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Welly Wu
Welly Wu
e-mail user

Mar 28, 2005, 12:53 AM

Post #1 of 33 (5886 views)
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Before I leap Can't Post

Hello. My name is Welly Wu and I have been lurking on this forum for several months. I am in the process of applying for an MFA program at Rutgers University (Camden, New Jersey) and Rowan University (Glassboro, New Jersey) and I need some advice. The application deadline for Rutgers is July 1st, 2005 and Rowan has a rolling admissions deadline. Both require the GRE General Test as a matter of formality. I have purchased the Princeton Review Cracking the GRE book with CD-ROM and I will be purchasing the Practicing to Take the GRE General Test 10th Edition soon. I have budgeted eight weeks to study for the GRE and I am literally squeezing in the $130 USD fee into my budget for the middle of May 2005. I graduated from Essex County College with a 3.67 GPA (High Honors) with an Associate's Degree in Liberal Arts in 2001 and I graduated from Montclair State University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English Creative Writing and a 3.15 GPA. I am applying to these specific graduate schools because I want need a formal and structured environment in which I can learn to hone my craft in writing poetry and fiction as my two concentrations. I chose Rutgers because it ranks 16th in the Humanities and Social Sciences MFA English program according to US News & World Report, but I have attended the school and I am familiar with it along with the culture. Rowan is meant to be my second backup alternative. The MFA program is 30 credit hours and I have 5 years in which to terminate with a degree.

1. What are my chances of being accepted if I score a 700+ Verbal, 6/6 Writing, and 650+ Math on my GRE in combination with my past educational history?
2. What are my chances of getting scholarship(s), grant(s), etc?
3. What advice would you recommend for me to pursue?

I am a part time bookseller at Barnes & Noble. I am also studying for the US Postal Service 473 Postal Exam so I anticipate switching jobs in the next several months. I have not been published and I have no writing credits to my name yet.

Thank you for your advice and opinions. I look forward to reading the replies!


toni-b


Mar 28, 2005, 10:07 AM

Post #2 of 33 (5862 views)
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Re: [Welly Wu] Before I leap [In reply to] Can't Post

If you read the unfortunately cumbersome Choosing An MFA Program thread, you will find much discussion of admissions and chances. Unfortunately, the information you have provided accounts for about 2% of the decision at best; the remainder of the admissions decision is based on the quality of the writing sample, and maybe a little on the personal statement and recommendations.

There are plenty of people with mediocre grades and GREs getting into good MFA programs, and plenty of people with excellent grades and GREs not getting into any programs.

That being said, I used the Princeton Review book to prepare for the GRE, and found it helpful. Even though the test doesn't matter, no one likes to live out the nightmare of sitting through a test totally unprepared. Studying the Princeton Review list of vocab words will prepare you.

Also, you may find that applying to two schools is an invitation to heartbreak -- the process is so subjective. If you are limited geographically, consider low residency options.


Amethyst


Mar 28, 2005, 10:07 AM

Post #3 of 33 (5863 views)
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Re: [Welly Wu] Before I leap [In reply to] Can't Post

I would recommend reading the P&W Nov/Dec. 04 article on applying to MFA progams. There is some good information in that piece. One thing the article emphasizes is that the manuscript is the most important part of the application. I have just finished applying to a bunch of programs (New England College, Vermont College, Bennington and Warren Wilson). So far I've gotten into all of them. When I was preparing my applications earlier in the year, I spoke with people in the program offices, and they confirmed that the MS was king in determining who gets considered seriously. One person even told me, "Even a fabulous GPA will not make up for weak manuscript." There's also a lot of good information on this site--scan the posts in the other MFA threads and you'll learn a lot.

So, I would say, don't worry about your grades so much. Worry about whether your MS is the most polished and professional it can be.

The second most important part of the application is the personal statement. I found the essay to be very difficult to write--I think everyone does. I would say, based on my research, that being emotionally and creatively honest is important. Don't say something just because you think it will impress people. You should find and discuss some strong reason why grad school will help you--beyond just saying you want the structure or discipline or whatever. Is there some specific aspect of craft you want to work on? That would be a good thing to mention in the essay.

None of the schools I applied to required GREs, so I can't comment on what impact GREs have on an MFA application. I have taken GREs twice in the past, though, when I applied to straight literature programs (that was before I started writing poetry). The second time, I took a preparation course and I would definitely say that it was worth it. I know did a lot better the second time, although I honestly don't remember my scores too well.

Good luck,
Amethyst


willbell
Will

Mar 28, 2005, 10:47 AM

Post #4 of 33 (5850 views)
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Re: [Amethyst] Before I leap [In reply to] Can't Post

Amethyst--
Sounds like congratulations are in order for you.
When did you hear back from Bennington? I'm still waiting, and I'm guessing first round phone calls went out last week...

Wendy--
I second Toni-b's suggestion--apply to more schools (if possible). Also, I second Amethyst's suggestion to read the PW's Nov. 2004 article on MFAs, which will help you get a handle on the process.

