Nov 12, 2011, 7:13 PM
Post #322 of 329
Take it for what it's worth. When I went to Samantha Chang reading last year, this is what she said: That she doesn't bother reading SOP/PS or letters of recommendation. When she receives the applications, she'll grab the manuscripts and, alone, read all of them, filter those that she thinks have potential/are good--which is to say she's the first and most important reader you have to impress. Those lucky enough to be selected will go to a committee where the manuscripts will be read by everyone then go to a vote.
As for the SOP, it is a university-wide thing: Every graduate student is required to write one. Notice that the directions for the SOPs are quite general, in that the questions are not directly tailored for each individual graduate program. For example, some school will ask, What are your research interest? or What research are you proposing to do and with which faculty member? Now I don't know about the majority of MFA applicants, but I don't plan to do much research--the-nitty-gritty hypothesizing-collecting-data-plotting-them-formulating-conclusion-type-research--while in the MFA program. What I do plan to do is read and write a lot, be all ears all the time to my colleagues and instructors; I might even do research for a lit paper or for a story or novel I'm working on. But research?
Research? We're talking about research, man. We ain't even talking about reading or writing. We talking about research? Come on, man.
I've taken liberty to not address such questions directly (maybe to my detriment? I don't know). I will find out how my decision pays off in a couple of months.
Now I'm not saying there is no one on the committee who's going to read the SOP; I'm just saying, don't sweat it: don't sweat whether you've answered every question; don't sweat the form--should I answer this first or that?; don't put too much time into it that your writing sample suffers (if you're still working on it). The only thing I'm sweating now is hounding my professors to have their LORs in on time, so I can pay the app fee and get this over with. Because as soon as this is over with, guess what, I can go back to devoting all my extra time writing.