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motet
Dana Davis / Moderator
e-mail user

May 4, 2007, 7:00 PM

Post #1 of 454 (10542 views)
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     Choosing an MFA Program (2008)  

The decisions for the 2007 school year have been made. Now it's time to begin to look toward the next application opportunity.

Choosing the right MFA program is an often difficult and sometimes agonizing decision. There are so many choices to be made when it comes to the type of program, cost, location, and duration. Which is best, a full-time program or a low residency? Is it affordable? How's the funding? Will you be freezing cold for most of the year or sweltering in the humidity? Can you spend three years or only two?

This topic is a good place to start answering these questions and others.


For a complete listing of all the active topics in this forum, see DIRECTORY - Topics in the MFA Forum.


als02


May 16, 2007, 7:48 AM

Post #2 of 454 (10514 views)
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     Re: [motet] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

So, I've been doing research the last few months (with Tom Kealey's book, Anna Mendoza's website, school websites, and a bunch of other print/web resources) on MFA fiction programs, and have somehow narrowed it down to this list of 12 schools. My biggest concern with this list is that there are too many small programs and not enough of the bigger ones (Kealey and others have suggested more of a range). But... if anyone has any other advice of things that seem out of place here (or ways I could make the list more well rounded), I'd appreciate the input.

Cornell
Syracuse
University of North Carolina--Greensboro
University of Alabama
University of Florida
University of Mississippi
University of Minnesota
University of Texas--Austin
University of Nevada--Las Vegas
Indiana University
University of Virginia
NYU

And, yes, I know that NYU has very little funding. It's kind of the sore thumb on the list, but I thought I'd give it a try.

I mainly based these choices on funding, reputation, course offerings (for example, I like the idea that programs give *some* flexibility outside of the department and the possibility of learning about another genre now and again... though all don't offer these, of course), etc. I also prefer having teaching experience (but would forego it for Austin :-)) and then some other stuff for each program that attracted me to it (for example, I'm rather socially conscious, so it was added bonus when programs had built in volunteering/community activities/etc.). Of course, I plan to look more at faculty's writing and such, but I'm currently teaching and living in South Korea and have no access to an English library. So, I'll get to that when I'm back Stateside in the fall.

Anyway, I've looked at and rearranged this list (along with the other "maybes" off the list) long enough, so I wanted to put this out there and see if there's any extra guidance I can get. Thanks in advance for any input!


jacarty
Jessie Carty
e-mail user

May 16, 2007, 9:30 AM

Post #3 of 454 (10503 views)
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     Re: [als02] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

Sounds like you have put a lot of good thought into your list!

What genre are you in?

Schools I have heard the best overall about: UT --Austin and UVA. I am fond of UNCG because I did my undergrad there and there are some really talented and interesting professors there. Greensboro is also a nice town, in between a small town a big city, ya know?

Feel free to send me a private message. I'd also like to hear about your experience overseas teaching. My husband and I are talking about doing that once I finish my mfa. (I'm low res at Queens)

--jessie


http://jessiecarty.com


mattk


May 16, 2007, 10:21 AM

Post #4 of 454 (10491 views)
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     Re: [als02] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

This list looks great to me. This might be obvious advice, but apply to *a lot* of programs - are you applying to that whole list? I applied to maybe thirteen programs - ten MFA, three phd (I already have a masters) and got into half the MFA programs and 2/3 of the PhD programs, so the lesson I learned was to cast a wide net (this was not my first year applying.) There also was no clear correlation between where I got in and where I didn't. One thing I did was apply to a few 'safety' schools - new programs at reputable schools, large programs without much funding, lesser known programs. One thing that strikes me about your list is that they're all pretty well known - maybe throw one or two new, up-and-comers into the mix?


als02


May 16, 2007, 10:56 AM

Post #5 of 454 (10484 views)
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     Re: [mattk] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

Thanks for your reply. This might be letting the cat out of the bag, but any particular suggestions for the up-and-comers? I had some (I think) lesser-known programs on my "maybe" list, like Univ. of Illinois--Urbana-Champaign (the MFA started in 2002) or some of the "sleeper programs" on Kealey's website (like Purdue). Any other suggestions?

And, yes, I was planning to apply to all 12. Like you say, casting nets...


(This post was edited by als02 on May 16, 2007, 10:58 AM)


Clench Million
Charles

May 16, 2007, 12:44 PM

Post #6 of 454 (10464 views)
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     Re: [als02] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

Just in the interest of providing multiple viewpoints, I would argue against applying to "safety schools." Unless you have unlimited funds and time, you are probably going to apply to around 12 programs. There are more then enough very good reputable programs that fit your criteria and I would go with them. I think that probably the two most important things you will get out of an MFA program (other than just time in an environment that encourages writing):

a) Access to quality professors and the possibility of mentorship. While it is probably possible for a less regarded program or an up and coming program to have a lot of quality teachers, it seems to me pretty impossible to know. Even if you like the writing of a professor it is by no means sure they will be a good teacher (I'm sure we all know plenty of horror stories about that). The top programs have sorted through their professors and for the most part kept the best.

but more importantly b) Access to a network of other young writers, a quality peer group from which to learn and grow. I think most people I know at MFA programs would agree that it is the students who end up affecting your experience the most. A workshop either thrives or dies based on the students it in, much more so than the teacher. And most likely it will be your student peers that you work with outside of class, who you discuss writing with, etc. The peer group is extremely important, IMO, and you are only going to find a high quality peer group at the top programs.*

Yes, it is possible you will apply to 12 top programs and not get into any and then wish you had applied to some safeties, but you might also end up only getting into one or two safeties and be wishing you had used your 4 safety slots on some other quality programs that you might have gotten into. And if your writing is not ready to get into one of the quality programs, perhaps your writing is just not quite ready for an MFA. There is nothing shameful in waiting a year and applying again.

Just another opinion to consider.


* to clarify, when I say "top program" I mean roughly the top 25 or so programs, not only the top 3 or 4. I still think the US News and World Report list is the best source for seeing the quality of the top programs. Although I'd supplement with Kealey's book to understand what has changed and also the funding situation.


hamlet3145


May 16, 2007, 12:51 PM

Post #7 of 454 (10460 views)
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     Re: [als02] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

I too think that is a nice list. Have you checked to see how well the programs' aethetics match up with your writing? I know programs often say "We love all types of writing!" but what I've observed is that there do seem to be inclinations. Example: fiction at Brown seems to be largely experimental while fiction at Montana largely isn't. (I bring this up because I've been in a workshop where I was writing one way and everyone else was writing another before and it made for a fairly miserable experience--multiply that by 2-3 years in an MFA program and that can be hell). Just some thoughts anyway and good luck.


(This post was edited by Hamlet3145 on May 16, 2007, 12:57 PM)


mattk


May 16, 2007, 3:15 PM

Post #8 of 454 (10436 views)
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     Re: [Clench Million] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

Just to clarify, in response to Clench's post (which I largely agree with) - when I say safety schools, I guess what I'm suggesting is that you try to stretch your list (and funds) and apply to one or two of the schools that are on your maybe list that are still fine programs (despite their ranking on a 1997 US News list or whatever) but might not have made it to your main list - like U of I at Urbana or Purdue or U Mass Boston comes to mind (new program, interesting faculty) - what I'm saying is apply to as many schools as you can afford. If you don't get into any but the bottom of your list, you don't have to go to them, but it gives you the option. But I think he has a good point about using those funds to applly to schools you'd really like to attend (but I would assume those would come from your maybe list.)


bighark


May 16, 2007, 3:54 PM

Post #9 of 454 (10426 views)
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     Re: [mattk] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

I don't think there's such thing as an MFA safety school.


mattk


May 16, 2007, 3:58 PM

Post #10 of 454 (10424 views)
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     Re: [bighark] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

OK, maybe wrong terminology - sorry to cause so much noise. Just advocating applying to some programs that are still good that by virtue of being newer have smaller applicant pools than some of the more popular choices, if you can afford to. My experience was even though I ultimately didn't choose one of these programs, it was nice to have more choices than not. I also found that funding was more of a sure thing with these programs. YMMV


gcsumfa


May 16, 2007, 5:52 PM

Post #11 of 454 (10401 views)
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     Re: [als02] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  


In Reply To
and then some other stuff for each program that attracted me to it (for example, I'm rather socially conscious, so it was added bonus when programs had built in volunteering/community activities/etc.).


You should consider applying to Rutgers-Newark. They just began a new MFA program (first class matriculates in Fall 2007) that seems to "fit" your profile.

The program takes the motto, "Real Stories. Real Lives." They're looking for a diverse class of writers who are socially conscious. Tayari Jones (who used to teach at U of I-Urbana, btw) will be teaching there, and she's awesome. I’ve had the opportunity to talk with her a few times.

Don't quote me on this, but I think they have decent funding--18K stipend, IIRC. Of course, you have to factor high cost of living into that figure, considering the area. The program is a three- year program, and you minor in Lit/Book Arts, Cultural Studies, or Performance and Media Studies.


(This post was edited by gcsumfa on May 16, 2007, 5:53 PM)


Clench Million
Charles

May 16, 2007, 6:14 PM

Post #12 of 454 (10394 views)
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     Re: [bighark] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

There aren't schools you can guarantee getting into, but there are schools who have much small applicant pools and accept a lower quality of applicants that you will have a much better chance of getting into.

It is like submitting work to magazines. You aren't a sure-shot to get work in anywhere, even some random university journal. But you will have a much better chance of getting into the Podunk review than the Paris Review. The question is do you want to do that that though....


als02


May 16, 2007, 7:02 PM

Post #13 of 454 (10385 views)
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     Re: [Hamlet3145] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

Regarding the writing aesthetics of the programs, I know-- at least, "know" in the sense that I read this information mostly in posts in these forums--that Alabama is known to be more experimental. But, as someone who doesn't usually write experimental fiction (yet, at least), I don't know if that should disqualify Alabama from the list--or if it's just most students there write experimental fiction. In my board-lurking, I also read that Indiana students often include themes of important social issues but not necessarily all students do. Other than that, I'm less sure about the other schools' aesthetics.

Does anyone know anything about the extent of experimentalism at Alabama? Or aesthetics issues I might have at some of the other schools?

Thanks for all the advice so far...


gcsumfa


May 16, 2007, 7:17 PM

Post #14 of 454 (10375 views)
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     Re: [als02] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  


In Reply To
Regarding the writing aesthetics of the programs, I know-- at least, "know" in the sense that I read this information mostly in posts in these forums--that Alabama is known to be more experimental. But, as someone who doesn't usually write experimental fiction (yet, at least), I don't know if that should disqualify Alabama from the list--or if it's just most students there write experimental fiction. In my board-lurking, I also read that Indiana students often include themes of important social issues but not necessarily all students do. Other than that, I'm less sure about the other schools' aesthetics.

Does anyone know anything about the extent of experimentalism at Alabama? Or aesthetics issues I might have at some of the other schools?

Thanks for all the advice so far...


I would research the faculty at each school you're applying to. For instance, Michael Martone teaches at Alabama--he's definitely "experimental."

Wendy Rawlings is the other fiction faculty member at Alabama; haven't read her work, but I do know that she's published some stories in the Atlantic, which should be easily accessible.


Clench Million
Charles

May 16, 2007, 7:55 PM

Post #15 of 454 (10366 views)
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     Re: [als02] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

To my knowledge, the only big program that is truly largely experimental is Brown.

Columbia is known for being pretty experimental and from what I can tell it is more open to most programs for different writing, yet the majority of people here definitely are not experimental. The majority are doing the traditional domestic realism thing that everyone does. Looking at the faculty is a good move, but it won't guarantee anything. No one here at Columbia, that I've read, is writing like Ben Marcus.

I don't think you should have a problem writing traditional stuff at any MFA program.


hamlet3145


May 16, 2007, 8:27 PM

Post #16 of 454 (10356 views)
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     Re: [gcsumfa] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

I bribed Martone into allowing me to re-post his "The Sex Life of the Fantastic Four" on the Unoffical Montana MFA website. I really need to get the Huckleberry Jam, grizzly bear figurine and beef jerky out to him soon.

http://www.montanamfa.org/ffsex.html


mattk


May 16, 2007, 9:15 PM

Post #17 of 454 (10346 views)
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     Re: [Clench Million] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

I think you're argument is biased. There are plenty of off-the-radar programs where you'll receive a fine (often free) education and be around top-notch student writers. This is a very limited sample, but the two most accomplished writers I know personally (journal editors, tenured professors, multiple books) came from absolutely unknown programs, and I know at least 3 Columbia grads who have gone nonwhere (except into debt!) I'm not saying you shouldn't apply to and/or attend well-known programs, but your acceptance into any of them is not a measure of your chances for future success,, so I think it's a mistake to write off smaller or new programs. You should at least evaluate them. You'll get out of them what you put into it. It's like saying that the New School isn't worth going to because it's not Columbia, or that the only mags worth publishing in are the top - it's just not true. If you wait around for the Paris Review, you may never see anything in print.


In Reply To
There aren't schools you can guarantee getting into, but there are schools who have much small applicant pools and accept a lower quality of applicants that you will have a much better chance of getting into.

It is like submitting work to magazines. You aren't a sure-shot to get work in anywhere, even some random university journal. But you will have a much better chance of getting into the Podunk review than the Paris Review. The question is do you want to do that that though....



gcsumfa


May 16, 2007, 9:54 PM

Post #18 of 454 (10334 views)
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     Re: [Clench Million] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  


In Reply To
To my knowledge, the only big program that is truly largely experimental is Brown.

Columbia is known for being pretty experimental and from what I can tell it is more open to most programs for different writing, yet the majority of people here definitely are not experimental. The majority are doing the traditional domestic realism thing that everyone does. Looking at the faculty is a good move, but it won't guarantee anything. No one here at Columbia, that I've read, is writing like Ben Marcus.

I don't think you should have a problem writing traditional stuff at any MFA program.


True, true.


Peaquah

e-mail user

May 16, 2007, 10:04 PM

Post #19 of 454 (10332 views)
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     Re: [mattk] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

Hello all. I'm a long-time (two year) lurker who has finally decided to apply to programs this fall, and decided it was time to come out of the closet. I've heard (from somewhere I, of course, can't remember) that your success depends more on your ability to get into a prestigious program, and less on going to one. By that I mean if you could get into Iowa, but chose not to go, you would end up just as successful (in the long run) as someone who did go. I'm not sure I completely buy that, but I thought I'd throw it out there nonetheless.

I went to the University of Montana as an undergraduate, and in addition to Hamlet (who gives great, enthusiastic Montana advice) I can talk about Missoula and the professors (who also teach us lowly undergraduates) if anyone has questions. So that I don't subject you to my obsessive parenthesis any longer I'll just go ahead and finish with: nice to meet you.


(This post was edited by peaquah on May 16, 2007, 10:06 PM)


gcsumfa


May 16, 2007, 10:07 PM

Post #20 of 454 (10331 views)
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     Re: [mattk] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  


In Reply To
There are plenty of off-the-radar programs where you'll receive a fine (often free) education and be around top-notch student writers. This is a very limited sample, but the two most accomplished writers I know personally (journal editors, tenured professors, multiple books) came from absolutely unknown programs, and I know at least 3 Columbia grads who have gone nonwhere (except into debt!)


Good points. I went to a small, out-of-the-way program (for free) and had excellent teachers and made plenty of connections with established writers.

The MFA degree itself is pretty much a "podunk" degree that most folks in academic circles look down upon anyway--insofar as being "terminal"--esp. now that more places are offering the PhD in Lit/CW (read the “Is the PhD the new MFA” article in the latest P&W). Unless you have at least one well-regarded, published book or two to go along with your MFA, the degree is good for freshman comp gigs and editorial work in large cities with high cost of living standards.


(This post was edited by gcsumfa on May 16, 2007, 10:09 PM)


tyakabob


May 16, 2007, 11:10 PM

Post #21 of 454 (10319 views)
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     Re: [gcsumfa] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

The conventional wisdom is to apply to a huge range of programs to increase your odds of getting in somewhere. I applied to six programs that I was enthusiastic about based on some basic criteria:

Funding
Ability to mix genres in program
Location
Type of university, big school, small school, etc
Whether I thought I'd mesh with the professors

The first four were pretty easy to find out, although I did have to make some information lists because when you're sorting through all the necessary information when you're looking up dozens of programs, things tend to bleed together. Funding was really important to me because I can't afford paying to get an MFA-a degree that offers almost no financial security once you're done. I don't know what I would've decided if I had only gotten into a program that didn't offer much funding, but I did the research beforehand so I didn't run into that problem.

I applied as poetry, but also write fiction and want to give screenwriting and nonfiction a shot too, so it was important for the program to have flexibility. I'd only been writing poetry for about a year before I applied, so I didn't want to be tied to that genre although my best recent work was in poetry.

The location and type of university were important because all the schools that I've ever gone to, save my Australian university, are within 2 miles of each other. My undergrad university has 2000 people, so I was ready not only to get out of the area, but to experience a big, gung-ho university. I picked an SEC school, so I can check those off. Variety of experience helps writing, right?

The last one, which also might be the most influential on you actually getting into a program, took a little bit of time. I asked my undergrad professors what they'd heard about the different programs and professors, and they were familiar with some of both, so they helped me make decisions. I also tried to find the professors work at bookstore, even using the "Look At This Book" (or whatever it's called) function on Amazon's site.

I was put on two waitlists and was accepted off of both. When I talked to people at the university I ultimately picked, I found out that one of the professors who's aesthetic I thought meshed well with mine really went to bat for me to get me into the program. You may have great grades and test scores, but the people who're in the program, their opinions count the most.

When you've decided what programs to apply to, you shouldn't be afraid to call those programs and ask questions, even just to establish a bit of presence with those programs. They post their numbers for a reason. While I wouldn't go overboard and make an annoyance of yourself, it can't hurt to show interest in the program beyond applying. I was told visiting was key to show your interest in a program, especially if you're on a waitlist. I don't know how true this is, but I was able to visit two school on the way back from a spring break trip, and it was well worth the extra time in the car, even if it didn't sway the faculty either way. I mean, shit, you're going to live and work there for 3 years, great faculty and funding won't mean a lot of you're miserable the whole time.

My basic point in writing this long post was to say that don't feel obligated to apply to a huge amount of programs, especially if you're not comfortable envisioning yourself there. If you apply to 12 programs, 6 that you can really see yourself at, 6 that you have mostly because you want to get in SOMEWHERE and you think that you could manage that with them, from my perspective, save the money and time on the 6 maybes to put towards reapplying next year to your top programs in case you don't get in there. Unless you really really just want to start an MFA program ASAP. Or if you have a ton of programs that you're really in love with, apply to the lot of them. I got into 3 of the 6 that I applied to, so keeping it small worked out for me. If I hadn't, maybe I'd be boring everyone with a different long ass post. Get as much information that you can, start as early as you can, and make up your own mind. Don't be swayed too much by blogs and Best Programs lists, but always keep your ears open.

Good luck. It's a long, drag-ass process, but soon enough you'll be calling grandma to tell her that next fall you're going to XXXX to start your masters. It's a good feeling.


__________



May 17, 2007, 12:02 AM

Post #22 of 454 (10314 views)
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     Re: [als02] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  


In Reply To
University of Alabama
University of Mississippi
Indiana University

Good list, but I'd second that bit about how your style jibes w/ the school. Each of the above seems radically different from one another.


six five four three two one 0 ->

(This post was edited by Junior Maas on May 17, 2007, 12:03 AM)


gcsumfa


May 17, 2007, 12:07 AM

Post #23 of 454 (10313 views)
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     Re: [tyakabob] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

Nice post.

One more benefit of applying to less programs is that you will be able to spend more time tailoring the SOP to each school.

Let's be honest--if you're applying to 12-15 schools, you're not going to have enough time to really tailor 12-15 SOP's to 12-15 schools.


Clench Million
Charles

May 17, 2007, 1:04 AM

Post #24 of 454 (10300 views)
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     Re: [mattk] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

I don't believe I'm biased at all. I am preaching advice I followed myself.I'm not making any suggestions about specific programs. I'm just saying you should try for one of the best programs and not go for weak programs just because you will have a better shot at getting in. At least not your first round.

Should you wait around for the Paris Review forever? No, of course not. But when you submit to magazines it is best to start at the top and work your way down. I think the same applies to MFA programs. Unless you absoltely HAVE to go to an MFA program today no matter what, then I'd apply for the best programs (that fit your needs and goals) on your first round. If you get into none of them, work hard and apply again and make throw in a few safties.

An acceptance into a program (or journal for that matter) is not a measure of your chances for future success. That isn't what I said. I said you will get a better education and get more out of your MFA experience amongst top peers and top faculty.

As for the anecdotal evidence.... obviously there will be famous writers with MFAs from unknown programs and ones with no MFAs. But the point is there are a lot more writers of note from programs like Iowa, irvine and Columbia and your peer group at programs like that will be better. Again, IMO the peer group is one of the absolute most important aspects of an MFA program. That has been my experience as well as the experience of the people I know at various MFAs around the country.


All I am saying is that I know a lot of people in MFA programs. Even at the top programs, most people are fairly unimpressed with the quality of the student work. The MFA programs have been so dilluted in recent years with the exponentially rising number of programs that even the top programs have a lot of sub-par students. The people I know who opted for weaker programs were mostly very dissapointed with the quality of their peer group. As such, I think one should make sure you weigh the potential peer group and quality of teachers heavily when deciding where to apply to.


(This post was edited by Clench Million on May 17, 2007, 1:19 AM)


jlgwriter
Jeanne Lyet Gassman
e-mail user

May 17, 2007, 1:30 AM

Post #25 of 454 (10297 views)
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     Re: [Clench Million] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

Clench,

I know you're talking about residency MFA programs here, but I wondered if you had any opinions on the quality of the various low-res programs. I'm planning to apply for the spring and have my own "short list," but I would be interested to hear your thoughts on the top-ranked low-res programs--if you care to share.

Thanks.

Jeanne


http://www.jeannelyetgassman.com
http://jeannelyetgassman.blogspot.com


__________



May 17, 2007, 2:05 AM

Post #26 of 454 (4388 views)
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     Re: [Clench Million] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  


In Reply To
But the point is there are a lot more writers of note from programs like Iowa, irvine and Columbia and your peer group at programs like that will be better.

Not really, though. Not if you consider the writers who don't have MFA's. Are we assuming the best schools are also the 'name' schools?

Right now I wonder, if I do get into a name school, whether it might be better to just go somewhere closer. Staring at my ridiculous five year plan (something very close to what Owen Wilson mapped out in Bottle Rocket), it looks like I really am going just to hone my craft; I don't plan to finish a book 'til later. Does anyone think the attention that agents pay to some schools could actually have a deleterious effect on someone like me? Like, What's that Mr. Agent? You want me to show you something? Piss off! Dunno if you'd want to sit there wondering why X, with her melodramatic pap, got the fat scholarship, or watch agents sucking your peers up into the machine.


six five four three two one 0 ->

(This post was edited by Junior Maas on May 17, 2007, 2:05 AM)


piratelizzy


May 17, 2007, 1:23 PM

Post #27 of 454 (4345 views)
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     Re: [gcsumfa] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

I was in correspondence with Jayne Ann Phillips and James Goodman earlier this year and--unless the funding situation has changed in the last few months--Rutgers-Newark is only offering a partial tuition "fellowship" to first years without teaching experience. The 18K is for second years, it was my understanding.

Even with the 18K, NJ is an expensive place to live. I live 20 minutes from Newark now and work in NYC. The way I figured it, I was going to have to keep working full time to be able to afford to keep living in my apartment plus pay Rutgers tuition. Factoring in the crazy commutes, which can slow you down for up to an hour in each direction, there just wasn't going to be enough time in a day for me to work full-time at my present job AND study.

I think Rutgers has the potential to be a great program. The faculty and location are good. Newark is a great place for people who are interested in writing about jazz, for example. And it's close enough to NYC that you'd be able to take advantage of added opportunities in the world of publishing. However, without the funding I think first years who are not independently wealthy or wiling to take out big loans are going to have a tough time swinging it.


'sup?!


Cookies4brkfst


May 23, 2007, 11:21 PM

Post #28 of 454 (4197 views)
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     Re: Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

My opinions/advice, having just gone through this process (and been accepted to 4 of the 9 I applied to):

1. Do your research. Google and used books from Amazon should be your new best friends. Write down the faculty at the schools you're interested in and find their books, their interviews, their faculty websites--anything. I dropped two schools off my application list and spent the application money on amassing a library of used books by profs at other schools. Find out what the schools offer for financial aid and factor that into your decision (it's hard to pay back $60K in debt as a poet!). Research what percentage of applicants get accepted (If they take 50% of applicants, do you want to be in the unelite? If they accept 1.2%, do you think you're really that good?). If you can find course catalogs or meet current students, find out how often your favorite writers actually teach. Reading these message boards and other blogs, I was astounded at how un-educatedly some people admitted to being about the schools they applied to, spending $1000+ dollars to apply to schools they didn't really know much about. This is the next two years of your life--do the homework!

2. Get organized. A good chunk of my day job is (was!!!) project management and paperwork, and this process was even a little intimidating to me. Every school has different rules and different deadlines and different SOP and teaching statements guidelines. I made a folder for each school and maintained a nerdtastic spreadsheet with deadlines and notes. I spent two nights (2-3 hrs) a week on this for about two months, and then a solid weekend as the first deadlines approached. I somewhat customized my application to each school, making sure I at least made it sound like I was writing my SOP just for them. Also, I highly recommend finding an affordable bourbon and stocking up. It eases the freak-out as the deadlines approach, and makes all this paperwork a little more tolerable.

3. Keep writing and editing. This fall, I was in a structured workshop, run by a poet-friend out of his house, and used it to tweak my writing sample. If you're not in a community of writers already, try to find one--Writer's Voice programs through a YMCA, commercially-run workshops, online courses, whatever. I don't think I would have been accepted to a couple of the schools without the growth my writing experienced this fall/winter. And, if you've never workshopped before, and you want to enter that type of program, you'll be better prepared.

Good luck!


vthach13


Jun 2, 2007, 2:04 AM

Post #29 of 454 (4066 views)
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     Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

I am trying to research different MFA programs, via Google, but the computer in China censured just about everything. So, in my endeavor to learn more about programs that offer similar financial package as the Michener Center, I've only learned that the Michener Center is the only program that provides a tuition-free program. Is that true? Are there are other programs like it?

PS: I'm currently volunteering in China.


bighark


Jun 2, 2007, 10:07 AM

Post #30 of 454 (4053 views)
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     Re: [vthach13] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

Hi, vthach13, welcome to the forum.

Fortunately, there are several creative writing programs that do not charge tuition.

The following list is not exhaustive, but it should help you get started on your search. Every school on this list offers free tuition for every student.

Cornell University
Brown University
Indiana University
Johns Hopkins University
Purdue University
Syracuse University
University of California, Irivine
University of Florida
University of Illinois
University of Notre Dame
University of Michigan
University of Minnesota
University of Oregon
University of Wisconsin, Madison
Washington University, St. Louis


GDClark
George David Clark
e-mail user

Jun 2, 2007, 10:29 AM

Post #31 of 454 (4049 views)
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     Re: [bighark] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

You can add the University of Virginia and Ohio State to that list also.


Clench Million
Charles

Jun 2, 2007, 10:38 AM

Post #32 of 454 (4046 views)
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     Re: [Junior Maas] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

Amory: Well I wasn't considering the writers who don't have MFAs in my argument. Obviously if you are going to compare the graduates of the top 20 programs to all otehr graduates and all people without MFAs as one giant group, then the latter might have produced more writers of note. It should, given it is a much much larger group.

I was saying that a lot more writers of note come from a given top program than a given low level program.

I think you may have misinterpreted what I was saying, because my argument wasn't anything about AGENTS, just about the peer group you will have in your program. The peer group will most likely end up being the most important factor in your MFA experience so I think it is something to consider when applying.


hamholio


Jun 2, 2007, 10:49 AM

Post #33 of 454 (4044 views)
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     Re: [bighark] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

U. Florida actually charges $3,000 the second year.

But you get paid $22,000 over the two years, so I guess it works out.


rpc
ryan call

Jun 2, 2007, 2:35 PM

Post #34 of 454 (4018 views)
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     Re: [hamholio] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

it also should be noted that (most of) these arent "free" programs, in the real sense of the word

but programs that require some sort of teaching gig, give and take kind of arrangement...


<HTMLGIANT>


tyakabob


Jun 3, 2007, 6:12 PM

Post #35 of 454 (3954 views)
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     Re: [bighark] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

McNeese State University and Lousiana State University offer full funding in exchange for teaching assistantships. McNeese also doesn't have a formal application process, you send them a writing sample and see what happens.


vthach13


Jun 4, 2007, 8:57 PM

Post #36 of 454 (3897 views)
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     Re: [tyakabob] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

Thanks everyone for the information.

What to do? My undergraduate advisor, who knows a lot about my writing, has taken ill (probably on her deathbed) and is unable to correspond. That means, no critiques, no recommendation. Does anyone know the criteria (for short stories) to getting into an MFA program? And under what circumstances is it okay to submit recommendations from people who don't know your writing so well? Will this make my application less appealing?

I've read some posts that said one should have a "solid" piece. What is a "solid" piece?

-V


hamlet3145


Jun 4, 2007, 10:38 PM

Post #37 of 454 (3886 views)
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     Re: [vthach13] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

For what it's worth, your recommendations probably carry the least weight of any part of your application, if they even get read. Every faculty member I've ever talked to about this have said that the main factor is your writing sample. As for what a "solid" piece is? A possible candidate would be something that you got lots of compliments on in a workshop or maybe something that you got published in a lit journal. Beyond that we're getting into the nature of "quality" itself which, I'm pretty sure, Robert Persig wrote a 400 page book about so I’m not even going to attempt to get into that in a forum post. =) Really, at the end of the day you are going to have to submit the work that you feel the best about. Good luck!


a2poet


Jun 5, 2007, 9:02 AM

Post #38 of 454 (3850 views)
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     Re: [vthach13] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

Yeah, I wouldn't worry so much about the letters. When I applied I used one refrence who knew my work extremely well, a professor which I had one class with, and another professor who did not know my creative writing at all, but rather my potential to teach. Obviously admission boards pay the most attention to your writing sample so even if you don't have ideal reccomenders to lobby on your behalf, your work should speak for itself.


http://mwicker.blogspot.com/


Charlie Rose


Jun 7, 2007, 1:13 PM

Post #39 of 454 (3756 views)
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     Re: [hamholio] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

is that on their website? I don't remember seeing anything about the 3,000 dollars for the second year? any help is appreciated.


hamholio


Jun 7, 2007, 1:19 PM

Post #40 of 454 (3753 views)
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     Re: [Charlie Rose] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

from their web page:

"A writing program should be easily affordable. All MFA students here receive a full tuition waiver as well as either a fellowship or a teaching assistantship for the two-year duration of the program. Fees paid to the university total $3500 over the course of the two years."

