing to the different sensibilities. I purposely sent a rough story to every program because I didn't want to be accepted on some false idea of what kind of writer I am. My supposedly most publishable piece, the one my mentor thinks i should have sent out already, isn't very like the vast majority of my writing. It just so happened that this voice works for a particular character i've been trying to write for a while. and while i am writing more with that voice, it's frankly a specific project and narrow in scope. if you could call it experimental, i'd say it's only due to the syntactical play of trying to mantain a very specific beat and turn of sentence. but, it's not much like my other writing. i didn't want to end up anywhere where they didn't like what they saw in my writing as opposed to how polished i am or am not... this is about approach and philosophy. nona is fond of saying i have a "wild writer's mind" and i guess i take that as a compliment... but she also means i've not fully tamed myself. and i need to be someplace where they can see that and think they could work with it, rather than seeing it as a burden. when i first started taking my writing seriously it felt as if i wanted to cause some sort of physical violence upon my reader. i think i've calmed down and am ready to move on from that... but writing still does feel like a physical connection.

i hope you come if only to see your writing... you were so high on their list... that has to mean something.


shadowboxer


Mar 15, 2006, 3:20 PM

Post #53 of 793 (6323 views)
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Re: [sibyline] Decision making process... [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
On the other hand, being accepted off the wait list is not necessarily a bad thing, especially if a person isn't necessarily satisfied with the current direction of his or her work. Coming from the wait list gives you drive, and something to prove. What you need to be careful of is making sure that no one you're going to work with is going to not like your work due to unjustified personal biases, or due to aspects of your work that you don't want to change.



I don't think your experiences with photography are necessarily applicable to the MFA process. Being on the waitlist doesn't mean that the professors on the committee have personal biases against your work. At some of the larger schools, you might not even have a workshop with the professor who dinged you in the committee. Even if you do, it's part of the learning process to understand why someone has reacted negatively to your work. I think it's foolish to turn down a stronger program that waitlisted you because of mental issues with rejection. Getting into the MFA is just the beginning of a barrage of criticism you'll have to face as a writer. Will you stop sending stories to the New Yorker if they reject you once? Will you stop publishing books if you get bad reviews? I have noticed this mindset on a number of posts in this thread and I don't really understand. Any type of acceptance is an opportunity to improve your writing, nothing more, nothing less.


bighark


Mar 15, 2006, 3:30 PM

Post #54 of 793 (6717 views)
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An observation [In reply to] Can't Post

I understand that everybody loves to be loved, but if you're not writing like you've got something to prove, perhaps you should consider a different profession.


stephkarto1
Stephanie Kartalopoulos

Mar 15, 2006, 3:34 PM

Post #55 of 793 (6713 views)
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Re: [Aubrie] Decision making process... [In reply to] Can't Post

Aubrie--

I'm in this for the PhD (well, and one MA program...), not the MFA, but it's as much of a crapshoot for me (at least for my area of study--American Studies--which only accept about 5 people per year).

And right now I am feeling like a leftover quarter as well.

You are nowhere near alone.

my fingers crossed,
S.


sibyline


Mar 15, 2006, 3:38 PM

Post #56 of 793 (6704 views)
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Re: [shadowboxer] Decision making process... [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
I think it's foolish to turn down a stronger program that waitlisted you because of mental issues with rejection.


I've said it twice before and will say it one more time: I am not advocating that someone decline a program that they really want to be in because they were on the wait list. I am simply saying that it should be a factor in their decision-making process, and that I think people may be naive to think that it doesn't play any sort of role, because it does.

