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bighark


Oct 18, 2008, 12:03 AM

Post #226 of 1018 (13810 views)
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     Re: [flobelle] Whittling Down "The List" [In reply to]  

Flobelle,

That's rude. You're being rude.

You can forget about the rest of my private message. I'm done helping you.


unsaid78


Oct 18, 2008, 12:16 AM

Post #227 of 1018 (13803 views)
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     Re: [flobelle] Whittling Down "The List" [In reply to]  

The logic behind applying to around 12 schools (in my case probably more like 17 after 2 years of researching schools and reading both this message board and Seth's blog obsessively) is really simple. A majority of the schools accept between like 3-10 people per genre (correct me if I'm wrong anyone). So I may not be one of the 3 chosen at 1 school so I'll apply to as many schools as I can in the hopes that I'll be one of the best applicants at one of them. I have full confidence in my writing sample but I also have confidence in the samples of other qualified applicants. To do what I want to do I need an MFA and I want it now! lol

I said all this to say--I'm not an idiot.

I hope this helps your understanding. Good luck!


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


flobelle


Oct 18, 2008, 12:31 AM

Post #228 of 1018 (13794 views)
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     Re: [bighark] Whittling Down "The List" [In reply to]  

How many schools did you apply to? I'm guessing fewer than 12-15. Maybe 4-6, which is what people used to do, it seems, until everybody wanted to be a writer.

I guess what I'm saying is the application pool is a little cloudy. There are a lot of people applying, but I don't know if the work of other applicants is as good as everybody thinks it is. If that were true and people were that good, my friends, who attend schools like Iowa or Michigan or Wisconsin or Alabama or Irvine wouldn't have been able to beat the odds and only apply to one or two schools and get in.

I also read fiction submissions for a competitive, well-known literary magazine, and let me tell you, most of the stuff we get is crap, and (I've said this on another forum here) much of it by people with 2nd or 3rd tier MFAs, although some of it is by people with "top" tier MFAs too.


SaundraN


Oct 18, 2008, 2:45 AM

Post #229 of 1018 (13765 views)
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     The List [In reply to]  

I'm just getting started with "The List." I am applying to MFA programs in poetry. Any suggestions for -- great programs with great funding with a nurturing atmosphere?

Thanks,
Sandy


writerteacher


Oct 18, 2008, 9:22 AM

Post #230 of 1018 (13748 views)
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     Re: [flobelle] Whittling Down "The List" [In reply to]  

Well then, by all means, apply to a school or two.

Good luck.


Raysen


Oct 18, 2008, 1:11 PM

Post #231 of 1018 (13718 views)
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     Re:Whittling Down "The List" [In reply to]  

I hope everyone follows flobelle's advice. That's less competition for me! Woo Hoo!


jamx85
James

Oct 18, 2008, 2:03 PM

Post #232 of 1018 (13709 views)
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     Re: [SaundraN] The List [In reply to]  

Though I'm from the fiction side of things, you might consider my program, Purdue. The funding is good and the professors are definitely nurturing.


James
Fiction Editor
Sycamore Review


RaoulDuke
Cobra Cobachi

Oct 18, 2008, 2:37 PM

Post #233 of 1018 (13691 views)
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     Re: [flobelle] Whittling Down "The List" [In reply to]  