3000 of that is tuition the tuition waiver doesn't cover.


Because


Jun 9, 2007, 5:10 PM

Post #41 of 454 (3640 views)
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     Re: [hamholio] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

I've been lurking around for a few months and am wondering if any of you might be able to give me some advice.

I've been writing fiction for a few years have gotten a lot of positive feedback from the people I've shown my work to. A couple former professors, for whom I have great respect, have been really encouraging and I know they would write great recs for me.

My question has to do with the fact that a lot of my writing has to do with religious or spiritual matters. I did my undergrad at a Christian college, and while I'm by no means a militant Chrisitan (probably some people would say I'm not much of a Christian at all), I am still interested in writing about faith (think Flannery O'Connor, Fredrick Buechner, or Franz Wright, rather than "Left Behind").

So, given how divisive a topic religion can be, do I have a shot in hell? Should I send in one story that deals with religion and another about something else? Should I talk about my beliefs in my personal statement? I have a solid essay about John Henry Newman and Stanley Fish's "Why We Can't All Just Get Along" that I can use as a critical sample, or would it be better to show some flexibility and take on Djuna Barnes?

Sorry for running on so much, but an outside perspective would be awfully helpful.


ddl


Jun 10, 2007, 7:50 AM

Post #42 of 454 (3602 views)
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     Re: [Because] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

Write what you want to write. Faith is good material, if you don't come across as having a dogmatic ax to grind. Erin McGraw, a faculty member at Ohio State, has published several short stories and a novel featuring priests, pastors, and other characters struggling with religion in some way. Notre Dame might be another place to consider.

In Reply To
I've been lurking around for a few months and am wondering if any of you might be able to give me some advice.

I've been writing fiction for a few years have gotten a lot of positive feedback from the people I've shown my work to. A couple former professors, for whom I have great respect, have been really encouraging and I know they would write great recs for me.

My question has to do with the fact that a lot of my writing has to do with religious or spiritual matters. I did my undergrad at a Christian college, and while I'm by no means a militant Chrisitan (probably some people would say I'm not much of a Christian at all), I am still interested in writing about faith (think Flannery O'Connor, Fredrick Buechner, or Franz Wright, rather than "Left Behind").

So, given how divisive a topic religion can be, do I have a shot in hell? Should I send in one story that deals with religion and another about something else? Should I talk about my beliefs in my personal statement? I have a solid essay about John Henry Newman and Stanley Fish's "Why We Can't All Just Get Along" that I can use as a critical sample, or would it be better to show some flexibility and take on Djuna Barnes?

Sorry for running on so much, but an outside perspective would be awfully helpful.



piratelizzy


Jun 10, 2007, 3:50 PM

Post #43 of 454 (3575 views)
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     Re: [Because] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

Marilynne Robinson at Iowa is reputed to bring her Christian sensibility in the classroom. I've even heard--and this may well not be true--that she frowns on students who write about topics she finds tabboo as a Christian.

Besides the likelihood that you will find a number of religious people in the ranks of MFA faculty, Because, you should write what you want to write, in my opinion.


'sup?!


edwriter



Jun 10, 2007, 4:42 PM

Post #44 of 454 (3567 views)
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     Re: [Because] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

Have you considered the low-residency program at Seattle Pacific University?

Here's an excerpt from its Web site:


Quote
The low-residency MFA at SPU is a creative writing program for apprentice writers—both Christians and those of other traditions—who not only want to pursue excellence in the craft of writing but also place their work within the larger context of the Judeo-Christian tradition of faith.

The spiritual dimension of this program is not intended to produce didactic, sectarian, or sentimental literature. Nor is this MFA intended to produce writers of “Christian fiction.” Far from it.

This program seeks to extend the tradition of Christian writing in which the highest levels of art, an open-eyed exploration of human experience, and a respect for transcendent mystery are all held in a proper balance.



Best,
Erika D.


Quiet Americans: Stories
http://www.erikadreifus.com



GDClark
George David Clark
e-mail user

Jun 10, 2007, 5:44 PM

Post #45 of 454 (3556 views)
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     Re: [edwriter] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

I went to a small religious university also, and when I was preparing for apps two years ago I remember having some of the same questions. Ultimately my religion (and even worse, my conservatism) would continue to be a preoccupation regardless of whatever else I wrote about, so I felt it would be disingenuous not to present it in my aaplication. At least two or three of the poems I applied with were overtly spiritual and in my personal statements I wrote in depth about the influence of Christianity on my work. Honestly I don't think the specifics of my religious affiliation affected how my poems were received one way or another. If anything it might have been a positive means of demonstrating some direction in my writing.

Since someone else already mention Ohio State, I'll share that they courted me by highlighting the spiritual interests of some of their faculty. No other place I was accepted mentioned that aspect of my app.

Basically (everyone says it for a reason), submit your best work. It's tempting to suspect anyone with power of biases be them religious, ethnic, gender, etc, and if you look hard enough you can certainly find it (or invent it--"Those god-hating atheists who rejected me at Iowa!"), but with everthing else you have to worry about MFA-wise, why bother with what you have no control over?

Good luck.


hamholio


Jun 11, 2007, 12:18 AM

Post #46 of 454 (3510 views)
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     Re: [piratelizzy] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  


Quote
"Marilynne Robinson at Iowa is reputed to bring her Christian sensibility in the classroom. I've even heard--and this may well not be true--that she frowns on students who write about topics she finds tabboo as a Christian. "


I doubt that and believe it at the same time! Gilead is a beautiful book that transcends the Christian religion (I'm an atheist and I found it to be one of the greatest things I've read in the past few years) -- but her non-fiction that deals with faith is dogmatic and boring.


Charlie Rose


Jun 11, 2007, 12:44 PM

Post #47 of 454 (3467 views)
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     Re: [hamholio] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

thanks. not sure how i missed that


Because


Jun 12, 2007, 2:21 PM

Post #48 of 454 (3367 views)
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     Re: [Charlie Rose] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

Wow, thanks for all the great responses. I'd heard a little about Seattle Pacific, and checking out their website it looks like a good program. Not sure I'm looking for low-res, but worth keeping in mind. I'll keep my eye on Ohio, too, though probably Iowa is out of my league.

GDClark - if you have any insights about how you put together your personal statement, I'd be really grateful if you could PM me.


jrumford


Jun 19, 2007, 5:01 AM

Post #49 of 454 (3222 views)
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     Re: [als02] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

In Texas the two schools with really good reputations for MFA programs are Texas State University at San Marcos and University of Houston. I haven't heard great stuff about UT Austin, but it probably has its promoters. Although this may not be part of your criteria, Texas State University is one of the most beautiful campuses I've ever seen.

Good luck!
Jennifer


Clench Million
Charles

Jun 19, 2007, 1:01 PM

Post #50 of 454 (3188 views)
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     Re: [jrumford] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

I have to say I think this is inaccurate. UT-Austin and Houston are certainly the two most respected programs in Texas. Houston was ranked second in the 97 USNWR rankings and as "one of the top 10" by Tom Kealey.

UT-Austin was ranked tied for 30th in the 97 USNWR, but their funding has increased exponentially since then and their profile is very high. Keleay ranked them as "easily in the top five."

Texas state didn't make either of those lists. I'm sure it is a fine program, but to say it is more respected than UT-Austin, which has to be one of the top 20 programs at the very least, seems to me quite inaccurate.


jrumford


Jun 19, 2007, 1:33 PM

Post #51 of 454 (3319 views)
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     Re: [Clench Million] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

Texas State was chosen by Poets & Writers or AWP as one of the top ten MFA programs last year. It is an MFA-only program, whereas University of Houston has an MFA and a PhD in creative writing.

But I didn't mean to imply anything bad about the writing program at UT Austin. I was just being honest in that I didn't have anything to say about it - except what you have now said. But you have to admit - where can you find a prettier campus than Texas State - where the river really does run through it.

Jennifer


__________



Jun 19, 2007, 2:33 PM

Post #52 of 454 (3312 views)
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     Re: [jrumford] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

Hey there. I've actually attended two of these three schools...

Word on the street is, if you subtract funding from the equation, UT is actually dead last, no question. Its rank is based solely on the huge wad of dough you get to pull from Michener's dead, dead pockets. Houston's good, but mucking things up are the PhD thing, the competetive funding, those two-at-a-time classes you have to teach, and the worst possible location ever. And Texas State -- did the program even exist in '97? I'm not sure, but that program's come a long way in a short time and is well-regarded.


six five four three two one 0 ->


jrumford


Jun 19, 2007, 3:41 PM

Post #53 of 454 (3302 views)
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     Re: [jlgwriter] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

I went to Goddard College in Vermont - which is one of the earliest low-res programs and spawned several others, including Warren Wilson. Goddard also has a campus in Port Townsend, Washington.

I found it to be a great program. I was told to look for programs who have writers I admire, but I learned instantly that someone can be a writer I admire and not be a good writing teacher. I avoided a few advisors, just like I would have at a regular program (you can smell out the advisors who don't suit you), and I focused on other advisors. Overall, I had some very good advisors at Goddard and I learned more than I ever expected.

For me, the low-res programs have some great things. 1. I didn't have to abandon my family or my job. 2. I learned to write as part of my life (in the early morning, late at night, or waiting at doctor's offices - which is how I still have to do it, since I'm not on easy street from writing yet. It required a ton of work, turning in 20 pages of manuscript plus critical writing and reading every three weeks. I had no idea if I could do it before I started, but I did, and I'm very proud of the work I produced.

Two of my friends have already sold their thesis manuscripts to publishing houses, and probably more have - this is just two in my immediate circle. Another of my friends got her degree in playwriting and after graduation she produced her own play in NYC.

So I think the low-res programs are wonderful, and I suggest you look for a program that has components you are interested in. Does it require a teaching semester? Does it have a literary journal you can work on? Does it require critical writing, as well as creative writing? Is there a broad spectrum of genres - because a fiction writer can learn at a poetry class and a creative nonfiction writer can learn at a dramatic writing class, etc.

Another great thing about the low-res programs is that you develop a circle of writing friends that you maintain throughout the semester via email - so you have these people as resources for crits, encouragement, and advisr after you graduate, too.

Then look for a place you want to spend time in - these programs are scattered all over the country these days. I nearly didn't go to Vermont because I live in Texas and I knew I didn't have the kind of clothes that one needs for January in Vermont! Thank goodness for Eddie Bauer online!

Good luck - I'm sure wherever you go, your work will blossom.

Jennifer


Zash
Zachary Ash

Jun 19, 2007, 9:34 PM

Post #54 of 454 (3274 views)
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     Re: [Clench Million] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

I'm a bit confused by the program(s) at UT-Austin. Their website states they offer two separate, distinct graduate writing degrees: an MA and an MFA. Is the high acclaim strictly for the Michener-associated MFA? If so, what about the MA in creative writing offered by UT's English dept? Is this a highly regarded program? Looking at the rankings for MFAs, I see UT way up there, but do these rankings refer only to the Michener program? Help! Even my questions are confusing.


__________



Jun 20, 2007, 10:06 AM

Post #55 of 454 (3243 views)
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     Re: [Zash] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  


In Reply To
what about the MA in creative writing offered by UT's English dept? Is this a highly regarded program?...do these rankings refer only to the Michener program?



Sort of -- those rankings only refer to the MFA. But on the other hand, those rankings only rank MFA's, not MA's.

The masters program is great, it's hard to get into, but it's a masters. For this reason it's regarded as -- a masters.

And who's doing the regarding in your scenario? Hiring committees? Small literary journals? Really, I think the usual MA vs. MFA argument would apply.


six five four three two one 0 ->

(This post was edited by Junior Maas on Jun 20, 2007, 10:09 AM)


hamlet3145


Jun 20, 2007, 6:19 PM

Post #56 of 454 (3213 views)
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     Re: [Junior Maas] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

Actually . . . if you look at the '97 rankings (wow, 10 years old now), some of those programs are M.A.s. Iowa State for example. Although, now, Iowa State has morphed into an M.F.A. in Enviromental Writing. I got my M.A. in English/Creative Writing there before heading to Montana.


Zash
Zachary Ash

Jun 20, 2007, 8:03 PM

Post #57 of 454 (3200 views)
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     Re: [Hamlet3145] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

UC Davis has an MA in English/Creative Writing that ranks fairly high (31) on the Kealey Scale. The program looks similar to most MFA programs, although one has to take graduate lit seminars. And who's doing the regarding? I am.


__________



Jun 21, 2007, 9:59 AM

Post #58 of 454 (3160 views)
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     Re: [Zash] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

It's true Kealey lists a few MA programs; however, from what I remember, those were all programs that didn't also offer an MFA...

My feeling is that you (we) should just apply to the programs that would benefit our writing, whether that means big money or big teachers. The career angle is much more shady. Theoretically you can teach with an MFA, but not an MA. And unless we're talking about Iowa, no one's going to jump up and down and say, "Ooh!" when they read either on your job application or query letter. (This I base on the opinion of my teacher, UT MFA). You gotta have a book, "significant" journal pubs, know someone, or some combination of the three.

With UT, it looks like it all hinges on the money, if you plan to go into the creative writing biz. Now how big of a stipend, if any, do they give you for the MA? Certainly not $25K. (I would check their web site, but it intimidates me!)


six five four three two one 0 ->


Clench Million
Charles

Jun 21, 2007, 11:07 AM

Post #59 of 454 (3148 views)
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     Re: [Junior Maas] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

People considering MA programs should just keep in mind that MAs are supposed to be more academic than craft oriented. Which means, probably much of your time will be spent writing about how birds are used a symbol of menstruation in Shakespeare's sexist Richard III or how Othello is a symbol of bourgeoisie complacency and Iago is the lumpen proletariat... or whatever.

Personally, I don't quite understand the appeal of an MA. You are getting it in creative writing, yet unlike an MFA your time isn't totally devoted to craft and writing, and it doesn't seem like the academic side would really help you. An MFA is a somewhat terminal degree, but an MA isn't at all. Maybe a creative writing MA would just be a more fun step on the way to an English PhD?

But the main thing is to keep in mind that MA has a large focus on the academic side of writing and english that MFAs do not, so factor that in when deciding where to apply.


__________



Jun 21, 2007, 11:49 AM

Post #60 of 454 (3140 views)
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     Re: [Clench Million] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

An MA benefitted a couple of my peers in various ways. One simply gets more dough at his teaching gig, plus the option to count the work towards a PhD. In the other, more interesting case, this guy I know was ready to pursue an MFA, but schools obviously disagreed -- he was summarily rejected. So he got his heartbroken self an MA, and with it, a little more practice. This year both Arizona and Texas State offered him big scholarship money.

Of course, the majority of MA's I know just sit around cursing their degree. Occasionally they'll pretend to shoot lightning from their hands and shout, "I am master...MASTER OF THE ARTS!"


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Dime49


Jun 22, 2007, 3:24 PM

Post #61 of 454 (3070 views)
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     Re: [Junior Maas] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

As someone who just completed an MA (and is about to start an MFA), I have to say I think the MA is quite a nifty degree. The important thing to note of course is that an MA is not a terminal degree (though people do go on to teach with MAs, either for Jr. College or High School...), so it's not really an MFA substitute. But from a creative writing standpoint the advantage of an MA is that it can be highly flexible for you - it pairs quite nicely with the MFA and of course is a natural lead into a PHD. It can help with teaching gigs later on (if that's your interest) or just give you more time to develop creatively.

As for the balance between literature and craft, it's really not that different from many MFA programs that require a similar 50/50 split, or at least something close to that. Though obviously the MFA places greater emphasis (and intensity) on the creative part of the equation.


Clench Million
Charles

Jun 22, 2007, 4:23 PM

Post #62 of 454 (3064 views)
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     Re: [Dime49] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

I always hear the difference described as craft versus academics, not literature versus craft. Of the MFA programs I'm familiar with, none of them require much (if any) academic studying of literature. We read plenty of books in my program, but they are all studied from a craft angle, not an academic one. I think there is really a huge difference between those two approaches.


hamlet3145


Jun 23, 2007, 12:37 AM

Post #63 of 454 (3025 views)
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     Re: [Clench Million] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

I only had to take two "academic" lit classes for my M.A. in English with a concentration in Creative Writing. The rest of the credits were divided among workshop, special topics and thesis credits. A quick google of Austin's M.A. in C.W. reveals the following requirements:

"Course requirements for M.A. in Creative Writing:
9 hours E385N or E386L or WRT380 or E391L (creative writing workshops or conference courses)
3 hours E380F (Literature for Writers, may be repeated for credit when topics vary)
12 additional hours of English Department or WRT courses (literature or creative writing), three of which may be taken at the upper-division undergraduate level
6 hours of courses outside of both the English Department and the Michener Center for Writers
3 hours E398R (Master's Report) "


Unless I'm reading this wrongly, only one lit class is actually required and it's something called "Literature for Writers." I'd strongly suspect that would be craft based. Regardless, I never considered that I would end my graduate education with the M.A. I took it as two well funded years to work on my writing. One very positive note resulting from my M.A. experience is that I'm sure it helped pave the way for my acceptance to Montana. I was much more confident and had an entire thesis of poems to pick from for my application portfolio.





gcsumfa


Jul 1, 2007, 4:03 PM

Post #64 of 454 (2859 views)
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     Re: [Hamlet3145] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

Most MA/CW programs are just like MFA programs. I have an MA and an MFA. My MA was 6 hours of lit, 9 hours of workshops, 3 hours of a craft seminar, and 6 hours of teaching comp and bib & methods. I also served as an editor of a literary journal published out of the department.

The major difference between both degrees is usually the length of the thesis.


jacarty
Jessie Carty
e-mail user

Jul 2, 2007, 10:16 AM

Post #65 of 454 (2822 views)
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     Re: [als02] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

Sounds like you have done a lot of good research. I wish I had actually applied to more programs myself but when I applied I was working full-time and I had to do low-res. Now that I have quit my job I have been tempted to consider transfering to another program and look into funding, but I really like my program (low-res at Queens).

I always try to mention UNC-Greensboro as a great program because I did my undergrad there. You'd have some excellent faculty and it is a nice mid-sized town. There is also UNC-Wilmington which I don't know as much about and NC State that is now an MFA that you may want to take a peek at. I don't know as much about them but NC State is very selective and UNC-Wilmington is three years I believe.

I'm also a poet so not sure what your concentration will be, but best of luck to you. This will be a stressful and exciting year :)

--Jessie


http://jessiecarty.com


vthach13


Jul 2, 2007, 8:41 PM

Post #66 of 454 (2773 views)
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     Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

How important, comparitively, is the GRE? Is there a score that I should aim for? Is it necessary, when not asked for it?


bighark


Jul 2, 2007, 9:10 PM

Post #67 of 454 (2768 views)
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     Re: [vthach13] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

Vthach,

The GRE is not important. I would rate it up there with the application fee in terms of how much consideration it receives from admission committee members.

If a program requires the GRE (many MFA programs don't), it's because its graduate school requires the test for all graduate school applications. In other words, it's technicality--nobody has ever been admitted to an MFA program on the strength of their GRE scores.

If a school doesn't require the GRE, don't send your scores. Even if they're awesome GRE scores, they wont' be considered, so save yourself $15 in score report fees.


vthach13


Jul 2, 2007, 9:38 PM

Post #68 of 454 (2765 views)
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     Re: [bighark] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

I read an article that states:

But (and this is a big but) many programs have a two-tiered screening process. The folks in the MFA department are the ones who make the ultimate decision. But first you have to be accepted by the graduate school in question. Take UNCG, my alma mater, for example. The graduate school requires a 3.0 GPA in an applicant's major. So, even if you write like Faulkner, you could still get dinged.

In general, grades and GRE scores are important only if they're exceptionally low, in which case the graduate school might balk, or exceptionally high, in which case the MFA department might make a run at a university-wide fellowship to pay a student's tuition.

This seems reasonable, but is the process still similar?


bighark


Jul 2, 2007, 10:47 PM

Post #69 of 454 (2750 views)
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     Re: [vthach13] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

If you are asking if it's possible to get your application tossed out on account of a really crummy GRE score, then yes, it's possible.

It's not likely, but it is possible.

The reason why this is not likely is because any reasonably literate college graduate can get a perfectly acceptable GRE score simply by showing up sober on test day.

As you mention in your quote, the GRE score only matters if it's exceptionally low.

Don't sweat this test. A modest amount of preparation and a good night's sleep is all you need. Focus the rest of your efforts on the manuscript. '

Good luck.


HopperFu


Jul 3, 2007, 7:52 AM

Post #70 of 454 (2717 views)
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     Re: [bighark] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

Bighark is right about this.
I'd suggest buying one of those Princeton or Kaplan review books for the GRE and studying maybe five to ten hours total. Obviously, the higher you score the better (mostly so you can tell your parents you were in the 98th percentile), but mostly you just need to do better than a rock.
Seriously, five or ten hours with one of those books will be all you need (most likely - I obviously don't know you). They have some good suggestions and tips on strategies that can improve your grade significantly.


rpc
ryan call

Jul 3, 2007, 10:22 AM

Post #71 of 454 (2704 views)
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     Re: [HopperFu] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

i accidentally unplugged the computer during
my gre exam

i leaned back to stretch my legs,
and plunk,
out went the computer cord

the attendant figured out a way to get
back all of my answers, except for the essay
which i had to start over

i laugh now because i am a moron

(edited to say that i am sorry that this post is helpful to no people on the topic, except to point out that it can't get much worse in my humble opinion and so do not be worried about this gre forthcoming)


<HTMLGIANT>

(This post was
edited by rpc on Jul 3, 2007, 10:24 AM)


Dewey

e-mail user

Jul 19, 2007, 12:45 PM

Post #72 of 454 (2539 views)
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     Re: [motet] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

Does anyone have any information on programs that focus on the novel? The MFA is something I'd like to pursue, but I'm really not so much into writing short stories anymore. My last couple of projects have been novels and that's how I'd like to keep it. So, is anyone aware of or attending a school that encourages novel workshopping?
Thanks.


chitown


Jul 19, 2007, 12:49 PM

Post #73 of 454 (2536 views)
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     Re: [Dewey] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

Columbia College Chicago offers workshops in Novel Writing.


Also, has anyone here had experience with Arkansas's program? I like that they don't charge an application fee until you are accepted. I did a board search but have only found a smattering of info.


Clench Million
Charles

Jul 19, 2007, 12:56 PM

Post #74 of 454 (2533 views)
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     Re: [Dewey] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

Lots of people here at Columbia University workshop novels. I'm planning to do so myself next semester. There are also classes taught on novel writing.

and FWIW The Atlantic article stated that the school of the arts got 1 million dollars in financial aid money, so the incoming 2008 class should have a much better funding situation.


hamlet3145


Jul 19, 2007, 1:24 PM

Post #75 of 454 (2527 views)
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     Re: [Dewey] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

Kevin Canty seems to teach a novel workshop about every other year at Montana.


mrshankly


Jul 19, 2007, 1:30 PM

Post #76 of 454 (3389 views)
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     Re: [Dewey] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

I can't imagine a school not offering a Novel Workshop. But I can only speak firsthand about NYU, which offers one each semester.


kendalls


Jul 22, 2007, 9:03 AM

Post #77 of 454 (3331 views)
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     Re: [jlgwriter] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

I know there is a "low-residency" thread but there hasn't been much action there lately, so I thought I'd try here for some advice. I am interested in the Queens University MFA program and wonder if anyone has input? Also, I went to Goddard and it wasn't a good fit for me, but I am interested in other non-Vermont low-res suggestions. Any help is appreciated.


Kadence


Aug 8, 2007, 7:41 PM

Post #78 of 454 (3188 views)
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     Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

Hey everyone,

I'm Kadence-- I'm new to P&W and just beginning my apps for MFA's in 2008. I'm looking for a place to connect with other people just beginning their apps as well. I'm 27, from New England, and I write fiction. Currently i've been spending too much time on my SOP and have no idea where to go from here. I've tried brutal honesty, humility, and wit... none of these are working... any and all suggestions are welcome.

-Kadence

also, if there is a better place for me to post this 'intro' please let me know. thanks! -k


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


bennyprof


Aug 8, 2007, 8:55 PM

Post #79 of 454 (3178 views)
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     Re: [Kadence] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

Welcome, Kadence! Good to see another hopeful MFA'er amongst so many "been there, done thats" or "doin'it nows." That is to say, it's good to meet somebody else who's in the same boat as I am -- just beginning the application process.

I haven't started on my SOP yet, but I've picked up what I think is some fairly sound advice so far:


-Don't try to impress them with your writing in the SOP. Let your writing sample take care of that. So... I wouldn't go for too much wit.

-Don't shoot yourself in the foot. Be honest, but I don't know about "brutal honesty." That's sounds like a loaded phrase that might lead to the inclusion of too much info. They don't need to know all the sordid details of your past, or how incredibly insecure you are about your writing... most, if not all of us, are insecure, so they'll probably assume as much.

-Come across as a serious writer, but not cocky, jaded or overly-intellectual. Try to strike a good balance between idealism, pragmatism and a strong willingness to learn. Remember, they're reading this with the following thought in mind: "Is this someone I want to work with for the next few years?"

-Humility is fine, but don't take it too far or it'll start smacking of false modesty.

-As far as content, include a brief personal history, talk about why you want to write, what you hope to accomplish during your MFA experience, as well as a few of the authors you admire and why.

-Express an interest in teaching, even if you're not all that excited about the prospect. Someone explained it to me like this: "Teaching, to the writer, is kind of like flipping burgers. To most writers (who just want to write) it's a pain in the ass, but you're probably going to have to do it at some point during your grad school experience, so it's best to express a positive attitude about it in your SOP." Not exactly how he worded it, but you get the picture. For me, it's not a problem... I'm genuinely looking forward to teaching. Although that might change after a semester of reading freshman comp papers.


Again, this is just some advice I've received from others so far in my research and is not based on personal experience, as I have none, so read it with that in mind.

Anyway, hope it helps!

-Benny


Kadence


Aug 8, 2007, 10:57 PM

Post #80 of 454 (3163 views)
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     Re: [bennyprof] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

Hey thanks benny!

Rock on! I'm glad someone is out there. I felt like everyone had left for programs-- or some fabulous vacation I couldn't afford :)

So... have you decided where you're applying?

My head is already spinning and it's only the beginning of August. Yikes!

-K

hey, if I took a creative writing pedagogy class as an undergrad (and, ahem, got an A, do you think that would be worthy of including in my SOP?)


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


bennyprof


Aug 8, 2007, 11:47 PM

Post #81 of 454 (3155 views)
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     Re: [Kadence] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  


In Reply To
Hey thanks benny!

Rock on! I'm glad someone is out there. I felt like everyone had left for programs-- or some fabulous vacation I couldn't afford :)

So... have you decided where you're applying?

My head is already spinning and it's only the beginning of August. Yikes!

-K

hey, if I took a creative writing pedagogy class as an undergrad (and, ahem, got an A, do you think that would be worthy of including in my SOP?)



Cornell
University of California at Irvine
University of Virginia
University of Iowa
Florida State
Johns Hopkins
Indiana University
Brown
University of Oregon
University of Arizona
University of Michigan
UMass
Syracuse
Penn State

That's my wish list thus far.

As for the undergrad pedagogy class you mentioned -- sure, you can discuss it brieflly in the context of how it helped you develop as a writer, but I wouldn't mention the A you received in the class. For one thing, they'll be able to see it in your transcripts. For another, they really won't care. Not that your A wasn't hard-earned... I'm sure it was (congrats on that, by the way!), it's just that most of the MFA applicants will have done well in their undergrad writing courses, also. So it's not going to help you stand out or anything.

Besides, grades are really a minor issue when it comes to this kind of degree anyway. It's backwards from most other types of grad school programs, which look carefully at GPA and GRE scores to determine a candidate's potential.

Conversely, with an MFA panel the most weight, by far, is placed on the writing sample, followed by how well you come across in the statement of purpose, followed by the strength of your recommendations. Or so I've heard. (Someone feel free to jump in if I'm getting any of this wrong.) Grades and GRE scores are somewhere way on down the list -- if they're even looked at at all. They will usually only come into play once you've been accepted by the writing program and they pass your application on to the actual graduate school for approval.

Let me be the first here to wish you good luck! I can definitely identify with the whole "head is spinning" thing. I'm right there with you.

Any thoughts about where you might apply?

-Benny


(This post was edited by bennyprof on Aug 9, 2007, 12:31 AM)


Kadence


Aug 9, 2007, 12:33 AM

Post #82 of 454 (3139 views)
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     Re: [bennyprof] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

oh geez-- i would never have mentioned the grade, it was more like me poking you with my elbow and rolling my eyes slightly at the whole grading thang.

Um, my list is similar to yours, and every other hopeful.

Syracuse
Brown
Cornell
Amherst

Indiana
UVA
Minnesota
Michigan

it changes daily-- so we shall see. I just left the midwest (literally 10 days ago) after 6 long years, so i'm hoping to stay close to home...


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


bennyprof


Aug 9, 2007, 12:49 AM

Post #83 of 454 (3135 views)
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     Re: [Kadence] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

Hehe, sorry... it's tough to read facial expressions through the monitor. /Wink. I think I read the "ahem" wrong.

Anyway, looks like a good list to me. And yeah, I'm applying to quite a few of the top programs -- long shots, I'll admit -- along with 90% of the rest of this year's hopefuls. S'okay, though. You only live once, am I right?

I've heard Amherst mentioned quite a bit, but I don't know much about it. Good school, I'm assuming?

-Benny


Kadence


Aug 9, 2007, 1:10 AM

Post #84 of 454 (3128 views)
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     Re: [bennyprof] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

 
long shots, crap shoots, whatever... it's depressing if we spend too much time thinking about it...

yea, Amherst is the cream. Which UMass are you thinking of on your list? I thought UMass Amherst was the only [mostly] funded school in the system? if not, my list may be growing ;-)


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


bennyprof


Aug 9, 2007, 1:29 AM

Post #85 of 454 (3125 views)
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     Re: [Kadence] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

Haha, that's where I'd heard Amherst before -- attached to "UMass." Yeah, it's the same one. Still learning the full names of these places... most people just abreviate them and assume you know which school they're referring to. I still get the North Carolina programs mixed up -- there's Greensboro and another one, I think. Apparently they're both pretty good, but Greensboro has the better rep? Or maybe I've got them flipped. Dunno.


jacarty
Jessie Carty
e-mail user

Aug 9, 2007, 10:24 AM

Post #86 of 454 (3100 views)
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     Re: [Kadence] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

bennyprof has some good advise on your SOP :)

I would say that the best focus is on your writing sample first then SOP 2nd.
When I did my SOP I hand wrote several drafts before I got to a decent typed version.

I'd go for honesty. I structured mine around why I was actually applying for an MFA: I wanted to focus on writing/committment to myself, meet and develop a community of writers and I wanted to teach. I don't think you should include teaching if you aren't really interested in it. Focus on what you really want to get out of the program.

