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mrshankly


Jul 19, 2007, 1:30 PM

Post #76 of 454 (3723 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 (3665 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 (3522 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 (3512 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 (3497 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 (3489 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 (3473 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 (3469 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 (3462 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 (3459 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 (3434 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 (3407 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 (3403 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 (3391 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 (3372 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 (3355 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 (3310 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 (3306 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 (3262 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 (3171 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 (3124 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 (3064 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 (3042 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 (3037 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 (3037 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.

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