Apply to as many programs as your pocketbook will allow, Flobelle. 12-15 is a lot. But the problem is, and maybe I'm just reiterating what others have already said in this thread, your chances of getting into your top choice is incredibly slim. Unless, of course, your top choice is Northern Michigan, or some other obscure program that doesn't get a shitload of applications each year (FYI: NMU gets about 40 apps across three genres, but only admits like 6 people, across three genres, so even though the number of apps is relatively small, the chance of getting in is similarly competitive to other schools.)
Take me, for instance. My top choice was Madison. Three years ago they received 120 applications for 6 spots (fiction). I liked my chances with those numbers. Pretty much I needed to be better than every 20 writers, which I was confident enough attempting. The number of applications jumped in the span of two years from 120 to almost 400, and needless to say, I wasn't admitted. If I had only applied to Madison I would have been screwed. You simply can't predict the dramatic influx of new applicants to these MFA programs.
I also applied to Michigan, Iowa, Notre Dame, Purdue, Southern Illinois and N. Michigan, all based on funding and geographical location. I was lucky to get into SIU and N. Michigan (MA in CW) by the skin of my teeth. This whole process is about modesty. I'm guessing most of us come from undergraduate programs where profs kissed our asses, told us we could weave a hell of a story, and that we should apply to any program our little heart desires. Problem is there are thousands of us out there, more, and we're growing. Each year this "crapshoot" of an app process becomes more and more convoluted, more and more difficult to succeed at. Do yourself a favor and apply to as many programs as you're able, lowering your standards, maybe, and preparing yourself for the absolute worst. You won't be doing yourself any favors by whittling down your list based on the principle that "hey, if I apply to Iowa and get in, why the hell did I apply to Southern and Purdue and Bowling Green?" Because everyone and their mom is applying to Iowa and they're probably applying to the other schools, too. You just never know.

Have fun!

Rick


als02


Oct 18, 2008, 3:04 PM

Post #234 of 1018 (13687 views)
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     Re: [flobelle] Whittling Down "The List" [In reply to]  

Well, I just accidentally erased the post I was posting, so this might be shorter/not as well written as it was originally. Oops.

1) Flobelle, just FYI, I think you got me (als02) mixed up with anjldust in an earlier post (the one I'm replying to). I'm not an experimental writer and am applying to traditional, literary-narrative schools (and did first round, aka Michigan) because... well, I'm not an experimental writer. And I don't think anjldust (who said s/he discovered s/he probably is an experimental writer) wrote which schools s/he'd be applying to this time around (after s/he discovered the experimental nature of his/her work).

2) That aside, I know several writers who didn't get into what you might deem top-tier schools and have ended up with very successful careers. I've also heard many stories about writers who applied to 12 schools, got rejected from "lower-tier" schools only to be accepted in some of the number one schools. Kind of a conundrum, if you ask me. I mean, if they're fantastic writers, why didn't they get accepted to all the schools they applied to? Or, if a writer is very successful now but didn't go to Iowa or Columbia or whichever schools you might deem the best, why didn't they get into their first-choice school before? I don't think the school you get into makes you a successful writer, nor do I think someone should judge their potential as a writer based on the MFA program they get into. And I also believe that just because you don't get into the school you want doesn't mean you're horrible and should find a new passion or career path. I think you could still be a good writer and not get into Iowa. Maybe I'm saying this because of the 12 rejection letters I got last spring, but it's not so much self-defense as it is statistics.

For example, if a school has 300 applicants and accepts ten, an applicant might not be thrown out with the bath water (aka the 250 the professors/readers throw out after reading the first page and deem as having no talent). They might even make the cut, with other "good" writers, to the top 15, 25, 50--whatever. In fact, they might even be #11. Could even be on the waiting list! But competition's stiff. However, if that writer says, "Man, I got rejected. That must mean I suck. I should quit while I'm ahead," well, I think that'd be to bad. I mean, I was in charge of hiring employees before, and when you get a bunch of good applicants and good interviews, it really can be tough to make the final call. Doesn't mean you think the one you didn't hire is horrible and should sweep streets or something. Just means they didn't get the job (for any number of reasons) but could be just as successful after another year of resume building or if they seek a similar position at a different firm/business/office/etc.

I think it's also important to remember what field we're in. Maybe you don't get rejections, and maybe your friends don't get rejections, but I think most writers (again, even now successful ones) suffer through their fair share of rejections. Any artist does. But if all writers threw in the towel and threw up their hands when they got rejected from an agent, magazine, or whatever, we might be missing some good writers today. So, I don't really agree with your logic. As with any subject within the arts--music, visual arts, theater, dance-- the writing field is competitive and subjective, whether it's applying for MFAs or trying to get that book published.


