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sonshineslocs


Jul 18, 2004, 11:41 PM

Post #1 of 41 (6022 views)
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advantages and disadvantages of low-res programs? Can't Post

Okay, i've attempted to wade through the 6-year-48-page tome that is the "looking for grads of low res programs" thread and folx, i just can't do it :lol

So i'm starting this thread: what, as you see them, are the advantages and disadvantages of low residency MFA programs? Also along those lines, what do you have to say about low res programs versus traditional MFA programs?


RFlumignan
Rob

Jul 15, 2004, 9:07 AM

Post #2 of 41 (5925 views)
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Life After Low-Res [In reply to] Can't Post

What I'd really like to know from anyone who is in or has graduated from a low-res MFA (like Stonecoast, the program I'm considering) is what happens once you get the MFA?

Of course, the first object of obtaining an MFA in writing is to improve your writing and self-editing skills. But I'd also like to go on to teach at the college level. Some regular MFA programs offer teaching fellowships which give you experience and groom you for teaching at the college level.

I guess my questions is, when it comes time for me to apply for jobs at various colleges, how seriously is a low-res MFA taken compared to a standard program? And are some low-res programs more prestigious than others, and thus garner more respect?

Thanks to anyone who has any answers for me.




Rob

"Writing is exploration. You start from nothing and learn as you go." -- E.L. Doctorow


freeverses
James Hall
e-mail user

Jul 15, 2004, 10:55 PM

Post #3 of 41 (5904 views)
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Re: [RFlumignan] Life After Low-Res [In reply to] Can't Post

Hi Rob --

I did the MFA at Bennington. There are many things I would recommend about low-residency programs. For instance, the amount of one-on-one attention you get with a mentor is fantastic, the emphasis on literature in terms of craft just right, the residencies themselves inspiring and energizing, the friends and colleagues memorable and helpful. I think it greatly improved my writing, which is of course key. All of this is probably stuff you know.

Teachability is not something I think low-residency programs, as a general rule, emphasize or add to a student's over-all portfolio of abilities. Bennington does, however, offer a program by which you can get a certificate in English education for teachers; that, I imagine, would be a plus if one wanted to teach right out of the MFA. Maybe other programs have similar certificates or co-terminal degrees that help answer this question. You should ask each program what they can offer you. You might also ask what kinds of jobs MFA graduates land after their experience in the program.

Another thing you might do is to get the requisite hours of master's credit (in Texas it's 18 hrs), and then teach Composition or literature classes at local colleges and universities. Pick up a spare section, teach a 4-week summer session course -- something. I don't know how requisite experience is, but I'm sure it wouldn't hurt.

Hope this helps.


creative8
John Smith


Jul 16, 2004, 1:54 PM

Post #4 of 41 (5889 views)
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Re: [RFlumignan] Life After Low-Res [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To

I guess my questions is, when it comes time for me to apply for jobs at various colleges, how seriously is a low-res MFA taken compared to a standard program? And are some low-res programs more prestigious than others, and thus garner more respect?


Good question. I'll consider that question myself when I go to MFA, I've a year to do before graduation.


pongo
Buy this book!

e-mail user

Jul 16, 2004, 3:34 PM

Post #5 of 41 (5882 views)
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Re: [creative8] Life After Low-Res [In reply to] Can't Post

I took a low-res degree, and it hasn't hurt me any in getting teaching jobs. I haven't gotten a full-time job, but I don't believe the degree is a factor (most jobs are looking for PhD's in composition, and the competition for creative writing jobs is impossibly intense for those who haven't published a literary book). I do get a lot of adjunct work, which is what is available here.

Of course, Goddard did stress that we needed to learn how to teach, and makes it part of the curriculum, which a lot of low-res programs don't.

dmh


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/


RFlumignan
Rob

Jul 19, 2004, 9:16 AM

Post #6 of 41 (5858 views)
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Re: [pongo] Life After Low-Res [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
I took a low-res degree, and it hasn't hurt me any in getting teaching jobs. I haven't gotten a full-time job, but I don't believe the degree is a factor (most jobs are looking for PhD's in composition, and the competition for creative writing jobs is impossibly intense for those who haven't published a literary book). I do get a lot of adjunct work, which is what is available here.