The programs I happened to be evaluating (Cornell and Michigan) were both small and highly comparable. I was already leaning towards Cornell before getting accepted, but it was a pretty close call. Meeting all the professors on the admissions committee and getting the sense of their commitment to my work cemented my decision. If the situation were reversed, with Cornell wait listing me and Michigan accepting me outright, it's possible that I would have decided to go to Michigan.


clarabow


Mar 15, 2006, 4:05 PM

Post #57 of 793 (6682 views)
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Re: [Jendago] Decision making process... [In reply to] Can't Post

no, not on any waitlists. just thought 15 sounds like a lot of a waitlist...


staple
Colleen

Mar 15, 2006, 4:05 PM

Post #58 of 793 (6680 views)
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Re: [lytonyawename] Has Anybody Made a Final Decision? [In reply to] Can't Post

Yeah, just dealing with my own instabilities and nervous-anxious-waiting stuff, and I always want to be sure, and things like that. I know someone who hasn't heard from anyone and it's driving him crazy. But there's so much to be said for finding that place that just feels right. It looks like you found that place. I think it was a good thing to just show them what you had, to just be honest, and it obviously got you where you wanted to go.
And after getting a call from Wendy Rawlings today about an extra fellowship that I seem to have won (!), I think I've found the place too. I mean, I would have gone there nonetheless, I'm sure, because I think my writing just fits there, perfectly, and will gain so much from just being there, but money is nice.


Clench Million
Charles

Mar 15, 2006, 4:14 PM

Post #59 of 793 (6664 views)
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Re: [franz] Has Anybody Made a Final Decision? [In reply to] Can't Post

I'd LIKE to make one, but of the 11 schools I applied to I haven't heard back from 7 of them.


lytonyawename



Mar 15, 2006, 4:44 PM

Post #60 of 793 (6639 views)
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Re: [staple] Has Anybody Made a Final Decision? [In reply to] Can't Post

yes, the money is nice. i came out of undergrad with hardly any debt. i'm buried in it now from having to find a way to live in SF. mostly subsidized loans, at least.

so, i knew i would not go anywhere that did not give me aid. period.

did you get that fellowship where you don't have to teach? i'm looking forward to teaching. i don't like the way undergraduate composition is almost always a haze and i'm hoping i can find a way to not patronize students and teach them why it matters... we'll see.

not that you probably wouldn't have gotten it anyway (that early call says everything you need to know about how much they wanted you there-it was a quick and easy decision), but way to hold out. a friend of mine wanted me to play coy with them... but i just couldn't.

the discussion some are having about whether they'll treat you different because of being waitlisted worries me a tiny bit and i think is serving as an entirely unhelpful diversion. i guess i've always assumed that once they had it down to a dozen or so names that they had to start considering other factors. i had an "uneven" undergraduate experience and, frankly, a hard life until about three years ago—severe depression, insane family, marriage, childbirth, bad-bad-bad nightmarish marriage and divorce, coming out, custody issues… sigh, i find it all so boring to talk about now, but yeah, i guess it almost derailed me. i resisted the urge to share much more than a sentence about it in my SOP. i don’t know if that was good or bad, i’ve just notice that in the last few years it really got old to talk about it and so, well, i make it brief or don’t mention it at all... and if i were on an admissions committee, it wouldn't make me say no to someone, but it would plant a seed of doubt and make me more inclined to accept the people without baggage (academic or otherwise)... or not. now that i have said it sounds insane and not at all like something i'd do. maybe. i dunno. i console myself with the "first on the waitlist" part--which is also the thing that makes me think that they really, really probably liked it... but that the relative "roughness" and my undergraduate (not my graduate--that's shiny and pretty) background might have made them go, well, we like these people just as much and look, everything they sent was polished and there's little or no history of issues at school, blah, blah, blah. maybe. or not. maybe i'm just kidding myself.

i hate the racist apology song "Sweet Home Alabama."
i've heard it more times in the last two weeks than in the whole of the last ten years... malls, grocery stores, at a bar, someone else's car, that annoying movie that was on the night before i got the call...


lytonyawename



Mar 15, 2006, 4:51 PM

Post #61 of 793 (6629 views)
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Re: [shadowboxer] Decision making process... [In reply to] Can't Post

i like your take the best. that makes me feel less defensive.

though... i've recently decided, after two nonstop subscription years to the New Yorker, that i really just don't like the vast majority of the stories they choose anymore. i'm thinking Paris Review or Kenyon... :)


kcole7
Kristin

Mar 15, 2006, 4:54 PM

Post #62 of 793 (6627 views)
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Re: [sibyline] Decision making process... [In reply to] Can't Post

For my waitlist notification, I was notified that I was on the waitlist, but that if I was offered admission, I would get a TAship. The TA application was separate, and there are few spots. If I'm offered admission off the waitlist, I still have funding that not all students get. To me, that says that they liked something about my work and my teaching philosophy.