I used those three points to describe in like a sentence each my past experience with them and then my future hopes for them.

Hope this makes sense, basically I'm saying--as you probably know--writing sample most important but the SOP can give some of your personality. I think it took me about 2 weeks to finally get a good one complete.

Good luck! YOu have a great list going. I went low-res myself :)

--Jessie


http://jessiecarty.com


Kadence


Aug 9, 2007, 1:53 PM

Post #87 of 454 (3073 views)
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     Re: [jacarty] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

Thanks Jessie-- handwriting it--I'll have to give that a shot. I usually only hand write poetry, but that seems to work well, so maybe.

I am finished my sample, well.. I hate to use the word finished, because nothing is ever quite that. (i've basically eliminated 2 stories, and settled on just 1, and the revisions are almost there)

As far as teaching-- that is one of my main goals with the MFA, not that I'm overly excited to teach, but I enjoy studying the methods behind creating and changing workshops.

Hey is anyone else planning on attending the AWP conference in NY.. there are going to be some great CW pedagogy presentations!

thanks again jessie,
K


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


Kadence


Aug 9, 2007, 2:09 PM

Post #88 of 454 (3069 views)
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     Re: [bennyprof] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

UNCW better I think... that's University of North Carolina - Wilmington!
definitely worth checking out. Pretty good funding, I think like 50% of incomings get a TAship and... well, that's about all i know. Anyone else more about NC MFA's?


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


Zash
Zachary Ash

Aug 9, 2007, 3:42 PM

Post #89 of 454 (3057 views)
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     Re: [Kadence] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

UNC Wilmington, I've heard, is a terrific up-and-coming program, but the funding is less than average. At least that's what the various MFA blogs report. How about Montana? The location is dazzling, but has the school lost some of its cache? I rarely see it in the top ten anymore. As far as the writing sample goes, I too am thinking of submitting just one story, which I know is my best work and represents well my aesthetics and influences. But is this smart? Thinking about all the tactics and permutations ties me up in knots. All I want to do is write!


ptld


Aug 9, 2007, 5:44 PM

Post #90 of 454 (3038 views)
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     Re: [Zash] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

Amongst other reasons, I ended up turning down both Colorado State and Wilmington because of uncertain funding. I can say, however, that both schools were making big pushes to get more funding, and in both cases had I really committed, they probably would have come up with something. I'd say that both schools have really happy students and I'd encourage people to apply. You might catch a wave of funding, whereas with more established programs like Amherst, they might not be able to give as generously as they had in the past.


piratelizzy


Aug 9, 2007, 7:31 PM

Post #91 of 454 (3021 views)
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     Re: [Kadence] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

Just a heads-up that, as I remember from last year, quite a number of schools (Indiana comes to mind, but there were others) ask for a "Teaching Philosophy/Statement"-type thing in addition to the SOP. Last application season caught a number of hopefuls here (including me) off-guard on this requirement; and I seem to recall some mad, last-minute scrambling to crank out teaching statements.

Best of luck to all.


'sup?!


jacarty
Jessie Carty
e-mail user

Aug 10, 2007, 8:39 AM

Post #92 of 454 (2976 views)
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     Re: [Zash] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

I'm in NC. There are quite a few good MFA programs but they are all at state schools so none, that I know of, has any unbelieveable funding. That said. They are all in reasonably priced cities.

UNC Greensboro - one of the older programs. Inexpensive mid sized town. Close to Raleigh and Charlotte. There are
some TA and scholarships but not a lot.

UNC Wilmington - as noted up and coming. Heard it was 3 years? Nice coastal area.

NC State - In Raleigh. Select a small number of people and recently switched from MA to MFA. Raleigh is
a bit more expensive to live in than the others but near Chapel Hill and Durham (w/ Duke) so lots
of academic people.

Low Res Queens of Charlotte - My school. Lower of the two priced but newer program. I'm biases.

Warren Wilson - In the mountains. Well respected. Has at least one scholarship.


I think that is all of them in NC. Feel free to PM me. I did my undergrad at UNC - Greensboro.


http://jessiecarty.com


hamlet3145


Aug 10, 2007, 9:16 AM

Post #93 of 454 (2972 views)
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     Re: [Zash] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

Zash,

I'd be happy to answer any questions you have about Montana; just shoot me a PM or ask away in the Montana thread. We just got a new (full time) director and lots of stuff is in the works. Re: cache--two of the ten stories in this issue of McSweeneys are by current or recent students, a current student won the Atlantic's student fiction contest this year, and in that recent ranking article Delaney wrote that Montana students "are publishing in droves."

--Jason


Zash
Zachary Ash

Aug 10, 2007, 5:51 PM

Post #94 of 454 (2928 views)
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     Re: [Hamlet3145] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

Thanks, Jason. That's great news. Montana is definitely near the top of my wish-list.


MissEsquire



Aug 13, 2007, 11:02 AM

Post #95 of 454 (2837 views)
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     Re: [Zash] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

I'm applying to MFA programs for 2008, as well (many of the same ones as you, Benny). I didn't want to post here too much for fear of getting too anxious about the whole thing. My stomach tightens up the moment I start thinking about it! But I have had the chance to visit a few of the schools I'm applying to (including Iowa, which was actually the friendliest of the bunch and left me with a really good feeling, for all of you who are applying there). They say don't visit until you've been accepted, but that's how I ended up at an extremely clique-y, disappointing writing program in my undergrad.

What are your thoughts on Baltimore? If you were accepted to Johns Hopkins and somewhere else that didn't offer as much money but was in a safer area, which school would you attend? Basically, do you think the location is a fair compromise for the funding you'd recieve?

Best of luck, everyone. I'm sure we'll all be fretting together here for the greater part of a year.


bennyprof


Aug 13, 2007, 6:32 PM

Post #96 of 454 (2790 views)
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     Re: [MissEsquire] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  


In Reply To
I'm applying to MFA programs for 2008, as well (many of the same ones as you, Benny). I didn't want to post here too much for fear of getting too anxious about the whole thing. My stomach tightens up the moment I start thinking about it! But I have had the chance to visit a few of the schools I'm applying to (including Iowa, which was actually the friendliest of the bunch and left me with a really good feeling, for all of you who are applying there). They say don't visit until you've been accepted, but that's how I ended up at an extremely clique-y, disappointing writing program in my undergrad.

What are your thoughts on Baltimore? If you were accepted to Johns Hopkins and somewhere else that didn't offer as much money but was in a safer area, which school would you attend? Basically, do you think the location is a fair compromise for the funding you'd recieve?

Best of luck, everyone. I'm sure we'll all be fretting together here for the greater part of a year.



Thanks for your post, Miss E.; it's good to have a new voice on the thread.

That's great to hear about Iowa. I'm beginning to think that much of the negative press they receive might be unwarranted.

To answer your question about Johns Hopkins: safety isn't as much of an issue to me as it might be to others. I've lived in rough neighborhoods before -- in Brooklyn for awhile, (in Bedford Stuyvesant, a statistically violent area... where Do the Right Thing was filmed) and I never saw anything other than the occasional joint smoked on a front stoop. Then again, I'm a guy, and I wear my hair short, so a lot of the people living on my block assumed I was a cop and left me alone.

Is it something I'll take into consideration? Yeah. I mean, if I get into Iowa with partial funding and Johns Hopkins with full + stipend, I'll probably give serious thought to Iowa... but in that case, the size of the program would also be a factor -- out of preference, I'm kind of leaning toward larger programs right now. But to pass on Hopkins for a school with less funding, it'd have to be one of the top tiered schools. Then again, most of the top schools (Cornell, UC Irvine, Virginia, etc...) give full funding to everyone anyway, which renders that point sort of irrelevant.

Not sure if that answers your question.

If you don't mind me asking, what other schools did you visit, and what were your impressions of those programs?

-B


(This post was edited by bennyprof on Aug 13, 2007, 6:36 PM)


MissEsquire



Aug 14, 2007, 11:18 AM

Post #97 of 454 (2730 views)
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     Re: [bennyprof] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

So far the only other school I've visited is Madison, WI - which, at one point, I was extremely excited about. Of course, it's a very small program (six students per year, I think, in one genre). And it's got Lorrie Moore. Madison is a very progressive, hip town with a beautiful college campus and I loved the fact that many of the students there drove scooters (There were even scooter parking lots on campus. If I'd seen that when I was seventeen I would have insisted on going to Madison.), but the MFA program was, first of all, tucked away in the undergrad English department; I had to ask an undergrad writing student to show me where it was. None of the faculty, or the English secretary, were particularly receptive. I'm sure you'd get a good education at Madison, but I just got a weird vibe from the place. This may sound hippy-dippy, but I put a lot of stock in vibes. There's also a hefty amount of teaching involved. Three courses seems like indentured slavery to me when you're also expected to put in X number of writing hours per week. But, then again, doesn't Indiana require you to teach three courses? And people seem to love Indiana. I think there are a few Madison students on this board. They'd probably be able to explain the program in depth.

I'm going to Ithaca in the next few weeks (for reasons completely unrelated to writing programs) and will likely check out Cornell.

Re: living in dodgy neighbourhoods
You've definitely got the advantage, Benny, with your short hair and your being a man. My family is trying to convince me not to apply to Johns Hopkins at all. They think a tiny white woman would have a rough time of it in Baltimore. I've never been there, but it seems like there would be some sort of community among the people in the writing program.


mingram
Mike Ingram

Aug 14, 2007, 1:50 PM

Post #98 of 454 (2708 views)
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     Re: [MissEsquire] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

Three course does seem like kind of a lot, but it depends on what sorts of courses you're teaching. I assume, for instance, that it's three sections of the same course? In that case, you're still just doing the one preparation, so your work increase is based on how many additional students you're taking on (more papers to read). In that way, three courses isn't three times as much work as one course, and may only be slightly more work than 2.

On another note ... I do think one benefit of visiting places is to figure out how the MFA program fits within the larger English department. Because you don't want to feel looked-down upon, or like a second-class citizen. At Iowa, for instance, the Workshop is its own entity, completely divorced from the Eng dept., and because of its long history it's very well respected around the university. I get the sense, though, that this might really vary from program to program.


Kadence


Aug 14, 2007, 2:23 PM

Post #99 of 454 (2703 views)
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     Re: [MissEsquire] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

Hi MissEsquire,

I've been thinking about visiting some of the schools close to me in New England, and I was wondering how you went about it. did you email/call program directors, or faculty to set up times? Are schools traditionally receptive to this? I have heard it is not a great idea to visit before acceptance, is this bad info?

thanks, kadence.


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


bighark


Aug 14, 2007, 2:26 PM

Post #100 of 454 (2703 views)
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     Re: [MissEsquire] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

I am a Wisconsin waitlist reject from two years ago.

Although I didn't make the final cut, I have to say that Judith Mitchell, the program director at Wisconsin, is one of the most generous writers I've ever encountered.

I think they've got a special thing going on up there in Madison.


hamlet3145


Aug 14, 2007, 5:51 PM

Post #101 of 454 (3155 views)
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     Re: [Kadence] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

I know a Montana student who visited (sat in on a workshop even) before she was accepted and then did, indeed, get in. That said I can probably count the number of pre-admit visits on one hand since I've been here. (And I'm on the extended MFA plan). I think perhaps visiting before acceptance isn't all that widespread due to the unfortunate mathematics. I'd be surprised if any top 20 program has an acceptance rate much above 10%; hence, (in general) most programs would probably prefer to invest time in you once the 90% chance that you aren't going to matriculate is eliminated. This doesn't mean people aren't friendly and accomodating, but the above would probably be on their minds.

--Jason

P.S. When I'm speaking of a "visit" I mean something somewhat formal: appointments with faculty members, attending a class, going along with current students to some evening activity, etc.


HopperFu


Aug 14, 2007, 8:04 PM

Post #102 of 454 (3138 views)
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     Re: [Hamlet3145] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

Some schools have a policy of not allowing people to attend a class (particularly workshop, which is the most important one to visit) unless they have been admitted.


mingram
Mike Ingram

Aug 14, 2007, 9:16 PM

Post #103 of 454 (3127 views)
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     Re: [Hamlet3145] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  


In Reply To
I know a Montana student who visited (sat in on a workshop even) before she was accepted and then did, indeed, get in. That said I can probably count the number of pre-admit visits on one hand since I've been here. (And I'm on the extended MFA plan). I think perhaps visiting before acceptance isn't all that widespread due to the unfortunate mathematics. I'd be surprised if any top 20 program has an acceptance rate much above 10%; hence, (in general) most programs would probably prefer to invest time in you once the 90% chance that you aren't going to matriculate is eliminated. This doesn't mean people aren't friendly and accomodating, but the above would probably be on their minds.

--Jason

P.S. When I'm speaking of a "visit" I mean something somewhat formal: appointments with faculty members, attending a class, going along with current students to some evening activity, etc.


Well, Montana's not exactly a hop, skip and a jump from ... anywhere, really :)


hamlet3145


Aug 14, 2007, 9:52 PM

Post #104 of 454 (3120 views)
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     Re: [mingram] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

True, and don't get me started about how they've cut back dirigible dockings to once fortnightly. Once we lose the zeppelins, how far behind can the steamboat service be, I ask, usually in the direction our quorum of tribal elders.

It's disconcerting.


=)


MissEsquire



Aug 15, 2007, 12:18 PM

Post #105 of 454 (3068 views)
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     Re: [Kadence] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  


In Reply To
Hi MissEsquire,

I've been thinking about visiting some of the schools close to me in New England, and I was wondering how you went about it. did you email/call program directors, or faculty to set up times? Are schools traditionally receptive to this? I have heard it is not a great idea to visit before acceptance, is this bad info?

thanks, kadence.


I tried to phone either the program director or the secretary of the department after I was in town but before going there. Yeah, they do say don't visit beforehand, but it's sort of an interesting litmus test to see who makes the extra effort to make you want to apply to the program, and who doesn't. However, I do think that I'm perhaps not setting a good example, because if everyone tried to do what I did the programs might get a little testy. It is a good idea, though, to at least try to talk to the program director and get a sense of him/her. If the program director at Madison were available to talk to I might have got a completely different impression, because it sounds like she's a very nice woman.


bennyprof


Aug 15, 2007, 12:47 PM

Post #106 of 454 (3059 views)
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     Re: [MissEsquire] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

The humidity in Madison is brutal. Ranks up there with Houston and parts (or maybe all?) of Louisiana. Stayed there once, and the mosquitos, man, I swear they were on roids. Went through like four cans of deet.


MissEsquire



Aug 15, 2007, 12:48 PM

Post #107 of 454 (3058 views)
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     Re: [HopperFu] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  


In Reply To
Some schools have a policy of not allowing people to attend a class (particularly workshop, which is the most important one to visit) unless they have been admitted.


Rightly so. Who'd want a parade of strangers tromping through their workshop while they were trying to get work done?

Asking to sit in on a workshop before being accepted would seem a bit silly. I am not - at all - suggesting that anyone try this! But it's nice to know that Montana allows such things occasionally. That says to me that they're interested in their potential students. I guess what I just said is a little contradictory. Oh well.

By the way, HopperFu, do you find that Ithaca is mostly a student town? There sure are a lot of students there, according to the "Ithaca is Gorges" pamphlet...


jaywalke


Aug 15, 2007, 12:52 PM

Post #108 of 454 (3054 views)
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     Re: [bennyprof] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

RE: Madison


In Reply To
The
mosquitos, man, I swear they were on roids.


It's the state bird of Wisconsin.


HopperFu


Aug 15, 2007, 12:56 PM

Post #109 of 454 (3052 views)
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     Re: [MissEsquire] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

Ithaca is a student town if you want it to be. I have a wife and two daughters (5 and 3), so we kind of see both worlds. I spend time with some of my classmates, but we also have a number of friends who aren't affiliated with the University (or they are profs). Mostly, grad students tend to hang at different places than the undergrads, so it's not that big of a deal. I love Ithaca, but some people don't. The biggest knock is the weather - it's in the northeast, obviously.

As for visiting, I think your best bet is to try to talk to students. In general, they give you the straightest dope about a school. Someone might be the nicest person in the world, but if their school gets 750 applications for 25 slots (i.e., Iowa), they might not have the time to actually respond to every prospective student.
I think - ? - that most departmental secretaries will be happy to put you in contact with a few students prior to being accepted. Actually, I have no clue if that's true, but the one place I really did that with ahead of time was cool about it.
Either way, you'll get better info from students than faculty.

As for the workshop thing, as somebody who would be applying, I would have loved to sit in, but now that I'm in a program, I'd be seriously, seriously pissed if they let some random person - other than an accepted student - sit in.


adg4s


Aug 15, 2007, 1:04 PM

Post #110 of 454 (3047 views)
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     Re: [MissEsquire] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

Hi, I am entering an MFA program in the fall and visited a couple schools last spring after getting admissions offers.

My advice: don't bother visiting. This early in the application process, You should be considering programs more global factors (funding, reputation, faculty, class size, etc.). You should also ask some basic questions, "What part of the country do I want to live in? Small town, big town?" Stuff like that.

Once you get into the program, that's when you should be really fine tuning your criteria, visiting campus and gauging the mood of the department. Some of the posts I've been reading sounds like people are already asking themselves, "Is this program the right fit for me?" Shoot, if you like a program, or are vaguely interested in it, JUST APPLY. Then once you're accepted, you can agonize over "fit".

Personally, I don't think programs should be judged upon how welcoming they are to prospective applicants, being that 90% of the people who apply don't get in. It's almost, in a sense, like applying to a program because you like their website or that you saw their cool ad in the Atlantic Monthly. (Hey, I fell for it too. I applied to the Michener Center.)

I know the name of the thread is "Choosing an MFA Program" but right now, the most important thing every applicant should be doing is making sure their writing sample will showcase the best work they have ever produced. Hold your draft up to a page of your favorite author's latest book and ask yourself, "What do I need to do to approach this?" Even though almost all of us won't get published, the harsh reality is that once you leave your MFA program, you will be competing in a marketplace with many fine writers, even your favorite.


(This post was edited by adg4s on Aug 15, 2007, 1:06 PM)


purpleshrub
Heather

Aug 16, 2007, 6:00 AM

Post #111 of 454 (2979 views)
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     Re: [jaywalke] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

I think Madison is a great city, and if I was going in for fiction (rather than poetry) I would apply there in a heartbeat (although bear in mind that in my WI hometown we refer to Madison and Chicago as "down South").

Hi to everyone. I too have lurked for a bit and then decided to take the plunge, as I want to apply to programs this year as well. Like someone else whose name I can't recall at the moment, I'm currently living in China (there is less stress over my GRE score, and slightly more over registering to take the damn thing. Why won't my calls to Beijing go through?)

I'm especially interested in programs where I can explore a secondary emphasis (but the Michener Center is out-I *want* to teach), so I'm going cross-eyed looking at websites. I want to apply to some of these so-called "lesser known" schools, except... I don't know which ones they are. There's a problem.

Has anyone else looked into universities outside the States? Most of them offer MAs (although wouldn't it be cool to write in New Zealand for a few years?). Even though the funding situation wouldn't be great, I still get really excited whenever I read the UBC website (University of British Columbia).

That's it for now really... nice to be here.


MissEsquire



Aug 16, 2007, 1:06 PM

Post #112 of 454 (2943 views)
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     Re: [purpleshrub] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  


In Reply To
Has anyone else looked into universities outside the States? Most of them offer MAs (although wouldn't it be cool to write in New Zealand for a few years?). Even though the funding situation wouldn't be great, I still get really excited whenever I read the UBC website (University of British Columbia).

That's it for now really... nice to be here.


Hi Purpleshrub. Glad to see you here too. China...neat. Are you teaching there?

I grew up in Canada and know several people who have done their masters at UBC. It's a very well-respected program in the country because of exactly what you mentioned; it offers you the chance to explore multiple genres. They are also fairly specific in your having to have written within multiple genres to be accepted into the program. You're right, though: funding in Canada sucks. Especially if you're not Canadian. You might try going for a Fulbright for study in Canada - although that's probably really competetive.

I was looking at schools in the U.K. for a while, but cost of living is quite high there. Also, the programs all seemed to be one-year MSts, which was too short.


BlueVelveeta


Aug 16, 2007, 3:55 PM

Post #113 of 454 (2916 views)
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     Re: [MissEsquire] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

Hey, MissE. For what it's worth, I spent three years in Baltimore as a young, single, white chick. I lived (alone) in three different neighborhoods---Bolton Hill (hipster residential), the Inner Harbor (ritzy mini-urban), and Mount Vernon (artsy, queer-friendly, young)---and never had a problem. The Johns Hopkins campus is located in the Charles Village area, which is populated largely by students. It's affordable, decently safe, and fun. Overall, Baltimore has an old-school, almost small town atmosphere, and though the crime rate is indeed astronomical, the violent crime tends to be centralized in neighborhoods known for drug-trafficking (like, oh, all of West Baltimore). So, generally speaking, unless you're planning to supplement your stipend by selling smack, you'll probably make it through without a scratch.


seemingmeaning

e-mail user

Aug 16, 2007, 11:18 PM

Post #114 of 454 (2875 views)
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     Re: [MissEsquire] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

This is interesting, MissEsquire. Did you happen to get a chance to meet faculty members at UW-Madison's CW department? What other tidbits or noteworthy info did you find out about the program? Did you meet Lorrie Moore, too? I apologize for the excessive interrogation, but UW-Madison is so far my top choice (tied with Montana...Jason, that means I have questions for you!) and would like to know more about it. As far as the class roster/course selection for the upcoming semester, I don't see many courses offered by writers Kerchval, Moore, or Mitchell. I'm curious to know more about your little excursion to Madison!


piratelizzy


Aug 16, 2007, 11:33 PM

Post #115 of 454 (2872 views)
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     Re: [MissEsquire] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

I don't think there's anything in Baltimore that's likely to make it a lot more dangerous for tiny white women than for the rest of us. Hopefully that's a comfort to you.


'sup?!


aiyamei

e-mail user

Aug 17, 2007, 1:00 PM

Post #116 of 454 (2838 views)
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     Re: [motet] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

I'm an American who is interested in applying to creative writing degree programs in the U.K. (I live in Germany.) Unfortunately I have no idea where to start! Is there anyone out there who knows how to evaluate British programs, and knows which have the best reputation? How do they differ from American programs in terms of format and style, and what are the advantages and disadvantages?
Many thanks!


kiwikid


Aug 17, 2007, 3:28 PM

Post #117 of 454 (2814 views)
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     Re: [purpleshrub] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

Hi all,

I too am a lurker. I'm applying this year and things are going steadily. While the statement of purpose and writing samples will be fine, the thing that always gets me are those dratted application fees!

For information's sake, the schools that I am applying to (at the moment) are: Irvine, Iowa, Cornell, U Mass, U Mich, UBC (I know the funding is terrible but I love Vancouver and the colonial ties are appealing). I am going to apply to Brown, although I'm somewhat hesitant about the experimental leanings, although I've read various opinions to the contrary on these boards. Washington I may apply to but I'm still hesitant. It seems like a good program, although I haven't picked up a lot of enthusiasm from these boards. Am I wrong? I'd love to hear opinions.

Purpleshrub-I'm from New Zealand (I guess the username gives me away). If you would like any advice just let me know. The program at Vic in Wellington is outstanding-the best in NZ, fabulous faculty. It has a long tradition in the NZ literary scene. Wellington is an awesome city-I just can't say enough good things about it. The other factor in your favor is the exchange rate and the fact that NZ is, by most standards, a cheap place to live.

Auckland University has a Master of Creative Writing. It's a fairly new program but I'm sure it will be going off the strength of the faculty there and the success of the undergrad year-long program. During my undergrad I took Witi Ihimaera's creative writing class-he's great. An excellent facilitator and nurturer of writing. Auckland is a vibrant city too (my home town).

Those are my two cents. I'm looking forward to making this journey with you all!



MissEsquire



Aug 17, 2007, 7:20 PM

Post #118 of 454 (2776 views)
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     Re: [seemingmeaning] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  


In Reply To
This is interesting, MissEsquire. Did you happen to get a chance to meet faculty members at UW-Madison's CW department? What other tidbits or noteworthy info did you find out about the program? Did you meet Lorrie Moore, too? I apologize for the excessive interrogation, but UW-Madison is so far my top choice (tied with Montana...Jason, that means I have questions for you!) and would like to know more about it. As far as the class roster/course selection for the upcoming semester, I don't see many courses offered by writers Kerchval, Moore, or Mitchell. I'm curious to know more about your little excursion to Madison!


I didn't get to meet Lorrie Moore, unfortunately, and have no idea about their course listings for next year. They were not forthcoming with any information about the program, even on the level of giving me pamphlets and such. Was certain there is someone here who is actually going to Madison this fall (for poetry)...perhaps he/she would have some better insights.

Thanks for the info on Baltimore, BlueVelveeta. This will appease my family (?). They really do hand out sizeable chunks of money there at Johns Hopkins. A friend in a completely different discipline was offered full tuition and a ridiculous living stipend to study there.


ptld


Aug 17, 2007, 8:10 PM

Post #119 of 454 (2772 views)
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     Re: [MissEsquire] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

I'm not from Baltimore, so I'm willing to be corrected, but I think much of the talk surrounding JH's unsafe location is hype. Baltimore does have a bad reputation for a reason, but nobody talks about apprehension in regards to Washington U even though St. Louis is statistically America's most dangerous city. I have lived in Philly and New York and chose to attend Syracuse, all places without desirable reputations. The only place I have had any trouble was Corvallis, Oregon, one of America's top ten nicest cities according to some magazine poll, and chosen by Morgan Quitno as one of the tenth safest city in Ameria. I was beat up and mugged. I think no matter what city you are in, its a matter of knowing where to go, drawing a line on where you feel safe and being mindful of where you seem out of place. If JH is a dreamy school to you, I hope you don't pass it up. You can assuage your family with the hard numbers on falling crime in the area.


seemingmeaning

e-mail user

Aug 18, 2007, 12:03 AM

Post #120 of 454 (2745 views)
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     Re: [MissEsquire] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

Gosh, that's unfortunate to hear. And you would think programs would have open arms to prospective graduate students. Oh well.


__________



Aug 18, 2007, 6:20 AM

Post #121 of 454 (2730 views)
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     Re: [ptld] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

The only place I have had any trouble was Corvallis, Oregon.


Yes, but what was your sample size? One!

I'm taking statistics. Just sayin'.



six five four three two one 0 ->


ptld


Aug 18, 2007, 11:41 AM

Post #122 of 454 (2711 views)
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     Re: [Junior Maas] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

You're right to say that one person's experience doesn't say a lot about entire cities, except to say that people make quick judgments of a place as either dangerous or not dangerous and seem to behave accordingly. All I'm saying is that the prudence of the individual can do a lot to shelter a person, though not entirely since random violence is random. I think that the statistics of falling crime validate my assumption that a JH student can find a safe place to live and enjoy the city. Just like one person doesn't make a survey, just reading blanket statistics doesn't make a conclusion. To get a better idea of statistical safety, you would use income, education level, and housing location as dependent variables. I'm guessing that JH students come out looking relatively safe.


bighark


Aug 18, 2007, 1:24 PM

Post #123 of 454 (2698 views)
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     Re: [seemingmeaning] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

Frankly, I don't know what MissEsquire was expecting on her Madison trip. Showing up unannounced in the middle of the summer was supposed to get what? A backward-walking tour guide and a signed copy of Birds of America?

Some programs tolerate visitors. Some would reserve the welcome mat for admitted students only. Until you get your letters of acceptance in February and March, it's hard to judge a program on friendliness.


bighark


Aug 18, 2007, 2:07 PM

Post #124 of 454 (2685 views)
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     Re: [ptld] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

Every university in every town in every state in this country has a crime problem. Every student newspaper has a crime blotter, where every university security/police department publishes the details of the daily robberies, burglaries, and assaults.

Crime is not just limited to urban programs.


Clench Million
Charles

Aug 18, 2007, 2:33 PM

Post #125 of 454 (2682 views)
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     Re: [bighark] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

Well... this is both true and untrue. Yes, all universities have some amount of crime going on and all university papers have police blotters. Howver, there is a big difference from a crime blotter filled with talk of student pranks and people getting busted for marijuana usage and blotters filled with reports of rape, burglary and armed robbery.

Some areas and cities are far safer than others. This isn't a myth.

That said, I agree with the comment that to really judge risk you'd have to factor in location in the city. Most college campuses are pretty darn safe. Attending, say, Georgetown in north west DC and living near campus is going to be a lot different crime wise than attending a school in the south east and living away from campus.


vronsky


Aug 18, 2007, 8:42 PM

Post #126 of 454 (5022 views)
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     Re: [MissEsquire] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

I was accepted to Wisconsin & had a chance to interact with some of the people there. I haven't actually visited, though, and I chose to go to another school, so maybe this should be taken with a grain of salt. With that in mind: First off, everyone I talked with was extremely generous and kind, the program director especially. And the poetry faculty is really good -- Quan Barry was a big draw for me, for instance. And it seems like a very nurturing up-and-coming program -- I mean, the size could be a bad thing, but it could also mean that you'd get a lot of attention. There are lots of fine emerging writers in and around the program (I know at least two poets from Michigan who'll be in Madison for grad programs this fall -- one in the MFA and one in the Lit. PhD -- and the fellowship program draws a lot of good folks, too). Lots of fine established writers come there to give readings, too. Madison seems inexpensive and fun -- the large network of NASCO co-op housing really appealed to me.

I seem to recall that the MFA & grad school brochures from UW weren't particularly detailed...but UW's MFA website has tons of info. Also, it's probably one of the classiest looking MFA websites out there.


(This post was edited by maggiekate on Aug 18, 2007, 8:44 PM)


MissEsquire



Aug 19, 2007, 12:34 PM

Post #127 of 454 (4976 views)
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     Re: [bighark] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  


In Reply To
Frankly, I don't know what MissEsquire was expecting on her Madison trip. Showing up unannounced in the middle of the summer was supposed to get what? A backward-walking tour guide and a signed copy of Birds of America?

Some programs tolerate visitors. Some would reserve the welcome mat for admitted students only. Until you get your letters of acceptance in February and March, it's hard to judge a program on friendliness.


I didn't really know what I was expecting either (and didn't show up in the middle of the summer; rather, during the school year), but hoped to perhaps get some info on the program (ie. literature) since I was passing through, anyway. Obviously, I don't know any more about Madison's program than the next guy and wasn't expecting a grand welcome. But it would have been nice to have come away with a pamphlet.

It seems silly to me to view choosing a school like a courtship ritual out of a Jane Austen novel. If I'm in town, I'm not going to wait for my written invitation to see the campus of a school I'm considering or grab some more information on a program.


mingram
Mike Ingram

Aug 19, 2007, 12:35 PM

Post #128 of 454 (4976 views)
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     Re: [Clench Million] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  


In Reply To
Well... this is both true and untrue. Yes, all universities have some amount of crime going on and all university papers have police blotters. Howver, there is a big difference from a crime blotter filled with talk of student pranks and people getting busted for marijuana usage and blotters filled with reports of rape, burglary and armed robbery.

