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maryliz
Mary Fiorenza

Feb 7, 1999, 10:03 PM

Post #151 of 2628 (16412 views)
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Thanks, Reb, it's good to hear that there are folks at Bennington
doing this particular kind of juggling act. Mary


ophelia3
Tamara Sellman

Feb 8, 1999, 3:54 PM

Post #152 of 2628 (16412 views)
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Rebecca, et. al., as with anything one wishes to accomplish while
simultaneously raising small children, it's all a matter of choices
and saying no to a lot of things. I've done more writing and
publishing since my children were born (at least in the realm of
fiction and poetry). I guess what eludes me is how to write AND parent
full-time AND read AND go to school. Somewhere in there, I'd still
like to take a shower and answer my mail... Tamara


maryliz
Mary Fiorenza

Feb 9, 1999, 10:26 PM

Post #153 of 2628 (16412 views)
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Tamara, I agree there are choices to be made when raising small
children. I would never have considered doing something like this MFA
program when my first two kids were little. But they're both in middle
school now and able to help (a lot) with the youngest (she's 2 1/2). I
hit my 40th birthday just after having that last baby, and I no longer
feel like I can afford to put things on hold (ahh, middle age, like
motherhood, puts things into perspective). Mary


nonficchick
Sue Resnick

Feb 24, 1999, 10:02 AM

Post #154 of 2628 (16412 views)
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I am in the MFA program at Goucher College and I have two little kids,
ages 3 and six. I started when they were 1.5 and 4.5. Our residency is
two weeks in august. My husband takes five days off work and we farm
the kids out to grandparents, aunts and friends for the other five,
plus he comes home early during those weeks. I had to take off a
semester and skip one residency because of family crises throughout
the year that made my husband unable to take the time off in the
summer, but I wouldn't say having little kids hinders me at all. I
spend about 20-25 hours a week on my work and the kids are in school
or daycare at that time. I think it's a great time to do a low
residency. Then, when you're done they're older and you can really
focus on your writing, teaching, etc - things that require more
full-time work. Many of my school friends also have little kids or are
giving birth during the program.


kstorms
Kris Kurzawa

Feb 26, 1999, 8:19 PM

Post #155 of 2628 (16412 views)
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This is primarily to Sue Resnick and others attending Goucher college:
If you don't mind me being nosy- What do you like about your program?
What kind of writing within the non-fiction heading are you working
on? Are the professors attentive and encouraging? What were your goals
going into Goucher? Thanks for any insight you can share. I am looking
into their program and awaiting the "official" packet of PR stuff from
Goucher! Gratefully, K.Storms


kstorms
Kris Kurzawa

Mar 17, 1999, 9:34 AM

Post #156 of 2628 (16412 views)
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Hi there! I hate to open up a dead horse, but I'm looking for some
ideas or knowledge about low-residency programs from the student
perspective. I'm very interested in Bennington, Vermont College and
Warren Wilson. But what makes one better than the others? How have
people been treated by their faculty? Any insight would be great. (Oh!
I am interested in fiction and nonfiction writing, primarily fiction).
Thanks in advance! KStorms


pongo
Buy this book!

e-mail user

Mar 17, 1999, 11:16 AM

Post #157 of 2628 (16412 views)
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My experience is not with any of the schools you mentioned (I'm a
Goddard grad), but I think there are two big differences among the
schools. Bennington, Vermont, and Goddard are very, very cold at the
winter residencies, whereas Warren Wilson is not. And how you are
treated by the faculty can depend as much on how you get along with
particular individuals as anything else, since you're working with one
advisor all semester. Likewise, what makes one better than another is
what you have to learn from particular faculty members. dmh


rebliv
Rebecca Livingston

Mar 17, 1999, 12:42 PM

Post #158 of 2628 (16412 views)
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Being that I've only attended one low-residency program (you can go
back and read my comments on Bennington), I can't really compare it
with the others. I have a friend at Vermont studying poetry who
absolutely loves it there. We both met at a traditional full-residency
MFA program that we hated. The low-residency format provided a working
closeness (mentor relationship) with the faculty that we did not get
at the full-residency program. But yes, you have to get along with
your faculty advisor, they don't let you switch mid-semester. I've
heard that Warren Wilson's MFA program has a higher focus on literary
criticism, although that's just what I've heard. As for the
temperature in Vermont, yes, it is very cold, but it's not that big of
a deal. The most you're going to spend in the cold is 3 residencies
over two years (if you graduate in the Winter, 2 if you graduate in
the Spring). Pack long underwear, good snow shoes, hat, glove and a
warm coat and you'll be fine. Reb


