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OldScribe2000


Aug 30, 2009, 4:39 PM

Post #476 of 1018 (19342 views)
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     Re: [kbritten] Choosing an MFA Program 2010 [In reply to]  

If you went to school in Alabama, why couldn't you attend Arkansas?

Good Gawd, if I had to choose between Fayetteville, Arkansas and Tuscaloosa, Alabama, it would take me about one-tenth of a second to pick the right answer!

There was an Alabama MFA student on here not too long ago. I believe she posted on this thread, too. See if you can peel the pages back and locate her posts. Her comments--along with other criteria--factored into my decision to scratch Alabama off my list.


kbritten

e-mail user

Aug 30, 2009, 7:05 PM

Post #477 of 1018 (19309 views)
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     Re: [OldScribe2000] Choosing an MFA Program 2010 [In reply to]  

*ahem* I'm going to have to correct you there Old Scribe, I went to AUBURN not my hated rival Alabama. Auburn is a beautiful "progessive" (for the South, I guess) college town, whereas Tuscaloosa... hicktown. No, I'm just kidding. I would like throw rotten tomatoes at Nick Saban and I do cringe when I see that stupid elephant, but that's beside the point, I've simply been indoctrinated to believe that anything crimson is from Satan ;) SEC football... It's weird though, because I would go to Bama or UFlorida for my MFA, and I can't stand either football team. Seriously, Tim Tebow. Seriously? Bleh.

I am actually applying to Arkansas this week, so I'm going to have to get over my hesitation. My one experience of Arkansas happened when I drove through to state to get to Auburn. We ate a waffle house, where all of the waitresses combined didn't have enough teeth to form a lower jaw (no joke). Then, I was pulled over because I had a California license plate, even though I wasn't speeding or swirving, or wanted to for anything in particular. The cop pulled me over because "they don't take too kindly to folks like us in Arkansas" (his words, swear to God, not mine), and because he thought we had medicinal marijunana, since it's legal in California. I swear to God, I can't make something like that up. Alabama has it's nastiness, don't get me wrong, but it was like the south of France compared to Arkansas. The only place that compares to Arkansas is Mississippi. Wow. Or maybe Louisiana. Oh my God, the weird Southern stories, lol. Anyway, long post, sorry.


OldScribe2000


Aug 30, 2009, 8:46 PM

Post #478 of 1018 (19289 views)
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     Re: [kbritten] Choosing an MFA Program 2010 [In reply to]  

Sorry for the confusion. But you still shouldn't base your decision not to apply to a program based on stereotypes and a couple bad experiences. I've had my fair share of those, but I won't let them influence me.

For example, my father and I visited the casinos in Mississippi once and got turned around heading back home. Lost out in the country, we passed a house--not an abandoned residence, mind you--that didn't have any doors or windows. I looked at my dad and said, "Hey, pops, that house doesn't have any doors or windows! Somebody's gonna steal all their stuff." My father shook his head. "Son, there ain't nothin' in there to steal."

But that experience didn't play into my decision to scratch Mississippi off my list. It's a great program, up-and-coming to be sure. But they have a Foreign Language requirement, and I suffer from a documented learning disability that impedes my ability to learn math and a second language. So, no Ole Miss and no Michigan for Old Scribe.

Point is, don't let some redneck police officer and no-dental-insurance-toting waitresses at the Waffle House patch together such a bad opinion of Arkansas. There's more to it than meets the eye--there always is.

Shazam!

Just kiddin'!


sayra


Aug 30, 2009, 9:13 PM

Post #479 of 1018 (19280 views)
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     Re: [OldScribe2000] Choosing an MFA Program 2010 [In reply to]  

Small note: as far as I'm aware, Michigan has gotten rid of its foreign language requirement as of last year, and now has a take home essay on a set of required reading that all first years need to pass instead--so no need to cross it off for the (now nonexistant) foreign language requirement, as far as I know. Anyone who's been in Ann Arbor more recently than I have information to the contrary?
Also, all this talk of waffle houses makes me really want some waffles...