Some areas and cities are far safer than others. This isn't a myth.

That said, I agree with the comment that to really judge risk you'd have to factor in location in the city. Most college campuses are pretty darn safe. Attending, say, Georgetown in north west DC and living near campus is going to be a lot different crime wise than attending a school in the south east and living away from campus.


Yeah, having moved from University of Iowa to Temple (in Philly), I can tell you those are pretty dramatically different police blotters.


__________



Aug 19, 2007, 11:36 PM

Post #129 of 454 (4910 views)
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     Re: [mingram] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

Then there's the times when the campus is the dead center of the danger zone!

I encourage any Houston acceptees to visit first. Spend a day or two on campus. Bring a checklist. Were you injured during your robbery? How many times were you caught in the middle of a Vietnamese gang shootout? Did you have trouble firing back because they were only ten years old? If any of the answers trouble you, you might reconsider Plan B.



six five four three two one 0 ->


SaraBellum


Aug 20, 2007, 3:27 PM

Post #130 of 454 (4858 views)
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     Re: [Junior Maas] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

Also, did you find suddenly that you were actually on the set of a movie? If you answer 'yes' to that question, then disregard all previous answers.


---------





Shari85


Aug 21, 2007, 1:47 PM

Post #131 of 454 (4785 views)
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     Re: Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

I'm considering Columbia Chicago. After four years in the country (U of Illinois), I want to try life in the "big city". The boards don't give a ton of info on Columbia Chicago...any opinions?


bighark


Aug 21, 2007, 3:13 PM

Post #132 of 454 (4770 views)
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     Re: [Shari85] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

There are better ways to spend thirty thousand dollars than attending an MFA program that makes its students take classes with undergrads.

Columbia has a lot of growing up to do. I wouldn't recommend it.


(This post was edited by bighark on Aug 21, 2007, 3:30 PM)


rooblue


Aug 21, 2007, 3:27 PM

Post #133 of 454 (4764 views)
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     Re: [bighark] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

I agree with Bighark on this. The program seems so proud of its "unique" workshopping format, which to me (an MFA grad) just looks sort of ordinary and provincial. If you want to be in Chicago for your MFA try the Art Institute's program. Rosellen Brown, who's a fine writer and a lovely, lovely person, teaches there.


Clench Million
Charles

Aug 27, 2007, 1:40 PM

Post #134 of 454 (4625 views)
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     Re: [Shari85] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

I agree with the other posters. What I've heard about Columbia Chicago isn't very good. The faculty is pretty weak and I remember the director getting slack for ranting about other MFA programs not hiring faculty with books out and then getting appointed head of Chicago and quickly hiring teachers with no real publications. And classes with undergrads is just a no no.


drfleming


Sep 1, 2007, 8:48 AM

Post #135 of 454 (4481 views)
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     Re: [jlgwriter] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

I highly recommend UBC at Vancouver's low-res program. One of the big pluses is that you have to write in three genres, and it's a studio program - meaning, almost all of the work is creative writing workshops. The instructors are excellent in all genres. It's a challenging program, but you can still work full-time while pursuing the degree, and people attend from all over the world. (Last year, the translation class I took included someone from Japan, Toronto, and me (Austin)). I had attended an MFA program in the states prior to this program, and the UBC program has been so much better. I'm nearly done with the UBC program (just have to complete my thesis), and the idea that I once pursued a single-genre program seems impossible to me. The single-genre model seems limited to me now.


SoniaGirl


Sep 1, 2007, 9:05 PM

Post #136 of 454 (4433 views)
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     Re: [drfleming] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

Hello, been reading these posts for months now (so helpful!), but it's time to make application decisions and would love some advice/feedback. While I can move wherever I'm accepted (single, no kids), I'm 40 and the idea of starting over in a residential program is, well, intimidating. But at the same time the idea of taking such a risk is very exciting.

I've been considering, among others, Indiana, the Univ. of New Mexico, UC Irvine, and UBC (even though the idea of leaving the country makes me even more nervous). Has anyone on this board attended these programs? Any advice to share about the faculty/curriculum/townlife or university life esp. as it relates to surviving financially? The idea of adjusting to a stipend is something I can't quite wrap my mind around.


somag


Sep 4, 2007, 3:55 AM

Post #137 of 454 (4333 views)
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     Re: Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

Hi - I'm a very recent lurker; just last month or so, recently started researching the mfa question. at this point, i'm considering both low-res and traditional programs. it will take me a while to sift through the possibilities, but here are some opening questions:

Anyone have experience (or second hand info) on UNLV's program? I'm intrigued by their concept - world lit focus, etc., seems up my alley. But I don't know anything first or second hand about it yet...

Thoughts about programs that are better/worse for writers of color? Both in terms of faculty and student makeup, and terms of stylistic/aesthetic diversity and diversity of cultural frameworks for literature (what's presented, read, etc, and how).

thanks


__________



Sep 4, 2007, 2:25 PM

Post #138 of 454 (4288 views)
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     Re: [somag] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

Diversity is very important to Indiana, in terms of both the work they select, and the color and sexual orientation of their students. There are many takes on whether such a program is 'better' or 'worse' (i.e. does their diversity end simply with color, or does it extend to other areas, such as diversity of thought?).

It's tricky. Many schools have a diverse faculty, and their web sites all have the obligatory line or two about commitment to this and that. You never know. And you never know who'll make up your entering class.

My feeling (as a white guy semi-worried about diversity) is just to go with the faculty that feels right. For instance, Iowa doesn't sound like the most diverse place, but my favorite African American writer--heck, one of my favorite writers, period--is James Alan McPherson. He's there, and I figure I'd learn a lot from him, irrespective of web site diversity statements.


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Zash
Zachary Ash

Sep 5, 2007, 4:14 AM

Post #139 of 454 (4218 views)
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     Re: [somag] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

UC Riverside's MFA program, which is relatively new, claims to be the nation's most ethnically/racially diverse.


Clench Million
Charles

Sep 5, 2007, 1:40 PM

Post #140 of 454 (4182 views)
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     Re: [Junior Maas] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

Yeah, I don't want to rehash that argument, but I will say that in my experience such things tend to be particularly interested in demographic diversity that is obsessed with itself. Which is to say, programs that tout their diversity tend to not want poets who happen to be black or novelists who happen to be gay, but in poets that write about blackness and novelists who ponder the issues of homosexuality. Nothing wrong with that of course, but it seems to often result in a rather superficial diversity, especially given how many MFA students end up being middle/upper class from large liberal cities.

That said, if just demographic diversity by itself is important to you I think it would probably be a safe bet to look into larger programs in urban areas. Going to a larger school in Boston, New York or Chicago will probably get you a pretty diverse student body. At least in my experience.


wildflowerfever


Sep 5, 2007, 3:15 PM

Post #141 of 454 (4158 views)
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     Re: [Clench Million] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

It's important to point out that the fiction and poetry programs at Columbia College are entirely separate. The poetry program, while new, has pretty well respected faculty (and all have at least one book out). And the MFA poetry workshops are never offered to freshman. Neither are the poetics classes.


SoniaGirl


Sep 5, 2007, 9:09 PM

Post #142 of 454 (4125 views)
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     Re: [Junior Maas] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  


In Reply To
My feeling (as a white guy semi-worried about diversity) is just to go with the faculty that feels right. For instance, Iowa doesn't sound like the most diverse place, but my favorite African American writer--heck, one of my favorite writers, period--is James Alan McPherson. He's there, and I figure I'd learn a lot from him, irrespective of web site diversity statements.


I've been giving the importance of ethnic diversity a great deal of thought for several months now, as I attempt to determine where to apply. (I'm Puerto Rican, orig. from NY--very diverse. Now living in west Florida--not so much). And well, I've accepted that the comfort level I believed ethnic diversity would automatically confer may well be "fictional."

Not one of the writers I've worked with the past two years as I worked to get my late-in-life BA were latino or black or anything but white. But does that mean there wasn't a diversity of thought (like someone--Clench?--said). No it doesn't. My fellow students and writing partners were incredibly diverse in terms of life/writing experience and intellectual sensibility. But most importantly, they were invaluable in helping me craft better, stronger prose.

Yes, I would LOVE to work with someone like Sandra Cisneros (if the Macondo workshop ever opens up to the public please God!) but can I live with it if I can't? Yes. After thinking it through, yes, I can.

So to follow up on Junior Maas's comment, after months of angst, I'm focusing on programs that offer writing & lit class that are challenging, interesting and taught by instructors whose work I admire--and who I hope are also great teachers.


cellularsoup


Sep 6, 2007, 11:48 AM

Post #143 of 454 (4088 views)
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     Re: [motet] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

does anyone know what the finance situation is at sarah lawrence? the website is pretty vague about funding. any insights?


Clench Million
Charles

Sep 6, 2007, 1:11 PM

Post #144 of 454 (4072 views)
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     Re: [SoniaGirl] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

No no, that isn't what I said. In fact, you seem to be agreeing with me. I'm saying that merely looking at ethnic or sexual diversity is a pretty shallow way of looking at diversity. Getting 5 liberal 20 year olds from new york in a room, even if all from different ethnicities, will probably get you a less diverse group of people on a meaningful level than taking 5 black guys or five white guys of different ages from different parts of the country and different economic backgrounds.


hamlet3145


Sep 6, 2007, 2:45 PM

Post #145 of 454 (4054 views)
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     Re: [cellularsoup] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

I know one of our new students turned down Sarah Lawrence to come to Montana and that funding was a factor in that decision. I also vaguely recall reading or hearing that they don't actually have TAs as such? (Someone please correct me if I'm wrong).

And in other news, does anyone have/know of a list of the 10 oldest MFA programs? I know Iowa is the oldest, but there is article in today's newspaper HERE which lists Montana as 2nd oldest. This surprises me enough that I want to fact check.


Lyz
Lyz
e-mail user

Sep 6, 2007, 2:58 PM

Post #146 of 454 (4050 views)
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     Re: [motet] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

But what about MA programs? I live in Iowa and barring the Writer's Workshop, there is only UNI's MA in Creative Writing.

Since I can't move for a while (married, job, no $, house, etc.), I am also applying to low-res programs. But I am worried that if I don't get into Iowa or the other low-res programs and chose to go to UNI for the MA that it may have a negative effect on my goals (allow time to focus on craft, write, get published, teach, be a part of a creative literary community, become involved in lit mags).

UNI does publish the North American review and when I talked to them they seemed eager to let me be a staff member, but I was wondering if anyone had thoughts on this situation. Would you get and MA before an MFA? Why? Why not? Is it a waste of time? And, are there negative perceptions of UNI's MA program?


http://shopoftheheart.blogspot.com


Lyz
Lyz
e-mail user

Sep 6, 2007, 3:25 PM

Post #147 of 454 (4039 views)
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     Re: [Clench Million] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

Yikes. Should you really apply to 12 programs? I was thinking 6 or 7. One safety, one dream and the rest inbetweeners. Is that a bad strategy?


http://shopoftheheart.blogspot.com


Clench Million
Charles

Sep 6, 2007, 3:53 PM

Post #148 of 454 (4031 views)
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     Re: [Lyz] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  


In Reply To
Yikes. Should you really apply to 12 programs? I was thinking 6 or 7. One safety, one dream and the rest inbetweeners. Is that a bad strategy?


I'm not sure if that question is directed at me, but since you are quoting me I would say that my advice would certainly be to apply 12 great schools over 1 great, one "safety" and 6 inbetweeners.

For a school to truly be a safety school it would have to be a pretty weak program. Even the largest programs that are good will be taking 10% of applicants tops (maybe a bit more counting in people off the waiting list, but still) and in my personal opinion any program that would be taking such a higher percentage of students as to count as a safety is just not worth it.

I think one thing to keep in mind is that you only get one MFA experience. This will be 2-3 years of your life. It isn't worth going to a program with bad faculty and weak students over a good program just because you get a little more money or its a little closer to home. Extenuating circumstances might exist, but for most applicants I'd make a list of the best programs, then narrow it down (based on location, faculty you like, funding you think you need, etc.) to ~10 schools. At least for your first try.


It is hard to say if you really need 10 or 12 schools. Obviously some people get into 2/4 schools they apply to and others fail to get into any out of fifteen. There was a recent article (The Atlantic??) talking about how in the top programs apparently most people who get accepted go to the schools. Sometimes no one gets off the wait list. This seems to be evidence that the majority of schools have certain aesthetics they are going for and that even if you get into Johns Hopkins you might fail to get into UVA or Iowa. If you get into Syracuse you might fail to get into Columbia, UT-Austin or UCI. etc. This is why 10 or so schools is a good idea.


v1ctorya


Sep 6, 2007, 3:57 PM

Post #149 of 454 (4028 views)
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     Re: [cellularsoup] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  


In Reply To
does anyone know what the finance situation is at sarah lawrence? the website is pretty vague about funding. any insights?



They have a lot of money, they don't give it out (at least not to MFA students!)

Def. be careful what you wish for. I got into one of my top three last year, and once in, became one I wondered why I applied too.

Do your research!


hamlet3145


Sep 6, 2007, 3:59 PM

Post #150 of 454 (4028 views)
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     Re: [Lyz] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

Hi Lyz,

I was in the same situation as you when Iowa State still offered an M.A. in Creative Writing. (It has since been replaced with an M.F.A. in Environmental Writing). I had applied to MFA programs, got into a few, and on a whim I also applied to Iowa State due to their substantial Pearl Hogrefe fellowship which provides full funding for the 1st year and a TA for the second. I got it and went because of the great funding. For all intents and purposes it was an MFA. The structure and scope really wasn't all that different from what I'm doing at Montana now. I did a poetry thesis, took workshops, read submissions at Flyway, etc. So the $64,000 question then is: if I basically did an MFA at Iowa State, why bother with a real MFA at Montana? A couple of reasons. The "F" in MFA is fetishized to the point that it can have a major impact on your future job options. By and large MFA = terminal degree, even if, with the growing popularity of the C.W. Ph.d. programs that becomes debatable. Also, though ISU faired decently in that infamous US News Ranking from '97, Montana is just more of a "name brand" and that brings with it more options/connections. Finally, I just wanted to work on my writing more so when I got in it was a no brainer.

"(allow time to focus on craft, write, get published, teach, be a part of a creative literary community, become involved in lit mags). "

These things you mention can all be done with an M.A. at UNI with the caveat that you would likely have a much harder time getting a tenure track teaching position at a 4 year university. That said, for C.W. positions your publishing record tends to be the most important thing. If your goal is to be an adjunct at Kirkwood they aren't going to care much except that you have a master's degree. If you want to teach at the University of Iowa or Cornell College or Coe, you are likely better off with the MFA (again understanding how much publishing trumps everything). Getting to work on the North American Review is a pretty big selling point though. They are the oldest literary journal in the country and have even published Mark Twain. (And, if you can excuse the momentary & shameless self-promotion, myself in the next issue as well). Is getting an M.A./M.F.A. a waste of time? If you can afford it and don't have anything else pressing to do and use the time to your advantage, then absolutely not. But do I feel I needed to get both? Not at all.

--Jason

P.S. One very real benefit that my M.A. has provided me while pursuing an M.F.A. was the ability to hired on as an adjunct for teaching summer courses at the local community college. My peers with only B.A.s were just not eligible.


(This post was edited by Hamlet3145 on Sep 6, 2007, 4:07 PM)


Lyz
Lyz
e-mail user

Sep 6, 2007, 4:08 PM

Post #151 of 454 (3132 views)
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     Re: [Hamlet3145] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

Thank you for that WONDERFUL response. That was so helpful. That makes me feel a lot better about applying. I do have some time. No babies until I publish my first book is my motto and working on (or being in) the NAR is a fabulous opportunity. Congratulations on your success. What a phenomenal accomplishment!

I hate to ask such a snobby question, but does the fact that the MA comes from UNI have any impact on...anything? I haven't heard much about the program from those in the writing world. My husband an Iowa boy and an engineer is pretty down on UNI and says that the degree won't be worth the paper it's printed on, but my boss a marketing research manager for a company that works with Higher Ed, LOOOVES UNI.

The students I met at UNI left me feeling ambivalent. Some were awesome, some were everything I fear about being a writer (berets, angst, etc.). The faculty were the same.


http://shopoftheheart.blogspot.com


hamlet3145


Sep 6, 2007, 4:34 PM

Post #152 of 454 (3128 views)
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     Re: [Lyz] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

"I hate to ask such a snobby question, but does the fact that the MA comes from UNI have any impact on...anything?"

Well, what are your future goals? Are you doing this solely to be a writer? Or would you also like to be a university instructor as well? The truth is you do carry the weight of your program's name for better or worse. And while program reputation doesn't actually correlate to your personal ability, people are people and they make assumptions. Imagine, knowing nothing else, you had to choose between a lawyer from Harvard or Wacky Steve's School O' Law for example. Yes, that's who I'd pick too, but the W.S.S.O.L. lawyer may well be wonderful and the Harvard woman could be some coked out drug fiend. Fortunately, if you are successful in your writing then your accomplishments can quickly overshadow any "lesser" degree. One of the faculty at Iowa State (Deb Marquart) just won this year's PEN award for Creative Non-Fiction. She doesn't have an MFA, rather an M.L.A. from Moorhead State. (Is that a library science degree??). In any case, she is a successful, award winning writer and a great teacher who did not go to a “top” MFA program.

In my opinion, ability eventually wins out. An Iowa MFA might open a lot of doors, but if you can't produce you will become old news fast. And conversely, you can exceed a lesser known or even poorly thought of program through your personal accomplishments. (Extreme example: poet Lucile Clifton has taught at the college level for decades with only a B.A. from a S.U.N.Y.).


__________



Sep 6, 2007, 6:04 PM

Post #153 of 454 (3114 views)
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     Re: [Hamlet3145] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

Since you guys are being so helpful, I'll throw this question out again:

What benefit, if any, does the MFA confer to non-university teaching options, such as gigs with high schoolers, or perhaps a gig at that sweet Catholic girl's school with the gothic campus and happily repressed schoolmarms? More money? A hiring edge? Anything?

What do folks do when they realize Big State U's not just handing out tenure track positions?


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HopperFu


Sep 6, 2007, 6:57 PM

Post #154 of 454 (3105 views)
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     Re: [Junior Maas] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

Other than getting hired at a University, and MFA can help (a little) in getting the attention of an agent or editor. But not a lot. The writing's the thing....
As far as teaching at a high school, etc., you can argue that an MFA is a terminal degree, and hence, should be treated as comparable to a Ph.D. Don't know if that argument would fly, but it's worth a shot.


SoniaGirl


Sep 6, 2007, 9:05 PM

Post #155 of 454 (3087 views)
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     Re: [Clench Million] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  


In Reply To
No no, that isn't what I said. In fact, you seem to be agreeing with me. I'm saying that merely looking at ethnic or sexual diversity is a pretty shallow way of looking at diversity. Getting 5 liberal 20 year olds from new york in a room, even if all from different ethnicities, will probably get you a less diverse group of people on a meaningful level than taking 5 black guys or five white guys of different ages from different parts of the country and different economic backgrounds.


Hi Clench--sorry for the misunderstanding. I was agreeing with you, 100%.


kmbalch

e-mail user

Sep 9, 2007, 4:13 PM

Post #156 of 454 (2973 views)
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     Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

Anyone out there in the Southwest with good suggestions? I'm beginning to look at pursuing an MFA in 2008. Right now the University of New Mexico is my biggest target, since it's an hour drive, but I know it's competitive. I'm a little restricted in what I do (have to keep working), so low res programs might be another option. I'll be teaching community college classes where I work to help offset tuition for grad school, but it's time that I really need to maximize.


allysonkalea
Allyson

Sep 12, 2007, 12:11 PM

Post #157 of 454 (2850 views)
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     Re: [v1ctorya] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

 

In Reply To

In Reply To
does anyone know what the finance situation is at sarah lawrence? the website is pretty vague about funding. any insights?



They have a lot of money, they don't give it out (at least not to MFA students!)

Def. be careful what you wish for. I got into one of my top three last year, and once in, became one I wondered why I applied too.

Do your research!


Amen. Do the research, for sure. I got into two great programs last year and had to turn both of them down because I didn't want to go so heavily into debt. SL was one of them. Unless you're independently wealthy, I think funding has to be one of your top priorities.


SaraBellum


Sep 15, 2007, 12:47 PM

Post #158 of 454 (2746 views)
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     Re: [allysonkalea] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

I turned down Sarah Lawrence b/c of funding too. (And a few other reasons I guess...)

They offered no funding to me at first. (Just fed. loans) I pestered and pestered, and couldn't get any more funding. Then I started talking about deferring in July, and they said they "might have some extra money if a little funding might change my mind".

So, Sarah Lawrence is a great school but they could care less about helping you get there financially. And that's just not very nice.


---------





zebulon


Sep 15, 2007, 2:12 PM

Post #159 of 454 (2738 views)
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     Re: Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

This thread has been such a great help in my research of MFA programs. I just wrote a profile for Cornell's program here, I wanted to start doing more schools, and was curious if there were any programs that people had trouble finding information about that I could try to dig deeper into. I was planning on getting profiles of Iowa, FSU, Vancouver, Minnesota, Montana, Austin and Houston initially, as those were the programs I'm most interested in personally, but would love to add more that would help out other people in their search for the right MFA program.


bennyprof


Sep 15, 2007, 2:48 PM

Post #160 of 454 (2730 views)
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     Re: [zebulon] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  


In Reply To
This thread has been such a great help in my research of MFA programs. I just wrote a profile for Cornell's program here, I wanted to start doing more schools, and was curious if there were any programs that people had trouble finding information about that I could try to dig deeper into. I was planning on getting profiles of Iowa, FSU, Vancouver, Minnesota, Montana, Austin and Houston initially, as those were the programs I'm most interested in personally, but would love to add more that would help out other people in their search for the right MFA program.



Great read, zebulon. Thanks!

If you get a chance, you might add some of the specifics with regard to the application process, such as the due date to submit, writing sample page limit and app fee. Stuff like that.

Overall, outstanding resource. Can't wait to read more of them in the future!


sacounty


Sep 15, 2007, 6:40 PM

Post #161 of 454 (2705 views)
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     Re: [bennyprof] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

Hi

I'm new to this forum, but not the P & W. I'm also looking for MFA programs for 2008,
and was wondering if anyone has heard about San Francisco State's MFA program? Hard/easy to get into. I live in the northern California area, but I'm willing to relocate to other places.
Also, I take it that the low-residency MFA programs are more time-focused, meaning
they aren't designed like the traditional 2-3 year MFA programs like at U of Iowa, etc.
How successful have others been, per se, in finding creative writing jobs at colleges
or connections into being a professional novelist? Stanford doesn't have an MFA program; it has an MA program with a focus in creative writing.

Curious with questions, and I hope to some day like all of you aboard here to be able
make a living at what I/we love to do, which is writing.
Thanks for any replies.

Sacounty


sacounty


Sep 15, 2007, 6:47 PM

Post #162 of 454 (2703 views)
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     Re: [kmbalch] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

Hi Kmbalch,

I'm in the same boat--teaching English at a community college,and seraching for MFA 2008 programs that will help me financially. When I start my research here shortly, I will write back.
I saw that you wrote about the University of New Mexico; and I spent time at another
university near there finishing my MA in English, a long time ago, 1997. Can you share, however, more
about your discoveries with UNM's MFA program?

Many thanks,
Sacounty


Raignn



Sep 17, 2007, 5:16 PM

Post #163 of 454 (2601 views)
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     Re: [sacounty] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

I also have quick question. I'm applying to MFA's in the Midwest-ish region. I'm mostly interested in focusing on Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Illinois for personal reasons. Here's my list:
  • University of Pittsburgh
  • University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • University of Virginia
  • Indiana University
  • University of Michigan
  • Western Michigan
  • Ohio State (Maybe, I know virtually nothing about this program. Is it any good?)

Who am I missing? That list doesn't feel nearly long enough. I can't apply to Wisconsin because it's not a poetry year. Are there any other programs that I should be applying to? Please feel free to respond here or PM me. Any and all feedback/recommendations is much appreciated.


HopperFu


Sep 17, 2007, 6:28 PM

Post #164 of 454 (2588 views)
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     Re: [Raignn] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

In the Midwest?
University of Iowa
Washington University in St. Louis


Raignn



Sep 17, 2007, 7:29 PM

Post #165 of 454 (2571 views)
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     Re: [HopperFu] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

I forgot to mention Iowa isn't on my list for a reason. Not so interesting the hyper-competitiveness of it.

I hadn't considered Washington University, though. Thank you for responding! Anyone else care to weigh in?


HopperFu


Sep 17, 2007, 7:34 PM

Post #166 of 454 (2570 views)
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     Re: [Raignn] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

Wash U has good money, and the poets there are very well regarded.
What about Minnesota? I don't know anything about the poetry side.


edwriter



Sep 17, 2007, 9:34 PM

Post #167 of 454 (2552 views)
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     Re: [Raignn] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

Are you excluding low-residency programs? If not, there are a number of other possibilities.

Several additional residential programs come to mind, too. You should surf over to the guide at NewPages.com and check the listings by state.

Good luck.

Best,
Erika D.


Quiet Americans: Stories
http://www.erikadreifus.com



bighark


Sep 17, 2007, 10:42 PM

Post #168 of 454 (2544 views)
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     Re: [Raignn] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

You could probably add the University of Notre Dame and Purdue.


ddl


Sep 18, 2007, 6:35 AM

Post #169 of 454 (2514 views)
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     Re: [Raignn] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

Yes, Ohio State is good. Andrew Hudgins and Kathy Fagan are on the poetry faculty there, and they've just hired Henri Cole. They offer three years of full funding. Their students have gone on to publish books, win awards, and secure tenure-track teaching positions.

Another Ohio program you might look at is Bowling Green State University.


Raignn



Sep 18, 2007, 9:15 AM

Post #170 of 454 (2494 views)
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     Re: [bighark] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

Thank you so much everyone who sent me messages and responded. I appreciate it!

I did forget to mention Purdue wasn't on my list because I studied there in undergrad! I was very close with the graduate students my last couple years (one of my majors was creative writing) and it's a great program I highly recommend.


kevin82


Sep 18, 2007, 9:45 AM

Post #171 of 454 (2491 views)
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     Re: [Raignn] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

University of Pittsburgh is expensive and only funds one person.


selmalee


Sep 19, 2007, 11:01 AM

Post #172 of 454 (2400 views)
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     Re: [motet] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

Hi everyone,
I'm still trying to narrow down my list of schools. I live in New York City and plan to apply to most of the schools here, though I'm on the fence about the New School and Hunter. I think there's a separate thread about NYC schools, so I'll check that.

I'm also very curious about the UN Las Vegas program, particularly because of its study abroad component. A few people have posted questions about Vegas and so far no one has replied, so I'm trying again. I haven't been able to find much information about it other than the program website. I'd love to hear people's impressions of the program and/or its location.

thanks!

-S


Clench Million
Charles

Sep 19, 2007, 11:54 AM

Post #173 of 454 (2386 views)
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     Re: [smergalee] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

A lot of people I know up here believe that the New School is the Columbia's closet competition in the area. Great faculty. I'd certainly apply to it along with Columbia and NYU, if NYC is the place you want to be.


cellularsoup


Sep 19, 2007, 5:05 PM

Post #174 of 454 (2336 views)
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     Re: [motet] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

anyone have insights into the university of wyoming program?


mares


Sep 19, 2007, 7:09 PM

Post #175 of 454 (2318 views)
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     Re: [Raignn] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

i second ddl's recommendation to check out Bowling Green. Many people consider BG to be a pretty cool town. They offer full funding for two years, and a TA ship that I'm pretty sure is less demanding than many other assistantships out there. I was accepted there for poetry this fall, but decided not to go. I did talk to the program director and exchanged emails with a student or two, so if you want more info, PM me.


__________



Sep 19, 2007, 11:56 PM

Post #176 of 454 (5655 views)
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     Re: [Clench Million] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

One caveat about the New School, though: research the faculty. I'm sure it's a swell place, but I had to cross them off my list because they're very hostile towards certain modes of writing. Dale Peck, for example, is a little whiny bitch. Loathes anything fun and postmodern. Especially when it outsells his own little dry, whiny books.

Just saying.


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(This post was edited by Junior Maas on Sep 19, 2007, 11:58 PM)


Aubrie


Sep 20, 2007, 1:22 AM

Post #177 of 454 (5647 views)
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     Re: [Junior Maas] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

Just got out of a class with him and would beg to differ.
If anyone has Q's PM me. I'm happy to talk about The New School.


__________



Sep 20, 2007, 2:21 AM

Post #178 of 454 (5641 views)
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     Re: [Aubrie] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

Tell us here! I'd like to put the New School back on my list.

Surely you read Peck's incendiary piece awhile back, though -- I think it was in The Atlantic -- where he said Rick Moody's the worst writer of his generation, and pretty much anything excessive, realist or no, pretty much sucks? And then he whined about how much that stuff's published, as if the majority of MFA'ers weren't still writing Carver imitations? If I were writing in the vein of Moody, or say, a Vollmann or a Foster-Wallace, I'd be kind of hesitant to say, Here, Dale, judge this! I just might suck more than Moody!

I'm all for strong opinions when it comes to art. I just think it helps to be selective in your school search.

His book of essays aside, I'd still love some more info.


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(This post was edited by Junior Maas on Sep 20, 2007, 2:22 AM)


seemingmeaning

e-mail user

Sep 20, 2007, 3:17 AM

Post #179 of 454 (5636 views)
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     Re: [Junior Maas] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

Initially, I crossed off the New School as a possible MFA school. But, for some reason, despite their funding and such, they seem to have a stellar lineup of writers. A co-worker of mine is currently enrolled in the MFA program and is taking a course with Shelley Jackson this semester. According to him, it's an 'interesting' class as they're reading some pretty hefty material (i.e. tristam and shandy, naked lunch, invisible cities, to name a few). Either way, after months and months of research, I've selected 13 MFA schools:

1. UW-Madison
2. University of Florida
3. University of Montana
4. University of Minnesota
5. Cornell University
6. Florida State University
7. Syracuse University
8. Brooklyn College
9. Ohio State University
10. University of Alabama
11. University of Virginia
12. Purdue University

And, so far, I've been studying the GRE for weeks on end. The test is slated for Oct 13th, a date that will live in infamy. Maybe. Either way, I'm feeling very confident that I'll do well. I think I am talking in circles over here!


seemingmeaning

e-mail user

Sep 20, 2007, 3:18 AM

Post #180 of 454 (5635 views)
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     Re: [seemingmeaning] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

And it's 12 schools, not 13 :)


jaywalke


Sep 20, 2007, 9:55 AM

Post #181 of 454 (5618 views)
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     Re: [seemingmeaning] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  


In Reply To
And it's 12 schools, not 13 :)


See . . . that math review is helping already. :-]


Papierboi

e-mail user

Sep 20, 2007, 9:56 AM

Post #182 of 454 (5616 views)
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     Re: [mrshankly] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

My advice is simply this: Choose your program very, very carefully. Every MFA program operates with its own sets of rules and many have various strengths and weaknesses, so definitely use a checks and balances system.