If another school accepts me outright with full funding, I would go. Otherwise, to me, an acceptance is an acceptance, and I wouldn't turn down an acceptance off of the waitlist just because of some potential issues. When it comes to my work, I have a thick skin. Plus, I think I could learn more from a prof who doesn't think my work is quite up to par. For instance, in my undergrad, I had a professor that loved every word that I wrote and praised me heavily. He was always quick to tell me that he felt I was more advanced than him. I learned nothing in that class. In contrast, my graduate level workshop was run by a professor who was quick to describe our horrible flaws. Praise was rare. However, I learned more from him in six weeks than I've ever learned. The one piece of praise that I received from him still sticks in my mind. He held up my story in front of the class and said, "See, an editor of a lit magazine will get a piece like this and say, 'This person knows what she is doing.'" That statement (which was followed by criticism) made me feel like a writer, not just some 24-year-old screwing around.

So, if a professor doesn't quite like my work, I'm okay with that. I want to mature as a writer.


murasaki
Marie Mockett
e-mail user

Mar 15, 2006, 4:57 PM

Post #63 of 793 (6618 views)
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Re: [kcole7] Decision making process... [In reply to] Can't Post


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So, if a professor doesn't quite like my work, I'm okay with that. I want to mature as a writer.



For my money, that's a great attitude to have if you are going to go to any MFA program!

I do have to say, I love getting the advice from Shadowboxer that we all have to learn to box with our own shadows . . .


staple
Colleen

Mar 15, 2006, 5:10 PM

Post #64 of 793 (6603 views)
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Re: [murasaki] Decision making process... [In reply to] Can't Post

lytonyawename: oh, I want to teach too, definitely. The fellowship is just for the first year. Then I'll have to fend for myself, I think.

About the waitlisting discussion: I'm not so sure being waitlisted means there was a major disagreement among the committee about your writing. I got a note from Wisconsin about being waitlisted and along with it came some very sincere praise about my sample, telling me to take pride in my talent and craft and such. If there are 300 applicants and only ten or less spots some are going to get picked and some aren't, and when you get to the top tiers it probably has very little to do with the quality of the work or with what the committee thinks of it. I don't think I'd have a problem going to a school where I was waitlisted - they must have liked something, or probably close to everything, about me, after all, if I got to be in the top 20 out of 300.
I like the idea too of not really caring if one professor doesn't absolutely love your work. You're going to have to put up with adversity and critics sometime, and, yeah, it'll make you stronger. Being coddled is not what I'm going to school for. I like a challenge. :) Outright hate might make me think twice, but putting a writer on the waitlist cannot possibly mean they hated him, right?



lytonyawename



Mar 15, 2006, 5:44 PM

Post #65 of 793 (6573 views)
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Re: [staple] Decision making process... [In reply to] Can't Post

yeah... hate is bad... i can't imagine anyone could make it to a waitlist with a "hated it" from someone. i was thinking of a "yeah, but..."
plus, if the first person on the waitlist almost always has a good shot of getting in, they can't possibly actually put someone there whom anyone is unsure of. at least, i like to think they can't.

that's cool to have a little extra time the first year. congrats to you.


sk1grrl


Mar 15, 2006, 6:09 PM

Post #66 of 793 (6554 views)
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Re: [lytonyawename] Decision making process... [In reply to] Can't Post

I think the bottom line about the waitlist thing is that you will never really know. You will never really know if it meant that some professors liked your work and other professors said, ah, not so much.

