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Choosing an MFA Program (2013 - 2014)
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pongo
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Sep 1, 2013, 9:25 PM

Post #151 of 178 (26644 views)
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Re: [erikadane] Choosing an MFA Program (2013) [In reply to] Can't Post

For cross-media programs, I suspect that Columbia College (in Chicago, not Columbia University in New York) might have something along those lines. And Cal Arts is the kind of school that might do that.


The Review Mirror, available at www.unsolicitedpress.com

Difficult Listening, Sundays from ten to noon (Central time), at http://www.radiofreenashville.org/.

http://home.comcast.net/~david.m.harris/site/


erikadane
Erika Kielsgard

Sep 1, 2013, 10:33 PM

Post #152 of 178 (26642 views)
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Re: [pongo] Choosing an MFA Program (2013) [In reply to] Can't Post

Thanks so much! Cal Arts is out of my budget, but Columbia College looks great. I'm adding it to my list.


Ali Unal
Ali Ünal


Sep 13, 2013, 9:27 AM

Post #153 of 178 (26454 views)
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Critical Essay [In reply to] Can't Post

Hello fellow applicants!

I have been preparing for the Fall 2014 Submission, and I have a question about the critical papers.

Some schools, namely Cornell, Purdue, Ohio, Arkansas, Mississippi, Iowa State and Virginia Commonwealth, require a critical/academic paper of at least 10 pages along with the creative sample. I wonder if you have any information or guess regarding how it is supposed to be. I have a bachelor degree from Engineering, therefore I am not well equipped to produce an academic paper. So, I would like to know if I have a herculean task ahead of me.

Can you please shed some light on this, please? And if you have any paper you submitted before, I would very much appreciate if you can share it.

Thanks in advance
Best of luck!
Ali


"Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better."


pongo
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Sep 13, 2013, 9:36 AM

Post #154 of 178 (26450 views)
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Re: [Ali Unal] Critical Essay [In reply to] Can't Post

If you feel you are "not well equipped to produce an academic paper," I suggest not applying to programs that have a strong critical component.


The Review Mirror, available at www.unsolicitedpress.com

Difficult Listening, Sundays from ten to noon (Central time), at http://www.radiofreenashville.org/.

http://home.comcast.net/~david.m.harris/site/


Ali Unal
Ali Ünal


Sep 13, 2013, 9:37 AM

Post #155 of 178 (26449 views)
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Re: [pongo] Critical Essay [In reply to] Can't Post

Yes, that is the road I should (and will) probably take, but I thought it won't harm to know something more about this requirement. Perhaps to read one or two.


"Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better."


karinr
Karin Rosman


Sep 13, 2013, 1:34 PM

Post #156 of 178 (26441 views)
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Re: [Ali Unal] Critical Essay [In reply to] Can't Post

Critical papers are very broad, but typically involve analysis of a book or two. I'm working on my critical thesis and have found two books to be helpful in tone: "How Fiction Works" by James Wood and "The Lost Art of Reading," by David Ulin. Also, the Georgia Review publishes critical essays; I loved their Spring 2013 issue. I would recommend starting with that.


(This post was edited by karinr on Sep 13, 2013, 1:35 PM)


Ali Unal
Ali Ünal


Sep 13, 2013, 3:39 PM

Post #157 of 178 (26431 views)
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Re: [karinr] Critical Essay [In reply to] Can't Post

Thank you, that's very helpful. I have just checked, and I think I can subscribe to online edition of the magazine. I'll look into it and the books.

Cheers.


"Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better."


dahosek
D. A. Hosek
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Sep 16, 2013, 11:09 AM

Post #158 of 178 (26387 views)
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Re: [karinr] Critical Essay [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
Critical papers are very broad, but typically involve analysis of a book or two. I'm working on my critical thesis and have found two books to be helpful in tone: "How Fiction Works" by James Wood and "The Lost Art of Reading," by David Ulin. Also, the Georgia Review publishes critical essays; I loved their Spring 2013 issue. I would recommend starting with that.


I really wish I'd've had the opportunity to read James Wood as an undergrad (except that he wasn't publishing in the 80s). He's a great model for writing critical essays. For models of more craft-oriented pieces, I'd point people at Prime Number Magazine which runs craft essays in each on-line issue.


http://dahosek.com


karinr
Karin Rosman


Sep 16, 2013, 12:34 PM

Post #159 of 178 (26383 views)
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Re: [dahosek] Critical Essay [In reply to] Can't Post

I've been tearing through Wood's book with pen in hand. I love it that he's not afraid to take an opinion, and his first sections with his sideways look at point of view have me shouting "Yes! This!" as if watching some sport.