OldScribe2000


Aug 30, 2009, 9:32 PM

Post #480 of 1018 (19268 views)
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     Re: [sayra] Choosing an MFA Program 2010 [In reply to]  

Thanks for the heads-up, sayra. I've never really understood the FL requirement for a writing degree. It's not that I have a bad attitude about learning a new language, I just can't do it; for my BA, I had to have the Foreign Language courses swapped for anthropology courses, and I had to "ride the short bus" to special math classes. It's my Achilles' Heel. What can I say?


katelauren
Kate

Aug 31, 2009, 9:43 AM

Post #481 of 1018 (19202 views)
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     Choosing an MFA Program 2010 [In reply to]  

I've got a general question for everyone. What do you think is more important, the prestige of a program or the duration? I would really like to go to a 3 yr school, but should I choose a 2 yr school that has a better reputation if I end up being lucky enough to have a choice?


WanderingTree


Aug 31, 2009, 12:03 PM

Post #482 of 1018 (19180 views)
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     Re: [katelauren] Choosing an MFA Program 2010 [In reply to]  

Both prestige and 3 years would be lovely : - )

But given a choice, I'd personally go for whatever program seemed to be the best fit. Will prestigious programs help you a little in terms of teaching, publishing etc.? Sure, it's no secret that brand names have selling power in any field. But there's no guarantee and ultimately the buck stops withy you. Will 3 years give you more time to write and learn? Absolutely. But, depending on your circumstances, 1 extra year might be 1 year too much away from your life.

I don't think anyone can really answer this question for you because it involves so many personal factors. At the end of the day, you're just going to have to go with your gut.

But with that said, I'm applying for the second year, and I'm not applying to any schools that I know I wouldn't be happy at. I'm still ranking prestige fairly highly on my list, but I'm also being honest about which schools would likely help me in terms of where I am as a writer and what kind of writing I do.

Just my thoughts. Hope this helps.


OldScribe2000


Sep 1, 2009, 12:00 AM

Post #483 of 1018 (19120 views)
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     Re: [katelauren] Choosing an MFA Program 2010 [In reply to]  

Go for the longer program. Most MFA candidates are sad to see their time inside their program end. After all, this ain't law school. From what I've seen, MFA programs are different than other graduate disciplines. There's more camaraderie, more socializing, more bonding, more...partying!

I think you're going to love your experience with whichever MFA program accepts you. And you're not going to want to see it end. So, why not make it last as long as you can?

You're young now. And you can only enjoy this once. Revel in your time.


(This post was edited by OldScribe2000 on Sep 1, 2009, 12:01 AM)


meory


Sep 1, 2009, 12:40 PM

Post #484 of 1018 (19068 views)
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     Re: [OldScribe2000] Choosing an MFA Program 2010 [In reply to]  

I was wondering if someone could help me with my list of schools I'm planning to apply to. I live in Rhode Island and, for several personal reasons, I want to stay in the northeastern US. However, I'm finding that schools here are among the most selective, and the least funded. If anyone could suggest schools in the northeast that are less selective and/or better funded, I would really appreciate it!

Here is my list so far:

UMass Amherst
UMass Boston
Emerson
University of Pittsburgh
Penn State
Johns Hopkins
Brooklyn
Hunter
Rutgers-Newark
Stonybrook Southampton
Adelphi
NYU
Columbia
Sarah Lawrence


kbritten

e-mail user

Sep 1, 2009, 1:17 PM

Post #485 of 1018 (19055 views)
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     Re: [meory] Choosing an MFA Program 2010 [In reply to]  

Meory, I'm not sure how far you are willing to travel from the Northeast, but there are plenty of schools in VA/Northern VA that are less selective and better funded. George Mason, VA Commonwealth, American (I think, although I'm not sure about its funding). Good luck!


morganapple


Sep 2, 2009, 10:41 PM

Post #486 of 1018 (18890 views)
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     Re: [motet] Choosing an MFA Program 2010 [In reply to]  

Hi all--

new to the forum. getting together apps and poems for Fall 2010!

