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chapelhell


Aug 15, 2009, 10:29 AM

Post #426 of 1018 (12560 views)
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     Re: [SweetJane] Choosing an MFA Program 2010 [In reply to]  

Phoebe,

Thanks so much for taking the time to share the inside scoop. Very helpful.

-


SweetJane


e-mail user

Aug 15, 2009, 10:35 AM

Post #427 of 1018 (12556 views)
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     Re: [chapelhell] Choosing an MFA Program 2010 [In reply to]  

You're welcome! A few other (poss.) relevant Florida stuff: all students get health insurance fully paid for via UF's "GatorGradCare" system, and in the first year the teaching load is considered a 1.5/1.5 load, as everyone but the two fellowship students participate in a mentored teaching program through the university's writing programwhere you assist an English graduate student in the classroom in addition to teaching one class on their own. All students leave with experience teaching a technical writing class, two different composition classes, and two different creative writing classes.



Yours,
Phoebe
www.phoebeeating.com


SJ

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


chapelhell


Aug 17, 2009, 12:00 AM

Post #428 of 1018 (12485 views)
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     Re: [umass76] Choosing an MFA Program 2010 [In reply to]  

Seth,

If I'm understanding Phoebe correctly, the University of Florida MFA program has never offered a $13,000+ stipend in the usual, expected sense, in that Florida's figure of $13,000 has always included compensation for being a teaching assistant during the summer. Most (if not all) other MFA programs that say they offer a $13,000 (or $16,000 or $20,000) stipend mean that's the stipend you get for the primary academic year, i.e., that stipend is paid out over a 9 month period. A few programs offer additional summer support, and some programs may let you teach in the summer if there is a position available, but if you did elect to teach in the summer you would get additional compensation over and above the stipend you'd received for the previous nine months. (I believe most programs encourage students not to teach during the summer, if that's financially feasible, because they would prefer you spend your summers writing your ass off.)

It appears that Florida's stipend has always been approximately $9,200 for the nine-month academic year, plus more money if you teach in the summer (with summer teaching appointments guaranteed in the past, but no longer). That's a much different situation than most other fully funded programs, in which you get, say, $13,000 for the nine-month academic year and then you have your summers completely free to write. (I've been a teaching assistant before, and I know that summer teaching is the worst, time-wise; typically you're teaching every single day Monday through Friday for 3 hours, and preparing and grading your ass off at night, and while there's some counterbalance because you're not taking courses, it's still a heavy load and I think it would be a challenge to get much writing done.)

Florida's funding data in your database should probably be updated to say $9,200 with the possibility of summer teaching appointments (of course, just about any program has the possibility of summer teaching appointments, or to put it another way, this is America and you're free to explore the possibility of making additional money in the summer, so I'm not sure Florida's got anything special going there).

But perhaps I'm misinterpreting what Phoebe's saying.

-CH


umass76


Aug 17, 2009, 3:39 AM

Post #429 of 1018 (12466 views)
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     Re: [chapelhell] Choosing an MFA Program 2010 [In reply to]  

CH,

In the case of UF, my data came directly from a UF grad. The dollar amount included the summer funding, because at that time it was guaranteed to all students. The funding data for every program--not just UF--includes any guaranteed monies. Other MFA programs offer summer funding to some students; those that offer it to all (like UF, Cornell, and some others) have that amount added to their total package value. I'll look into the assertion that summer funding is no longer guaranteed; as you might guess, I'm loath to drop a program's package by a total of many thousands without some care.

As to the notion that programs should get equal or greater status than, say, a UF for allowing their students to write over the summer--though I wonder how easy it is to write over the summer when you have no money to buy food with and have to work at Starbucks as a barista 30 hours/week to survive--I can't subscribe to that theory. The rankings are funding rankings for MFA programs based on the standard, Judeo-Christian 12-month calendar, not working-at-Starbucks rankings. I'm sure you understand. I don't mean to be flip about this, I'm actually serious as to what the rankings are attempting to measure

Be well,
Seth
Abramson Leslie Consulting


(This post was edited by umass76 on Aug 17, 2009, 3:43 AM)


chapelhell


Aug 17, 2009, 11:16 AM

Post #430 of 1018 (12435 views)
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     Re: [umass76] Choosing an MFA Program 2010 [In reply to]  

Seth,

The summer teaching assistantship situation at Florida is described in a document you can download from their web site:

Quote
Summer Teaching
MFA students who are receiving teaching assistantships and who are making satisfactory progress
may receive summer teaching assignments during the summers after the first and second years. But
“priority has shifted to international students and to MAs and PhDs who need [to teach] in the
summer to fulfill requirements” (from Graduate Coordinator, April 7, 2009).
http://www.english.ufl.edu/...A%20Requirements.pdf


I don't get the working-30-hours-at-Starbucks comment. Nothing says students have to spend every penny of their stipends as they get them; they can, in theory, budget so that they have enough money to get through the summer without working.