(This post was edited by als02 on Oct 18, 2008, 3:07 PM)


flobelle


Oct 18, 2008, 6:28 PM

Post #235 of 1018 (13644 views)
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     Re: [richardkae] Whittling Down "The List" [In reply to]  

I didn't come from a program where I got my ass kissed.

I came from a program where I worked my ass off and weaseled my way into MFA coursework to get recognized.

I have a friend who is in the MFA in CW program at Northern Michigan. I was not aware that it was a competitive program at all, especially given what I've seen of his work.


Raignn



Oct 19, 2008, 10:21 AM

Post #236 of 1018 (13569 views)
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     Re: [flobelle] Whittling Down "The List" [In reply to]  

For those applying to Midwest schools, don't forget about University of Illinois -- fully funded and they have Richard Powers (fiction) and Brigit Kelly (poetry, who just won the Academy of American Poets Fellowship).

Anyone interested in info on Illinois, Purdue, Western Michigan, IU, Pittsburgh, or Ohio State, just send me a PM (first semester of grad school = busy).

And good luck whittling down your lists!


writerteacher


Oct 19, 2008, 1:21 PM

Post #237 of 1018 (13545 views)
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     Re: [flobelle] Whittling Down "The List" [In reply to]  


In Reply To
I have a friend who is in the MFA in CW program at Northern Michigan. I was not aware that it was a competitive program at all, especially given what I've seen of his work.


Flobelle:

You continue to be unapologetically rude to people who are trying in good faith to help you by generously answering your questions.

Your post above is a bald insult to a person who just told you, by way of trying to help you, that he got in to NM "by the skin of [his] teeth," not to mention a slam against your "friend" at NM.

As Rick said, this whole process is about modesty. I'd add to that: humility. You haven't even said thank you to Seth, Rick, Bighark, Als02, and all the others who've taken the time to write thoughtful answers to your rhetorical question.

You've posted in another thread that your reading for a publication reveals that a large amount of what you describe as crap submissions come from MFAers.

I don't really care about your answer to this question, but it seems to me it's essential for you to answer it for yourself: Why are you pursuing an MFA if you have such contempt for the programs, the students, and the perceived ill effect on the "product"?

I'm with Bighark; done.


flobelle


Oct 19, 2008, 1:56 PM

Post #238 of 1018 (13539 views)
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     Re: [writerteacher] Whittling Down "The List" [In reply to]  

I don't think that many of the posters on this board are actually representative of MFA students from the programs I'm interested in.

My friend knows he couldn't apply to some of the other more competitive programs at the he was looking to apply and really liked N. Michigan.

I'm doing it to have a couple years to write, like most people.


loaf

e-mail user

Oct 19, 2008, 4:31 PM

Post #239 of 1018 (13497 views)
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     Re: [gcsumfa] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) [In reply to]  

Just wanted to say good luck to y'all and offer myself as a source of information for FSU. I'm currently finishing my MFA there in Poetry and I'm happy to answer any questions about the town, the program, the people.

You can ask me here or email me at ms.loaf@gmail.com, which is more likely to get a speedy response.

When I applied a few years ago, I applied to 10 programs, got into two (FSU and Columbia) with funding, wait-listed at two (Sarah Lawrence & Houston) and rejected at the rest. I'm applying to PhD programs now, so I'm back in the thick of the scary applications.


owenj


Oct 19, 2008, 6:06 PM

Post #240 of 1018 (13473 views)
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     Re: [flobelle] Whittling Down "The List" [In reply to]  

If I'm reading Flobelle correctly, I think he/she may have a point, although I don't agree completely with it. If your writing isn't up to snuff, it doesn't make that much of a difference whether you apply to 4-6 schools or 12-15, especially if you're settling on a 'safety' program. I mean that if you apply to 8 top schools and 4 sub-par programs, and you get into one of the sub-par programs, you might not be ready for an MFA, or an MFA might not make sense for you just yet, in that some of the lesser known programs are going to have drawn from a less talented pool of writers. So, if you're good enough (or lucky enough) to get into a top school, what's the point of applying to 15 schools? But, if you're not good enough to get into one of the top programs, what's the point of going? I think there's some truth in this: the MFA situation feels a little out of hand to me in that they are cropping up everywhere, maybe because there's a huge demand for them, so my instinct is to think that they've become a little predatory in that there is a suggestion that an MFA is somehow a ticket to something when for 95% of the people in them, it's not. But, on the other hand, the only reason to get an MFA is to work on your writing, so from that perspective, it really doesnt matter where you go, or if you go at all, as long as you find time to write.

