Oct 15, 2004, 10:52 AM
Post #1223 of 2554
The deed is done. With trembling hands I have scrawled out an intent to enroll and a deposit check to Bennington. As much as I enjoy writing for kids, and as much as I feel the publication and career prospects are better, in the end I just wasn't ready to commit myself exclusively to children's literature. I would miss O'Connor and Carver and Chekhov too much. Going to Bennington won't stop me from writing for children and young adults; on the contrary it should make me a better writer for all ages. And I'm concerned that a specialized degree in writing for children could constrain my prospects if I ever decide to pursue an academic job.
Re: [desertmolly] Looking for Grads & Students of Low-Residency MFAs
[In reply to]
As for the choice between the "adult" programs at Vermont and Bennington, both are great, but when you're trying to decide between them, small differences become big. Vermont's enrollment is larger than Bennington's. That means at residency time there are lectures and seminars running concurrently and you have to pick between them, with the incentive being to stay within your genre. At Bennington there's one event at a time for everyone, with more camaraderie and greater opportunity for a rounded experience between fiction, nonfiction and poetry. Bennington encourages rather than prohibits genre-mixing and offers the possibility of studying outside your main area for the third term. As a journalist by trade and occasional (though lousy) poet, that loomed large in the decision versus Vermont (and Warren Wilson as well, where I ultimately didn't apply). Both Vermont and Bennington were a pleasure to work with during the admissions process, but Bennington felt just a shade more personal, with phone calls from the faculty director in addition to correspondence with the office staff. In the "adult" program at Vermont I was admitted for July but wait-listed for January, and while they're quick to say that's not a reflection on the quality of your application, the fact remains that at Bennington I'm a first choice and at Vermont I'm not.
Finally there's the incredible enthusiasm of the Bennington students and grads. I've been lurking around this forum forever, and with the possible exception of Warren Wilson I don't think there's another program, low-res or high, that inspires the consistent, unqualified praise from its students that Bennington does. The e-mails and messages from Bennington folk I received after my acceptance were inspiring. A friend of mine who's a literary editor also had great things to say about Bennington as a program that's established a name quickly in the publishing community, due in part to the literary name it had as a college before the MFA program came along.
All that being said, Vermont has a tremendous program where the students publish like mad, and there's no more inspiring setting than Montpelier (right David?). It was a really tough choice. Anyone still waiting on word from VC (Darren?), there's one more spot open for you.
It's hard to believe that after seven years of reading the MFA posts here and imagining myself in just about every program mentioned, I'm finally "hitched." Whew. Thanks to all of you who helped wittingly or unwittingly with the whole daunting thing. Any advice now from low-res people on how best to prepare for my first residency and semester would be much appreciated.
(This post was edited by wiswriter on Oct 15, 2004, 1:29 PM)