Of course, Goddard did stress that we needed to learn how to teach, and makes it part of the curriculum, which a lot of low-res programs don't.

dmh


How did Goddard include teaching writing as part of its curriculum? That sounds very interesting.




Rob

"Writing is exploration. You start from nothing and learn as you go." -- E.L. Doctorow


pongo
Buy this book!

e-mail user

Jul 19, 2004, 12:06 PM

Post #7 of 41 (5847 views)
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Re: [RFlumignan] Life After Low-Res [In reply to] Can't Post

One of the graduation requirements for Goddard is a teaching practicum. That is, you have to teach a course in creative writing somewhere, somehow, under some official auspices. You can't just bring some people into your living room. I did mine through the local recreation department. And you have to find someone who knows about teaching to come in and observe you and write up those observations. In addition, you need to write a major essay on the practicum.

So a lot of people, as I did, make sure to study something about the process in the semesters before they do their practica.

dmh


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/


freeverses
James Hall
e-mail user

Jul 19, 2004, 12:53 PM

Post #8 of 41 (6004 views)
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Re: [sonshineslocs] advantages and disadvantages of low-res programs? [In reply to] Can't Post

You're probably missing a good deal of information in that 48-page tome. I'd take the time to wade through. That said, I think I can say a few words again.

I did a low-res at Bennington College (poetry). Loved it. (They meet in January and June; you stay in stylish-enough dorms). The amount of one-on-one attention is really helpful, and a definite plus. The lectures and readings by both faculty and students were inspiring and created such energy. I had a good amount of time to write, though I write more in the "traditional" program I'm in now. The drawback of low-residency is really up to you. You have to motivate and challenge yourself. Sure, you've got deadlines and things due -- but usually it's "by the end of the month," or something. No one's checking in with you on a weekly or daily basis.

Other drawbacks: a lack of money, the opportunity to teach (though I'd read the life after low-res thread -- amazingly, Goddard requires students to teach, and I think that's SO fabulous), and the community sort of dissipates after you see them at the residency (you make some friends, but they're scattered throughout the country)....

I really enjoyed the low-residency format, but I also knew I had to motivate myself. I worked at a demanding job throughout my 2 years, and I think my writing could have made more improvement had I not been working in a non-writing/academic job. But, who knows?


sonshineslocs


Jul 19, 2004, 1:38 PM

Post #9 of 41 (6001 views)
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Re: [freeverses] advantages and disadvantages of low-res programs? [In reply to] Can't Post

thanks. i will. i even attempted to print the thread, but on my computer, that command was not compliant... reading 50 pages on screen wreaks havocs on my 24 year old eyeballs :) i'll just have to do it a couple pages at a time.


wiswriter
Bob S.
e-mail user

Jul 20, 2004, 9:52 AM

Post #10 of 41 (5983 views)
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Re: [sonshineslocs] advantages and disadvantages of low-res programs? [In reply to] Can't Post

Even if I were in a position to move away from home and do a residential MFA program, I might still choose the low-res route. Having been in a couple of university workshops as a non-degree student, I wonder whether two years of classes with the same couple of professors would be as beneficial as the one-on-one mentoring you get in a low-res program. In a residential MFA workshop you're "up" once or twice a semester, while in a low-res program it seems like you're sort of "up" all year long. The faculties in the low-res programs are larger and more diverse than in a traditional program, so you get access to a wider variety of views and approaches. And the customer satisfaction in the low-res programs seems almost absurdly high - I've yet to encounter a student or grad of a low-res program who hasn't raved about the experience. Plus I think it mimics the actual writing life better than sequestering yourself for two or three years in the halls of academe, especially since you can't count on a teaching job when you graduate. I know some people really need that time off to write. But TA-ing must soak up a lot of that time. If I were going the traditional route I think I would want a fellowship with just enough teaching responsibility, maybe a course or two, to get some experience. And that would probably be tough to get.