concerned with funding, location (in NY now, and loving it, but could use a return to CA), faculty. I would love it if anyone has firsthand opinions or info about any of the following schools.

here's the list, in its current incarnation:

UVA
UMass-Amherst
U or Oregon
U of Washington
UCSD
UC Irvine
NYU
Iowa
U of Michigan


umass76


Sep 3, 2009, 12:26 AM

Post #487 of 1018 (18878 views)
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     Re: [morganapple] Choosing an MFA Program 2010 [In reply to]  

Morgan,

Briefly:

Virginia: a top poetry program, excellent faculty, known for being slightly conservative aesthetically. Charlottesville is a beautiful town.

Massachusetts: a top poetry program, excellent faculty (particularly Peter Gizzi; however, James Tate is said to be somewhat close to the end of his teaching career), known for the excellent post-graduate track record of its students. Amherst is a beautiful town with a strong poetry community for its size. Not as well funded as the other programs on your list.

Oregon: funding is slipping, student satisfaction is low because of dissatisfaction with one particular poetry faculty member. Dorianne Laux has left for NC State, so generally this is not a great option for poets right now.

Washington: strong faculty (strongest in poetry, your genre), but funding is essentially nonexistent now. Used to be a stronger program.

UCSD: Fully-funded, new program believed to be welcoming to experimental poetry. Almost certain to see a sudden spike in applications this year, and equally certain to be a top forty program within 24 months.

Irvine: Stronger in fiction. Stipend doesn't go as far as it should because of high cost of living. Nearby Los Angeles has an amazing poetry community (particularly performance poetry). Again, not really known for its poetry program, though--Irvine got famous purely on the strength of its fiction faculty/program.

Iowa: One of the only true studio programs out there (no grades, no attendance in most classes, second year can be entirely workshop and thesis hours if student wants). A huge, vibrant, diverse poetry community in a city named by the United Nations one of the three "Cities of Literature" in the world. Yes, I went there, but the reality is that--any bias aside--this really should be a top target for most applicants. Visiting faculty is always top notch, Cole Swensen is amazing, and it's the most talented cohort of writers (it says here) in the U.S. Contrary to popular belief, the program is fully funded for all students--indeed, with all the extra opportunities for funding this may be one of the better funded programs out there. Is known for doing whatever it has to do, funding-wise, to get the students it wants. Post-graduate track record and national/international reputation is unequaled.

Michigan: Student satisfaction has ebbed and flowed--not clear why. Funding is amazing and program is desperately trying to recruit top writers (like Texas) in large part through funding. International focus. Ann Arbor is a great place to live and write. Probably a little over-rated program-wise, but definitely a top ten school in poetry.

Seth
Abramson Leslie Consulting



morganapple


Sep 3, 2009, 4:49 PM

Post #488 of 1018 (18802 views)
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     Re: [umass76] Choosing an MFA Program 2010 [In reply to]  

Thanks for the insight, Seth. Bummer to hear about Oregon, and I didn't know Virginia was at all conservative. Gets me even more excited about the UCSD program. Thanks for the head's up.


Woon


Sep 3, 2009, 5:22 PM

Post #489 of 1018 (18790 views)
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     Re: [morganapple] Choosing an MFA Program 2010 [In reply to]  

I'm applying for fiction. Here are my schools:

Cornell
Johns Hopkins
Virginia
Virginia Tech
Florida
Texas
Penn State
Michigan
Indiana
Notre Dame
Purdue
Illinois
Wisconsin
Minnesota
Iowa
Colorado State
Montana
Oregon


taraberyl



Sep 3, 2009, 11:43 PM

Post #490 of 1018 (18754 views)
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     Re: [Woon] Choosing an MFA Program 2010 [In reply to]  

ok i'll throw a list up as well. there are still a few schools i'm on the fence about. i know most of my programs are insanely tough admits, but if i don't get in then i guess there's always next year. i'm also applying to all the ny schools save for columbia, b/c of funding (i know nyu is no picnic funding-wise either, but i know someone who got a pretty good ride there so at least it's possible...)