You really don't see a difference between getting paid $13,000 for 9 months of work (with the option either to make additional money in the summer months, teaching or working at Starbucks, or, if you don't need extra money, to not work at all in the summer) and getting paid $13,000 for 12 months of work with no choice at all in how you spend the summer months?

Whether or not you choose to try to capture this distinction in your rankings, there is a significant difference, no?

-CH


SweetJane


e-mail user

Aug 17, 2009, 12:53 PM

Post #431 of 1018 (12411 views)
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     Re: [chapelhell] Choosing an MFA Program 2010 [In reply to]  

 

Quote
(I've been a teaching assistant before, and I know that summer teaching is the worst, time-wise; typically you're teaching every single day Monday through Friday for 3 hours, and preparing and grading your ass off at night, and while there's some counterbalance because you're not taking courses, it's still a heavy load and I think it would be a challenge to get much writing done.)

Florida's funding data in your database should probably be updated to say $9,200 with the possibility of summer teaching appointments (of course, just about any program has the possibility of summer teaching appointments, or to put it another way, this is America and you're free to explore the possibility of making additional money in the summer, so I'm not sure Florida's got anything special going there).

But perhaps I'm misinterpreting what Phoebe's saying


No, you've got it right. That being said, MFAs teach only one summer session (six weeks out of fifteen) and always of a class they've taught previously--technical writing or creative writing. Summer classes here are only an hour and fifteen minutes long, though they do meet five days a week. Teaching them is easy. Really, really, really easy, and a pretty good deal, considering what you're compensated. I wrote most of a novel in the six weeks I was teaching last summer. You have plenty of time to write.

Yours,
Phoebe
www.phoebeeating.com


honeyhex


Aug 17, 2009, 4:51 PM

Post #432 of 1018 (12372 views)
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     Applying Without an Undergrad Degree? [In reply to]  

Hey, guys. I completed two years of a creative-writing undergrad before dropping out. Since then, I've published a bunch of short fiction and a novel. I think my writing sample is pretty strong.

I know Brown does consider applicants without degrees, but has anyone heard of other schools doing so? Is it worth it to apply elsewhere, even if they don't have a history of accepting the (arguably) undereducated?

Thanks!


bighark


Aug 17, 2009, 5:03 PM

Post #433 of 1018 (12364 views)
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     Re: [honeyhex] Applying Without an Undergrad Degree? [In reply to]  

Just to clarify, are you saying you do not have a bachelor's degree at all?


honeyhex


Aug 17, 2009, 5:10 PM

Post #434 of 1018 (12362 views)
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     Re: [bighark] Applying Without an Undergrad Degree? [In reply to]  


In Reply To
Just to clarify, are you saying you do not have a bachelor's degree at all?


Nope, no bachelor's degree.


bighark


Aug 17, 2009, 10:37 PM

Post #435 of 1018 (12329 views)
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     Re: [honeyhex] Applying Without an Undergrad Degree? [In reply to]  

OK. In that case, I think you'll want to do some research. Some schools may admit you and confer a certificate instead of an MFA upon graduation, and others won't be able to accept you at all.

If this were my search, I'd probably rule out schools that require the GRE and concentrate on studio-style programs and the Stegner fellowship at Stanford. I'm not sure what's all out there, but I think you have more options that just Brown.

Good luck!


umass76


Aug 18, 2009, 12:13 AM

Post #436 of 1018 (12309 views)
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     Re: [chapelhell] Choosing an MFA Program 2010 [In reply to]  

Hi CH,

No, that's not what I mean--although I'll admit I'm not being very clear, so I can see how you might misunderstand. The experience, from the student's perspective, of getting paid 13K for 9 months or 13K for 12 months is very different, you're right. In the former case, you have to get out-of-MFA employment over the summer, which has the benefit of raising your annual income well over 13K, and the downside of meaning you get less teaching experience and can't remain in an academic (rather than commercial) environment over the summer (though needless to say, the person making 13K over 9 months has the additional benefit of having lived better for those 9 months than the person who makes 10K over 9 months and 3K in the summer!).