The low-res cost is a little scary. But it's hard to make ends meet on a TA salary, too. Someone here once said that a low-res program equals the cost of a nice new car, and which would you rather have, an MFA or a Camry? I suppose the MFA means I'm going to have one less Camry over the course of my lifetime.

I guess my main concern is the credential. I'm fortunate to have a freelance business that allows me some time and freedom to write outside academia. But I wouldn't mind supplementing my income and literary involvement with part-time teaching. And I worry that an MFA with no teaching experience from a relatively obscure college like Spalding or VC pales next to an MFA from Michigan or Florida with substantial teaching attached to it. Then again, they say publications are the top consideration in getting creative writing jobs anyway, with the MFA being more of a qualifying credential. So if the low-res MFA can help you write and publish better, it's probably about as helpful with landing a teaching job as well.


fattery
Victoria M. Chang
e-mail user

Jul 20, 2004, 11:50 AM

Post #11 of 41 (5973 views)
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Re: [sonshineslocs] advantages and disadvantages of low-res programs? [In reply to] Can't Post

I think Alex's and everyone's comments are very helpful...it sort of depends on what you want to do with your degree and what kind of person you are. I'm at Warren Wilson and opted to go to a low-res even though I had gotten into the Houston's and the Iowa's of the world and I don't regret it for a moment. I have a full-time job and live in California and didn't want to give any of those things up. I would be careful, however, on the low-res programs because while I'm sure they are all good quality, their reputations really differ. And if you want to teach, those things might come into consideration. I also think that going to a school like Iowa will open many more doors for you in terms of contacts, connections, etc., that are hard to explain until you've made them that I think people sort of undervalue. That being said, I've published pretty widely in all the usual places without a degree from Iowa and seem to be publishing in all the same places as all of my Iowa friends, which leads me to the conclusion that it's all about the work, I guess. Go where you think the teachers can help you improve your work the best if the work is your primary focus. If teaching is, well, I think it's better to go to a regular MFA program, unless you plan on getting a Ph.D. I must also note that I do think publishing and fellowships, etc. are a little harder to get if you don't go to a top-caliber MFA program, unfortunately, some people do still look at things (although they shouldn't). Hope that helps.


fattery
Victoria M. Chang
e-mail user

Jul 20, 2004, 11:54 AM

Post #12 of 41 (5822 views)
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Re: [RFlumignan] Life After Low-Res [In reply to] Can't Post

I think getting a teaching job, full-time, that is, will depend a lot on your publications...all the job posts seem to say that they require one book, at least. So I guess you could go the hard way and do a low-res program and try to publish (which I did) and find a teaching job (I'm not planning on teaching anytime soon until after a Ph.D.) or you can do it the easier way and go to a regular MFA program and try publishing as well. This doesn't mean that if you go to a low-res program you won't get a teaching job, I think it just makes it that much harder and publishing is hard all around whether you go to a low-res program or regular program, so my guess is you'd want to figure out yourself, how you deal with being a little bit of an underdog at a low-res program and if this doesn't bother you, but inspires you to work harder, than a low-res program might be good for you.


tnu
Tanya Underwood

Jul 23, 2004, 9:25 AM

Post #13 of 41 (5944 views)
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Re: [fattery] advantages and disadvantages of low-res programs? [In reply to] Can't Post

I agree with everything Victoria says. I think there are advantages and disadvantages to both. For me, the decision to attend a traditional program was all about where I was in my life. I wasn't in a job I absolutely loved, I wasn't in a city I was dying to stay in, I am not married and have no children, so moving to a new place to work on my writing full time seemed like a good idea to me. Plus, I didn't want to pay anything to get my degree and a lot of traditional programs have full funding opportunities. I will have to take out a small loan to cover living expenses that my TA stipend won't cover, but I won't have to pay anything to go to school. And since I'm already in debt, that seemed like the smartest thing for me to do. But, like others have said, there are also grants and funding for low-res programs out there if you know where to look for them.