Polish, polish, polish that manuscript until your fingers bleed. I let mine go a little early and I'm afraid my first choice passed on it...

Best of luck.


Amethyst


Mar 28, 2005, 4:07 PM

Post #5 of 33 (5804 views)
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Re: [willbell] Before I leap [In reply to] Can't Post

Willbell--

I got a call from Liam Rector on Mar. 24th, late in the afternoon. The acceptance packet arrived on Saturday. I am pretty sure I will go to Warren Wilson instead, so that means there'll be spot open at Bennington.

Goodluck
Amethyst


rooblue


Mar 28, 2005, 4:32 PM

Post #6 of 33 (5795 views)
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Re: [Amethyst] Before I leap [In reply to] Can't Post

Amethyst - Aren't you in poetry? Will is in fiction I think. I'm a current Warren Wilson student (fiction). Let me know if you have any questions I can answer.
good luck.


wiswriter
Bob S.
e-mail user

Mar 28, 2005, 6:22 PM

Post #7 of 33 (5772 views)
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Re: [Welly Wu] Before I leap [In reply to] Can't Post

One more thing to consider: Rutgers and Rowan do not have MFA programs. They have MA programs in creative writing, and there's a big difference. Again, this has been discussed in other forums, and rather recently, but to be brief, an MFA is a terminal writing degree, while an MA is an academic degree with a writing emphasis that is often a step toward a PhD. MAs are for people who in addition to writing instruction want a thorough academic grounding in literature, often in preparation for an academic career. The MFA is for people who want to concentrate on their writing without a lot of academic work in literature more generally. MA programs are likely to put slightly more emphasis on your test scores than MFA programs, but in general the advice above still holds. Budget two weeks for the GRE and spend the other six on your manuscript. And consider carefully whether you want an MA or an MFA.


rooblue


Mar 28, 2005, 9:33 PM

Post #8 of 33 (5744 views)
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Re: [Amethyst] Before I leap [In reply to] Can't Post

Amethyst,
I tried to send you a private email in response to yours, but the system said that you did not accept private messages. If you wish, send me another private email with your email address in it, and I can write you directly. thanks Catherine.


WittyName32


Mar 29, 2005, 12:59 AM

Post #9 of 33 (5719 views)
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Re: [wiswriter] Before I leap [In reply to] Can't Post

As someone in an MA program in creative writing, I can assure we pay no mind, during the admission process, to GRE scores or how well you did in your literature surveys as an undergrad. Only one thing matters: the writing sample. Just like in an MFA. Why, then, aren't we an MFA program? Who knows. Some say because the University of California already has one school with an MFA degree. So you really have to know what your writing program is all about. In the end, the generalities don't mean a thing. And that goes for MFA programs too.


silkfx2004


Mar 29, 2005, 10:22 AM

Post #10 of 33 (5701 views)
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Re: [Welly Wu] Before I leap [In reply to] Can't Post

I know it's tough, but I really think you should try to read through the Choosing an MFA thread. There's a LOT of good information in there. There's also a fair amount of sidetracking from the main topic(s), but you should be able to skim past those quickly. I think I went through the previous 2.5 years' worth of information on that thread when I started seriously thinking about applying to grad school.

You haven't taken the GRE test yet so how do you know how well you will score? Don't put that kind of pressure on yourself. I don't know what the percentage is, but a fair number of MFA programs don't even require the GRE for admission. Is there a reason why you need to stick to schools in NJ?


--------
Nobody but God gets it right the first time. Everybody else has to rewrite. --attributed to Stephen King


laroo


Mar 29, 2005, 10:44 AM

Post #11 of 33 (5698 views)
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Re: [silkfx2004] Before I leap [In reply to] Can't Post

Hey, no fair. I haven't made my decision for 2005 yet. We can't already be discussing 2006!


Oedipa


Mar 29, 2005, 3:06 PM

Post #12 of 33 (5669 views)
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Re: [laroo] Before I leap [In reply to] Can't Post

My GRE's were spectacuarly bad. Terrible. Let's see... a lukewarm score in Verbal and 310 or something in the math part. And it didn't seem to affect how most schools, even top rated ones are responding to me.

The manuscript is the most important thing.
The personal essay is second most important.
Letters of recommendation come in third or second, depending on the program (Oregon apparently takes them VERY seriously...so make sure your recommenders don't write brief letters).
Transcripts kind of play a role
GRE are there because the university told the MFA dept they had to require them. Though if it's an MA you're wanting, that may be a different story.

Personally, I wear my 310 in Math as a badge of honor. Why would they even care anyway. I showed up and jumped through that hoop. That's what they care about.


taizhu


Mar 29, 2005, 3:25 PM

Post #13 of 33 (5664 views)
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Re: [Oedipa] Before I leap [In reply to] Can't Post

I wouldn't worry about the GREs at all. Spend your time on the manuscript and your personal essay. That is where they are going to learn about you and your commitment to writing.