What I was trying to explain is that the MFA Funding Rankings measure the total, guaranteed financial commitments programs make to their students. The reason for this is that I'm trying to gauge the value, in total dollars, of a committed spot (i.e. an acceptance) at any given program. You're certainly right to say that, if applicants wish, they can take into account opportunity cost--and therefore say, well, Florida's package shouldn't get the 3K added in, because students will have to work over the summer anyway, one way or another, and they might make just as much working at Starbuck's while on summer break from a program that doesn't offer summer money, leaving the non-summer-funded program 3K ahead of Florida if both offer 13K packages.

My presumption, though, is that there has always been a special value to staying "in-program"--i.e., remaining on the MFA campus, employed by the MFA, in the midst of the MFA community, doing MFA-related work for compensation. At least during the period of time the individual has set aside to focus on their MFA studies (I might have a different view, say, of Cornell's post-graduate lectureships, even if they were guaranteed [which they're not] because at that point Cornell is really just offering a full-time job, without any continuing connection as a "student" to the MFA community, and frankly the value of that job must be compared to the value of other jobs a graduate could get, not other funding packages students get). It's a fine distinction, but I think not an unreasonable one. Having graduated from an MFA that does give summer teaching opportunities to some, I can say (from speaking to those who got such opportunities) that it feels quite different indeed knowing that your program will continue to support you over the summer--even if employment is required (as, really, it always is in an MFA program)--rather than having to go off and find equivalently-lucrative employment yourself in the private sector. I think there is a substantial value, even if psychological rather than economic, in that summer funding. The psychological value isn't just in feeling supported, and feeling like you've gotten dollar-for-dollar value from your institution, but also in a) not having to spend time on a job search during your spring semester, b) not having the worry of not knowing what you'll do for money over the summer, and c) as I said, being able to stay in the MFA environment over the summer.

The strongest argument against this would be to point out that the student in a program paying 13K over nine months could just set aside 3K for the summer, thus putting them in substantially the same situation as the person whose program pays 10K over the school year and 3K in the summer (with the difference that the latter student also teaches a class in the summer, but that teaching experience might well be considered a form of value to them, with minimal effort attached anyway if the class only meets, say, 2x/week). In any case, I say it's "substantially the same situation" as between these two scenarios--which is, I suppose, reflected by the Funding Rankings, which value both of the two scenarios described above equally (counting each package as being 13K). And lest you say that it's strange for me (in the analysis I provided in this paragraph) to not distinguish at all between the student who has to teach an "extra" class in the summer and the one who doesn't, remember that the Funding Rankings already don't distinguish between two equally-funded programs which require, say, a 1/2 versus a 1/1 teaching load, largely for the reason I just mentioned: every applicant has to decide for themselves how much teaching experience, if any, has value to them.

Be well,
Seth

Abramson Leslie Consulting



(This post was edited by umass76 on Aug 18, 2009, 12:20 AM)


FreakingOutInBd


Aug 22, 2009, 5:30 AM

Post #437 of 1018 (12106 views)
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     Re: [umass76] Choosing an MFA Program 2010 [In reply to]  

Hi everyone! I've been a lurker so far, but finally thought I'd say hullo to you all...

I'm a fiction writer, poet and translator from Bangladesh, planning to apply for Fall 2010 and am totally freaking out here.

Thanks to you all for the discussions - for me, lifesavers for a drowning person :-)

I've narrowed down the schools I want to apply to: my criteria are - funding (there's no chance of me going unless I get a full ride), no GRE requirements (not being whiny, but you have no idea how badly I suck at math), and location (I'm a single mom, so that's something I need to take into account). I also want to be somewhere where I won't have a too heavy course load or teaching load, and have the time to write.

I have 14 schools now, and although I know I have a better chance if I apply to em all (yep, a follower of TSE here, thank you, Seth!), but I can't apply so many. Would appreciate any insight/advice in helping me to narrow this list even further...Thanks a bunch in advance. Here's the list of my schools:

Yup!:
Iowa Writers Workshop
University of Michigan Ann Arbor
University of California at Irvine
Arizona State University
University of Wisconsin-Madison
New Mexico State University
University of Virginia

George Mason University
American University

Maybe:

University of Oregon
University of New Mexico
Virginia Tech
Brown University
Texas State University


(P.S. Am posting this in response to Seth's last post because that's the only button that seems to be working for me!)