Could also suggest Poets & Writers' craft essays, which are not really critical essays but give insight into how books and stories are written.


alamana
Jennifer Brown


Sep 16, 2013, 12:59 PM

Post #160 of 178 (26377 views)
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Re: [karinr] Critical Essay [In reply to] Can't Post

James Wood's book is the only one that has ever helped me understand how third person narration works. It was assigned reading in one of my MFA workshops. We discussed free indirect style in that class, and you could see the lightbulbs going on over heads. I'm not a big fan of "how to" writing books, but How Fiction Works is a gem.


Be regular and orderly in your life, that you may be violent and original in your work. -- Flaubert

http://www.jenniferkirkpatrickbrown.com


dahosek
D. A. Hosek
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Sep 16, 2013, 4:51 PM

Post #161 of 178 (26361 views)
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Re: [alamana] Critical Essay [In reply to] Can't Post

I've not read that particular Wood. The Wood that I read was more on the critical side of things, The Irresponsible Self. For craft, a couple books that I'd recommend would be Josip Novakovich's Fiction Writer's Workshop and Robert Boswell's The Half-Known World. (That latter, I've just realized, I omitted from my works cited for my MFA critical paper whose first iteration I turned in last night... I'll have to fix that when I get home before I forget).

-dh


http://dahosek.com


bighark


Oct 11, 2013, 12:41 AM

Post #162 of 178 (25969 views)
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Re: [erikadane] Choosing an MFA Program (2013) [In reply to] Can't Post

Check out the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. In addition to encouraging the kind of experimentation you're describing with visual art, they have an art therapy program.


TonyB79
Tony Baker
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Oct 12, 2013, 12:49 AM

Post #163 of 178 (25953 views)
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Funding at NEOMFA Program [In reply to] Can't Post

Just wondering if anyone knows what the funding situation is like (size of stipends, etc.) at the NEOMFA program in northeast Ohio. In particular, I'm curious if anyone knows which consortial school is best to go through - Kent State, Youngstown, University of Akron, or Cleveland State - for the best chance of getting a teaching assistantship. Tips will be much appreciated!


Mercy is the mark of a great man.

I guess I'm just a good man.


DHouston
Dwayne Houston

Oct 23, 2013, 12:42 PM

Post #164 of 178 (25696 views)
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Full-residency programs for Genre Fiction Writers? [In reply to] Can't Post

 
I've scanned a few of these threads and Seton Hill seems to be the top recommendation for someone seeking a low-residency program for genre fiction/popular fiction.

Does anyone know of a FULL-RESIDENCY PROGRAM that are friendly toward Genre Fiction? I'm not looking to take a course in it, but it would be nice to submit story chapters from a vampire novel (yes, I said vampires...) and not be given the stink eye.


TonyB79
Tony Baker
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Oct 23, 2013, 1:05 PM

Post #165 of 178 (25694 views)
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Re: [DHouston] Full-residency programs for Genre Fiction Writers? [In reply to] Can't Post

Try Rutgers in New Jersey or Rosemont College in Philadelphia. I've been in touch with the program directors at both schools, and they've assured me they have writers in their program of all genres.

Brown and North Carolina State are rumored to be pretty amenable as well, but I haven't actually spoken to anyone there. As for low residency programs, U.C. Riverside and Stonecoast at Southern Maine have sci-fi, fantasy, and urban fantasy writers on their faculty, and Stonecoast, Seton Hill, and Western State Colorado University have actual emphases in writing popular fiction. The Red Earth program in Oklahoma City seems pretty hospitable as well; one of the faculty members even lists in his bio that he enjoys exploring the boundary between popular and "mainstream" fiction, and in fact is "not even sure they are actually two different kinds of writing."


Mercy is the mark of a great man.

I guess I'm just a good man.


DHouston
Dwayne Houston

Oct 23, 2013, 1:32 PM

Post #166 of 178 (25689 views)
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Re: [TonyB79] Full-residency programs for Genre Fiction Writers? [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
I did my undergrad at NC State and took a few creative writing courses. Also, I'm friends with a few alums. Never considered it before as I would rather broaden my horizons and check out somewhere else. But, I'll ask them about the program and see what they say.

Rutgers and Rosemont might be my top contenders. I'll look them up. Thanks for the tip.



(This post was edited by DHouston on Oct 23, 2013, 1:38 PM)


TonyB79
Tony Baker
e-mail user

Nov 7, 2013, 1:50 AM

Post #167 of 178 (25381 views)
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Wichita State [In reply to] Can't Post

Question: I keep seeing Wichita State being mentioned as a "well-funded" program, but according to what I saw on their site, they only offer an 8k/year stipend. Is that really livable in the Wichita area? What are the teaching load and faculty like?