darredet
Darren A. Deth


Jul 23, 2004, 10:53 PM

Post #14 of 41 (5926 views)
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Re: [tnu] advantages and disadvantages of low-res programs? [In reply to] Can't Post

Tanya:

How I envy the position you're in. And let me applaud you for undertaking this venture at this time. Once a family becomes involved it is nearly impossible. My wife won't even consider moving forty miles away to a city where more things are going on--so asking her to move where I could pursue an MFA is so out of the question.

The more I read these message boards the more nervous I am becoming as I prepare applications. I'm wondering if the desired outcomes are even remotely possible, or if I am just fooling myself. The biggest issue is that my wife is concerned with the money making aspect after I complete the degree. There are several different ideas I have for what do with an MFA. The first is teaching--which is why Goddard is my first choice. I am also open to forming a writing community in the town I live in, something modeled after Writers and Books based in Rochester, NY. Okay, I really want to immerse myself in the craft and not have to work at a job pushing or supporting a product I don't even believe in--just so some other jerk can make a bundle while I go home feeling my life is worthless.

Maybe it's the midlife crisis talking here, but I feel that time is running out and that right now I am on the fast track to mopping the floors at McDonalds at age 70.

Sorry for venting, but I've been uptight for days here.

Darren


wiswriter
Bob S.
e-mail user

Jul 24, 2004, 7:47 AM

Post #15 of 41 (5917 views)
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Re: [darredet] advantages and disadvantages of low-res programs? [In reply to] Can't Post

Darren. Hang in there, man. You doubt your ability, your future is murky, you detest your day job, your family doesn't understand...congratulations. You're a writer.

The great thing about being a writer is that so long as you have a brain and a pen the only way to fail is to quit. The end of your rope is a good and necessary place to be. Only the serious writers get there.

The point at which you're venting is often the point at which something interesting happens. We've seen that around here before. So get those applications out. Maybe I'll catch you for a cup of coffee somewhere in the Green Mountains next year.


elli
Ellen Meeropol

e-mail user

Jul 24, 2004, 3:06 PM

Post #16 of 41 (5780 views)
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Re: [RFlumignan] Life After Low-Res [In reply to] Can't Post

It's hard to answer your question about how graduates from the Stonecoast program do in the teaching job market, since the first class just graduated last Saturday! I can tell you that many of the graduates have teaching positions (some were teaching before finishing the program), as well as editorial jobs, publications and prizes.

Stonecoast also has a teaching concentration for interested students.

Elli


Ellen

www.ellenmeeropol.com


darredet
Darren A. Deth


Jul 24, 2004, 6:20 PM

Post #17 of 41 (5777 views)
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Re: [elli] Life After Low-Res [In reply to] Can't Post

Elli:

Is the teaching concentration part of the program, or is that something that requires extra time to complete? I am currently working on the application for Stonecoast right now. My essay is in the second revision and is out to five or six readers.

Darren


elli
Ellen Meeropol

e-mail user

Jul 25, 2004, 2:49 PM

Post #18 of 41 (5755 views)
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Re: [darredet] Life After Low-Res [In reply to] Can't Post

During the third semester everyone does a "critical essay" in their area of concentration. Most people do this on an aspect of craft, but you can choose instead to concentrate in pedagogy and do a teaching/literacy project, or in publishing or theory. So it's not additional time, but a way of focusing that semester on your particular interest.

Elli


Ellen

www.ellenmeeropol.com


darredet
Darren A. Deth


Jul 25, 2004, 3:59 PM

Post #19 of 41 (5752 views)
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Re: [elli] Life After Low-Res [In reply to] Can't Post

Thanks. That's good to know.