LesK
Les
e-mail user

Aug 22, 2009, 12:43 PM

Post #438 of 1018 (12082 views)
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     Re: [FreakingOutInBd] Choosing an MFA Program 2010 [In reply to]  

Hi FreakingOutInBd,

Your schools look pretty good to me, though I, personally, seem to be more intrigued by your maybes.


Quote
I've narrowed down the schools I want to apply to: my criteria are - funding (there's no chance of me going unless I get a full ride), no GRE requirements (not being whiny, but you have no idea how badly I suck at math), and location (I'm a single mom, so that's something I need to take into account). I also want to be somewhere where I won't have a too heavy course load or teaching load, and have the time to write.


I'd like to encourage you not to eliminate any schools solely on the basis of the GRE.

To begin with, the GREs, in order of priority, are way, way down the totem pole. As I understand the use of GRE scores, sometimes, they can be used as evidence for funding, but generally, they just verify whay your grades & writing samples should already indicate: that you're capable of graduate level work.

More, when it comes to math, those scores are essentially meaningless. Period. Admissions committees have absolutely no reason to look at those scores. You could skip the entitrety of the Math section or play connect the dots & I don't think it would create any issues whatsoever, so long as you met the minimum for the other two sections.

So, if there's a good school out there that seems perfect to you, except for the GRE requirement, go for it. Your math skills/fear will not stand in the way.


bluegreenyellow


Aug 22, 2009, 2:24 PM

Post #439 of 1018 (12063 views)
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     Re: [LesK] Choosing an MFA Program 2010 [In reply to]  

Long time lurker, first time poster.

Applying to both artist residency programs and MFA programs. I don't know. It's been suggested to me that I do, maybe, based on the possible strength of my application. Applying in fiction.

Here's my list. Looking for feedback, ideas?

Brown
Columbia
UVA
U Mass-Amherst
Iowa
Montana
JHU
Irvine
Michigan
Michener Center
Indiana
Arkansas?

artist residencies of varying lengths:

Yaddo
MacDowell
Provincetown
Stegner
Jentel
Hedgebrook


(This post was edited by bluegreenyellow on Aug 22, 2009, 2:30 PM)


gg.scholastica
Gena Goodman


Aug 22, 2009, 3:26 PM

Post #440 of 1018 (12044 views)
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     Re: [bluegreenyellow] Choosing an MFA Program 2010 [In reply to]  

Well, blue--

I'm also applying in fiction, but it looks to me that you're applying to almost all heavy-hitters (with the exception of perhaps Indiana and Arkansas) that accept very very few applicants a year, relative to their ususal submission numbers. This is not a problem if you're set on a top program, as long as you're aware of how hard you're making this on yourself. And it is fairly well established that Columbia has next-to-nil funding, but if you can find funding, all the power to you, it's a great school.

Would you be willing to add more/substitute different schools with slightly better acceptance rates?

Good luck with whatever you choose to do--
-Gena


bluegreenyellow


Aug 22, 2009, 3:44 PM

Post #441 of 1018 (12041 views)
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     Re: [gg.scholastica] Choosing an MFA Program 2010 [In reply to]  

Hmm. Any suggestions as to what I ought to include?


gg.scholastica
Gena Goodman


Aug 22, 2009, 4:03 PM

Post #442 of 1018 (12036 views)
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     Re: [bluegreenyellow] Choosing an MFA Program 2010 [In reply to]  

Well, most of my research has covered Southern schools, but since you have Arkansas on your list, I assume that locale doesn't bother you? At risk of giving myself more competition, I suggest University of Houston, Old Dominion, U of Arizona, Ole Miss, San Diego State University, and Louisiana State University. None of these are extremely high admit (U of H is actually a pretty tough go, I've heard) but they've all got better admission stats than Michener, Iowa, Irvine, and a lot of your other choices. Especially concerning LSU, I am surprised how few applications they get a year... full funding and The Southern Review? Sounds like a win-win to me. Anywhoo, that's my two cents. I'd suggest going to Seth Abramson's blog and check out his 2009 rankings... they were collected using applicant's lists, so you can see just how popular some of your choices are, and look downlist for a few less-known (but still good) programs.