Mercy is the mark of a great man.

I guess I'm just a good man.


DHouston
Dwayne Houston

Nov 7, 2013, 3:47 PM

Post #168 of 178 (25352 views)
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Re: [TonyB79] Wichita State [In reply to] Can't Post

I checked out craiglist ads for rooms to rent for Wichita, Kansas and they look pretty affordable. $250-$500. I wasn't able to find any information about teaching load.


TonyB79
Tony Baker
e-mail user

Nov 7, 2013, 4:19 PM

Post #169 of 178 (25349 views)
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Re: [DHouston] Wichita State [In reply to] Can't Post

Ah. I live in Dayton, where you can get a 1-bedroom for $325, if you're lucky (average at an actual apartment complex is probably $450). So that DOES sound reasonable. $8k/yr - $4,250/semester, to be precise - still seems awfully chintzy, though, and far below most other programs that I've heard described as "well-funded," which usually go at least 12. Unless they fund during summer semester, of course, but I've heard that's rare.

Anyway, it's kind of an odd situation, since what I saw on their site didn't seem all that promising... but what I'm hearing elsewhere and around the web is just the opposite; not specifics, but just generally good vibes. I was just wondering if anyone else could elaborate a bit.


Mercy is the mark of a great man.

I guess I'm just a good man.


mortimerkhan
Andrew Wright

Nov 29, 2014, 8:53 PM

Post #170 of 178 (1563 views)
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Re: [motet] Choosing an MFA Program (2013 - 2014) [In reply to] Can't Post

So I'm struggling to find the programs that are both "right" for me and "plausible" for me and I'm becoming anxious as application due dates draw closer.

I want to write fiction. I've spent thirteen years letting life's endless little complications and disappointments and compromises get in my way. I've let everyone else push me around and decide what I should do with my life and I'm sick of making everyone else happy. I know an MFA won't assure me riches, and possibly not even better job prospects. Though those things would be nice, I don't need them, I just want two or more years during which time the focal point of my life, and my primary responsibility is to write.

Here's my conundrum. I was not a stellar student when I got my undergraduate degree in English. I was mired in such severe poverty I was trying to go to school from friends' couches, sometimes without shoes, frequently without food, always without the textbooks. The middle two years of my undergraduate experience were horrible. Poverty and depression and drink all ended up part of a self-perpetuating cycle and my transcript reflects this. I took almost two years off, waited until I was old enough for Uncle Sam to step in where my family wouldn't, and with a modicum of financial aid I went back and made straight A's my last two semesters. I've been trying to do professional writing as a free lancer for a few years since then and it's awful-- pushy and unreliable business owners asking me to write pamphlets or training manuals and then never paying me when they can't get their shit together. So it's time. I want to just go ahead and give writing a real shot, in a real community with committed time and financial support of a school, and the guidance and input of other writers.

So here are the facts:
GPA: 2.52 overall, 2.92 major
GRE: 54th percentile Math (No one cares, right?), 99th percentile Verbal, 99th percentile Essays
Recommendations: I have glowing recommendations from the most important faculty at my school.
Clubs, Honors, Organizations: None... I went to an art and engineering school and never really found a community of other literary types I found interesting or engaging at all.
Portfolio: I have three half-finished novels that are pretty terrible and then 9 short stories with which I'm quite happy that mostly range from 25 pages a piece to 90 or more.
Publications: None... I thought the whole point of an MFA was to learn how to publish... Isn't it a Catch-22 to expect us to have published already when we're applying? If I was already good at churning out finished work and knowing agents and publishers, I wouldn't be applying, would I?

So here is my problem. I have a great deal of confidence in my writing samples, but I know I won't get into the top tier programs because of my grades. How then, do I find the middle tier schools that are right for me?

When I've asked others for advice I've gotten the advice that is applicable for 4.0 students at Columbia who interned at the New Yorker for a year. Yes I know Iowa is great, but I feel as though it's not an option for someone who looks as lackluster on paper as I do.

Others, when giving me advice, have told me to look at my favorite authors, and see where they're teaching. Most of them are dead. Some are so successful they don't teach anymore. Some are professor Emeritus somewhere to just be a name on a masthead and they basically never actually teach. But for the most part, the contemporary authors I read are, again, at schools so prestigious I feel as though I have little chance of being accepted.

So that's where I need help. What are the middle tier schools that have teaching assistantships, and how do I find them? It's quite easy to find a list of the top schools in the country, but where are the unsung heroes of the Masters of Fine Art? If I could find that list I'd be more than happy to cull through it, read up on the faculty, look at their work, contact some of the current students, decide if somewhere is too remote or expensive.

