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Choosing an MFA Program (2008)
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__________



May 17, 2007, 2:05 AM

Post #26 of 454 (4648 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 (4605 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 (4457 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 (4326 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 (4313 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 (4309 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 (4306 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 (4304 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 (4278 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 (4214 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 (4157 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 (4146 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 (4110 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 (4016 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 (4013 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 (3900 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 (3862 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 (3835 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 (3827 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 (3816 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 (3770 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 (3727 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 (3627 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 (3482 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 (3448 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.

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