You will never know if it simply meant that you were a 9.98 and the guy they admitted was a 9.99, so you went on the waitlist, although the differences in quality in your work were basically imperceptible.

If being accepted off the waitlist will make you feel insecure and eat away at you, then you probably shouldn't go to that program. If it doesn't bother you, then congratulations!

I really think our reactions to this process are so personal it's impossible to advise someone else to proceed in a certain away when they've been waitlisted, since it's truly all conjecture, unless you get the dirt directlly. from the program director.


lytonyawename



Mar 15, 2006, 6:30 PM

Post #67 of 793 (6536 views)
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Re: [sk1grrl] Decision making process... [In reply to] Can't Post

well, i guess it isn't eating away at me. i accepted. however, it's something i hadn't really thought of and the conversation made me a little.

maybe i like a challenge, but i doubt that knowing a professor wasn't as fond of my writing would have prevented me from saying yes. First, there are only 3 perm faculty for prose anyway... so, it's seems doubtful... but second... there's more than one which means i could always avoid it later if it were that bad.. which i cannot believe is possible.

but, i guess, it's always good to consider the ideas of it... two to four years is a lot to commit to.

would you want to marry someone whom you knew picked someone above you but was willing to settle for you? well, yeah-to a point... if i loved them and knew i wasn't merely making them miserable but that their "first choice" really was some sort of impossibility. it might bite a little, but love does that a little anyway.


franz

e-mail user

Mar 15, 2006, 7:07 PM

Post #68 of 793 (6510 views)
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Waitlist versus outright acceptance [In reply to] Can't Post

It's funny that this whole waitlist versus outright acceptance discussion started from an offhand comment I posted yesterday. Still, I think it's an important discussion for people who have solid offers but are also on a waitlist.

Personally, I don't think it matters if you get in off the waitlist or if you're accepted outright. There really isn't a qualitative difference, although there may be a funding difference in some cases, in which case it does matter.

Here's why I think taking an outright offer is better than being on the waitlist. My comment was based on the fact that if you're on the waitlist, you haven't been accepted. It might happen, but then again, it's just as likely, in many cases perhaps more likely, that you won't be. It's the same limbo we've all been in for months now, but worse in a way-- you're so close to the goal, but so far. You don't know where you stand. You don't know if the guy ahead of you is going to accept or not. I know that there are people agonizing about whether I'm going to JHU instead of UMass and when I'll turn UMass down. And then there are people agonizing in the other direction, hoping that I won't go to JHU.

For everyone on the UMass waitlist, I'm sorry to say that the earliest I'll be turning down that offer is the end of March, when I'll be visiting JHU and (hopefully) falling in love with it. And I'm willing to bet that there are lots of other applicants like me who are still waiting for the dust to settle, which could take weeks or even a month to happen. People have to visit their schools. They have to find out their funding situation. They're still waiting on a dream school, or they're lucky enough to have choices. I know that I, for one, am still waiting for that inevitable rejection letter from Brown, just in case. And if I'm lucky enough to be waitlisted, well, I know my chances there are tiny-- I can hang my hat on a cloud or take a solid, tangible offer.

And that's why I said what I did about outright offers versus the waitlist. For the former, you're making the decision. For the latter, the school still controls your destiny.


Franz Knupfer, author of short stories and novels


sibyline


Mar 15, 2006, 7:23 PM

Post #69 of 793 (6494 views)
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Re: [franz] Waitlist versus outright acceptance [In reply to] Can't Post

I feel like I should rename myself Cassandra. I apologize if I'm freaking anyone out or making anyone feel bad. I'm making what seem to be dispiriting statements for some of you just because I want people to be aware that even if a process is in place doesn't mean that it's a perfect process. It's always ultimately run by flawed human beings in a completely subjective field. I would just recommend that everyone keep their eyes open as we're all trying to make decisions about our future. I'm going to stop now. :) And as always, I wish everyone the best.


franz

e-mail user

Mar 15, 2006, 7:27 PM

Post #70 of 793 (6489 views)
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Cassandra's a nice name [In reply to] Can't Post

Hey Cassandra-- I think you're contributing your opinion and it's a worthwhile opinion. It was a factor in your decision after all. Nothing wrong with that. Anyway, Cassandra's a nice name, and didn't she have some "sybiline" powers too?