Please, any help would be much appreciated.


pongo
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Nov 30, 2014, 9:54 AM

Post #171 of 178 (1541 views)
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Re: [mortimerkhan] Choosing an MFA Program (2013 - 2014) [In reply to] Can't Post

Most MFA programs, including the top tier, don't care about your grades or your GRE scores. (One of my friends in my MFA program didn't even have a bachelor's degree.) All that matters is your writing, and maybe your statement of purpose.


The Review Mirror, available at www.unsolicitedpress.com

Difficult Listening, Sundays from ten to noon (Central time), at http://www.radiofreenashville.org/.

http://home.comcast.net/~david.m.harris/site/


karinr
Karin Rosman


Nov 30, 2014, 8:29 PM

Post #172 of 178 (1508 views)
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Re: [mortimerkhan] Choosing an MFA Program (2013 - 2014) [In reply to] Can't Post

I really agree with Pongo, but I'd also consider schools that aren't top tier and have strong faculty. See if you can look at the curriculum online, ask the school for more information about the school's approach, find the right fit for you. I applied to two schools, and got in right away to Rainier Writing Workshop (low residency). I talked to the program director for almost an hour (the former director was very enthusiastic and helped found the program). Later that day, I heard a poet being interviewed by my local public radio station who mentioned RWW, and I knew it was the right program for me, regardless of its tier.

For what it's worth, I have a similar background as you. My undergrad grades reflect the confusion and pressure I experienced. I took the GRE while I had the swine flu (sorry to the next user, but I couldn't get through to cancel my test and it was too expensive to throw away) and actually scored higher on math than verbal and essays. Otherwise I had a strong application.
If you apply with strong writing, and you're not getting accepted, then maybe the schools are using test scores and grades as a tie breaker. Consider then, what you'll get out of a program that is so competitive they look away from the writing to accept candidates.


(This post was edited by karinr on Nov 30, 2014, 8:30 PM)


bluesgrass
chelsea harlan


Dec 7, 2014, 9:59 AM

Post #173 of 178 (1171 views)
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Re: [motet] Choosing an MFA Program (2013 - 2014) [In reply to] Can't Post

hi all! so who's out there in the echoey dark of application season? i'm talkin' admittance to programs beginning summer/fall 2015? i've been eating up these forums for every crumb of wisdom from the past but i'm aching to connect with some present tense compatriots. where's everyone applying, and for what? what's your stories, morning glories?

in a nutshell: i'm a "poet" a couple years out of undergrad (bennington college) living in brooklyn, originally from appalachian virginia. feeling good about my gpa and recommendations, feeling all right about my writing sample, feeling crazy nervous about my statement of purpose. as is pretty typically my personality, i'm working right up to this first round of deadlines out of sheer perfectionistic anxiety. my academic background is mostly poetry/lit but my most recent and significant detour was completing an architecture intensive at columbia university. god help me, liberal arts life.

heeding some advice to only apply to schools i might actually want to attend, my list is full of reaches. at any rate here we go: brown, uva, sarah lawrence, vanderbilt, umass amherst, nyu, iowa, columbia, syracuse, brooklyn college, bard, u oregon. WHEWF!!!

anyone else? a little company might do us all some good.... :)


erikadane
Erika Kielsgard

Dec 15, 2014, 12:55 PM

Post #174 of 178 (695 views)
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Re: [bluesgrass] Choosing an MFA Program (2013 - 2014) [In reply to] Can't Post

Hi Chelsea,I'm right there with you on most counts (poetry), my significant detour being poetry therapy, facilitating workshops for individuals with mental illness. I'm from the DC area, but I grew up around Warrenton, VA. I took a year off after graduation to focus on my writing sample, and all of my schools are "reaches" since I only applied to fully-funded programs (Brown, UVA, U Mass, UC: Irvine & San Diego, Michigan, Vanderbilt, Syracuse, Cornell, Bowling Green in Ohio, Oregon, and University of Illinois). Wishing you luck & happy holidays, I am stressing out quite a bit myself ! ! !


littlefoot
Laura Marshall

Dec 19, 2014, 1:28 PM

Post #175 of 178 (302 views)
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Re: [bluesgrass] Choosing an MFA Program (2013 - 2014) [In reply to] Can't Post

Meeee! I'm only applying to NYU (done) and Hunter (almost done, due 2/1), both for fiction-- I've been in NYC for seven years and have a job I'd like to keep for now. I figure when I inevitably get rejected from the two of those I'll start applying out of state for fall of 2016. It won't ruin my life to get turned down, but the waiting game is already killing me. Gahh.

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