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Choosing an MFA Program (2008)
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hamlet3145


Aug 14, 2007, 5:51 PM

Post #101 of 454 (3511 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 (3494 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 (3483 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 (3476 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 (3424 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 (3415 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 (3414 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 (3410 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 (3408 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 (3403 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 (3335 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 (3299 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 (3272 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 (3231 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 (3228 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 (3194 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 (3170 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 (3132 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 (3128 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 (3101 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 (3086 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 (3067 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 (3054 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 (3041 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 (3038 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.

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