i'm fiction

schools i'm definitely applying to:
hunter
brooklyn
nyu
iowa
michener
irvine
michigan
cornell
wisconsin

schools i'm probably applying to but not 100% sure:
umass
virginia

schools i thought i was applying to until todayish:
syracuse
minnesota

if anyone has anything to say about any of these programs, i'm all ears - especially the ones i'm on the fence about, umass and virginia (i've read the sites and tom kealey's book etc but i still can't seem to get a good feel for them?) and the 2 i am pretty sure i'm not applying to. both programs sound impressive, but syracuse and minnesota are both geographically unappealing to me (despite wanting to be mary tyler moore in minneapolis), and in both cases i think the main attraction for me is a single professor (baxter at minn, saunders at syracuse) who might never even teach me while i'm there, or whom i might not even mesh well with.
plus my list was feeling too long...

thanks guys! and good luck everyone!


(This post was edited by taraberyl on Sep 3, 2009, 11:44 PM)


unsaid78


Sep 4, 2009, 7:59 AM

Post #491 of 1018 (18721 views)
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     Re: [morganapple] Choosing an MFA Program 2010 [In reply to]  

Hi Morgan,

I'm a first year poet at Virginia and I didn't know it was known for being conservative either, meaning, I'm definitely not getting that vibe at all. I wouldn't call what I've seen of my classmates work conservative. There's a good mix of people and writing styles here from what I can tell. Just sayin' :)


www.mfachronicles.blogspot.com - Follow us as we begin our 1st years in MFA programs!


unsaid78


Sep 4, 2009, 8:48 AM

Post #492 of 1018 (18713 views)
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     Re: [taraberyl] Choosing an MFA Program 2010 [In reply to]  

Hi Taraberyl,

Sorry to post twice about Virginia! Since you asked, I thought I would answer. I'm not sure why you're on the fence about it, but I hope I can tell you a little bit more about the program. UVA admits 5 poets and 7 fiction writers and fully funds them all. The first year fellowship is at or above $16,000 without teaching responsibilities. We are only required to take a workshop and 1 elective course the first year so there is tons of (funded) writing time! That's one of the most exciting aspects of the program for me. In the second year the funding is about $11000 and all students teach their own creative writing courses according to their genres (one per semester). Writing is definitely the focus at UVA.

We've got a grad student run lit mag (Meridian) and there's a great lit journal editing class taught by Jeb Livingood that you can take as an elective and learn a marketable skill (Adobe InDesign) if you choose.

Social life here is great so far. Even though it's a smaller program, someone always seems to be doing something nearly every day that you could go to. We have a weekly reading series where one poet and one fiction writer read. This, to me, equals guaranteed weekly good times at the very least. After every class/meeting so far we've hung out and gotten food/drinks.

Charlottesville is a great town that I'm enjoying getting to know. The cost of living may be a little higher than average but I'm finding it manageable on the stipend.

The only downside to UVA for applicants (as far as I can tell) is the low admit rate. A lot of people in the program admit to being totally shocked at even getting in (including me)! Of course, now I think it was definitely worth the time and money to apply. Everyone including the program admin cares about the writers in the program!

The students, faculty, & the passion/devotion to writing as a craft here are reason enough to add Virginia to the list of schools (like Michener, Iowa, Cornell) you just have to take a shot at if you are an I-just-have-to-take-a-shot type of person lol.

I got some misinformation about Virginia during my research on programs and almost didn't choose to attend. It's best to get first hand accounts from students about their individual programs. Good luck!

edited to add: it's a 2 year program but I've seen quite a few people who extend it out to at least 3 years and keep teaching here.


www.mfachronicles.blogspot.com - Follow us as we begin our 1st years in MFA programs!