-Gena


bluegreenyellow


Aug 22, 2009, 4:28 PM

Post #443 of 1018 (12029 views)
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     Re: [gg.scholastica] Choosing an MFA Program 2010 [In reply to]  

Thanks for the tip on LSU. I love the Southern Review. I looked at the rankings on Seth's blog, so I'll have to look again, maybe, for programs that are lesser-known. But the thing is, (even though I am ashamed? to say it) the prestige of a program is important to me. I went to a state school for undergrad (which was fine, but even now, years later, I still want a semi-prestigious program for grad school). I bought the CW grad school MFA book and picked from those to get my list here. But I keep adding and subtracting programs anyway. This is so stressful! I have to weigh whether or not I want to be in for sure somewhere against finding programs I'm interested in attending but those that may not be as prestigious.


Tabby


e-mail user

Aug 22, 2009, 7:12 PM

Post #444 of 1018 (11993 views)
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     Re: [FreakingOutInBd] Choosing an MFA Program 2010 [In reply to]  

I would like to second LesK on the GRE advice. Don't let that limit your application process.

At Montana, I can vouch that the faculty doesn't even look at the GRE. Writing sample. Writing sample. Writing sample.


http://www.kellykathleenferguson.com


gg.scholastica
Gena Goodman


Aug 22, 2009, 8:04 PM

Post #445 of 1018 (11984 views)
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     Re: [bluegreenyellow] Choosing an MFA Program 2010 [In reply to]  

Nothing wrong with looking for a prestigious school. If that's one of your top qualifications, so be it. It would make explaining it easier to the confused family/friends... "Yes, I'm going to Brown" sounds a lot more impressive to the uninitiated than even "Yes, I'm going to Iowa". I've had to explain that one on my list to quite a few.

In terms of prestigious schools, you're missing Cornell, NYU, Vanderbilt, and I forget if you have Syracuse? All hard admits, but 3 out of 4 are fully funded.


FreakingOutInBd


Aug 22, 2009, 11:49 PM

Post #446 of 1018 (11954 views)
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     Re: [Tabby] Choosing an MFA Program 2010 [In reply to]  

@LesK and Tabby: I know you're both talking sense. But even gearing up for the other two sections of the GRE, I fear I no longer have the time...and then being from Bd, I also have a foreign language req. :( I know I'll breeze through that, but still...

The good side of it is, I'm moderately happy with the list I have now - I've been poring over whatever I can find online (who isn't!) and I think I'll be happy with the schools I have now, even the maybes.


FreakingOutInBd


Aug 23, 2009, 12:00 AM

Post #447 of 1018 (11954 views)
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     Re: [LesK] Choosing an MFA Program 2010 [In reply to]  

Hi LesK,

Can I ask what it is about the Maybes intrigues you? :-)


LesK
Les
e-mail user

Aug 23, 2009, 12:30 AM

Post #448 of 1018 (11942 views)
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     Re: [FreakingOutInBd] Choosing an MFA Program 2010 [In reply to]  


Quote

Can I ask what it is about the Maybes intrigues you? :-)


Sure.


Quote

Maybe:

University of Oregon
University of New Mexico
Virginia Tech
Brown University
Texas State University


I should add some context, first, however. Personally, I've got an MFA from the University of Miami ('98). Poetry.

So, basically, my thoughts are based simply on my perceptions and some limited knowledge. Oregon, Brown, Virginia Tech, & Texas State intrigue me. I know little about UNM, aside from the bits I've seen on these boards.

Let's see, Brown is, well, Brown.

Texas State is, I think, a good program in an interesting city, at an interesting university & I believe they're funding is not so bad (but I'm not sure...you may have much better insight into that program than I do).

The University of Oregon has long been a great program, I think. Though, Dorianne Laux is now at North Carolina State, I think. Plus, living in Oregon just sounds good. Not sure what their funding situation is.

As for Virginia Tech....I just like the program a lot. Fred D'Aguiar was one of my teachers @ Miami & is quite good. Bob Hicok is among my favorite poets at the moment, etc.

If you'd like to hear more of my thoughts, feel free to PM me...

-Les


FreakingOutInBd


Aug 23, 2009, 1:37 AM

Post #449 of 1018 (11932 views)
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     Re: [LesK] Choosing an MFA Program 2010 [In reply to]  

Oregon - I love the idea of Oregon, but heard this year funding is taking a nosedive. Can't track down right now where I read that though...but would love to be disabused of the notion and reinstate Oregon... :-)

I also like the idea of Virginia...

Thanks for your comments Les!


FreakingOutInBd


Aug 23, 2009, 2:10 AM

Post #450 of 1018 (11929 views)
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     Re: [LesK] Choosing an MFA Program 2010 [In reply to]  

Tried PMing you :-(, can't...

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