Franz Knupfer, author of short stories and novels


franz

e-mail user

Mar 15, 2006, 7:38 PM

Post #71 of 793 (6474 views)
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Re: [franz] Cassandra's a nice name [In reply to] Can't Post

Okay, one more thing-- I would say that it wouldn't make a whit of difference if a classmate of mine were in off the waitlist. You know how I feel about this JHU thing?
Incredibly, unbelievably, hot-damn lucky. I don't feel like a great writer or a hotshot, and I certainly don't feel like I have an edge over anybody on a waitlist. I feel like my name was put in a raffle machine and was the one that came out due to some incredible confluence of factors (weather, humidity, the quality of Stephen Dixon's coffee that morning?)

Some of you may recall I had a dream about JHU a week before I got the call. To be more specific, in the dream there were seven names and I was the seventh name. There was the tiniest hair between the sixth name and the seventh name, and that was the difference-- based on the dream, I wasn't in, I was waitlisted. It never occurred to me in the dream that the first six names were better or worse writers, only that I was the seventh name and still in a kind of limbo.


Franz Knupfer, author of short stories and novels


redboy620


Mar 15, 2006, 8:48 PM

Post #72 of 793 (6448 views)
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Re: [sara15] Decision making process... [In reply to] Can't Post

Sara15

I was also accepted to OSU in nonfiction and am thinking it's highly likely that's where I'll end up. Are you attending the Open House at the end of the month? Just wondering if I'd see you there...


sarandipidy


Mar 15, 2006, 11:29 PM

Post #73 of 793 (6392 views)
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Re: [franz] Cassandra's a nice name [In reply to] Can't Post

I had a similar dream about Oregon. I was the one who didn't quite make the cut of the 'final six,' and some guy who didn't actually teach there-- some random relatively attractive man-- was explaining "why" to me. But I got in anyway, too. :)


sara15


Mar 16, 2006, 5:55 AM

Post #74 of 793 (6347 views)
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Re: [redboy620] Decision making process... [In reply to] Can't Post

Vivian—

That’s a great question. And a topic that comes up in nonfiction workshops, as well as in seminars that study the history of the essay. Perhaps this stems from nonfiction’s (relatively) new space in academia. As well as the fact the genre is defined by what it’s not. But this doesn’t answer your questions. And I’m not sure if I can (but I’ll certainly try!). In my opinion (which is certainly limited), the personal essay is concerned with memory (and ways of understanding consciousness) and truth (or the search for truth, in its varying degrees). Some nonfiction writers believe the portrayal of memory should be as truthful and objective as possible. Others argue it’s more important to write what “feels true for you.” In either case, the personal essay can provide a way of knowing and accessing knowledge in artistic and innovative forms. And perhaps most importantly, creative nonfiction privileges the presence of the author as narrator.


Although nonfiction workshops are very similar (in my experience) to workshops in other genres, this last fact can sometimes shift the approach of the ws. If a writer is exploring a deeply painful or personal topic, it might be best to refer to the narrator as “the speaker.” Which provides some measure of distance between the writer and narrator. Perhaps making it easier for the author to discuss his or her piece.


I hope this (partially) answered your questions—I’m sure other nonfiction writers might have further insights.


Redboy—

Unfortunately, I can’t make it to the Open House. But I’m really excited about OSU’s program.

Who knows. Maybe we’ll see each other in the fall--keep me posted on your final decision:)




sibyline


Mar 16, 2006, 8:34 AM

Post #75 of 793 (6322 views)
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Re: [bighark] An observation [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
I understand that everybody loves to be loved, but if you're not writing like you've got something to prove, perhaps you should consider a different profession.


That's funny... I pretty much feel the exact opposite.... I feel like the best writing is its own proof.

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