(This post was edited by unsaid78 on Sep 4, 2009, 8:51 AM)


bighark


Sep 4, 2009, 8:48 AM

Post #493 of 1018 (18712 views)
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     Re: [taraberyl] Choosing an MFA Program 2010 [In reply to]  

You may want to reconsider Minnesota and Syaracuse. I can't say anything to change your mind about geography, and winter's fairly brutal in both places, but both of those schools feature three-year programs. You can get a lot of fiction writing done in three years.


umass76


Sep 4, 2009, 11:33 AM

Post #494 of 1018 (18691 views)
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     Re: [unsaid78] Choosing an MFA Program 2010 [In reply to]  

Unsaid78,

I don't know if you're referring to the funding situation at UVA when you speak of having received "misinformation", but I do think it's important to distinguish between misinformation and mis-advertising. UVA was incorrectly advertising their funding package on their website until a few months ago--most applicants were understandably, based on the program's own promotional materials, left with the impression that first year students had to pay all or some of their tuition from their first-year funding package, leaving only (and here I paraphrase from what the website said at the time) "a very small stipend" left over--based on the tuition costs at UVA, it seemed evident to many that the amount of money available to live on for first-year students was perhaps around $4,000. This was, we now know, incorrect, and we know that because Virginia got the word out (through students and otherwise) that it had been inadvertently mis-advertising its funding package for years.

As to aesthetics, I don't say this critically, as I think there's room for all aesthetics in every genre, but the poetry faculty at Virginia is aesthetically conservative in their own writing, the Virginia Quarterly Review is one of the five most aesthetically conservative big-name journals in the U.S. (agreed that Meridian is a slightly different animal), the most well-known poetry graduates are fairly aesthetically conservative, and when the poetry faculty at UVA have been judges of contests and anthologies in the past (the closest analog to MFA admissions we can realistically find) they've been known to selective fairly conservative (which in poetry means traditional epiphanic lyric-narrative) work. If you're a first-year student, I imagine you've been in a single session of workshop so far (if that; I'm in the Wisconsin MFA program for a workshop this fall, and our first class doesn't meet until September 14th). I think it'll probably take longer than that to see whether any of your fellow writers are interested in the avant-garde or other forms of experimental work, and if so how that work is received.

That said, I wouldn't be at all surprised if UVA's reputation--which is similar to the reputation of a number of MFA programs in the South--is undeserved, especially as I lived through the collapse of one of the greatest myths in the American MFA system (that the Iowa MFA in poetry is "conservative"). And frankly the Iowa "myth" has similar origins--a conservative literary journal, a run of fairly conservative graduates (granted, ending in the late 1970s or so), and so on. But on the other hand, Cole Swensen is one of the primary voices of the experimental wing of the American poetry community, and until-recently-faculty-member Dean Young's self-evident influences were always in the same tradition as the post-avant's (e.g. Apollinaire), so it never completely jived. I still haven't seen any signals or work coming out of UVA to completely convince me that it's not slightly aesthetically conservative in its admissions process, but I'd actually love to be wrong about that (I'm the one who's always saying that there's really no such thing as a "house style" at nearly any program). Hopefully you'll continue to check in on the MFA Chronicles as you get one, two, three semesters into your studies. Though I suppose even then, readers will always have reason to be circumspect about me when I speak about Iowa, and you when you speak about Virginia, because none of us want our programs to be seen as having an aesthetic bias. Sometimes it's up to the program to change perception--by admitting and graduating writers, and supporting literary journals, which break the anticipated/perceived mold.

Best of luck with your program,
Seth


unsaid78


Sep 4, 2009, 12:00 PM

Post #495 of 1018 (18684 views)
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     Re: [umass76] Choosing an MFA Program 2010 [In reply to]  


In Reply To
Unsaid78,

I don't know if you're referring to the funding situation at UVA when you speak of having received "misinformation", but I do think it's important to distinguish between misinformation and mis-advertising. UVA was incorrectly advertising their funding package on their website until a few months ago--most applicants were understandably, based on the program's own promotional materials, left with the impression that first year students had to pay all or some of their tuition from their first-year funding package, leaving only (and here I paraphrase from what the website said at the time) "a very small stipend" left over--based on the tuition costs at UVA, it seemed evident to many that the amount of money available to live on for first-year students was perhaps around $4,000. This was, we now know, incorrect, and we know that because Virginia got the word out (through students and otherwise) that it had been inadvertently mis-advertising its funding package for years.