As for applying, Flobelle, I would disagree with you from personal experience. First, there are quite a few more than 4-6 schools worth going to, and my experience having been through two of them (I'm working on a PhD) and knowing people from another dozen programs is that despite rumors of aesthetics at a particular school, it's rarely the case. I'm also skeptical of anybody who puts themselves into the bucket of 'experimental' writer as there's a ton of latitude for what consitutes experimental (this from somebody who is experimental, and also skeptical of himself) so for one writer, this has a completely different definition than the next, so you can't always count on a school jiving with your definition.

When I applied I was applying to both MFA and PhD progams (I have a rare creative MA) - I applied to ten MFA programs and three PhD programs. My experience was that the schools I got into were random - I got into a few 'top' programs and didn't get into a few 'safety' schools. I got into all the PhD programs I applied to, so there's some evidence that you should be selective about where you're applying, but also some evidence that you should go broad. So I think I come out on the majority opininion on this - apply to as many schools as you can afford to apply to.


Yugao


Oct 19, 2008, 7:07 PM

Post #241 of 1018 (13438 views)
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     Re: [flobelle] Whittling Down "The List" [In reply to]  


In Reply To
I think that you do some people a disservice by saying they should apply to 12-15 programs. If you have to apply to that many programs, maybe the MFA degree isn't the right thing to do. If you have to apply to that many schools, you should consider something else!

I applied to thirteen schools, and I am now attending the most selective school on my application list. It's one of the few I got into. Perhaps your advice would apply to law school applicants. MFA program admissions are far more unpredictable.


flobelle


Oct 19, 2008, 8:13 PM

Post #242 of 1018 (13410 views)
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     Re: [Yugao] Whittling Down "The List" [In reply to]  

Don't you feel you wasted your money applying to lesser-ranked schools?
I'm not saying this is for everybody, but....

It seems a lot of people on this board apply to a ton of schools. Some people get into a top school off this list of schools, and others don't get into any programs at all.

It would seem that those applying to top programs that get in would get in whether they apply to 4 top programs or 40 top programs. It would seem that those applying to a mix of schools and not getting into any would be just as easily served by being rejected by fewer schools (meaning they should apply to fewer programs or no programs and just save the money they're wasting in applying at all).

Either way, those ready for an MFA program and those not ready for an MFA program should be applying to fewer schools in my mind.


umass76


Oct 19, 2008, 8:40 PM

Post #243 of 1018 (13398 views)
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     Re: [flobelle] Whittling Down "The List" [In reply to]  

Flobelle,

I don't know how to say this any nicer, or any clearer, so: you're wrong. You're wrong and you're speaking from ignorance and youth.

I'm a Teaching-Writing Fellow at the Iowa Writers' Workshop. I was offered a book deal for my first collection the night of my very first workshop here in Iowa City in August of 2007. I've published my work more than 150 times in print magazines and anthologies, including many of the top litmags in my field. Two of the three programs that accepted me in 2007 (incidentally, Iowa was not one of them) informed me that I was their top choice from that year's entire applicant pool. At one of those two programs I was awarded a University-issued non-teaching fellowship (i.e., one given by the University as a whole, with only a single such fellowship available to the MFA program).

Yay for me. Now here's some other information:

Applied to Virginia: Rejected Outright.
Applied to Cornell: Rejected Outright.
Applied to Brown: Rejected Outright.
Applied to Johns Hopkins: Rejected Outright.