More importantly than anything else, make sure you get in touch with current students at the program and ask them about their experiences and what to expect. Many programs post contact info for current students on their web sites so you can ask without going through the program's administrators.

I can give you a few things to ask about so that you can perhaps avoid some of the frustrations I've experienced:
  • Ask about the sense of community among writers in the program. This will probably be a lot more important than you expect by your second semester. Some programs are competitive, some encourage students to feed off of one another. One or the other situation may suit you better, based upon your personality.
  • Don't assume that your favorite writer will also be your favorite instructor. Ask specifically about the teaching styles and efficacy of the professors you expect to work with. To be blunt, some of the most accomplished writers are given golden seats within their programs inn order to attract students. Some of these writers show little interest in teaching and come off as self-appointed gurus who espouse wisdom but don't actually invest in their students.
  • Consider whether the name stature of the school is the most important thing for you. It may be, and that's all right as long as you accept what comes along with that. If you go to Iowa, UVA, etc., for example, you will inevitably get more attention from agents, publishers, lit mags, etc. A smaller program might be better if you'd like more nurturing and less competition, though. Just think about it.
  • If part of your interest in an MFA is gaining teaching experience and the programs you apply to don't offer this opportunity to all students, find out BEFORE you accept admission not only how many teaching assistantships are provided by your school, but how TAs are chosen. If you can't get a direct answer, this could be a warning sign of an inept/uninterested program administration, which could lead to many further frustrations with the program as you study.
  • Also make sure to ask current students in the program about the faculty's treatment of students. If the instructors are aloof or undepdendable, or if they seem impartial to students' work, this very likely indicates a problem with the program. The problem could be that inferior students are chosen for the program and therefore don't engage the instructors' attention, or it could be that the faculty have their heads in the clouds and have prioritized their writing, their personal lives, or something else over their students' needs. (While on campus and in office hours, you should be your professor's priorities. That's their job, and most MFA faculty are paid well to do their jobs.)

As a specific example of possible frustrations to look out for, here's my recent experience: I just began consulting on my thesis with my thesis director. The first week, the instructor was 40 minutes late to our meeting and spent five minutes with me to take my work. Because the professor was late, they cut our meeting short to five minutes in order to meet with another student for a half hour. The second week, the professor was 50 minutes late and gave encouraging words, but did not have the manuscript with them and, while everything was encouraging, no specific advice was given, leaving me to wonder whether the professor had even read my work. The professor told me that no specific feedback will be given at all this semester, other than telling me if I begin to take the plot in the wrong direction. This is not the one-on-one mentorship I was hoping for when working on a thesis novel, on which I had hoped to receive enough guidance to get the work in good enough shape to shop around within a year of graduation.

It is possible that this treatment is specific to me, however, so if you are concerned about making the most of your MFA studies, make sure you ask several students from every program to which you plan to apply so you can get a balanced perspective.

The bottom line: Realize before you jump into this major 2-3 year lifestyle change that this should be an investment and a commitment to your work, and that getting into any reputable program may not meet your specific needs or desires. If you are doing it for the degree, then that's fine, but if you are doing it to grow and mature as an author do not compromise. You will regret it.


Clench Million
Charles

Sep 20, 2007, 4:08 PM

Post #183 of 454 (5564 views)
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     Re: [Junior Maas] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

Yes, Dale Peck was a definite negative for me. Not only do I agree that his tastes are horribly narrow and his shtick terribly cliche, but he seems like a big hypocrite. He rails (correctly, perhaps) against the gushing book blurbs that new books get from their author friends. But then he reviews his friends books with absurdly gushing praise. I think he said that Jonathan Foer's debut was the greatest debut ever.

But I don't know how that would translate to his teaching abilities.


Clench Million
Charles

Sep 20, 2007, 4:30 PM

Post #184 of 454 (5557 views)
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     Re: [Papierboi] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

I've said this before, but I feel like it needs to be emphasized regularly. I agree with you totally. Some students don't seem to quite realize when they are applying that they are applying to their only MFA experience that will take up 2 to 3 years of their life. I personally think you should shoot for the stars with MFA programs. You don't want to go to a weak program that wasn't high on your list merely because it was closer to home or gave you a little bit more fellowship money, only to find your instructors are apathetic, your peer group is weak and your experience turns out to be a bad one.

I often see people on here saying they will go to whatever school gives them the most money, even if they get into better ones. Unless the money difference is a huge one, I'd go where you will get the best experience.

The only thing in your post I'd question is the idea that the best programs are necessarily more competitive. This seems like some idea spread by Iowas supposed competitiveness. I don't know if Iowa is competitive or not, but if it is I imagine that is mostly because the funding changes from year to year and you literally have to fight to get more funding. You get ranked by the faculty. That seems kind of like a bad environment. I'd want first years to be able to experiment and have beautiful failures instead of trying to appeal to their teachers as much as possible to get more funding.

But beyond that, I've never personally gotten the impression that the top programs are more competitive internally. In fact, it wouldn't surprise me if the opposite was true. At a top program most of the students are going to be good writers and maybe even most will be publishing while in the MFA. It is hard to be too haughty when everyone around you is good. However, in lower ranked programs the peer group as a whole won't be as strong and the chances of two or three students becoming the "darlings" of their professors and acting like big fish in a little pond might be common.


pongo
Buy this book!

e-mail user

Sep 20, 2007, 5:33 PM

Post #185 of 454 (5549 views)
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     Re: [Clench Million] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

I haven't seen it mentioned here, and I only mention it out of loyalty (since Vanderbilt pays my salary), but it's new and possibly not on a lot of the lists yet, and with Mark Jarman heading the MFA program the poetry aspect might be pretty damn good, so you might consider Vanderbilt.


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/


Scrat1


Sep 21, 2007, 8:42 PM

Post #186 of 454 (5452 views)
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     Re: [pongo] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

Anybody know anything about University of Memphis? I would love to move to memphis and also love Richard Bausch's work, but I don't know much more than it is in Memphis and Bausch teaches there. Anybody studying there now?


rpc
ryan call

Sep 21, 2007, 10:24 PM

Post #187 of 454 (5440 views)
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     Re: [Scrat1] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

im not studying there, so i dont know anything about the program, but i went to undergrad at rhodes college in memphis for four years before heading up to mason (incidentally, the year bausch left for memphis)

so if you have any questions about the city, let me know; id be happy to help that way

otherwise, good luck


<HTMLGIANT>


GDClark
George David Clark
e-mail user

Sep 22, 2007, 9:12 PM

Post #188 of 454 (5377 views)
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     Re: [rpc] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

Rumor has it Bausch is headed elsewhere after this year.


bennyprof


Sep 24, 2007, 9:15 PM

Post #189 of 454 (5271 views)
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     Re: [GDClark] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

Quick question: Is there any advantage to applying earlier rather than later? The first deadline for the schools I'm applying to falls on December 15th. With that in mind, I've decided to send off all of my applications on or around December 1st. Would I gain any edge whatsoever by sending my packets off a month or so earlier than that?

(I suspect the answer is no, but thought I'd make sure.)


GDClark
George David Clark
e-mail user

Sep 24, 2007, 10:15 PM

Post #190 of 454 (5254 views)
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     Re: [bennyprof] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

An early application will only improve your chances at a school with rolling admissions (Arkansas is the only one I know of). Some places won't even start reading manuscripts until March.


Scrat1


Sep 24, 2007, 11:39 PM

Post #191 of 454 (5243 views)
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     Re: [GDClark] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  


In Reply To
Rumor has it Bausch is headed elsewhere after this year.


Well that is too bad. Where'd you hear this? Also, aren't you at UVA for poetry? I'll be applying there for fiction for fall 2008. How's your experience been so far? (Disregard if I'm thinking of the wrong person.)


__________



Sep 25, 2007, 4:13 AM

Post #192 of 454 (5225 views)
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     Re: [GDClark] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

I'm sort of wondering this too. My psych buddies who love to drop the psych lingo always talk about the 'Mere Ownership' effect; which, in terms of the MFA game, means readers would value that good, earlier story over a later story of equal skill--simply because they've lived with it a little while.

Is this sort of what you were thinking in terms of Arkansas? Are there other schools known to read work early (even if they don't have rolling admissions)?


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(This post was edited by Junior Maas on Sep 25, 2007, 10:31 AM)


HopperFu


Sep 25, 2007, 7:42 AM

Post #193 of 454 (5217 views)
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     Re: [Junior Maas] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

I've been told by a couple of profs that most schools don't even start reading until after the deadline has passed (unless they have rolling admissions). They probably aren't even aware of when applications come in - an administrator most likely handles that.
The benefit of sending your stuff in two or three weeks early is that it gives you a chance to fix it if there is a problem (i.e., you forget to send your transcripts or one of your letter writers flakes out), and if you track your mail you can also make sure it gets there.
If it's done, send it in, but if you think you can make it better in the extra few weeks, you're better off working on it more. Which is probably one of those things I write that is going to get a lot of 'duh' comments.


MissEsquire



Sep 25, 2007, 9:00 PM

Post #194 of 454 (5140 views)
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     Bard...? [In reply to]  

Has anyone noticed that there's an MFA program at Bard College? It's very "mixed media" and interdisciplinary. It has an odd faculty and seems more like a residency than an MFA program. Anyone know anything about it?


dclark8


Sep 28, 2007, 9:33 AM

Post #195 of 454 (4951 views)
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     Vanderbilt & Memphis MFA programs [In reply to]  

Can anyone out there give me some info regarding the quality of the MFA programs at Vanderbilt and Memphis? (the MFA message board doesn't seem active here.) I know Memphis has Richard Bausch teaching now, which is a big plus. Any other insight on them? Vanderbilt I know less about. Seems like a maybe a newer program--I haven't spotted it on any of the rankings but I know it's a great school overall. I'd love to hear more about their teachers, especially in Fiction. I read a little about Tony Earley, and he seems pretty reputable. Any help is greatly appreciated!


HopperFu


Sep 28, 2007, 9:56 AM

Post #196 of 454 (4948 views)
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     Re: [dclark8] Vanderbilt & Memphis MFA programs [In reply to]  

Hi,
I don't know a ton about these programs, though I did hear Tony Early read, and he seems like an interesting guy. Jim The Boy is a good book.
You might have more luck posting about this in the MFA forum.


dclark8


Sep 28, 2007, 10:31 AM

Post #197 of 454 (4944 views)
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     Re: [HopperFu] Vanderbilt & Memphis MFA programs [In reply to]  


In Reply To
Hi,
I don't know a ton about these programs, though I did hear Tony Early read, and he seems like an interesting guy. Jim The Boy is a good book.
You might have more luck posting about this in the MFA forum.



Thanks for the good word on Tony Early--he does sound interesting from what little I've heard. I'm going to give the MFA message another try here. It wouldn't let me post earlier, for whatever reason.


pongo
Buy this book!

e-mail user

Sep 28, 2007, 2:22 PM

Post #198 of 454 (4935 views)
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     Re: [dclark8] Vanderbilt & Memphis MFA programs [In reply to]  

Make sure you're not trying to post in the archived MFA section, but in the current one.

I teach at Vanderbilt (not in the MFA program, though), and have encountered a few of the MFA students. They seem pretty happy to be here.

It may just be local pride, and I have no personal experience of Memphis, but I understand that Nashville is a much nicer place to live. Slight edge to Memphis for barbecue, but for music other than the blues, and other cultural life, Nashville is better. (Tonight I'm going to hear Salman Rushdie speak; if I didn't have a 3:00 class, I might have gotten into the small meet-and-greet with him.)


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/


dclark8


Sep 28, 2007, 4:26 PM

Post #199 of 454 (4929 views)
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     Re: [pongo] Vanderbilt & Memphis MFA programs [In reply to]  


In Reply To
Make sure you're not trying to post in the archived MFA section, but in the current one.

I teach at Vanderbilt (not in the MFA program, though), and have encountered a few of the MFA students. They seem pretty happy to be here.

It may just be local pride, and I have no personal experience of Memphis, but I understand that Nashville is a much nicer place to live. Slight edge to Memphis for barbecue, but for music other than the blues, and other cultural life, Nashville is better. (Tonight I'm going to hear Salman Rushdie speak; if I didn't have a 3:00 class, I might have gotten into the small meet-and-greet with him.)



Thanks pongo. My wife has some family in Nashville, so I might have to get over there and have a look around!


Scrat1


Sep 29, 2007, 6:53 PM

Post #200 of 454 (4910 views)
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     Re: [dclark8] Vanderbilt & Memphis MFA programs [In reply to]  

Im interested in both programs as well so any info for this thread is appreciated.


kiwikid


Oct 1, 2007, 1:39 AM

Post #201 of 454 (2799 views)
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     NYU Fiction [In reply to]  

Hi all,

I'm deliberating about NYU and I need some advice, please! I've scoured the boards, done google searches, and I'm still none the wiser. I want to apply for fiction, but it seems that it's more poetry heavy. Is this the case?

Gracias!


lmbuckton


Oct 2, 2007, 9:38 PM

Post #202 of 454 (2702 views)
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     Re: [MissEsquire] Bard...? [In reply to]  

Bard has a really great program if it's what you're looking for...but you have to be a very particular kind of writer to meld with their program. Their semester consists of a two month intensive period where you meet one on one with faculty from all genres (including those outside of writing, i.e. studio art, pottery, etc-hence the interdisciplinary aspect). BUT-you then have a ten month period of "independent study" during which you are not in contact with faculty. As far as I know they don't offer funding...though Anne Lauterbach is there which is great! I actually visited (& interviewed) the campus if you have any more questions I'd be happy to talk more...


lmbuckton


Oct 2, 2007, 9:50 PM

Post #203 of 454 (2697 views)
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     Post deleted by lmbuckton [In reply to]

 


MissEsquire



Oct 2, 2007, 10:46 PM

Post #204 of 454 (2686 views)
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     Re: [lmbuckton] Bard...? [In reply to]  


In Reply To
Bard has a really great program if it's what you're looking for...but you have to be a very particular kind of writer to meld with their program. Their semester consists of a two month intensive period where you meet one on one with faculty from all genres (including those outside of writing, i.e. studio art, pottery, etc-hence the interdisciplinary aspect). BUT-you then have a ten month period of "independent study" during which you are not in contact with faculty. As far as I know they don't offer funding...though Anne Lauterbach is there which is great! I actually visited (& interviewed) the campus if you have any more questions I'd be happy to talk more...


Thanks for the offer. I used to live in Dutchess County and was interested because Bard is a place I've spent a lot of time at as a non-student. I also know a fellow who's on the faculty, and am a bit surprised that he's teaching, to be honest. I don't think the independent work structure of the course would be good for me, but it's an interesting idea. Almost more of a visual arts model. Why did you end up not going to Bard?


MissEsquire



Oct 2, 2007, 10:53 PM

Post #205 of 454 (2685 views)
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     Re: [lmbuckton] Bard...? [In reply to]  

P.S., Out of curiosity, what program are you in right now and why don't you like it? Of course, you don't have to answer that if it would somehow be incriminating. I'm applying to programs this year and am just snoopy.


lmbuckton


Oct 2, 2007, 11:12 PM

Post #206 of 454 (2683 views)
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     Post deleted by lmbuckton [In reply to]

 


jacarty
Jessie Carty
e-mail user

Oct 3, 2007, 8:48 AM

Post #207 of 454 (2644 views)
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     Re: [lmbuckton] Bard...? [In reply to]  

i don't know of any secret rules about applying to other programs but i have heard of people transferring to other programs. my suggestion would be if you are not far into your program that you contact the schools you are interested in and ask what their policy is.

good luck to you. what a frustrating situation to be in!


http://jessiecarty.com


MissEsquire



Oct 3, 2007, 9:14 AM

Post #208 of 454 (2640 views)
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     Re: [lmbuckton] Bard...? [In reply to]  


In Reply To
What genre are you and where are you thinking of applying?


Fiction here. The list is (deep breath): Cornell, UVA, Iowa, Brooklyn College, Johns Hopkins, Michigan, Pitt, Syracuse, Sarah Lawrence.

I've heard of people transferring programs, as well. It might be easier if you were transferring into a three-year MFA (?) This sounds like something you need to talk to a department head in detail about.


lmbuckton


Oct 3, 2007, 9:53 AM

Post #209 of 454 (2633 views)
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     Post deleted by lmbuckton [In reply to]

 


jacarty
Jessie Carty
e-mail user

Oct 3, 2007, 12:33 PM

Post #210 of 454 (2609 views)
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     Re: [lmbuckton] Bard...? [In reply to]  

I'm in poetry and I know at least one person in our program that transferred out to go to a more bilingual program for example and I have heard there are people who transferred in but I don't know who they are.

I think the best bet is to just call the programs you are interested in and explain you wanted to look into a different program and wanted to know if that was possible with their program. If you really aren't concerned about credits then it will probably be even easier.


http://jessiecarty.com


__________



Oct 3, 2007, 3:51 PM

Post #211 of 454 (2582 views)
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     Re: [jacarty] Bard...? [In reply to]  


In Reply To
I don't know of any secret rules about applying to other programs...


Some schools (I don't know how many) don't accept applicants previously enrolled in an MFA. The one that scares me is University of Texas. Their web site's a little hazy, but it looks like even an MA could take you out of the running.


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zebulon


Oct 3, 2007, 11:43 PM

Post #212 of 454 (2529 views)
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     List of schools so far... [In reply to]  

Hey guys, I'm working on getting together a sort of 'big' list of preferable programs to apply to (or, to research until I find something to rule them out, or prioritize them). Funding is unfortunately very pivotal. After that, hands-on editing/publishing opportunity is a big plus, then teaching opportunities and being highly focused on writing. So far I'm thinking:

Cornell
Houston
Iowa (I know funding isn't the best, but come on, it's Iowa)
Montana
FSU
Emerson
Minnesota (anyone know about their funding?)
Warren Wilson
Vancouver
Austin

Anybody have some other suggestions? Avoiding swamps and desert is nice, but I'm willing to go there for a good program.


ptld


Oct 4, 2007, 12:19 AM

Post #213 of 454 (2522 views)
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     Re: [zebulon] List of schools so far... [In reply to]  

I don't think I could be more happy with the program here at Syracuse. Everyone is fully funded. Based on funding I was also really high on: Michigan, Indiana, and Florida. Hope that's at least a starter.


zebulon


Oct 4, 2007, 1:08 AM

Post #214 of 454 (2514 views)
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     Re: [ptld] List of schools so far... [In reply to]  

How many students are accepted there each year? And, this is a long shot, but do you know about how many people generally apply? I don't really know much about the program, but so far it sounds good. Do they offer any cool classes for electives?


seemingmeaning

e-mail user

Oct 4, 2007, 1:50 AM

Post #215 of 454 (2509 views)
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     Re: [zebulon] List of schools so far... [In reply to]  

Zebulon:

ptld is certainly right with picking UF as a possible choice. I checked out UF's MFA program based on a recommendation from a writer I recently booked at my bookstore. And, man, UF has such an impressive program and--I imagine--it will one day be considered as a up-and-coming program. Considering I am a former Florida resident, UF is ranked #2 (behind UW-Madison) as my top school selections. I'm not sure what the funding program is like but, according to a friend who recently graduated from Brown's MFA program, she states that UF's funding is quite strong. The two paragraphs listed below are UF's mission statement for prospective MFA students:


Our aim is to cultivate good writers. When we are successful, you leave here capable of writing a better poem or story or novel than you might have written had you not come here. If we effect this bettering, we do so by admitting that the question “Can writing be taught?” is best answered “Yes and No.” Aspects of it can be taught, other aspects cannot.
A good writing program replaces the counseling that once obtained privately between writers. Hemingway denigrated the idea of writing schools, but he had in Gertrude Stein and Ezra Pound arguably the two best teaching editors in Western letters. Faulkner sought out Sherwood Anderson, Robert Lowell spent a summer with Allen Tate, and we have Famous Pairs: Coleridge and Wordsworth, Melville and Hawthorne, Eliot and Pound, Joyce and Beckett. The writing program is the modern equivalent of this kind of collaboration. But a good program also serves to connect its students to the world of publishing, something we work at informally and also through our annual Visiting Editors weekend...
Now that's what I call a "welcoming" note for future MFAers.


boody


Oct 4, 2007, 1:04 PM

Post #216 of 454 (2471 views)
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     Re: [seemingmeaning] List of schools so far... [In reply to]  

I liked UF (and faculty) a lot, they all seem terrific. The problem I had was though the funding is pretty generous, you really have to hustle for your supper. I'm talking 2-3 tech-writing (business letter, resume, etc) classes to teach per year. One kid I talked to there said (in APRIL) that he hadn't really had a chance to write so far. But I understand G-ville is nice and affordable.


zebulon


Oct 4, 2007, 9:07 PM

Post #217 of 454 (2413 views)
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     Re: [seemingmeaning] List of schools so far... [In reply to]  

Just out of curiosity, what are you mainly guiding your choices by? Like, I put Cornell at the top of my list for a combination of things, including just a feeling that I'd like it, haha, Epoch is definitely a plus, and I'm sure the Madison Review is a plus for Wisc-Madison, but do they have anything that's really cool? I don't really know much about it, but it is awfully close to home, compared with New York and Oregon.


seemingmeaning

e-mail user

Oct 4, 2007, 10:03 PM

Post #218 of 454 (2404 views)
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     Re: [zebulon] List of schools so far... [In reply to]  

For me, my school selections are driven by a multitude of choices: location, attrition rate, strength of faculty, teaching opportunities, alumni connections, etc. Out of the 11 schools, close to half of the schools are located in the midwest. Why, well, partly because I've never lived in the midwest and, importantly, want to gain new experiences than places I've previously lived (i.e. New York City--twice, Florida--various times, and Louisiana--twice). My reasoning for picking UW-Madison as my top choice is for threefold: Lorrie Moore, UW's alumni (notably, Joyce Carol Oates, Wallace Stegner, and Eudora Welty--writing styles I've always enjoyed), and hearing--on several accounts--that Madison is becoming to be the next Austin (as in Austin, Texas). Despite the website's lack of information, I get the impression or feeling (nods to you) that the creative writing department at UW-Madison seems really laid-back and non-competitive. Getting a MFA program from any institution (whether it be Iowa or Temple) is what you make of it. Then again, I might be wrong. :)


In Reply To
Just out of curiosity, what are you mainly guiding your choices by? Like, I put Cornell at the top of my list for a combination of things, including just a feeling that I'd like it, haha, Epoch is definitely a plus, and I'm sure the Madison Review is a plus for Wisc-Madison, but do they have anything that's really cool? I don't really know much about it, but it is awfully close to home, compared with New York and Oregon.



aiyamei

e-mail user

Oct 5, 2007, 8:29 AM

Post #219 of 454 (2362 views)
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     Re: [seemingmeaning] List of schools so far... [In reply to]  

Not to split hairs, but did any of those alumni actually attend the creative writing program? I just read a biography of Joyce Carol Oates and it makes clear that she went there only for a masters in English, and she was deeply disappointed in it. After having had an intellectually stimulating and exciting time at Syracuse as an undergrad, it was an enormous let-down for her.
I know that Stegner was himself the founder of the creative writing program, so he's hardly an alumnus of it either.
I'm really not trying to be negative about the program -- all of this is so long ago it doesn't matter, but I do think that in general, schools are too quick to claim writers as notable alumni -- essentially it's irresponsible name-dropping.


ecphraticknolls


Oct 7, 2007, 1:11 AM

Post #220 of 454 (2338 views)
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     Re: [zebulon] List of schools so far... [In reply to]  

I’m a first year poet at Colorado State—I just want to put a plug in for the program. I’m not so sure about the rankings, since I’ve heard plenty of horror stories coming out of Iowa and such. CSU has been so welcoming and enjoyable.

Since coming to Colorado I feel that the program is rigorous is the most positive and productive way. It is a community of writers, serious writers. We have a wide range of poets; from lyrical to narrative to language to cross-medium to philosophical to experimental and so on. And we’re all working to improve each other.

Plus, we now have Dan Beachy-Quick. Hell yeah.

I've heard nothing but good things from the fiction department, too. Plus there are plenty of opportunities to study cross genre if you so desire.


seemingmeaning

e-mail user

Oct 7, 2007, 2:03 AM

Post #221 of 454 (2333 views)
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     Re: [aiyamei] List of schools so far... [In reply to]  

I was aware that JCO attended UW-Madison for her masters in English, and not the MFA (obviously considering the MFA program was recently introduced or started in 2002). But I had no idea that JCO did not find the program to be as intellectually stimulating (she does eavesdrop on her Syracuse experience from time to time--particularly, in her novels). Wallace Stegner did teach and founded the program, but never actually attended UW-Madison (Stegner attended Iowa for his MFA). I'll admit, it is partly the university's fault to name drop on such names; but it certainly made a difference in picking schools, that's for sure.




seemingmeaning

e-mail user

Oct 7, 2007, 2:17 AM

Post #222 of 454 (2332 views)
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     Re: [seemingmeaning] List of schools so far... [In reply to]  

Oh...Eudora Welty did attend UW-Madison's MA program, too.


__________



Oct 7, 2007, 2:54 PM

Post #223 of 454 (2301 views)
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     Re: [seemingmeaning] List of schools so far... [In reply to]  

Any other novelists schools name drop, but who hated their programs?

I know one: David Foster Wallace. I was stoked about applying to Arizona, 'till I read this essay where he said it was a huge waste of time. Teachers going on and on about realism and proper syntax and so forth, lambasting the stories that made up his first, highly acclaimed collection.


six five four three two one 0 ->


bennyprof


Oct 7, 2007, 3:12 PM

Post #224 of 454 (2294 views)
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     Re: [Junior Maas] List of schools so far... [In reply to]  


In Reply To
Any other novelists schools name drop, but who hated their programs?

I know one: David Foster Wallace. I was stoked about applying to Arizona, 'till I read this essay where he said it was a huge waste of time. Teachers going on and on about realism and proper syntax and so forth, lambasting the stories that made up his first, highly acclaimed collection.



Meh, I wouldn't be so quick to scratch it off your list. He got his MFA there, what... around twenty years ago? There's a good chance it's not the same program today. Not to mention the fact that we're talking about DFW here. It doesn't seem all that improbable that one or two of the teachers he had along the way felt a tinge of jealousy toward his singular talent. I suspect he might've run into the same sort of thing, to varying degrees, at almost any other program had he chosen differently.


hamholio


Oct 7, 2007, 4:18 PM

Post #225 of 454 (2282 views)
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     Re: [boody] List of schools so far... [In reply to]  


Quote
I liked UF (and faculty) a lot, they all seem terrific. The problem I had was though the funding is pretty generous, you really have to hustle for your supper. I'm talking 2-3 tech-writing (business letter, resume, etc) classes to teach per year. One kid I talked to there said (in APRIL) that he hadn't really had a chance to write so far.


I'm at UF now -- 2-3 tech writing classes a year is 1 course each semester and 1 summer course. 2nd year students teach creative writing/comp. So far, I've been writing all week. . . perhaps whoever you talked to hadn't learned how to prioritize his time!


seemingmeaning

e-mail user

Oct 7, 2007, 4:28 PM

Post #226 of 454 (3444 views)
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     Re: [hamholio] List of schools so far... [In reply to]  

Hi Hamholio:

Sorry for the abrupt missive, but is there a chance you could PM or e-mail me regarding UF's MFA program. If you haven't got the chance to read my previous post, I chose UF as my second pick for the MFA program. It seems like an attractive program and would like to gain your knowledge and insight on the faculty, funding, and program. Compared to NYC (mind you, I am a native New Yorker/former Floridian resident), I would rather live and write in Gainesville because of the cheap living and such.


seemingmeaning

e-mail user

Oct 7, 2007, 4:32 PM

Post #227 of 454 (3441 views)
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     Re: [Junior Maas] List of schools so far... [In reply to]  

Yep, DFW surely did loathed (maybe 'loathe' is too strong of a word...how about indifference?) his MFA experience at UA (see Charlie Rose interview for clarification). And although he received his MFA sometime in the late 80s (1987, to be precise?). Evidently DFW was on a whole different level them some of his UA professors.

In Reply To
Any other novelists schools name drop, but who hated their programs?

I know one: David Foster Wallace. I was stoked about applying to Arizona, 'till I read this essay where he said it was a huge waste of time. Teachers going on and on about realism and proper syntax and so forth, lambasting the stories that made up his first, highly acclaimed collection.



andfw


Oct 7, 2007, 5:47 PM

Post #228 of 454 (3429 views)
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     Re: [seemingmeaning] List of schools so far... [In reply to]  


In Reply To
Yep, DFW surely did loathed (maybe 'loathe' is too strong of a word...how about indifference?) his MFA experience at UA (see Charlie Rose interview for clarification). And although he received his MFA sometime in the late 80s (1987, to be precise?). Evidently DFW was on a whole different level them some of his UA professors.

In Reply To
Any other novelists schools name drop, but who hated their programs?

I know one: David Foster Wallace. I was stoked about applying to Arizona, 'till I read this essay where he said it was a huge waste of time. Teachers going on and on about realism and proper syntax and so forth, lambasting the stories that made up his first, highly acclaimed collection.



"Loathe" is, indeed, too strong of a word. I've been through this discussion before with Junior Maas. In the interest of avoiding having to rehash it, anybody who's interested in DFW's Arizona experience (or in the first-hand experiences of other students) can read this thread. Or, as seemingmeaning aptly suggests, you could just watch the Charlie Rose interview, which sums it up nicely. (The relevant segment is near the end, about 45 minutes in or so.)

Personally, I would suggest that anybody interested in Arizona rely more on first-hand perspectives from students who've been there in the last 20 years, as well as things like funding (including the new fellowship), location, faculty (which, on the fiction side, has changed significantly since DFW was there), the success of recent alumni, etc. Same with any program.


bennyprof


Oct 7, 2007, 7:09 PM

Post #229 of 454 (3417 views)
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     Re: [jstgerma] List of schools so far... [In reply to]  

  

Great interview -- thanks for posting it. Not at all what I expected him to be like, from his occasional facial tick (where he grimaced after saying something he thought might be somewhat controversial) to his extreme self-consciousness, almost as though he is, himself, the embodiment of post-modernism... he attributes this to his nervousness about being on television, which I can buy to some extent. But yeah, one of the most interesting interviews I've seen in a long, long while. Very honest and confident in his own talent, but at the same time very insecure. A kind of paradox at work there, I think. Which, to me, makes him even that more interesting as an author.