That was it exactly! I could never prove what I thought I had seen on the website about funding so it's nice to have you corroborate that the funding did actually appear (incorrectly) to suck at one point. The conservative thing- I guess I don't want to be considered conservative for having gotten into Virginia lol. But more importantly, I didn't want anyone to get scared away from applying based on that idea. You're right though. I've had one workshop and we didn't give feedback on the poems that were passed out. So I am basing my information on only having read some of my classmates work and what I know of Meridian. I was informed that the editors of Meridian have been from both ends of the spectrum--conservative & experimental. I mean in the most recent issue there's a transcript of a gmail chat with Tao Lin as an author interview lol. I'm fascinated by the diversity of my classmates' styles and approaches thus far and, like you said, don't want to believe there's an aesthetic bias. As always, I appreciate your feedback!


www.mfachronicles.blogspot.com - Follow us as we begin our 1st years in MFA programs!


Woon


Sep 4, 2009, 11:21 PM

Post #496 of 1018 (18608 views)
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     Re: Colorado St, Penn St, Oregon [In reply to]  

Hi,

Could someone tell me a little something about Colorado St, Penn St, and Oregon? The physical environment and intellectual writerly environment?

Thanks!


Dinosaur


Sep 5, 2009, 9:15 AM

Post #497 of 1018 (18567 views)
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     Re: [unsaid78] Choosing an MFA Program 2010 [In reply to]  

As a 2nd year poet at Virginia I can confirm that Jonterri's (hi!) assessment of the program so far is accurate. Though Seth is correct that the faculty here has a somewhat conservative aesthetic, we're told on day one that they pride themselves on selecting an aesthetically diverse group of poets each year. It isn't just talk -- no one person's poetry looks like an other person's. And I'm grateful for it. When a peer's poem looks radically different from anything you would ever write, you can focus on helping them craft their best work without trying to make it look more like one of your own pieces. And this is precisely what we're encouraged to do - from day 1 (at the start of both years.)

To summarize, yes, consider Virginia, however you write.


Yugao


Sep 7, 2009, 11:10 AM

Post #498 of 1018 (18432 views)
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     Re: [unsaid78] Choosing an MFA Program 2010 [In reply to]  

I know this discussion is focusing on poetry, but as far as fiction goes, I've heard Virginia's aesthetic described as "dark". I applied a few years ago and was waitlisted in fiction. One story was traditional and, yes, dark. The other was very much about language and very little about plot; it's a story I'm still unsatisfied with because it's just so weird. I don't think it's fair to claim that Virginia is conservative overall, as they certainly gave my weird story more of a chance than many other programs did.

I removed myself from the waitlist after deciding to attend a longer program with more funding, so I never had a chance to talk to the faculty. In any case, my impression was that they weren't overly conservative, at least not in fiction.


WanderingTree


Sep 7, 2009, 11:31 AM

Post #499 of 1018 (18422 views)
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     Re: [Yugao] Choosing an MFA Program 2010 [In reply to]  

I wouldn't worry about aesthetic or about stories being weird. Sometimes weird is the best possible thing to have in a story! (if anything you might be more memorable). I workshopped with a guy that graduated from UVA a few years ago and his stories were almost borderline absurdist.

(This post was edited by WanderingTree on Sep 7, 2009, 11:34 AM)


defaultusername


Sep 7, 2009, 5:39 PM

Post #500 of 1018 (18381 views)
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     MA Programs [In reply to]  

Hello,

I've done the search, but I am turning up little.

I was hoping to find some information as well as popular perceptions on these schools' MA programs, financial aid especially. Any help would be great!

UC-Davis
Univ. of Maine-Orono
Northern Arizona Univ.
Eastern Michigan Univ.
San Francisco State Univ.
Georgia State Univ.
DePaul Univ.
St. Rose College
Univ. of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
Univ. of St. Thomas
Temple Univ.
Western Washington Univ.

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