Someone very close to me at the time applied to the same MFA programs I did; this person, an immensely talented poet and poetry editor, ended up being one of four poets in the United States accepted at Cornell University in 2007--Cornell being the hardest MFA program to get into in America. As I understand it, here were the rest of her results:

Applied to Virginia: Rejected Outright.
Applied to Iowa: Rejected Outright.
Applied to Brown: Rejected Outright.
Applied to Johns Hopkins: Rejected Outright.
Applied to Michigan: Rejected Outright.
Applied to Massachusetts: Rejected Outright.

Your speculations--and that's all they are, speculations--about how the MFA process works are absolute nonsense.

S.


(This post was edited by umass76 on Oct 19, 2008, 8:50 PM)


owenj


Oct 19, 2008, 9:23 PM

Post #244 of 1018 (13380 views)
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     Re: [umass76] Whittling Down "The List" [In reply to]  

umass76 - Great point. Way to bust out the sledge hammer.

Flobelle - Yes, to be honest I do feel like I wasted money and time applying to some of the schools I applied to. My mistake, though, was applying to a couple schools that I really would never have gone to. This was my mistake in my thinking process. I think the point folks are trying to make is that your chances are slim at a lot of these programs because you're competing with way more qualified and desirable applicants than there are slots available. It's just not the case that a program gets exactly the number of candidates they want to admit - they get far more candidates. I do think that many of the applicants at each school are applying to the same schools, so one might argue that you'll land somewhere, but be honest - there are a LOT of freaking people who want MFAs.

So if you really want it, you're better to cover your bases and apply to as many schools as you can. But, what others aren't hearing, is that it sounds like you'd only be happy at a small list of schools for whatever reason. If there are *really* only 6 schools where you can see yourself, then I think you're right to only apply to those schools and hope for the best - you don't want to be somewhere you dont want to be and nobody here can convince you that you should pick another 6 schools you really couldn't see yourself attending.

That said, though, if your *only* reason for getting an MFA is 'more time to write', then I'm not sure why you would limit yourself. There are certainly 12-15 schools with great reputations where you might have more time to write (I say might because depending on the program, with teaching and lit classes, you might actually not have more time to write.) I would argue that 'more time to write' is actually a pretty shitty reason to get an MFA given that you could probably make the sweet 15k a year stipend doing many other things than teaching and taking lit classes, so I would challenge yourself to really figure out what it is that makes you want an MFA so badly.


owenj


Oct 19, 2008, 9:43 PM

Post #245 of 1018 (13366 views)
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     Re: [owenj] Whittling Down "The List" [In reply to]  

Oh, and I'm sure umass76 didn't mean to discourage anybody with his point, but you know, these things are arbitrary - he makes a great point of showing how somebody with significant accomplishments didn't get into a bunch of top schools. By the same token, I know many people who got into the schools on his list, including Iowa, without any publications. I think that just drills the point - while I would argue that the writers in the most competitive programs all have some merit, that merit is extremely arbitrary depending on who is looking at the application, and I would argue that every school has more people they *want* to admit but can't because they dont have enough slots.


umass76


Oct 19, 2008, 9:53 PM

Post #246 of 1018 (13362 views)
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     Re: [owenj] Whittling Down "The List" [In reply to]  

OwenJ,

Absolutely--my point was merely that it's a crapshoot (and that was the only reason I mentioned that stuff [and the only reason I would ever mention it here]). Most of the folks who got into the top programs last year had few or no publications. In fact, I've even acted as a mentor to some folks who got into programs I got rejected from, and they're many years younger than me and haven't even sent any work out for publication yet (which is totally fine and understandable). None of that bugs or surprises me in the least; literally, all it says to me is that we're in a largely-subjective field of study, and what one person likes another will not. This isn't merely a situation in which all of the top programs are as hard to get into as Harvard Medical School--that would be one thing--this is a situation in which all of the top programs are as hard to get into as Harvard Medical School and there's no way to predict whether your application is going to be competitive or not (unlike applying to med schools, where you can look at your GPA, your class rank, your MCAT scores, and so on; in the field of creative writing, everyone thinks they have ample talent--hell, we're writers, so we must be rampant egotists--so it's really not possible for any one of us to look around and say, thinking we're saying it "objectively," "Hey, I'm definitely better than that guy..." Because, well, maybe you are. And maybe the other guy thinks the same thing about you. And maybe the admissions committee at your top choice program will agree with him and not you).