And I think he does mention his time at Arizona in passing, in the context of his discussion of Blue Velvet, but he doesn't seem all that critical of his teachers, at least not in the way he is in the essay Junior Maas read. Found the transcript of it online (the CR interview); here it is:


DFW: I'm trying to think of a way so that this will have anything to do with what we've talked about before. Imagine you're a hyper-educated avant garde-ist in grad school learning to write.

ROSE: Right.

DFW: The screen gets all fuzzy now as the viewer's invited to imagine this. Coming out of an avant garde tradition, I get to this grad school and at the grad school, turns out all the teachers are realists. They're not at all interested in post-modern avant garde stuff. Now, there's an interesting delusion going on here -- so they don't like my stuff. I believe that it's not because my stuff isn't good, but because they just don't happen to like this kind of esthetic.

In fact, known to them but unknown to me, the stuff was bad, was indeed bad. So in the middle of all this, hating the teachers, but hating them for exactly the wrong reason -- this was spring of 1986 -- I remember -- I remember who I went to see the movie with -- "Blue Velvet" comes out. "Blue Velvet" comes out.


I didn't pick up on any disingenuousness in his voice, so I can only assume his feelings on the matter had changed by the time he did the Charlie Rose thing.

Anyway, thanks again for posting it. I'm forwarding the link to a friend of mine who's a big DFW fan, just in case he hasn't seen it already.


(This post was edited by bennyprof on Oct 7, 2007, 7:15 PM)


zebulon


Oct 7, 2007, 7:37 PM

Post #230 of 454 (3409 views)
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     Competitiveness? [In reply to]  

Is that even the right word? Competitiveness? Level of competition, whatever, what exactly does that mean? Is it strictly for grant money, and teacher's favors, or is it a competitive application process, like at the schools that only accept like 8 students but give them all funding... I'm not quite sure what the whole concept of an mfa program being competitve or cutthroat means exactly... feel like I'm missing something big here.


Clench Million
Charles

Oct 8, 2007, 12:38 AM

Post #231 of 454 (3379 views)
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     Re: [Junior Maas] List of schools so far... [In reply to]  


In Reply To
Any other novelists schools name drop, but who hated their programs?

I know one: David Foster Wallace. I was stoked about applying to Arizona, 'till I read this essay where he said it was a huge waste of time. Teachers going on and on about realism and proper syntax and so forth, lambasting the stories that made up his first, highly acclaimed collection.


But at least DFW actually went to UA's MFA program. I really do think it is bad and dishonest how many programs list writers who merely went to the same university (for MAs in english or PhD's in physics or whatever) but not the MFA program, as if that should be relevant at all...


selmalee


Oct 11, 2007, 6:13 PM

Post #232 of 454 (3265 views)
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     Re: List of schools so far... [In reply to]  

Wow, am I having trouble narrowing down my list, and it’s time to send forms to my recommenders...

I plan to apply to these programs:

NYU
Columbia
The New School
Syracuse
Brown
U of Iowa
U of Michigan
UMass – Amherst
Michener Center
UN Las Vegas

I’d originally planned to apply to 12 schools, and now I’m considering 13. that seems like a lot to ask of my recommenders though, never mind the expense.

I live in NYC but am drawn to a few programs closer to my family in the Pacific NW:
U of Oregon
U of Montana

But I’m also drawn to these North Carolina programs:
UNC Greensboro
UNC Wilmington

I need to choose one, or possibly two of these four schools. At this point, I have no idea. I’m going to write tonight instead of fretting about this. I’ll get back to fretting tomorrow. If anyone has advice, I’d greatly appreciate it.

-Smergalee


SweetJane


e-mail user

Oct 11, 2007, 6:56 PM

Post #233 of 454 (3254 views)
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     Re: [seemingmeaning] List of schools so far... [In reply to]  

Seeming,

I'm also a first year student at UF, and had to choose between UF and UWM when it came time to choose between acceptances. Though I'm in poetry, I'd be glad to discuss with you why I made the choice I did. Feel free to e-mail me (whoasweetjane @ gmail.com)



In Reply To
Zebulon:

ptld is certainly right with picking UF as a possible choice. I checked out UF's MFA program based on a recommendation from a writer I recently booked at my bookstore. And, man, UF has such an impressive program and--I imagine--it will one day be considered as a up-and-coming program. Considering I am a former Florida resident, UF is ranked #2 (behind UW-Madison) as my top school selections. I'm not sure what the funding program is like but, according to a friend who recently graduated from Brown's MFA program, she states that UF's funding is quite strong. The two paragraphs listed below are UF's mission statement for prospective MFA students:



SJ

"Oh, all the poets they studied rules of verse
and those ladies, they rolled their eyes"

(This post was edited by SweetJane on Oct 11, 2007, 7:01 PM)


HopperFu


Oct 11, 2007, 7:04 PM

Post #234 of 454 (3247 views)
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     Re: [smergalee] List of schools so far... [In reply to]  


In Reply To
I’d originally planned to apply to 12 schools, and now I’m considering 13. that seems like a lot to ask of my recommenders though, never mind the expense.



Don't worry about asking your letter writers. The work is in writing the first letter of rec, not in stuffing envelopes (or submitting online, which is becoming more and more standard). Twelve or thirteen is reasonable. Thirty? They'll say 'no' if it's really and issue, and if they are a prof then it is actually part of their job (I had a prof tell me that and I was shocked; I never thought of it that way before).


jacarty
Jessie Carty
e-mail user

Oct 12, 2007, 9:25 AM

Post #235 of 454 (3193 views)
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     Re: [smergalee] List of schools so far... [In reply to]  

Gosh I sound like a broken record sometime but UNCG and UNCW both have great programs. I did my undergrad at UNCG. The program, apparently, has recently been youth infused from what I hear with changing over of faculty--and I don't mean this in a bad way. Greensboro is also a great small down, would be a big change from NYC :)

UNCW is a 3 year program and I would love to live in Wilmington and attend their program, but I'm not mobile.

Best wishes making your decisions.

Also if you haven't mentioned it before you may want to mention your genre. My focus is poetry so that is what my thoughts usually reflect.

--Jessie "Finally getting cold in the Carolinas"


http://jessiecarty.com


stephkarto1
Stephanie Kartalopoulos

Oct 12, 2007, 9:59 AM

Post #236 of 454 (3184 views)
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     Re: [SweetJane] List of schools so far... [In reply to]  

SweetJane, I hope that you're enjoying Year 1 of UF's MFA program! I really loved my experience there (and I have been out 4 years now). And I mean: LOVED. Even the times that seemed tough were times I learned so much from. The relationships I established with my professors (particularly WL and SW) still carry through now, and the relationships I have made with the other writers in my program are still pretty rock-solid. The work that filled my thesis and that I walked away with, for the most part, is work that I still very strongly believe in and value having written (and send out to journals, along with my much newer stuff...). You're in a GREAT program, and if you happen to have found a lovely place to live in the Duck Pond, well, that's one totally awesome neighborhood (and it's close to the library, and Maude's, and Louie's Lunch, and The Top, and that 1 screen movie theater downtown...). I miss Gainesville, and I miss that program. I learned so much, and I wish you a really great experience over the course of your program.

Zebulon: UF has long been considered one of the most attractive, highly-respected, serious MFA programs in the country. I don't know much about this "up and coming" business that you mentioned, because from the way people know of UF's program and the way that I knew of UF's program for the 2 years before I even applied, its reputation was already there, its name already established. If you apply and if you get in (regardless of genre; I was poetry, though, FWIW) you should know that you've been admitted by people who have some strong faith in your talent and in your ability to only grow as a writer.


selmalee


Oct 12, 2007, 10:10 AM

Post #237 of 454 (3182 views)
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     Re: [jacarty] List of schools so far... [In reply to]  


In Reply To

Also if you haven't mentioned it before you may want to mention your genre. My focus is poetry so that is what my thoughts usually reflect.


ah, i forgot to say i'm applying for fiction.

thanks!

-smergalee


vmalone
Vanessa
e-mail user

Oct 13, 2007, 2:24 AM

Post #238 of 454 (3104 views)
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     Re: [motet] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

Hi All, I just read this entire thread and feel relieved to find others are in the same black hole of this application process. I also feel really behind. I'm still adding to my list of schools to apply to, and have so many questions for all of you.
My basic info is this: I'm a Creative nonfiction writer, and am currently living in AZ where I did my undergrad but am focusing on schools on the East Coast for the internship, publishing/writing opportunities. I am applying to both traditional and low res programs.

Biggest Questions:
Is anyone else looking at Rutgers-Newark or Camden programs for the CNF? I'd love to hear.
Is the funding situation at Columbia hopeless?
What's the latest date to take the GRE and still get it to schools for the Fall '08 apps?
Is it possible to get funded at low res programs?

Thanks!


bennyprof


Oct 13, 2007, 8:01 AM

Post #239 of 454 (3092 views)
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     Re: [vmalone] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

Don't know about the others, but I can help you with the GRE question...

Following the test, it takes ETS 10-15 days (postmarked date) to mail your scores to the schools you've selected. You get 4 free score reports and pick where to send them on the test day. Assuming you phone in your order (on the same day) for however many extra reports you need, you should allow 20 days for your scores to get to the schools. So... I'd give yourself, at an absolute minimum, a 25-day buffer before your first application is due to take the test. Just to be safe.

That's my advice, anyway.


lmbuckton


Oct 13, 2007, 2:07 PM

Post #240 of 454 (3059 views)
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     Re: [vmalone] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

though i'm not completely definite, it's my understanding that funding doesn't generally exist for low residency programs. though i do know some (that have been financially capable of paying for the program and are generally retired) that have had really good experiences.


zebulon


Oct 13, 2007, 3:27 PM

Post #241 of 454 (3045 views)
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     Re: [stephkarto1] List of schools so far... [In reply to]  

Haha, I was a little confused there, I hadn't actually said anything about UF, that was a response to my question about schools I hadn't listed. I know UF is a pretty highly regarded school, but I just don't know much about it at the moment, and didn't have it on my list, and Sweet Jane was saying in response to my question. Haha. Do you know how many (roughly) students get accepted each year there?


edwriter



Oct 13, 2007, 3:41 PM

Post #242 of 454 (3038 views)
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     Re: [vmalone] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

As far as funding for low-res programs goes, see this post at my blog. Full scholarships are pretty rare; partial grants somewhat less so. Loans seem to be the norm.

Good luck!

Best,
Erika D.


Quiet Americans: Stories
http://www.erikadreifus.com



Clench Million
Charles

Oct 13, 2007, 4:01 PM

Post #243 of 454 (3036 views)
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     Re: [vmalone] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  


In Reply To
Is the funding situation at Columbia hopeless?

Columbia recently was given a gift of 600 million earmarked for financial aid this year and the MFA program was recently integrated with undergrad creative writing. So Columbia's funding should be rapidly increasing... that's my understanding at least. I know the current class already has larger fellowships than my class did and next years should be larger than that.

So I wouldn't say its hopeless at all. Especially not when you consider that a lot of the other top programs only even accept a few people a year. There are currently merit fellowships that cover the majority of tuition and a fair number of people get tuition waved and a stipend to teach undergrad essay writing classes (the big downside is you get this your second year and it is organized by a different department, so writing talent doesn't play a role.) The funding is still sub-par, but on the bright side there is no animosity or competition over the funding in the school.

Columbia is an excellent MFA program. The students work is high quality and alongside UCI and Iowa it has the best alumni success. The faculty, for my tastes, is easily the best in the country. A very diverse group of teachers, but all of them high quality. And you can't beat being in NYC. There are great writers reading every night and virtually everyone I know has interned at some great place like the New Yorker or lit agencies.

So while the funding isn't the best, it is definitly worth applying to. Obviously most people don't get the big fellowships, but your chances of getting them are as good as your chances of getting into some of these other programs that only take 2 or 3 students a year.


vmalone
Vanessa
e-mail user

Oct 13, 2007, 4:14 PM

Post #244 of 454 (3031 views)
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     Re: [bennyprof] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

thank you! that's so helpful, and I couldnt find that info on the GRE sights!


vmalone
Vanessa
e-mail user

Oct 13, 2007, 4:20 PM

Post #245 of 454 (3029 views)
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     Re: [Clench Million] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

Thanks Clench. Columbia is my top choice because of the ability to connect with and intern at amazing magazines and publishing houses -my ultimate goal after graduation to be able to work at one. What's the housing situation like there? I'm married and have a little dog and Im worried about finding a place in the city. (i'm applying to all of the NY schools with CNF)


jamx85
James

Oct 13, 2007, 4:42 PM

Post #246 of 454 (3023 views)
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     Re: [als02] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

Hi Everyone,

I used this forum last year when I applied, and I found it to be very useful. Well here I am again, but this time on the other side of things. I am a couple of months into the MFA fiction program at Purdue, and am loving it. The people are very friendly and social, the funding situation is good, and everyone is extremely supportive. I was also pleasantly surprised by the diversity of the program (both geographically and racially). That was a big concern of mine, moving from the Bay Area. The program also makes a concerted effort to bring in big visiting writers. This year the big names are Michael Chabon, Joyce Carol Oates, and Adam Zagajewski. The other concern I had when applying was with the faculty. IMO Purdue's fiction faculty is not as well known as its poetry faculty. But I have found that my fiction workshop have forced me to think about craft and aesthetic in ways that I haven't before. I have no complaints there. Anyway, if anyone has any questions about the program, don't hesitate to ask or pm me. It gives me something useful to do when I'm not writing.

-James


James
Fiction Editor
Sycamore Review

(This post was edited by jamx85 on Oct 13, 2007, 4:44 PM)


Clench Million
Charles

Oct 13, 2007, 4:45 PM

Post #247 of 454 (3019 views)
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     Re: [vmalone] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

I should note that I only know about Fiction funding and I just realized you are going for non-fiction. I assume it is pretty much the same though.

As for housing... a lot of people get university housing which is a great deal (for NYC at least). These are apartments that are just run by Columbia, not dorms or anything. I believe there are family university housing plans too. I have no idea what the pet protocols are though.

It is also possibly to get housing in the 120s that is a pretty good deal and is nice. Those seem like the best options to me, although plenty of people live in Brooklyn and make it work. Housing is obviously wildly expensive in NYC, but given that Columbia is on the UWS it is easier to find somewhat affordable housing near campus than it would be at most other NYC schools.


Aubrie


Oct 13, 2007, 5:11 PM

Post #248 of 454 (3013 views)
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     Re: [Clench Million] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

Just to chime in, The New School is starting a TAship program next year with some very generous benefits for those who receive it. Great news for those hesitating to apply because of funding issues. They've also made an effort to at least partially fund almost everyone I've met in the program so far. If anyone has any Q's about the program, feel free to PM me!


hamholio


Oct 13, 2007, 6:34 PM

Post #249 of 454 (2993 views)
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     Re: [zebulon] List of schools so far... [In reply to]  


Quote
Do you know how many (roughly) students get accepted each year there (UF)?


Think we have 9 fiction and 7 poets this year, although it started 8 and 8.


hamholio


Oct 13, 2007, 6:35 PM

Post #250 of 454 (2992 views)
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     Re: [SweetJane] List of schools so far... [In reply to]  

hey sweetjane -- what are we doing looking at this forum still?? G.Zus!!!$ Well, as long as I don't look at Kealy's blog or Seth Abramson's abomination, it'll be okay. . .


hamholio


Oct 13, 2007, 6:36 PM

Post #251 of 454 (3909 views)
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     Re: [SweetJane] List of schools so far... [In reply to]  

nice work with the condoms on the salt shakers, btw.


writerteacher


Oct 13, 2007, 8:56 PM

Post #252 of 454 (3897 views)
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     Re: [Clench Million] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  


In Reply To
Columbia is an excellent MFA program. The students work is high quality and alongside UCI and Iowa it has the best alumni success.


Hey, Clench --

I have no doubt Columbia's program is excellent, but I'm curious: how do you define "best alumni success"? Seems to me there are lots of criteria, from percentage of graduates who sign with agents within x months/years of graduating, to signing book deals, to book sales, to film options, to critical acclaim, to entering the canon (yeesh, how many authors can claim that in, say, the last 50 years?), to literary awards and prizes... to simply working as a writer, or landing a teaching job (at a prestigious program? a mid-level program? gah!), or editing, or working in publishing in some capacity...

I'm not pickin' on you, just curious about your, and others', take on alumni success.

Best regards,
Elizabeth


umass76


Oct 13, 2007, 9:54 PM

Post #253 of 454 (3881 views)
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     Re: [hamholio] List of schools so far... [In reply to]  


In Reply To
...as long as I don't look at Kealy's blog or Seth Abramson's abomination, it'll be okay. . .



"Abomination"...lol...! You probably don't want to know, then, that data collection for the 2008 version of the LJPW Poll has just been started...

-- Seth Abramson


(This post was edited by umass76 on Oct 13, 2007, 9:56 PM)


Clench Million
Charles

Oct 14, 2007, 3:16 PM

Post #254 of 454 (3829 views)
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     Re: [writerteacher] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

Elizabeth:

I think it is a fair question. There certainly isn't any definitive way to measure it, unless you were going to assign a point scale for each literary award, each magazine published in, book sales and so on. Still, I think there is a general consensus about this in the publishing world. Tom Kealey noted on his blog what I've heard elsewhere, which is that UCI, Iowa and Columbia are the three programs editors will pay attention to because of alumni success. The Atlantic's recent article on MFA programs listed those three (along with UVA and BU) as Five Programs with Notable Alumni, etc.

I would assume people are mostly taking into account the number of published graduates and the degree of their fame or regard in the literary world. You are correct that there are a ton of factors to take it, but most of them overlap to a large degree. Writers who are "entering the canon" certainly signed book deals, had critical acclaim and probably won awards and prizes.

It is too bad that alumni success is so hard to definitively measure, because I suspect in a lot of ways it is one of the most important factors. It should help show how well a program is actually teaching its students (both in terms of craft and practical writing world concerns) and at the very least should give a good indication of the quality of the peer group a program offers.


lmbuckton


Oct 15, 2007, 7:39 PM

Post #255 of 454 (3747 views)
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     community... [In reply to]  

is there a general consensus of programs that a strong, cohesive sense of community amongst its writers? i read that montana seems to be very community-based but was wondering if anyone else had any specific insight...


HopperFu


Oct 15, 2007, 8:04 PM

Post #256 of 454 (3741 views)
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     Re: [lmbuckton] community... [In reply to]  

In general, the biggest problems with a 'sense of community' are:
a) funding
b) the size of the city

A) If everybody gets the same funding, that eliminates a major source of conflict (particularly if the funding is up for grabs after the first year, so people are competing as well as being jealous)
B) If your program is in a bit city like New York, there are just a lot more things competing for attention. I think that this (B) is probably not as big of a deal, though in small towns people tend to hang out together more by default.


Clench Million
Charles

Oct 15, 2007, 11:24 PM

Post #257 of 454 (3708 views)
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     Re: [HopperFu] community... [In reply to]  

From the experiences of people I know at various MFA programs, I don't really believe that funding has much of a bearing on a "sense of community" at all. The only exception seems to be when the funding changes and thus you have to compete with your classmates for funding, which seems like a bad idea (even more so because it would probably keep students from experimenting since they would feel the need to turn polished stuff the teachers will like the most...)

My program has unequal funding, but I've never noticed it causing the least bit of competition. Honestly, no one ever even talks about it. It certainly hasn't hurt any sense of community.

My guess is that the biggest factor in whether a program has a sense of community or not is how the program is structured. If it is a program that is designed to let students have full time jobs and where you are only required to attend a workshop and maybe one other class a semester, then there won't be much of a community. If it is a program that requires you to have several classes a semester and you are regularly on campus and interacting with your peers, then the community will be stronger.


bklynwrtr


Oct 22, 2007, 7:31 PM

Post #258 of 454 (3602 views)
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     Workshop size... [In reply to]  

Throwing myself on the mercy of my fellow 'Easiers...I am looking for (or would like to initiate) a discussion on the pros and cons of a big admit program (say, Iowa) vs. a small (Cornell).

To those in Iowa-esque programs: are your workshop groups rotated? Or do you have the same people in your workshops for the two years? Or is it one big workshop? Do you wish for a smaller group, or do you find the big helpful?

To those in Cornell-esque programs: do you ever wish for bigger groups? how do you keep things fresh? or because of the smaller program size, do you spend more time working alone and one on one with profs?

Thanks! I poked around the site, but couldn't find what I was looking for...tho' I admit the size of things is overwhelming me some...


(This post was edited by bklynwrtr on Oct 22, 2007, 7:47 PM)


hamlet3145


Oct 22, 2007, 9:25 PM

Post #259 of 454 (3583 views)
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     Re: [bklynwrtr] Workshop size... [In reply to]  

At Montana, where the total program size is about 40 writers, there are generally two poetry workshops per semester as well as two fiction. (And one non-fiction as well). You just sign up for the ones you want--there is no administrative grouping. And it's not much trouble to cross genres if you'd like.

As one who would find a 10 person program claustrophobic, I dig it.


rpc
ryan call

Oct 22, 2007, 10:05 PM

Post #260 of 454 (3564 views)
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     Re: [bklynwrtr] Workshop size... [In reply to]  

at mason we have medium-large-type workshops (we average, i think, 14-15 incoming fiction writers a year), but the upper level workshops cap at like 10 people i think...id rather have a smaller workshop though, but the bigger group of writers lets you pick and choose a smaller, core group; these fellow writers tend to stay with you throughout the program, either in formal workshop classes or in informal workshops/"hang-out" type get togethers...


<HTMLGIANT>


Clench Million
Charles

Oct 22, 2007, 10:42 PM

Post #261 of 454 (3553 views)
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     Re: [bklynwrtr] Workshop size... [In reply to]  


Quote

To those in Iowa-esque programs: are your workshop groups rotated? Or do you have the same people in your workshops for the two years? Or is it one big workshop? Do you wish for a smaller group, or do you find the big helpful?


At Columbia, you pick a new workshop teacher each semester and your group gets rotated that way, as different people pick different teachers. Second years get priority and there are a few teachers who most of the second years go for, making it so you tend to be with other first years in your first year and other second years in your second year. I think it is nice to get fresh blood in your workshops and fresh workshop leaders too, especially when they are all great as has been the case for me so far.

Workshops range from like 7 to 11 people. Most have about 9 I think, which is the ideal number for my tastes. I wouldn't want it any smaller.
Bigger program doesn't mean bigger class sizes (at least in Columbia's case). It just means more teachers and classes to choose from, which is helpful for your writing I think.



HopperFu


Oct 23, 2007, 9:00 AM

Post #262 of 454 (3511 views)
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     Re: [bklynwrtr] Workshop size... [In reply to]  


In Reply To
To those in Cornell-esque programs: do you ever wish for bigger groups? how do you keep things fresh? or because of the smaller program size, do you spend more time working alone and one on one with profs?

I like the size of Cornell's program. Because of the size of the program (eight students in each genre at any one time) and the number of profs, there is a lot of access. The profs are all wonderful in the amount of time they are willing to spend with you and they all seem quite open to working with graduate students.

As for keeping things fresh, because the workshop leader changes each semester, that has a large impact, as does the change from year to year (four students leave, four come in for each workshop).


I certainly would not want a bigger group in workshop. Eight is plenty big enough. I'm not sure about a bigger group to draw from. I guess it's a little bit luck of the draw; I feel like that with the group we have now, even with the people that I argue with on a regular basis, most of the time it leads to really interesting discussions of the work and is, I think, the kind of energetic criticism that you want in workshop.


bklynwrtr


Oct 23, 2007, 10:15 AM

Post #263 of 454 (3497 views)
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     Re: [HopperFu] Workshop size... [In reply to]  

Thanks! Those are very helpful answers -- I appreciate it!


rpc
ryan call

Oct 23, 2007, 12:11 PM

Post #264 of 454 (3474 views)
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     Re: [Clench Million] Workshop size... [In reply to]  

i think that's an impressive workshop size (i mean how small it is), given how many writers columbia tends to accept, right?


<HTMLGIANT>


Clench Million
Charles

Oct 23, 2007, 12:51 PM

Post #265 of 454 (3460 views)
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     Re: [rpc] Workshop size... [In reply to]  


In Reply To
i think that's an impressive workshop size (i mean how small it is), given how many writers columbia tends to accept, right?


Well, I don't know how other large programs operate, but for Columbia we just have more teachers and more options, not larger class sizes (well, probably some of the seminars are larger, but the workshops aren't). My first two workshops were 9 students and my current workshop has 11. I think 12 is the largest they allow and I've heard of some that were smaller, 7 students.

Personally I love the system. On the one hand there is a trade off, as you can't really have one workshop teacher for 3 or 4 workshops (although if you really clicked with a teacher you could probably take them multiple times). But on the other hand you get a wide range of both student and professor input. And since Columbia has such a diverse faculty (from widely experimental writers to more typical domestic realists) you really have a lot of options and chances for new perspectives.


bklynwrtr


Oct 23, 2007, 12:56 PM

Post #266 of 454 (3458 views)
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     Re: [Clench Million] Workshop size... [In reply to]  

Clench -- (and others at programs with "star" teachers):

How much do they tell current students about these teachers' availability? For instance, Richard Ford at Columbia. Do you know he will be there in 2008-2009, and plan your schedule accordingly, or do you assume these teachers are one year bets at best, and you have to scramble to get them? Does seniority come into play?

Was more information revealed to you once you were admitted?

Did anyone while applying contact these schools and ask what the teachers' committments were?


Clench Million
Charles

Oct 23, 2007, 1:34 PM

Post #267 of 454 (3444 views)
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     Re: [bklynwrtr] Workshop size... [In reply to]  

I think the information is widely available and the office is fine telling you, although I personally never asked (just got the info from current students when I was applying). Although I can't say for sure if they know the details of every adjunct teacher for the future or not.

For Richard Ford, he has taught at Columbia awhile I think and he teachers one master class a year. So he is a regular, but not a full-time teacher. The rest of the "star" teachers (Ben Marcus, Richard Howard, Sam Lipsyte, Paul LeFarge, Nicholas Christoper, etc.) all teach a workshop a semester and a seminar or lecture each semester (except Marcus who only teaches a workshop due to his numerous administrative duties.)

So Columbia's teachers are pretty regular. I haven't seen anyone have a problem getting someone they really wanted at least once or twice. Like any school there are certain "star" teachers who get brought in for a semester just to teach a master class or a seminar and maybe don't come back for whatever reasons. But at Columbia at least, it isn't the case that there are just figurehead people to lure students who don't ever teach classes.


aluminum


Oct 23, 2007, 3:09 PM

Post #268 of 454 (3421 views)
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     university of oregon [In reply to]  

Is there anyone here who currently attends the University of Oregon (in Eugene)? Kealey rates is as a "top twenty" program, but I would love to hear more about it from someone who knows firsthand. I am wondering about faculty, class size, quality of life in Eugene, Oregon and of course, funding...

Thanks!


jamx85
James

Oct 23, 2007, 9:27 PM

Post #269 of 454 (3368 views)
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     Re: [HopperFu] Workshop size... [In reply to]  

My experience in a smaller program (Purdue, 4 per year) has been similar to HopperFu's. There are stylistic differences varying from absurdist to realist even among our group of eight, and while workshop discussions can at times be intense, they are always tempered with mutual respect. On a personal level, I feel a close relationship with my fellow first years, including the poets. But that may be attributed to the luck of the draw, as Hopper has astutely noted.


James
Fiction Editor
Sycamore Review


calumnia


Oct 23, 2007, 10:39 PM

Post #270 of 454 (3344 views)
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     Re: [tyakabob] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

I am looking for relatively similar criteria and have been having trouble finding programs that allow you to mix genres. Would you mind telling me how you found them?

In Reply To
The conventional wisdom is to apply to a huge range of programs to increase your odds of getting in somewhere. I applied to six programs that I was enthusiastic about based on some basic criteria:

Funding
Ability to mix genres in program
Location
Type of university, big school, small school, etc
Whether I thought I'd mesh with the professors

The first four were pretty easy to find out, although I did have to make some information lists because when you're sorting through all the necessary information when you're looking up dozens of programs, things tend to bleed together. Funding was really important to me because I can't afford paying to get an MFA-a degree that offers almost no financial security once you're done. I don't know what I would've decided if I had only gotten into a program that didn't offer much funding, but I did the research beforehand so I didn't run into that problem.

I applied as poetry, but also write fiction and want to give screenwriting and nonfiction a shot too, so it was important for the program to have flexibility. I'd only been writing poetry for about a year before I applied, so I didn't want to be tied to that genre although my best recent work was in poetry.

The location and type of university were important because all the schools that I've ever gone to, save my Australian university, are within 2 miles of each other. My undergrad university has 2000 people, so I was ready not only to get out of the area, but to experience a big, gung-ho university. I picked an SEC school, so I can check those off. Variety of experience helps writing, right?

The last one, which also might be the most influential on you actually getting into a program, took a little bit of time. I asked my undergrad professors what they'd heard about the different programs and professors, and they were familiar with some of both, so they helped me make decisions. I also tried to find the professors work at bookstore, even using the "Look At This Book" (or whatever it's called) function on Amazon's site.

I was put on two waitlists and was accepted off of both. When I talked to people at the university I ultimately picked, I found out that one of the professors who's aesthetic I thought meshed well with mine really went to bat for me to get me into the program. You may have great grades and test scores, but the people who're in the program, their opinions count the most.

When you've decided what programs to apply to, you shouldn't be afraid to call those programs and ask questions, even just to establish a bit of presence with those programs. They post their numbers for a reason. While I wouldn't go overboard and make an annoyance of yourself, it can't hurt to show interest in the program beyond applying. I was told visiting was key to show your interest in a program, especially if you're on a waitlist. I don't know how true this is, but I was able to visit two school on the way back from a spring break trip, and it was well worth the extra time in the car, even if it didn't sway the faculty either way. I mean, shit, you're going to live and work there for 3 years, great faculty and funding won't mean a lot of you're miserable the whole time.

My basic point in writing this long post was to say that don't feel obligated to apply to a huge amount of programs, especially if you're not comfortable envisioning yourself there. If you apply to 12 programs, 6 that you can really see yourself at, 6 that you have mostly because you want to get in SOMEWHERE and you think that you could manage that with them, from my perspective, save the money and time on the 6 maybes to put towards reapplying next year to your top programs in case you don't get in there. Unless you really really just want to start an MFA program ASAP. Or if you have a ton of programs that you're really in love with, apply to the lot of them. I got into 3 of the 6 that I applied to, so keeping it small worked out for me. If I hadn't, maybe I'd be boring everyone with a different long ass post. Get as much information that you can, start as early as you can, and make up your own mind. Don't be swayed too much by blogs and Best Programs lists, but always keep your ears open.