schwoch
Robert Schwoch

Mar 17, 1999, 1:55 PM

Post #159 of 2628 (16412 views)
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I'm considering applying to low-residency programs for next year, and
both Bennington and Warren Wilson sound great. However, I must relate
something alarming I read about Bennington yesterday on the Chronicle
of Higher Education's web site. The Chronicle did a major story on
colleges going dangerously into debt to upgrade their campuses, and
the article reads in part, quoting now: "Bennington College, in
Vermont, has the lowest credit rating of any institution in the
nation, a B3 from Moody's. That is just above the category of bonds in
default or in imminent danger of default. Bennington cut its faculty
by one-third in 1994 and eliminated tenure in an effort to stave off
bankruptcy. Still, for the past two years, it has been selling taxable
bonds just to meet operating expenses. "The college has raised about
$3.2-million through the bonds, and has balanced its budget.
Enrollment is rising, and Bennington plans to sell more taxable bonds
to build additional student housing, says Lawrence Lee, vice-president
for finance and administration." I don't know exactly what this means
to anyone enrolled or thinking of enrolling in Bennington's MFA
program. But I'm queasy at the thought of throwing months of effort
and thousands of dollars at a graduate degree only to have the college
crash and burn before I finish. I may apply to Bennington anyway. But
if I get in, I'll be looking for some hard evidence that the school
will outlive my program of study.


rebliv
Rebecca Livingston

Mar 18, 1999, 12:04 AM

Post #160 of 2628 (16412 views)
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--- Erased on Thu, 18 Mar 1999 04:06:02 EST by ---


kstorms
Kris Kurzawa

Mar 18, 1999, 2:22 PM

Post #161 of 2628 (16412 views)
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Thank you all for reviving this topic! I'm not too afraid of the cold-
I'm originally from Buffalo, NY! But I like what you have said about
the mentoring relationships that formed for you during the program. I
have an MAH from SUNY Buffalo in Literature/Creative Writing and
although I think SUNY Buffalo is a great place, I didn't really get
the close detailed attention I needed from my faculty- they weren't
necessarily professional writers. Now, I am looking for that 1-on-1
attention that a low-residency program seems to offer. thanks!
K.Storms


dwald


Apr 7, 1999, 3:12 PM

Post #162 of 2628 (16412 views)
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I'm doing some research on low-res. MFAs and reading these posts has
been fascinating. Do any of you have a feeling about how much of a
market there would be for such a program that incorporated the visual
arts (text/image projects or book arts)? personal development/psych
courses (as related to writing)? "survival" courses (internships or
teaching certification)? Any thoughts, ideas, reactions welcome.
Thanks. DW


kshire
Kelly Shire

Apr 7, 1999, 6:15 PM

Post #163 of 2628 (16412 views)
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Anyone heard anything about Antioch in LA? I am also opening my mind
to thinking about Warren Wilson or Bennington tho. This is only if I
don't get into an MFA this year. I like the idea of mentoring w/ an
advisor, but don't you miss a certain comraderie w/ your fellow
students? Or is that all just a myth? By the way, I'm thinking of
having a kid -- do you think I'm insane for trying to do a full-time
MFA at the same time?!


pongo
Buy this book!

e-mail user

Apr 7, 1999, 8:50 PM

Post #164 of 2628 (16412 views)
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I think Goddard has experimented with a multi-disciplinary MFA, or
were starting to do so when I graduated. dmh


rebliv
Rebecca Livingston

Apr 8, 1999, 12:17 PM

Post #165 of 2628 (16412 views)
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Kelly, I have much better camaraderie with my fellow students at
Bennington than I ever had at the full-residency MFA program that I
was in for 8 months before. I saw the full-residency students in class
and at readings but most of them had other things going on in their
lives that they were focused on (families, jobs, etc.). At Bennington,
I had 11 days to meet, eat with and basically live with the other
students during the residency including the students not in my genre.
Basically it's an opportunity to bond. During the rest of the semester
I keep in contact with the other students over e-mail and telephone.
We exchange work, talk about our reading and all that great stuff I
always wanted at the full-residency program but I never got. (in
addition to the mentoring) Reb


kshire
Kelly Shire

Apr 8, 1999, 12:45 PM

Post #166 of 2628 (16412 views)
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Reb-- wow, that sounds very interesting to me. Community is a big part
of why I'm interested in an MFA in the first place. I have always been
intrigued by Bennington and its reputation and the whole Vermont
thing, which sounds quite exotic to a native Californian like me. Very
"literary." Interesting that you kept more in touch w/ students
through a low-res program than a full-time. Very crunchy food for
thought.