S.


flobelle


Oct 20, 2008, 12:20 AM

Post #247 of 1018 (13312 views)
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     Re: [owenj] Whittling Down "The List" [In reply to]  

My reasons for an MFA:

1. more time to write
2. connections
3. I would like the degree. I will have close to 30 credits toward an MFA degree before applying. I am applying in the program I have taken courses in, along with another program. I am told my credits will apply to the degree should I end up in the program I took the classes in initially.

I realize my situation is a little different, having accumulated graduate credit in the program of my choice already.

umass76, re:the Iowa thing. I have a number of friends who ended up going to Iowa and are there now or have graduated from the program. They only applied to Iowa. They didn't waste their money or time applying to other programs. Why should they? They knew where they wanted to go, and they applied and went there. I'm not saying that lesser programs should accept top writers...why would the programs do something like that, when they have the opportunity to take the writers who are likely to accept their offer (lesser writers=they do need to fill the class after all). I have friends who ended up going to other programs too, and they all applied to where they wanted to go, and went there. My friend at N. Michigan? Applied to N. Michigan. Didn't apply anywhere else.


potshot


Oct 20, 2008, 11:22 AM

Post #248 of 1018 (13264 views)
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     Re: [flobelle] Whittling Down "The List" [In reply to]  


In Reply To
"I will have close to 30 credits toward an MFA degree before applying. I am applying in the program I have taken courses in, along with another program. I am told my credits will apply to the degree should I end up in the program I took the classes in initially."

If you've completed a majority of the credit hours, already have been through some of the program you think you'll be able to attend, why are you trolling in a thread about whittling down the list? You have one program. Great. Go to it and allow everyone else to talk about the topic at hand. You've admitted you don't belong in this discussion.


HopperFu


Oct 20, 2008, 12:36 PM

Post #249 of 1018 (13242 views)
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     Re: [umass76] Whittling Down "The List" [In reply to]  


In Reply To

Your speculations--and that's all they are, speculations--about how the MFA process works are absolute nonsense.


I'd agree. My stats:
2005: Wash U St. Louis - Rejected
2006: Wash U St. Louis - Rejected
University of Iowa - Waitlisted
Cornell& Michigan - Accepted

One of my application stories in 2006 was accepted for Tin House from the slush pile and picked as a jury favorite for The O. Henry Prize, the other published in The Southwest Review, and both were given special mention in the Pushcarts.
I guess I wasn't good enough or ready to go to Wash U or to make it off the wait list at Iowa.

Good enough really is an issue, but a the reading process is subjective.
As one prof told me about reading for acceptances for his very well regarded program, "if I had a fight with my wife the morning I read your application, you probably aren't getting in."

That's why you apply widely.

All that being said: DON'T APPLY TO A SCHOOL YOU DON'T WANT TO GO TO! If you'll ONLY be happy at Iowa, only apply there.


Yugao


Oct 21, 2008, 11:10 AM

Post #250 of 1018 (13126 views)
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     Re: [flobelle] Whittling Down "The List" [In reply to]  


In Reply To
Don't you feel you wasted your money applying to lesser-ranked schools?

Well, no. I don't have ESP and couldn't have predicted which schools would accept me. Besides, every school I applied to is very highly ranked. I just happened to get into the one, based on the numbers I was told by various schools, that was most selective. That doesn't mean the schools that rejected me were lesser-ranked schools. The difference between a >2% admission rate and a 2 or 3% admission rate isn't that significant.


(This post was edited by Yugao on Oct 21, 2008, 11:10 AM)

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