Good luck. It's a long, drag-ass process, but soon enough you'll be calling grandma to tell her that next fall you're going to XXXX to start your masters. It's a good feeling.



ptld


Oct 23, 2007, 10:41 PM

Post #271 of 454 (3344 views)
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     Re: [jamx85] Workshop size... [In reply to]  

i can say that this is also my experience at syracuse (5 fiction students this year normally 6). as said, the work varies from absurd to realist (and in our case 1 student writes fiction more typical of african literature). workshop is intimate, which at first made me slightly nervous, but i can't now imagine a better scenario. i think it's especially perfect for anyone hoping to workshop novel chapters. i've also become really close with our poets. sharing work across disciplines has actually been really fruitful.

had i ended up in a larger program, i'm sure i would have been happy as well. i do want to reiterate that having an intimate readership is really advantageous to workshopping a novel. also, we have the advantage that even though only 6 students are normally admitted per genre, it is a three year program so there would typically be 18 fiction and 18 poetry.


__________



Oct 23, 2007, 11:36 PM

Post #272 of 454 (3336 views)
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     Re: [ptld] Workshop size... [In reply to]  

Sweet...thanks for answering just about every question I had about Syracuse!

But this leads to one more. There only five in your class; is this because they found only five, not six, qualified applicants? Or was it something less sinister-sounding to future applicants?


six five four three two one 0 ->


ptld


Oct 23, 2007, 11:49 PM

Post #273 of 454 (3331 views)
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     Re: [Junior Maas] Workshop size... [In reply to]  

nothing sinister. one person for personal reasons had to defer, which typically they don't allow. apparently these were extenuating circumstances.


mlpurdy
Moriah Purdy

Oct 24, 2007, 12:43 AM

Post #274 of 454 (3319 views)
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     Re: [jamx85] Workshop size... [In reply to]  

Hi all - Haven't been around since last year... figured I'd drop in. I just started my first semester at George Mason University in Poetry (and I couldn't be happier - let me know if you have any questions... about anything).

Just a plug for "larger" programs... GMU accepts around 10 to 15 poets and fiction students, and slightly less than that (8 or less) for nonfiction. The workshop sizes vary, but they generally have around 10 to 12 students. GMU makes this possible by having more professors on faculty (for me, a good thing), and here especially there is a broad range of styles (esp. in poetry) so the workshops are facilitated by writers interested in different questions. Not that your professor makes the workshop, but it certainly makes a big difference. It also provides MFA candidates the opportunity to meet and learn from a variety of students--over the three years of the program--who are doing (at least here) drastically different things in their work. This was (and is) appealing to me, and many of my peers here. Also if you don't mesh well with one professor or group in workshop, there's always the next one. In a three year program with around 30 to 45 students per genre that makes for several very different workshops during your time in the program.

Some other things to consider... some smaller programs fill their workshops with upper level undergraduates. Plus, let's be honest, smaller programs accept fewer people per year and are therefore harder to get into. I applied to 13 programs, and probably 3/4 of those were programs that took less than 8 new poets per year. I got into two smaller ones, waitlisted at a larger one, and into GMU, and I count myself very lucky! Not to be a pessimist, those rejections landed me exactly where I feel I should be, I'm just saying that I highly suggest that you try to be open to a wide range of programs, and that includes size of workshops/incoming classes.

MLP


HopperFu


Oct 24, 2007, 9:18 AM

Post #275 of 454 (3287 views)
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     Re: [mlpurdy] Workshop size... [In reply to]  


In Reply To
... some smaller programs fill their workshops with upper level undergraduates.

I've never heard of that, but man, that would totally piss me off. It seems like a really bad call for a graduate program to allow undergrads into workshop.


jlgwriter
Jeanne Lyet Gassman
e-mail user

Oct 24, 2007, 10:06 AM

Post #276 of 454 (3567 views)
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     Re: [HopperFu] Workshop size... [In reply to]  

Not that surprising when you think about it. It's a numbers game--having enough students for the class to "make." If the program can't fill the classes, then the administration will find a way to cut the budget to the program.

Unfortunately, you end up with watered down graduate classes and an inferior MFA program.

Just my two cents...

Jeanne


http://www.jeannelyetgassman.com
http://jeannelyetgassman.blogspot.com


bklynwrtr


Oct 24, 2007, 10:36 AM

Post #277 of 454 (3560 views)
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     Re: [jlgwriter] Workshop size... [In reply to]  

Just wanted to ask another question, or get confirmation on some things being said above...

In terms of genre with the fiction students, are you guys currently in programs finding that most people are doing strict literary fiction?

I ask because I aspire to high end genre fiction, (like Mailer's Harlot's Ghost, Chandra's Sacred Games, the best of John Le Carre, etc.) and while I love literary fiction, it's just not what I am most interested in writing.

I will put the quality of my writing up against anyone's, but I would prefer not to have to deal with constant eye-rolling or haughtiness because I like to throw in a gunfight, or espionage, etc., etc.

Would be curious to hear what you guys have found....

Thanks!


HopperFu


Oct 24, 2007, 10:54 AM

Post #278 of 454 (3551 views)
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     Re: [bklynwrtr] Workshop size... [In reply to]  

Everybody here is writing really different stuff, and I think the reactions tend to be about the writing, not about the genre, etc.
The thing is, "high end genre fiction" is just another way of saying you are writing literary fiction that has some plot and convention elements of genre. People won't roll their eyes if you have a gunfight or espionage; they'll roll their eyes if you have flat characters in meaningless gunfights.
Does that make sense?
I'm sure not everybody agrees with that one, though.

For what it's worth, if you apply with the kind of stuff you are intending on writing, it's not like it will be a surprise if you then submit it for workshop....


bighark


Oct 24, 2007, 11:05 AM

Post #279 of 454 (3547 views)
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     Re: [HopperFu] Workshop size... [In reply to]  

I've never heard of that (filling workshops with undergrads) happening at small programs. As a matter of fact, I've only heard of it happening at one program, a big one that offers no funding.

If there were undergrads in my classes when I showed up to school this fall, I would have immediately dropped out of the program.


bklynwrtr


Oct 24, 2007, 11:08 AM

Post #280 of 454 (3543 views)
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     Re: [HopperFu] Workshop size... [In reply to]  

Thanks, Alexi. Good to hear. I know "high end genre fiction" is a little clunky, but when I say "genre fiction" I can see in people's eyes that they immediately are thinking of James Patterson, or Nora Roberts, etc., etc.

Maybe "narrative fiction" is a better term. I dunno. Anyway, thanks again!


Clench Million
Charles

Oct 24, 2007, 11:57 AM

Post #281 of 454 (3532 views)
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     Re: [bklynwrtr] Workshop size... [In reply to]  

bklynwrtr,

I think I'd be a little more cautious than HopperFu. I've heard of a lot of people having problems doing what you want to do. Most programs are pretty narrow in their focus. My program, like Hopper's, has a great amount of stylistic diversity and there are people workshopping novels that seem like they would fall under your definition. However, we also have a stylistically diverse faculty that teach a wide range of things and probably purposefully select a diverse class. My recommendation would be to look into the faculty of various schools and see how diverse or narrow they are.

Then again, maybe you will only be accepted to programs that think your work will fit in, so perhaps the schools will be deciding for you.


rpc
ryan call

Oct 24, 2007, 12:27 PM

Post #282 of 454 (3522 views)
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     visit gmu [In reply to]  

i just saw mlpurdy's post - and i wanted to add this for anyone interested in visiting us: the program's having an "open house" sort of thing in a few weeks.

http://creativewriting.gmu.edu/mfa_openhouses.html


okay, sorry to interrupt


<HTMLGIANT>


pbarrrgh


Oct 24, 2007, 12:54 PM

Post #283 of 454 (3509 views)
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     Re: [rpc] visit gmu [In reply to]  

Hi folks, I'm new to this, so I'm sorry if this has been brought up before. I didn't see it.
Anyhow, I'm an undergrad right now, and hoping to get into an MFA program after taking a year or two off, perhaps. The school I'm currently an undergraduate at has a great program, but I've heard that MFA programs don't like to admit students from their own undergraduate body. This is kind of a bummer to me. Has anyone else heard anything to this effect?
thanks!


rpc
ryan call

Oct 24, 2007, 1:03 PM

Post #284 of 454 (3505 views)
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     Re: [pbarrrgh] visit gmu [In reply to]  

i think that sort of rumor is a bit misleading - we have a few students here that were undergrads at the university.

so dont let that keep you from applying; i doubt it really has any consequence on admissions decisions.


<HTMLGIANT>


GDClark
George David Clark
e-mail user

Oct 24, 2007, 3:26 PM

Post #285 of 454 (3478 views)
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     Re: [rpc] visit gmu [In reply to]  

The main reason some schools won't consider their own undergraduates is to avoid even the appearance of impropriety. Of course this is more of an issue at schools with extremely low acceptance rates and small class sizes.

I imagine also it might not be an entirely positive thing, in terms of workshop dynamics, for some students to have pre-existing relationships with faculty.


hamlet3145


Oct 24, 2007, 6:07 PM

Post #286 of 454 (3451 views)
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     Re: [GDClark] visit gmu [In reply to]  

Slightly new tangent, but if anyone is interested in getting bit of an inside scoop re: Montana, the fall Alumni newsletter is HERE.


spamela


Oct 24, 2007, 7:33 PM

Post #287 of 454 (3427 views)
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     Re: [bklynwrtr] Workshop size... [In reply to]  

Bklynwrtr: I didn't go there, but I've heard the low-res Spalding MFA is pretty friendly to genre writers. This could go the other way, though, and you may be doing the eye-rolling yourself if you're stuck in a workshop with a writer working in a genre you find less-than-fantastic. Another piece of advice: look at the faculty teaching in the MFAs you're currently considering. Do any of them work in genre? Departments that employ teachers who work in genre may be more welcoming to genre in general. Also, ask current students and fac at the programs that interest you.


pongo
Buy this book!

e-mail user

Oct 24, 2007, 9:09 PM

Post #288 of 454 (3400 views)
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     Re: [spamela] Workshop size... [In reply to]  

Most of the faculty at Goddard now is genre-friendly, too, if you're willing to look at low-res programs.


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/


mingram
Mike Ingram

Oct 25, 2007, 2:42 PM

Post #289 of 454 (3323 views)
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     Re: [pongo] Workshop size... [In reply to]  

I think genre work, or at least genre-influenced work, is becoming more and more popular these days among literary folks. I went to what many consider the most traditional program (Iowa) and there were people writing some action-adventure-type stuff, or even sci-fi-influenced stuff.

That said, there were plenty of those quiet, fairly plotless, stereotypically literary stories. Actually, my friend Lee and I decided these should be considered genre work as well -- the "creative writing" genre. Many of them fit a pretty particular form just as much as, say, a Western, or a sci-fi story does.

I think people were generally pretty excited to read something a little different in workshop, especially if it was entertaining.


jaywalke


Oct 25, 2007, 3:18 PM

Post #290 of 454 (3314 views)
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     Re: [mingram] Workshop size... [In reply to]  


In Reply To
I think genre work, or at least genre-influenced work, is becoming more and more popular these days among literary folks.


There's this:

http://nymag.com/daily/entertainment/2007/07/ballantine_pays.html

3.75 mil for a genre trilogy from an Iowa grad. Of course, what does it say about the genre mindset that he chose to use a pseudonym?


hamlet3145


Oct 26, 2007, 11:27 AM

Post #291 of 454 (3231 views)
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     Re: [jaywalke] Workshop size... [In reply to]  

I don't know, but For 3.75 mill I'd legally change my name to Silly McHappypants.


bklynwrtr


Oct 26, 2007, 1:19 PM

Post #292 of 454 (3210 views)
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     Re: [Hamlet3145] Workshop size... [In reply to]  

@ Jaywalke:

My guess is that he sent it out with a pen name because he already had a track record as a "literary" author, and (rightly, in my opinion) guessed that a vampire book by someone with his pedigree wouldn't necessarily be taken seriously, as ridiculous as that sounds. Unfortunately, once you get pigeon-holed as a certain kind of writer, I think it's very hard to break out of that.

I think it's different when you are breaking in...I believe (tho' am not 100% certain and too distracted to look it up) that A Simple Plan was Scott Smith's first book out of Columbia, and that The Historian was Kostova's (sp?) first book out of Michigan.

For instance, if Joshua Ferris decided he also wanted to write a post-apocalyptic vampire book, my guess is that he would consider a similar route.

On a slightly related note, 3 of the 5 NBA finalists went to Iowa, and even Ferris (who went to Irvine) went to Iowa for undergrad.


jaywalke


Oct 26, 2007, 3:00 PM

Post #293 of 454 (3188 views)
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     Re: [bklynwrtr] Genre [In reply to]  


In Reply To
On a slightly related note, 3 of the 5 NBA finalists went to Iowa


Am I the only one who read this and thought of basketball? :-]

I want to be pigeon-holed as someone who gets huge advances. I'm okay with that label.

That tears it, I'm changing my unfinished literary manuscript tonight. It used to be deep and heavy, but after I find-and-replace "molested inner child" with "vampire" I am on the way to Easy Street in a Porsche 911 convertible.


[Disclaimer: I swing both ways - lit and genre.]


(This post was edited by jaywalke on Oct 26, 2007, 3:06 PM)


bklynwrtr


Oct 26, 2007, 3:20 PM

Post #294 of 454 (3175 views)
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     Re: [jaywalke] Genre [In reply to]  

@ jaywalke:

that made me laugh. :)

Good luck with your find and replace. I'd also suggest a F and R for "faceless suburban neighborhood" and "gothic castle."

Keep us posted.

PS - Yeah, it makes me think of hoops too...but it's Friday afternoon and I'm too lazy to type out the full NBA name.


OldScribe2000


Oct 28, 2007, 3:29 PM

Post #295 of 454 (3086 views)
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     Re: [Junior Maas] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  


In Reply To
Then there's the times when the campus is the dead center of the danger zone!

I encourage any Houston acceptees to visit first. Spend a day or two on campus. Bring a checklist. Were you injured during your robbery? How many times were you caught in the middle of a Vietnamese gang shootout? Did you have trouble firing back because they were only ten years old? If any of the answers trouble you, you might reconsider Plan B.



Hillarious.


afrankum


Oct 28, 2007, 10:38 PM

Post #296 of 454 (3032 views)
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     Rutgers-Camden [In reply to]  

Hey all,
I hear a lot of things about the new Rutgers-Newark program, but does anyone know anything about the Camden program? I live near Philly and there are not many MFA programs to choose from. Any help?


pongo
Buy this book!

e-mail user

Oct 29, 2007, 10:18 AM

Post #297 of 454 (2983 views)
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     Re: [afrankum] Rutgers-Camden [In reply to]  

If you're near Philly, look at Rosemont. I'm not recommending it -- I know nothing about it except that it exists -- but it might be worth finding out about it.


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/


Sarah77


Nov 3, 2007, 12:47 PM

Post #298 of 454 (2839 views)
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     Re: [afrankum] Rutgers-Camden [In reply to]  

I can definitely help you out here. I received my MA in English from Rutgers-Camden, and I had a fabulous experience there. I took workshops and/or lit classes with many of the faculty members listed on the MFA program website (http://mfa.camden.rutgers.edu/index.html). Thumbs up all around.

Some funding is available in the form of teaching assistantships, and Rutgers TAs are funded much better than TAs at most schools ($19,000 a year, tuition remission, and good health care). Also, the program allows for/encourages writers to work in more than one genre.

I think this program is extremely promising, and I'm excited for its arrival, given the dearth of creative writing programs in the Philadelphia area.

If you or others are interested, feel free to PM me.


In Reply To
Hey all,
I hear a lot of things about the new Rutgers-Newark program, but does anyone know anything about the Camden program? I live near Philly and there are not many MFA programs to choose from. Any help?



calumnia


Nov 9, 2007, 11:38 PM

Post #299 of 454 (2563 views)
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     mfa suggestions [In reply to]  

Dear Speakeasy Forum:

Like many of you I've been researching madly and made up several spreadsheets trying to sort out my options. I'm not applying til next year when I've had time to write the GRE's and sort my portfolio but I'd love some help. I've noticed a few people posting their MFA requirements hoping the forum would help them shave down the options, or suggest a few additions, so here goes.

What I'm Looking For:
1) A well funded program full residency 2 year MFA. I simply can't afford to go to grad school without a TA-ship or editorial assistantship that includes a tuition waiver.
2) That offers teaching experience (I want to teach at the University level once I've graduated)
3) Is located in a queer-friendly city/state **
4) And maybe allows multi-genre work in fiction and poetry

What I've got going for me:
1) BFA in writing (Spring '08) (GPA higher than 3.8)
2) A competitive portfolio
3) Two very solid reference letters
4) Experience (an internship with a publishing company, a senior position on a genre editorial board for my dept's lit journal, marked a first year writing class, two research positions for profs, some published work including student press, a couple small journals and zine, contributor to two nonfiction books
5) Confidence :P

What I'm worried about:
1) I'm young (21), which means I've had less time to hone my writing then most applicants and I'm worried I'll be turned away in favour of older students.
2) my undergrad had a 50% CNF focus, my application will either be in fiction and poetry. My best reference is CNF. Do your references need to be able to speak about your writing in the genre you apply in?

** edited for clarity of intent


(This post was edited by calumnia on Nov 11, 2007, 2:04 AM)


Clench Million
Charles

Nov 10, 2007, 12:32 AM

Post #300 of 454 (2557 views)
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     Re: [calumnia] mfa suggestions [In reply to]  

Your manuscript will account for probably 90% of the decision to let you in or not. So your letters or recommendation probably won't help you or hurt you either way. Ditto with GPA (once a certain threshold is reached) or editorial experience. I'd focus as much energy as you can into fixing your manuscripts.


bennyprof


Nov 10, 2007, 10:14 AM

Post #301 of 454 (3376 views)
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     Re: [calumnia] mfa suggestions [In reply to]  


Quote
3) And is located either in left-leaning diverse urban centre (ie:preferably not in Iowa, Ohio, Arizona, Texas, Alabama or Florida). Not necessarily large, a university town such as Madison would be just fine (I'm gay and would rather not spend my MFA worrying about homophobia)



Just an FYI, Austin is probably the most socially liberal city in the south, and it has a very large gay community, so I wouldn't be so quick to scratch UT off your list.



__________



Nov 10, 2007, 10:26 AM

Post #302 of 454 (3374 views)
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     Re: [bennyprof] mfa suggestions [In reply to]  

That's no shit. I once pointed at a drunk friend on 6th street, shouted, He's a Republican!, and ran off. He got chased, Beatles-style, by a pretend angry mob. Austin's the best.


six five four three two one 0 ->


aiyamei

e-mail user

Nov 10, 2007, 10:39 AM

Post #303 of 454 (3367 views)
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     Re: [Junior Maas] mfa suggestions [In reply to]  

I also don't get the sense that Iowa City is anything but liberal and cool. Maybe some people who know it better can confirm or deny this.


umass76


Nov 10, 2007, 11:07 AM

Post #304 of 454 (3356 views)
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     Re: [aiyamei] mfa suggestions [In reply to]  

Iowa City is liberal.

In fact, Iowa City is so liberal many people smoke pot on their porches without fear, as the police don't bother them unless they cause trouble. This is a left-leaning campus with a history of progressive activism; it's not Madison, but then again, Cambridge (MA) and Madison are the two most liberal towns in America (along with, I suppose Berkeley), so it's not a fair comparison.

But, point being, this is not a conservative school, or a conservative city. And hell, the whole state's 50% Democrat/50% Republican politically. This isn't Nebraska, it's much more like Ohio. And you'll be going to school in Iowa City, anyway, not Marengo. I promise you Cincinnati, say, is far more conservative than Iowa City.

S.


calumnia


Nov 10, 2007, 5:46 PM

Post #305 of 454 (3300 views)
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     Re: [umass76] mfa suggestions [In reply to]  

I've heard many good things about Austin. But you must remember, I'm coming from Canada. I'm trying to minimize my cultural shock. An MFA is two years, that's a long time to stay in one place, especially if the surrounding state is less than hospitable. I presume that most university environments are relatively liberal but one has to take into account the environment around it.


__________



Nov 10, 2007, 6:10 PM

Post #306 of 454 (3294 views)
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     Re: [calumnia] mfa suggestions [In reply to]  

I assure you, in Austin you don't just wander off campus and get immediately assaulted by rednecks carrying nooses and signs. The whole city's great... and I swear, the most discomfort you'll feel'll take place in traffic outside of town, still expanding with millions of Dell Computer employees. (Rent Office Space for a small taste of that. Rent Slacker to get a good view of where you'll live and the weirdest people you'll meet).

But it's not like the rest of Texas is rife with politically motivated violence or anything. In Houston, there's crime, but I can't imagine you'd need to travel there in the course of your writerly duties. Dallas, where I grew up, has its big shopping malls and bigger fake tits, and sure, it's packed with lawyers who vote Republican, but it's not like my gay friends ever said, Holy shit, we must run from this hell hole into the loving liberal arms of Canada!. I mean, who do you think the trophy wives call when they're itching for the galleria?

Relax. Just worry about your writing.


six five four three two one 0 ->

(This post was edited by Junior Maas on Nov 10, 2007, 6:13 PM)


bighark


Nov 10, 2007, 8:29 PM

Post #307 of 454 (3268 views)
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     Re: [calumnia] mfa suggestions [In reply to]  

If you knew how offensive this post is, would you take it back?


Clench Million
Charles

Nov 10, 2007, 10:07 PM

Post #308 of 454 (3250 views)
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     Re: [calumnia] mfa suggestions [In reply to]  

Austin is insanely liberal and hip. Its one of hte best cities in the US.

If you want to worry about something, worry about weather shock going from Canada to Texas, not culture shock.


EastCoastPoet


Nov 10, 2007, 11:13 PM

Post #309 of 454 (3243 views)
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     Re: [calumnia] mfa suggestions [In reply to]  

To make a brief comment, I think you have the wrong impression of Ohio. I won't get into the debate but....

Think about Bowling Green. It's a two year program, everyone (we accept 5 poets and 5 fiction writers per year) is fully funded, we have a great mag with opportunities to be very close in its workings (Mid-American Review) and we're in a small, quiet yet lively town, quite close to Toledo, Cleveland, Detroit, etc. If you have any questions you can feel free to message me about it.


writerteacher


Nov 10, 2007, 11:49 PM

Post #310 of 454 (3235 views)
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     Re: [bighark] mfa suggestions [In reply to]  


In Reply To
If you knew how offensive this post is, would you take it back?


I agree with Bighark. It's insensitive (to say the least) to paint entire regions of the US with such a broad brush; it's exactly what you're hoping people *won't* do to you, no?

I've lived all over the South my entire life (Alabama, Louisiana, Texas, Tennessee, and Virginia) and I can tell you, there are "libaral" cities everywhere. In fact, one of the programs that fits your stated criteria is U.Va., in the heart of Virginia, in an idyllic town many refer to as the People's Republic of Charlottesville (cracks me up). I lived there for six years, and indeed, the politics skew liberal -- though, like anywhere else, there are idiots regardless of political affiliation.

Anyway, I now live in Richmond, a place which has the reputation of being exceptionally conservative and old school. True in some respects, but it's home to one of the top-rated arts schools in the nation (Virginia Commonwealth University) and, I suppose, that may account for a distinctly "liberal" (tolerant/supportive) environment in terms of race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, etc. My own family happens to be transracial, and I have not ever experienced any ugliness, overt or otherwise. Yes, in Richmond we do have our share of asses, and I imagine I could find them if I looked hard enough, but I'd rather concentrate on my beautiful family, my friends, and my writing.

All that to say: it's hard enough to get into an MFA program that offers what you need and want. My best advice is to refrain from limiting yourself by your own preconceptions, and consider each opportunity on its own merits. You'll land in the right place.

VCU, by the way, has a super three-year MFA program with lots of TA-ships, teaching and literary editlng opportunities, and attentive faculty.

We sometimes get snow.

Good luck!


aiyamei

e-mail user

Nov 10, 2007, 11:53 PM

Post #311 of 454 (3234 views)
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     Re: [EastCoastPoet] mfa suggestions [In reply to]  

The more I think about this, the more I think that Calumnia should put some time and effort into understanding these cities before crossing them off his/her list. Maybe read through some online discussion boards for gay/lesbian communities in the cities in question -- and ask questions of gays and lesbians who live there. And not for the sake of being non-judgmental or inoffensive to us here at the Speakeasy. No, the reason I think this is a must: it's hard enough to get into an MFA program without crossing excellent opportunities off one's list -- indeed, arguably the very best this country has to offer (Michener, Iowa) -- because of half-information and hearsay.


calumnia


Nov 11, 2007, 12:11 AM

Post #312 of 454 (3226 views)
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     Re: [aiyamei] mfa suggestions [In reply to]  

Canada is one of approximately a half dozen countries in the world with legalized gay marriage. They were temporarily allowed in San Francisco and Multnomah Country Oregon. Civil unions are legal in Connecticut, Vermont, New Jersey, California, and Hawaii. There are some benefits for domestic partnerships in Maine, Washington State, New Hampshire, and Oregon.

I'm not worried about writing queer material in an MFA workshop. I expect that a graduate level workshop will be welcoming to most subject matters, and the comments on this forum have supported this. But this is two years of my life and I don't think it is wrong to worry about living somewhere where, if I end up in the hospital, my lover may not be permitted to visit me outside of regular visiting hours because she isn't officially considered family. This is not my first consideration when choosing an MFA program but it is at the back of my mind as I sort through the options. This forum has welcomed questions from people who did not want to leave the eastern seaboard or did not want to live somewhere cold, I see no difference between that and my inclusion of city-size on my list of hopeful prerequisites.


writerteacher


Nov 11, 2007, 12:39 AM

Post #313 of 454 (3221 views)
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     Re: [calumnia] mfa suggestions [In reply to]  


In Reply To
3) And is located either in left-leaning diverse urban centre (ie:preferably not in Iowa, Ohio, Arizona, Texas, Alabama or Florida). Not necessarily large, a university town such as Madison would be just fine (I'm gay and would rather not spend my MFA worrying about homophobia)


Calumnia, the above is what I was responding to; you make no mention of laws in individual states, as objective a criterium as weather or city size, but instead use the word homophobia, which carries an accusatory tone and is subjective.

You're obviously up on what the laws are in each state, and if that's one of your criteria, then you've answered your own question: you should stick with the very limited list of MFA programs in US localities with gay rights protections on the books, or perhaps look to the half-dozen other nations you mention with more progressive legislation.

Still I say: there's ugliness all around, and grace in the most unlikely places.

Best wishes.


calumnia


Nov 11, 2007, 1:01 AM

Post #314 of 454 (3216 views)
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     Re: [writerteacher] mfa suggestions [In reply to]  

Thank you. I appreciate everyone's responses so far. It is hard to judge how liberal or queer-friendly a city or state is from far away. You can check GLBTQ websites, or look at who holds political power, but in order to get a real feel for it you have to ask people who have lived there.

I had no idea Iowa City was as liberal as it is, this is definitely good to know.


calumnia


Nov 11, 2007, 1:59 AM

Post #315 of 454 (3207 views)
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     Re: [Clench Million] mfa suggestions [In reply to]  

Yes of course. But for some programs, editorial experience makes you a better candidate for editorial assistantships. Similarly TA-experience often makes you a better candidate for TA jobs at the graduate level. Though not all programs work like this. Some offer TA/Editorial Jobs based on financial need or strength of your portfolio.

In Reply To
Your manuscript will account for probably 90% of the decision to let you in or not. So your letters or recommendation probably won't help you or hurt you either way. Ditto with GPA (once a certain threshold is reached) or editorial experience. I'd focus as much energy as you can into fixing your manuscripts.



popeye


Nov 11, 2007, 2:57 AM

Post #316 of 454 (3203 views)
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     Re: [hamholio] List of schools so far... [In reply to]  


In Reply To
hey sweetjane -- what are we doing looking at this forum still?? G.Zus!!!$ Well, as long as I don't look at Kealy's blog or Seth Abramson's abomination, it'll be okay. . .

I feel the need to take issue with your characterization of Seth Abrahmson's blog as an abomination. All he has done is gather information and interpret it in a statistical manner. If you have a problem with it then you problem either stems from the truth or from the nature of statistics and the whole idea of ranking MFA programs in the first place.

My point is this, don't blame Seth for the information, he is only compiling it.





zebulon


Nov 11, 2007, 3:32 AM

Post #317 of 454 (3198 views)
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     Re: [popeye] List of schools so far... [In reply to]  

Just trying to lighten the mood, sorry.

I was browsing some of the smaller programs, or, at least out of the standard little canon of top programs, and came across Boise State. They have a bit of a publishing twist on the MFA, like University of Baltimore and Emerson, but I'd never heard of a Boise State's MFA program. Does anyone know anything about the program?
It sounds kind of fun, book art and small press production. Neat.

Or, does anyone know of any other programs that are still writing MFA's, but include some sort of publication production class aside from reading for a journal? Thanks.


(This post was edited by zebulon on Nov 11, 2007, 1:15 PM)


hamholio


Nov 11, 2007, 3:34 AM

Post #318 of 454 (3198 views)
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     Re: [popeye] List of schools so far... [In reply to]  

that was impolite of me to say, but the obsession (here I refer to my own and that of others) with MFA programs by those who are not yet in MFA programs is baffling (disgusting?). Looking at both those blogs was something I spent far too much time doing last year.


edwriter



Nov 11, 2007, 10:13 AM

Post #319 of 454 (3176 views)
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     Re: [zebulon] List of schools so far... [In reply to]  

As far as MFA-with-publishing-component--I'm not entirely certain how this works, but you might look into the program at UNC-Wilmington (see especially references to the Publishing Laboratory).

Best,
Erika D.


Quiet Americans: Stories
http://www.erikadreifus.com



motet
Dana Davis / Moderator
e-mail user

Nov 11, 2007, 11:18 AM

Post #320 of 454 (3164 views)
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     Caution... [In reply to]  


In Reply To
If you knew how offensive this post is, would you take it back?



In Reply To
What's wrong with a little of shoot the messenger once in awhile? Haha.



I know the first one was but whether or not that last one was a serious question, the answer is...Everything.

It almost always results in ad hominem and other kinds of personal attacks (as we've seen) and it creates an atmosphere that is not conducive to sharing information. Flaming also violates the terms of engagement concerning civil behavior that patrons enjoy at the Speakeasy.

There is a lot of latitude in expressing personal opinions on this board but it's either done as civilized adults or you don't get to do it here at all.

Dana


(This post was edited by motet on Nov 11, 2007, 11:23 AM)


zebulon


Nov 11, 2007, 1:24 PM

Post #321 of 454 (3137 views)
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     Re: [edwriter] List of schools so far... [In reply to]  

That is perfect! Thank you so much! Anyone else? If I could round up one or two more schools that have programs like those I'll be ready to apply, haha.


mingram
Mike Ingram

Nov 12, 2007, 9:25 PM

Post #322 of 454 (3002 views)
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     Re: [calumnia] mfa suggestions [In reply to]  


In Reply To
Thank you. I appreciate everyone's responses so far. It is hard to judge how liberal or queer-friendly a city or state is from far away. You can check GLBTQ websites, or look at who holds political power, but in order to get a real feel for it you have to ask people who have lived there.