rebliv
Rebecca Livingston

Apr 9, 1999, 12:23 PM

Post #167 of 2628 (16412 views)
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Kelly, In my experience with a full-residency program I only saw most
of the other students in class. When class was over, many of them
rushed out to pick up children at a babysitter, prepare for their hour
drive home, etc. Lots of these students didn't even make it to the
readings. In the low-residency programs, the students can't do that
because they're staying on campus for 11 days and most lectures and
readings are required. My personal experience at a full-residency
program is 8 months, two close friends, only one who I keep in regular
contact with. For one 11 day residency at a low-residency program I
made numerous good friends and I keep in contact regularly with at
least 6 of them. I also noticed that the students in the low-residency
programs are much more interested in writing and literature, while the
full-residency students seem to be hung up on funding and teaching. I
think the full-residency program puts a lot of emphasis on that. Since
there are never enough TA positions available, there's a level of bad
feelings among the funded and unfunded students. Everyone thinks they
should be teaching. Also, I think the funded students do have more of
a community than the unfunded ones. I have never been interested in
teaching. I don't care if I never teach. I can find other ways to
support myself than working slave wages teaching freshman composition
classes. I'd rather work for a corporation, start my own business,
anything. I'm in an MFA program because I want to focus on writing,
learn craft, improve style, study great poetry, etc. If that's what
you're interested in, then a low-residency program is perfect way to
do this. If you're more interested in teaching (to each her own!),
then a full-residency program (with a TA offering) might be better. Of
course, if you publish wonderful books, it doesn't matter if you have
teaching experience or not, you'll find teaching work. Reb


kstorms
Kris Kurzawa

Apr 10, 1999, 1:23 PM

Post #168 of 2628 (16412 views)
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This is wonderful to hear from all of you on the different
low-residency programs! I too am interested in the tight-nit
communities available. Bennington sounds like a wonderful place- does
anyone know if its stronger in one genre than the other? I'm writing
fiction and non-fiction now, so those are my focus points. Thanks for
the feedback and keep writing! KStorms


schwoch
Robert Schwoch

Apr 11, 1999, 9:52 AM

Post #169 of 2628 (16412 views)
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Reb -- Care to divulge which full-residency MFA program you attended?


rebliv
Rebecca Livingston

Apr 11, 1999, 3:21 PM

Post #170 of 2628 (16412 views)
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KStorms, I'm not really sure what Bennington's genre strength is (or
if there is a clear cut strength). The have published alumni (and
current students) in all three genres. Also, their faculty for all the
genres are pretty established and well received as well. Bennington
allows a third semester switch which means if you are accepted for
fiction, you can study non-fiction (or poetry) for the third semester.
Robert, I previously was in the MFA program at the University of
Pittsburgh. I've stated my issues with that program in earlier posts
here and in the "Choosing an MFA Program." Reb


kstorms
Kris Kurzawa

Apr 12, 1999, 9:20 AM

Post #171 of 2628 (16412 views)
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Reb- Thanks for responding to my message! I really appreciate it! Did
you find that your faculty advisors are/were attentive to your
writing? I think that is the big issue for me, finding faculty that is
really willing to read and critique what I am writing, not just say
"yeah, yeah" like they did in my master's program (non MFA). Thanks
again! And have a fabulous writing day! K.


rebliv
Rebecca Livingston

Apr 12, 1999, 12:44 PM

Post #172 of 2628 (16412 views)
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KStorms, I am still in my first semester at Bennington, but yes, the
faculty has been extremely attentive to my writing. The program is set
up that way. Each semester you are assigned (from your choices) a new
faculty member to study with. That faculty member has 4 students total
per semester. During the residency students are in 5 or 6 workshops
(With either 4 or 8 students, depending on whether or not two faculty
members decide to teach a workshop together. The 4 student workshops
have 1 faculty member in them, the 8 student workshops have 2 faculty
members). When the residency is over, the student corresponds with
his/her faculty member in packets sent in mail (which contain original
poems, annotations on readings and a 3 page letter). In a week the
faculty member responds with a letter and comments written on the
work. Some faculty members send e-mail (or occasionally talk on the
telephone) in addition to the packets. Each semester the student
completes five packets. I share your disappointment about not getting
enough feedback from faculty. In the full-residency program I was in
prior to Bennington, it took one professor over a month at times to
return my poems and often the comments would only be something like "I
like this." or even worse, a smiley face. Definately not worth the
out-of-state tuition I was shelling out. Reb


pongo
Buy this book!

e-mail user

Apr 12, 1999, 12:56 PM

Post #173 of 2628 (16412 views)
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I suspect that most of the faculty at low-res programs tends to be
pretty attentive, since the dropout rate is relatively high and the
competition for faculty jobs is also pretty high. Faculty that doesn't
meet the standard, and doesn't keep the students involved and
enrolled, goes away. dmh


kstorms
Kris Kurzawa

Apr 13, 1999, 10:38 AM

Post #174 of 2628 (16412 views)
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Reb- What an encouragine message! Wow! 1 week and they are getting
back to you! Amazing. I too have had the smiley faces and I like this
responses- one even said to me about my master's project- "gosh I
never know what to say to these things, creative writing is so, so
subjective" Arrrrrgggghhhh. Bennington is a beautiful community. My
great-grandparents grew up there and owned many businesses in the "old
days". It would be neat to return there to write. Do you mind if I
ask, who you are working with now? How on earth do you decide who you
want to work with? That must be a daunting task! Thanks again for
keeping this alive! David- are you in a low-res program too? KStorms


pongo
Buy this book!

e-mail user

Apr 13, 1999, 10:55 AM

Post #175 of 2628 (16412 views)
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I graduated from Goddard last July. dmh

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