I'm looking forward to meeting with Jack Driscoll next week and talking to him about the program.

Darren


darredet
Darren A. Deth


Jul 25, 2004, 4:16 PM

Post #20 of 41 (5887 views)
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Re: [wiswriter] advantages and disadvantages of low-res programs? [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
The great thing about being a writer is that so long as you have a brain and a pen the only way to fail is to quit. The end of your rope is a good and necessary place to be. Only the serious writers get there.

Thanks, Alex. I needed a little boost. And I cannot imagine ever quitting. Last year when I wasn't accepted at Vermont College all I could do was write for four hours. Darren


tnu
Tanya Underwood

Jul 26, 2004, 10:03 AM

Post #21 of 41 (5869 views)
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Re: [darredet] advantages and disadvantages of low-res programs? [In reply to] Can't Post

Hi, Darren--

I'm sorry you're feeling frustrated and down. But please hang in there. You seem like a very determined person and you will achieve the outcomes you desire. The application process is so stressful. I know, for me, the process pretty much took over my whole life and made me start doubting myself, big time. But you just have to keep telling yourself that you're doing all the right things -- you're going to conferences and meeting with professors, you're having people read your personal statement. These are all great things that will help you immensely.

I can't really offer much advice for money making opportunities once you finish your degree, but maybe some others on here can. I know some of the speakeasy posters have gone on to teach college after they got their MFAs. I think I might want to teach high school English when I'm done and not college. It seems like the job security and benefits are better there. But that means an extra year in school to get certified, which equal more $$$ spent, so who knows.

Good luck Darren. I hope you're feeling better! Let me know how everything goes.

--Tanya


darredet
Darren A. Deth


Jul 26, 2004, 11:13 AM

Post #22 of 41 (5867 views)
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Re: [tnu] advantages and disadvantages of low-res programs? [In reply to] Can't Post

Hi Tanya:

I'm feeling much better now; just a little stressed for a couple of days. Last night I put together a to do/to buy list for the conference at Keene next week. I'm really looking forward to it. I'm hoping, as this is my second time doing this, to garnish a couple of recommendations from two of the professors there who will be grading my portfolio. I have one writing colleague who has said she will give me one as well.

Nothing to do but move forward.

Darren


nomojo
A.D.T.

Jul 26, 2004, 5:24 PM

Post #23 of 41 (5849 views)
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Re: [tnu] advantages and disadvantages of low-res programs? [In reply to] Can't Post

Tanya-

The high school English idea is a path that I'm considering as well, though I've already taught for a year. I'd say that the main distinction of teaching high school rather than college (aside from subject material and level) is the need to have classroom management and discipline skills. This is HUGE...

Also, if you're concerned about the certification and extra year of school costs, many areas with teacher shortages have inexpensive alternative routes for certification. I know in Florida you can go through the whole process in one year for about $1000 (classes and exams included).


tnu
Tanya Underwood

Jul 27, 2004, 9:33 AM

Post #24 of 41 (5826 views)
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Re: [nomojo] advantages and disadvantages of low-res programs? [In reply to] Can't Post

"I know in Florida you can go through the whole process in one year for about $1000 (classes and exams included)."

Oh, wow, that's great! Do you know how I can find out more about that?


nomojo
A.D.T.

Jul 27, 2004, 12:35 PM

Post #25 of 41 (5817 views)
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Re: [tnu] advantages and disadvantages of low-res programs? [In reply to] Can't Post

Tanya-

Well, you have to be teaching full-time in a public school while you're earning your certificate...

Check out:
http://www.sdhc.k12.fl.us/
http://apps.sdhc.k12.fl.us/...affdev/acp/index.htm

These are just links for Hillsborough County,the Tampa area where I worked. The first is to the main site, the second to the Alternative Certification Program. It says that the program costs $600, but you should also take into account that there are three exams that you have to take that have their own fees. You can pretty much do a search for any public school district in Florida. Their school year starts late July and ends late May.

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