I had no idea Iowa City was as liberal as it is, this is definitely good to know.


I think you'd be fine in Iowa City -- the workshop itself (as you would imagine) is very liberal, and very gay-friendly.

The school itself is kind of a mixed bag. It's your classic Big Ten party school, which means lots of drunk n' rowdy undergrads, but I suppose it's easy enough to avoid the ped mall on a Friday or Saturday night if you find that stuff more annoying than amusing.

The undergrad population is pretty homogeneous, and I found my students to be rather conservative, on the whole, at least compared to other universities. Though, interestingly, most of them were very gay-friendly, mostly because they all had gay friends. Which was heartening.

There's one gay bar in town that I know of (I mistakenly assumed The Q Bar was gay until I realized it was a pool hall). It seemed like an Iowan's idea of what a big-city gay bar would be, in miniature (dance music, confetti, smoke machine, shirtless bartenders in suspenders). People in the workshop, gay and not, would go there sometimes to dance, and escape the fratty sports-bar scene, which is omnipresent.


calumnia


Nov 12, 2007, 10:03 PM

Post #323 of 454 (2995 views)
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     Re: [mingram] mfa suggestions [In reply to]  

Thank you! This was very helpful.


razmatazmilfoil
Sara

Nov 17, 2007, 8:19 PM

Post #324 of 454 (2841 views)
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     Re: [aluminum] university of oregon [In reply to]  

Hi Aluminum,

I'm a first year fiction student at the University of Oregon. There are three full-time fiction faculty: David Bradley (Chaneysville Incident), Ehud Havazelet (What is it Between Us?, Bearing the body), and Laurie Lynn Drummond (Anything You Say Can and Will be Used Against You). The faculty is diverse in interests, styles, and influences.

Each term we have a different faculty member leading workshops, seminars, and conferences. This term I have Ehud Havazelet for workshop (10 students), Laurie Lynn Drummond for writing and conference (1 student), and David Bradley for a literature seminar (13 students).

You choose your thesis advisor for the second year during Spring term, after having had the chance to work closely with each faculty member.

In fiction this year we have six first-years, and four second-years. Everyone is dedicated, motivated, supportive, and hard-working, which is good because the program is demanding. Everyone is also fully-funded through teaching appointments. This includes tuition, $1000/month stipend, and health insurance. Domestic partnership coverage is available as well (same-sex or different-sex couples). During your first year you either teach Intro to Fiction or Poetry or the Kidd Tutorial, a year-long writing and literature program for undergrads. You teach comp the second year.

The Northwest Review, U of O's literary magazine, just celebrated its 50th anniversary.

This year we have Antonya Nelson and N. Scott Momaday headlining our reading series.

Let me know if you have any other questions.


zebulon


Nov 17, 2007, 9:09 PM

Post #325 of 454 (2821 views)
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     Re: [razmatazmilfoil] university of oregon [In reply to]  

So does Dorianne Laux not teach grad classes? That makes me a saddddd panda.


razmatazmilfoil
Sara

Nov 17, 2007, 10:00 PM

Post #326 of 454 (4176 views)
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     Re: [zebulon] university of oregon [In reply to]  

The faculty I mentioned are for fiction. Dorianne Laux, Garrett Hongo, and Geri Doran (visiting) are the poetry faculty. Dorianne is on sabbatical this year.


razmatazmilfoil
Sara

Nov 17, 2007, 10:23 PM

Post #327 of 454 (4172 views)
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     Re: [zebulon] university of oregon [In reply to]  

Actually there are quite a few sad pandas around here at Oregon. We just got an email from the creative writing director saying that Dorianne Laux has accepted a position elsewhere. Alas, I don't know where. She's coming back this winter to work with the first years, but will be gone as 2008-2009. Garrett Hongo will still be here next year, Geri Doran has been asked to stay, and they are searching for a third tenure-track poetry faculty member.


Rambler


Nov 18, 2007, 6:47 PM

Post #328 of 454 (4099 views)
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     Re: [razmatazmilfoil] university of oregon [In reply to]  

Has anybody on this forum applied and got into:

1. Notre Dame?
2. University of South Carolina?

If so, can you provide any info/perspective on these programs?

I'm interested in what Notre Dame is looking for in its students
and
What is the competition like to get into Univ. of South Carolina?


aluminum


Nov 18, 2007, 10:35 PM

Post #329 of 454 (4059 views)
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     Re: [razmatazmilfoil] university of oregon [In reply to]  

hey raz:
just wanted to say thanks for the information!


chitown


Nov 18, 2007, 10:43 PM

Post #330 of 454 (4058 views)
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     Re: [Rambler] university of oregon [In reply to]  

I know that Notre Dame lists its current students (and their email addresses) on its MFA website if you are feeling brave enough to contact them. I have contacted a few MFA students randomly this way and each was very friendly and more than willing to answer questions about their particular program.


mvalente


Nov 23, 2007, 12:58 PM

Post #331 of 454 (3906 views)
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     Re: [Rambler] university of oregon [In reply to]  

Hi Rambler -

This is Mike Valente, a current first-year at the University of Notre Dame. It's a 2-year program, and each incoming class has 11 students. 5 or 6 receive stipends/fellowships, and the rest do not (I don't). I do TA in another dept, so I do get a small stipend. That's on top of our tuition being waived.

The faculty is tremendous - they care about all of the students. Cornelius Eady joined the program and became Director two years ago. The program is relatively young, the first class was in 1991 (I think).

Expectations - each student is required to take 1 Literature class per semester, so you have that work on top of your writing workshop requirements. A thesis is required, and for prose writers, it can be either a collection of short stories or a novel. For poets, I'm not sure. The second year class currently has 2 non-fiction writers out of 6 prose writers. Amongst the 5 prose writers in the first year class, there aren't any non-fiction writers (we're all fiction). So while they don't have a separate "non-fiction" genre, the program admits non-fiction writers under the umbrella of prose, and we sit in the same workshop. The faculty also allows and encourages its students to take a workshop in the other genre.

Hope that this info is helpful. You can also view all of the student and faculty bios on the Notre Dame Creative Writing web site.

Mike


In Reply To
Has anybody on this forum applied and got into:

1. Notre Dame?
2. University of South Carolina?

If so, can you provide any info/perspective on these programs?

I'm interested in what Notre Dame is looking for in its students
and
What is the competition like to get into Univ. of South Carolina?



BLUECHEESE


Nov 23, 2007, 1:20 PM

Post #332 of 454 (3900 views)
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     Re: [mvalente] university of oregon [In reply to]  

How is Notre Dame in terms of community?


Rambler


Nov 23, 2007, 1:41 PM

Post #333 of 454 (3889 views)
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     Re: [mvalente] university of oregon [In reply to]  

Mike,
Is there some secret formula you know that will help me get in to Notre Dame's program?
I can't tell you how much I'd love to attend this school (based on my limited research).
Well aside from the formula (which I suspect doesn't really exist), are there any other tips you can give us rookies who'd die to get in?
(statement of intent...writing sample...anything?)


mvalente


Nov 23, 2007, 9:31 PM

Post #334 of 454 (3841 views)
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     Re: [BLUECHEESE] university of oregon [In reply to]  

Hi BLUECHEESE –

I’m not entirely sure what you mean by “community”, so I’ll try to touch on a few things with the hope that I answer your question.

MFA community – Some of us are pretty close friends, and all of us can, at the very least, coexist and work well together in workshop. We have organized events within the program, like readings at cafes, sites on campus, as well as visiting speakers/authors coming to campus. We also hang out outside of the program, like at a bar, at a dinner at someone’s house, or at someone’s Halloween party. Second- and first-years have differing writing styles and come from very diverse backgrounds, which I believe adds to our workshop discussions. In my opinion, the blend of students has shaped our friendships as well as our lives as writers. The faculty members always have their doors open for office hours, they’ve invited us into their homes, and they are adept at helping us mature and accomplish a lot as writers. I can’t say enough about what the faculty here is capable of doing.

Graduate Community – The graduate community here is stellar. I live in a graduate apartment complex where I’ve become friends with folks in PhD programs, other Masters programs and in the law school. The graduate population is extremely diverse, intellectual and fun.

English Dept Community – we take our Lit classes with the English PhD candidates who are beyond bright. We’ve also had a couple of events within the English Dept where we’ve had the opportunity to meet a few of the other students. THe English faculty is incredible. I'm taking 18th cent Victorian poetry (I'm a fiction writer, not a poet) with one of the experts in the field, Prof. John Sitter.

Notre Dame community – It’s a Catholic University, and a large percentage of the student body is catholic, or at least religious in some way. That said, if you want religion to be a major part of your life, it’s here. If not, then it’s still very easy to get lost in your own world. You can live on campus, spend exorbitant amounts of time in the library (like me!) and walk to and from class while listening to your iPod (like me) and not even realize that you’re at a catholic university. The undergrads are extremely intelligent and bring a lot of energy to this campus. The alumni are dedicated to this university and deeply tied to the organization, its goals, and its student body.

Hope that this info is useful.

Mike


In Reply To
How is Notre Dame in terms of community?



BLUECHEESE


Nov 23, 2007, 9:59 PM

Post #335 of 454 (3837 views)
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     Re: [mvalente] university of oregon [In reply to]  

Thanks! I was refering to the MFA community. As in, are the writers friends, etc. Good to know. I get the feeling that it doesn't happen some places... which would suck. I guess it is somewhat dependent on the people in the program, but I also just think it depends on the environment in general, at least to a degree.


mvalente


Nov 24, 2007, 11:13 AM

Post #336 of 454 (3799 views)
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     Re: [Rambler] university of oregon [In reply to]  

Hi Rambler -

Even though I'm at Notre Dame, I still don't know the formula for getting into the program. Haha. The only thing that I can tell you, and you've probably heard it already, is to focus on your writing sample. Statement and Letters are important, too, at some point.

I'm glad that you're excited about Notre Dame's program! Oh, they moved the application deadline date up to January 2 (last year it was Feb 1). Not sure why. Probably to get a jump on reading applications.

Mike


In Reply To
Mike,
Is there some secret formula you know that will help me get in to Notre Dame's program?
I can't tell you how much I'd love to attend this school (based on my limited research).
Well aside from the formula (which I suspect doesn't really exist), are there any other tips you can give us rookies who'd die to get in?
(statement of intent...writing sample...anything?)



sovietsleepover


Nov 24, 2007, 11:43 PM

Post #337 of 454 (3730 views)
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     Michener Center [In reply to]  

A note for folks thinking about applying to the Michener Center at UT Austin: the Michener Center & the English department (which offers a creative MA) are jointly hiring a big-name poet to start in Fall 2008 as a permanent faculty member in the English department. This should help alleviate the sort of dire situation with poetry faculty at UT (A. Van Jordan won a Guggenheim and has been gone this academic year, and David Wevill retired at the end of last year, so third-year poets working on their theses are in a kind of awkward situation re: thesis advising right now). There's a really impressive handful of poets who've applied for the position--I don't think it's okay to make it public at this point (or rather, I have no idea what the etiquette for this is, and I'd rather not say anything--I'm sorry!), but they're all Big Deal poets. The two I've had the opportunity to work with elsewhere have also been incredible as teachers/workshop leaders.


umass76


Nov 25, 2007, 3:19 AM

Post #338 of 454 (3710 views)
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     Re: New Thread? [In reply to]  

To Motet (and all),

I've been having a hard time distinguishing between the "Application Time" and "Choosing An MFA Program" threads--actually I think I had this problem last year, too--largely because, while one of these two threads is definitely necessary to discuss the nuts-and-bolts of applying (i.e., "How do I..."; "Should I..."; and so on), it seems the other would be more beneficial if it contained more targeted information, like (and obviously this is of great interest to me): Where are you applying and how did you decide to apply there?

So I guess my questions are:

1. Because I actually do see how (in theory) "Application Time" and Choosing An MFA Program" could be separate and distinct topics, would Motet be willing to start a new thread entitled, "Where Are You Applying?", so there's a sort of central clearinghouse for this information? (This is helpful to me as a data-collector of course, but also helpful for folks to see which schools others are interested in, and it might give applicants some new ideas re: schools they hadn't thought about before).

2. If a new topic can't be created, would people be interested in listing the schools they're applying to in this--or, alternately, a specific and existing--thread?

Just wanted to put that question out there. Thanks for any help Motet (or others) could provide. I know I found, last year, in collecting all kinds of data on MFA programs, that the #1 question people were interested in was finding out where everyone else was applying.

Best,
Seth


motet
Dana Davis / Moderator
e-mail user

Nov 25, 2007, 10:35 AM

Post #339 of 454 (3690 views)
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     Re: [umass76] New Thread? [In reply to]  

Seth,

Thanks for your input on this. I'm always interested in helping to clarify topic threads in order to make the information more useful to everyone.

So as not to interfere with the current discussion, I'm moving this one over here to the Suggestion Box.

Dana




malber


Nov 26, 2007, 8:23 PM

Post #340 of 454 (3555 views)
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     Ohio State [In reply to]  

Hey guys. I'm a fiction student at Ohio State and if anyone has questions about the program or city, I'd be glad to help out. Lots of great faculty, everyone's funded (some with fellowships), on Atlantic Monthly's "Up and Coming" list: what's not to love?

This website was so helpful to me last year, so it's the least I could do.


aiyamei

e-mail user

Dec 4, 2007, 3:31 PM

Post #341 of 454 (3361 views)
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     Re: [umass76] New Thread? [In reply to]  

Can anyone tell me about the funding situation at Wisconsin-Madison? I have been looking around and can't seem to find clear-cut info. Sorry if this question is inadvertently redundant!


DMiller


Dec 4, 2007, 3:58 PM

Post #342 of 454 (3351 views)
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     Re: [aiyamei] New Thread? [In reply to]  

The information is right here.

http://creativewriting.wisc.edu/mfa.php#FinancialAid


cookie1984


Dec 4, 2007, 7:22 PM

Post #343 of 454 (3311 views)
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     Post deleted by cookie1984 [In reply to]

 


ridger


Dec 4, 2007, 8:54 PM

Post #344 of 454 (3291 views)
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     great teachers? [In reply to]  

 
I'm putting together my final list of schools. I keep getting hung up on the question of whether these professors, whether big name or not so much, are good teachers, and are invested in helping their students.

I know probably all programs are going to offer a lot to students, from peers and from instructors, and obviously each person has a different experience. But I imagine there are some consistent beliefs out there. For example, I hear George Saunders is a great teacher, while Mary Gaitskill is not as much. And I never hear about other instructors there (in fiction at least.) Is this all just heresay?

What have people's experience been? Who are the stars of teaching?


ptld


Dec 4, 2007, 11:56 PM

Post #345 of 454 (3256 views)
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     Re: [ridger] great teachers? [In reply to]  

george saunders is a really gifted teacher. i don't have him for workshop, just a russian short story class, but hearing him talk about books he loves has made me a better writer. i haven't had class with mary gaitskill, but i've heard mostly good things. i would say 2 out of 3 people thought she was a good teacher. she seems a little less fun to talk to outside of class though.

arthur flowers is another great workshop leader. i've met his entire workshop this term and everyone agrees he's a really good, generous teacher. this year i had heidi julavits for workshop and she was really amazing.


hamlet3145


Dec 5, 2007, 12:35 PM

Post #346 of 454 (3182 views)
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     Re: [ptld] great teachers? [In reply to]  

Though I'm poetry here at Montana, I've heard from multiple people that Kevin Canty is excellent for the nuts & bolts of fiction writing.


green sneakers

e-mail user

Dec 6, 2007, 3:02 AM

Post #347 of 454 (3094 views)
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     Re: [Junior Maas] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

Wow. As a native New Yorker who just moved to Houston this summer, I have to say that I'm surprised by how much I'm liking Houston. Because I'm not in New York anymore, I can actually afford to live in the queer/artsy/liberal part of town, where the Walgreens carries an entire carousel of Pride cards and an assortment of rainbow feathered boas. Plus, it was 75 and sunny today. I really can't complain.

I think I (like many people in the Northeast) had a really narrow, skewed view of what Texas/Houston would be like. Yeah, the university is not in the best part of town, but the campus itself is fine. Pretty, even. I feel a lot safer walking back to my car, alone, in the dark, than I ever felt lurking around "Morningside Heights." Too bad, because I was really hoping in my racist heart to witness gang warfare and to record my robbery for my nonfiction workshop.

I do think it's a great idea to visit, if possible, if you're accepted and interested in going to Houston. Especially if you have no experience with the south, or with Texas. Or hey, even if you're from Dallas.


__________



Dec 6, 2007, 12:29 PM

Post #348 of 454 (3041 views)
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     Re: [green sneakers] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

Ha ha. I'm glad to hear it's working out for you. I admit, my take on Houston's a wee bit skewed by my grandma; she walked into the Sharpstown Center on a day shooting broke out between the VIETNAMESE STREET GANGS!

The pride cards at Walgreens do surprise me. Now if we could just get the voters to follow suit...


six five four three two one 0 ->

(This post was edited by Junior Maas on Dec 6, 2007, 12:31 PM)


jsw


Dec 6, 2007, 5:40 PM

Post #349 of 454 (2980 views)
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     Introducing Myself [In reply to]  

Hello all,

I've been lurking here for months and I'm finally coming out to post. This has been an incredibly helpful board as I get ready to put in my applications. I'm applying to a bunch of schools--thirteen in all, even though that's an unlucky number. I'm putting the finishing touches on my writing samples and personal statement, and I'd love to swap samples with folks in these last days before sending in the applications. If anyone would like another set of eyes on their work, feel free to message me and we can work it out.

Here's my list of schools:

Montana
Michigan
Texas State
Austin
Houston
UNCW
Iowa
Hollins
GMU
Minnesota
Alabama
University of New Mexico
Ohio State

I'm feeling a lot better about the whole process after meeting with a writing coach in the area who's given me a whole new prospective on my stories. Hoping to be able to incorporate some of her ideas before the first of the deadlines.

Thanks again for all the help in the past few months, even though you didn't know that you were giving it to me!

jsw


Scrat1


Dec 11, 2007, 1:00 AM

Post #350 of 454 (2858 views)
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     Re: [jsw] Introducing Myself [In reply to]  

Does anyone, for whatever reason, know roughly how selective either of these schools are:
University of Mississippi
University of Memphis


lois f


Dec 12, 2007, 12:45 PM

Post #351 of 454 (3427 views)
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     Re: [jsw] Introducing Myself [In reply to]  

jsw, thanks. i've been lurking around here too and my list is pretty similar to yours. given the acceptance rates at some of these schools, i'm not sure what my chance of getting in might be, but i'm keeping my fingers crossed. for what it's worth, here's where i'm applying:


Houston
Hollins
Michigan
Iowa
NYU
George Mason
Syracuse
Montana
Arizona
Alabama
Ohio State

by the way, any idea what the funding is like at alabama?



rppohl


Dec 12, 2007, 5:30 PM

Post #352 of 454 (3381 views)
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     Re: [lois f] Introducing Myself [In reply to]  

Hi all
I'll join in. My list is:
michigan
cornell
wisconsin
minnesota
notre dame
indiana
Western michigan
Bowling Green
Purdue
I think some of these schools are going to be busy going through a lot of applications


golic


Dec 12, 2007, 6:39 PM

Post #353 of 454 (3357 views)
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     Re: [rppohl] Introducing Myself [In reply to]  

Boy, you guys are making me nervous. My list is pretty small in comparison. Here it is:

University of Oregon
San Fransisco State
Iowa (long shot, I know)
UC Davis
USC
Arizona State

Trying to stay on the west coast mainly. Maybe I should apply to some more???


BLUECHEESE


Dec 12, 2007, 7:25 PM

Post #354 of 454 (3343 views)
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     Re: [golic] Introducing Myself [In reply to]  

I think it depends on what you're looking for... but if you just really want to go to an MFA, and be funded, you might want to spread out a bit more... are you fiction or poetry? I don't know much on the fiction side of things...

but...
U. of Washington
Colorado State
Boise State
Las Vegas

all have great programs... (well, in poetry for sure... you could check into the fiction, I'm sure if the poetry side is good, the fiction is probably on a similar level? Not for sure... but yeah)


pareidolia


Dec 17, 2007, 2:46 AM

Post #355 of 454 (3193 views)
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     Re: [BLUECHEESE] Introducing Myself [In reply to]  

I'll stop lurking and post my schools as well...for poetry

Montana
UMass
Colorado State
Arizona State
UBC
University of Washington
University of Oregon


rdowney


Dec 18, 2007, 8:51 PM

Post #356 of 454 (3047 views)
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     Re: [pareidolia] Introducing Myself [In reply to]  

I have eight.

Brown
Michigan
Michener (UT)
Notre Dame
Virginia
Vanderbilt
Illinois
Columbia College (Chi)

I have much debt.


rdowney


Dec 18, 2007, 8:52 PM

Post #357 of 454 (3045 views)
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     Re: [rdowney] Introducing Myself [In reply to]  

Oh, I am applying for poetry. I hope I was not this forgetful with my apps.


Stewbags


Dec 19, 2007, 12:19 PM

Post #358 of 454 (2963 views)
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     Re: Introducing Myself [In reply to]  

I'll add to the mix here. Many thanks to all for your insight over the past few months (similar thank you posted in "Application Time" thread). In no particular order, the schools I applied to for poetry:

PhD:

Cornell
Utah
USC
Georgia
Albany

MFA:

Michigan
NYU
Michener (UT)
Irvine
Syracuse
Washington
UMass
Vanderbilt

I'll probably send an app to St. Mary's as well to avoid unlucky 13. Yes, 14 apps is a lot, and it costs a lot. And yes, more lottery tickets are better.

Oh, and the only reason I didn't apply to Virginia is because I went there for my undergrad and have worked with all of the MFA faculty. I can't speak highly enough of Dove, Wright, Orr and the entire department. If undergrad poets weren't encouraged to work with new writers for their graduate work, I would be heading straight back to Charlottesville, for sure.

Best of luck to everyone!

S


gainson


Dec 19, 2007, 12:29 PM

Post #359 of 454 (2955 views)
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     Re: [Stewbags] Introducing Myself [In reply to]  

i guess i'll throw my hat in the ring too. i'm applying to the following for fiction:

Sarah Lawrence
Columbia
New School
Emerson
Iowa
Brown
Houston
Johns Hopkins

Iowa is probably top on my list with Hopkins at a close second.


HopperFu


Dec 19, 2007, 12:38 PM

Post #360 of 454 (2951 views)
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     Re: [Stewbags] Introducing Myself [In reply to]  

Hi Stewbags,
I just wanted to make sure that you knew that in applying for the Cornell program there is not a Ph.D. in creative writing / poetry. You can apply jointly - that is, you can apply for both the MFA program as a poet and the Ph.D. program as a ... uh, scholar? - but I am almost certain you have to actually apply to both and be accepted by both.
I'm hoping that I just misread of your post.


Stewbags


Dec 19, 2007, 12:46 PM

Post #361 of 454 (2946 views)
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     Re: [HopperFu] Introducing Myself [In reply to]  

Hey Hopper,

Yes, I'm aware that Cornell only offers the scholarly/traditional PhD...which makes my classification a bit off. Sorry about that. They do, however, treat it as a joint degree program, thus reducing the average time it takes to complete both compared to some other programs.

The PhD seems to be a bit of a strange animal depending on the institution. There are those that offer an actual creative degree, those that offer a traditional PhD with the option to present a creative dissertation, and those that only offer the traditional (like Cornell).


HopperFu


Dec 19, 2007, 1:24 PM

Post #362 of 454 (2930 views)
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     Re: [Stewbags] Introducing Myself [In reply to]  

Thank god. I got really anxious and realized I was gritting my teeth...
The people I know in the dual program have really seemed to love it - the best of both worlds, I think - and yes, you are right in terms of timeline. Since they are done concurrently you don't have to be in school forever. I'm a believer in the MFA over the creative writing Ph.D., but I do think that a traditional, purely academic Ph.D. (like you get at Cornell) paired with an MFA certainly opens up opportunities.
Good luck. I hope you get into both programs.


pianississimo


Dec 19, 2007, 1:45 PM

Post #363 of 454 (2918 views)
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     Midwest Schools [In reply to]  

Alright. So just starting to research here... (I'll be applying for 2009). Here's what I'm looking at now. I'd like to have a couple of "up-and-comings" on the list, and I feel like most of these lean more toward "prestigious." But like I said, I'm just beginning to research, so I'm not certain. I'd love your input! Thanks a bouquet.

Iowa
Minnesota
Michigan
Northern Michigan
Western Michigan
Wisconsin
Illinois
Indiana
Ohio
Montana

edit: forgot to mention I'm applying for poetry.


(This post was edited by pianississimo on Dec 19, 2007, 2:27 PM)


rppohl


Dec 19, 2007, 1:50 PM

Post #364 of 454 (2914 views)
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     Re: [pianississimo] Midwest Schools [In reply to]  

Western Michigan is affiliated with the Prague Program, so you'd have the opportunity to spend 4 weeks there--it is a pretty intense 4 weeks but there's time to enjoy the city. If you're applying for fiction, Jaimy Gordon is an absolute gem as a teacher. I've heard good things about Bill Olson and Nancy Eimers on the poetry side. There is a pretty good publication rate among the mfa students too, and Third Coast is a decent literary journal.


stephkarto1
Stephanie Kartalopoulos

Dec 19, 2007, 2:02 PM

Post #365 of 454 (2907 views)
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     Applications!!! [In reply to]  

So I already have my MFA and am applying to PhDs this time around (for poetry & I have already been a good doobie and have been posting in the CRW PhD board on here...). Only 4 schools--which leaves me with such horrendous chances (there are horrendous chances anyway with the PhD applications)--but there are really only 4 programs that interest me. And they are:

Missouri
Utah
Houston
Florida State

Good luck to all applicants!!!


Lynn Costes


Dec 19, 2007, 2:26 PM

Post #366 of 454 (2897 views)
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     Re: [pianississimo] Midwest Schools [In reply to]  

 
Hey Planississimo,

That's basically the list. You might also want to add Ohio State and Purdue and maybe Cincinnati, though that might just be for Ph.Ds.

Many, many thanks to everyone for all of your posts on this thread! Now that the last of my apps are in the mail, I can finally have a drink and relax before I start fretting about where I'm going to get in (ha!). And well, since it's all over now, I guess there's no harm in sharing my list too:

I only applied to one M.A. Program (Hollins College in Roanoke, VA). The rest are pretty much in the D.C. area, with the exception of Penn State and the Iowa program:

Univ. Maryland, College Park
George Mason Univ.
Johns Hopkins
UVA
Iowa Writers' Workshop
PSU

One last thing, should I not get into any of these programs, does anyone know of some good continuing ed. type workshops in the D.C. area, specifically Bethesda?

Cheers, and good luck to everyone!
Lynn


rpc
ryan call

Dec 19, 2007, 9:41 PM

Post #367 of 454 (2815 views)
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     Re: [Lynn Costes] Midwest Schools [In reply to]  

lynn

you might try the Writers Center in Bethesda?


good luck with apps, pm me if you have questions about mason (that offer is open to others as well)


<HTMLGIANT>

(This post was
edited by rpc on Dec 20, 2007, 12:31 AM)


navybuttons


Dec 19, 2007, 10:00 PM

Post #368 of 454 (2808 views)
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     list of schools [In reply to]  

brown
University of Virginia
NYU
Columbia
Brooklyn
Notre Dame
Iowa
Houston
Austin
UCI
Cal State San Francisco

one time dealer!

good luck to all.


Lynn Costes


Dec 20, 2007, 12:03 AM

Post #369 of 454 (2777 views)
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     Re: [rpc] Midwest Schools [In reply to]  

 
rpc,

Thanks! That's great to know. I'm hoping to get into an MFA Program, but it's good to know there are other options out there.

Lynn


chitown


Dec 20, 2007, 7:49 PM

Post #370 of 454 (2679 views)
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     Re: [motet] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

At the last minute, my bank account is nearly bottomed out and I need to cut 2 or 3 schools from my list. Does anyone know about the funding situation at UMass Amherst? I know they offer teaching assistantships, but I wonder if this is enough to live in Amherst...

Also, University of Georgia (PhD). If anyone can speak to how much this program emphasizes writing instead of literature, I'd appreciate it.

Possible others on the chopping block... Indiana, Bowling Green, and Binghamton.

Here's my list, by the by:

University of Georgia
Florida State University
UVA
Iowa
JHU
Indiana
UMass Amherst
Binghamton University
Bowling Green State
Cornell (app sent)
Irvine (app sent)

In Reply To


dunnkc


Dec 20, 2007, 8:12 PM

Post #371 of 454 (2672 views)
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     Re: [chitown] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  

Here's my list of schools (if my recommenders bother to get my letters back to me in time!!!):

University of Houston
University of Texas -- Michener
University of Iowa
Texas State University at San Marcos
University of Georgia
San Diego State University
University of California -- Irvine
Johns Hopkins University
University of Arizona
Warren Wilson (low res)
University of Arkansas

11 total -- and only one recommender has gotten letters back to me so far!


HopperFu


Dec 20, 2007, 9:24 PM

Post #372 of 454 (2649 views)
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     Re: [chitown] Choosing an MFA Program (2008) [In reply to]  


In Reply To
Possible others on the chopping block... Indiana, Bowling Green, and Binghamton.

In Reply To

I've heard a lot of good things about Indiana.


bedefan


Dec 20, 2007, 9:34 PM

Post #373 of 454 (2648 views)
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     Re: [pianississimo] Midwest Schools [In reply to]  

There are some other Midwest schools as well. Washington U is St. Louis which offers excellent funding and has Mary Jo Bang on the poetry faculty. Then there's U Kansas in Lawrence (great town) which has Kenneth Irby (great poet) on the faculty as well. In Minnesota, Mankato State (not a prestigious school, but it's in a nice region--not sure how the poetry teachers are though) gives surprisingly decent funding for an unknown program, comparable to Montana or Arkansas.

I'm doing the "apply to Midwest poetry programs" thing right now, actually I just sent off my apps today. I applied to

Notre Dame
Indiana
Illinois
Iowa (in translation, not poetry)
Washington U StL
Kansas
Arkansas (in translation AND poetry)

I was going to apply to Minnesota, but I know some poets in the Twin Cities (one avant-garde, one traditional) who all strongly recommended AGAINST that school. And since it was more than one poet in agreement that the poetry program at U Minn. was not a fun place to be (in spite of their stellar funding... sigh...), and since the poetry of Ray Gonzalez and Michael Dennis Browne doesn't blow me away, I just decided to skip it.

I thought about Montana, but my "Midwest" is rather Missouri-centered, which made Montana too far away and made Arkansas plenty close.