I did not study for the GREs at all. I took the late, studied for about 1-2 hours. 30 minutes the day before and 30 minutes the morning of the exam.

I lucked out bc many of the words I studied that morning were on the verbal section so I aced it. But in reality, I just don't think it matters. It really is just a requirement that is demanded by the graduate school--as these programs have to fulfill the graduate admissions requirements, as well as the requirements for the MFA program itself.


rtperson
Roger Turnau

Apr 4, 2005, 1:10 PM

Post #14 of 33 (5575 views)
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Re: [taizhu] Before I leap [In reply to] Can't Post

I just want to echo what others are saying about the GRE. I got very high scores (720s on both Math and Verbal, 6/6 writing), and still got into only one of the five programs I applied to. The scores might have given me an edge on getting a TA-ship, but that's about all.

It's all about the manuscript.


laroo


Apr 4, 2005, 2:08 PM

Post #15 of 33 (5566 views)
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Re: [rtperson] Before I leap [In reply to] Can't Post

I second the above sentiment. I started out with very high practice scores, but by the time I took the actual tests, my scores had plummeted. Confession: my math score was 100 points higher than my verbal score. Reading dense content for comprehension is just not something I seem to be able to do on computer screen.


silkfx2004


Apr 4, 2005, 4:39 PM

Post #16 of 33 (5540 views)
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Re: [rtperson] Before I leap [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
I just want to echo what others are saying about the GRE. I got very high scores (720s on both Math and Verbal, 6/6 writing), and still got into only one of the five programs I applied to. The scores might have given me an edge on getting a TA-ship, but that's about all.

It's all about the manuscript.


Ditto. I got 730 on verbal, 640 on math, and 5 out of 6 on the writing. But I only got into one of the five programs I applied to.

Again...don't worry so much!


--------
Nobody but God gets it right the first time. Everybody else has to rewrite. --attributed to Stephen King


Welly Wu
Welly Wu
e-mail user

Sep 14, 2005, 4:03 PM

Post #17 of 33 (5408 views)
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Re: [silkfx2004] Before I leap [In reply to] Can't Post

I decided to expand the list of graduate programs based on the recommendations of those who have replied to my thread:

Rutgers Camden MA 12/15/05
Rowan University MA rolling deadline
Sarah Lawrence College MFA 02/01/06
Columbia University MFA 01/02/06
New School MFA 01/15/06
Manhattanville College MA ?
Cornell MFA 12/15/05
NYU MFA 12/15/05
Hunter College MFA @ CUNY 02/01/06
Brooklyn College MFA @ CUNY 02/01/06

I meet the minimum requirements for these graduate programs:
Essex County College AA Liberal Arts 2002 3.67/4.0
Montclair State University BA English Creative Writing 2004 3.15/4.0
GRE: 570/800 verbal & 77% scored lower than me, 470/800 math & 20% scored lower than me, 5.5 / 6.0 analytical writing & 86% scored lower than me
I took the GRE on 09/01/05

I can handle all of the basic requirements from letters of recommendations, submitting my undergraduate transcripts, paying the application fees (though they do all add up), etc. However, I am wondering if it is ok by the community members to share my personal statement, statement of purpose, and manuscript online. My strategy is to compile a list of all of the requirements within a document and to write one master personal essay, statement of purpose, and manuscript to cover fiction and poetry. Then, I plan to submit it to each school on time. Throughout it all, I will actively solicit recommendations and feedback from community members who are willing to take on the challenge of assisting me online. Is this a dangerous strategy or is it efficient and effective?


(This post was edited by Welly Wu on Sep 23, 2005, 10:55 AM)


bighark


Sep 14, 2005, 4:23 PM

Post #18 of 33 (5407 views)
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Re: [Welly Wu] Before I leap [In reply to] Can't Post

Welly,

Sharing of such information in this forum has been discouraged in the past.

You may find other forums a little more receptive to sharing, though.

Try the ApplyingtoGrad Live Journal community (http://www.livejournal.com/...nity/applyingtograd/) for your Personal Statement/Statement of Purpose.

The Zoetrope Virtual Studio (http://www.zoetrope.com/) would be a good place to share your manuscript. You can post in the Flash, Short Story, or Novella wings, depending on the length of your piece/pieces. If you join the Zoetrope community, you'll have to put in about 5 reviews in order to post one story, just so you know.

Also, there's a private office system at Zoetrope that does not require a review/read ration. The MFA Programs A-Go-Go office may be particuarly helpful to you. Flynn Waters is the owner of that office--simply ask for an invitation and you can join.

Good luck


bighark


Sep 14, 2005, 4:36 PM

Post #19 of 33 (5404 views)
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Re: [bighark] Before I leap [In reply to] Can't Post

Also, I thought you may want to look at Syracuse. If you're going to look at up-state Cornell, you may as well consider Syracuse, which is as fine of a program as you can hope for.

Good luck.


Welly Wu
Welly Wu
e-mail user

Sep 14, 2005, 5:19 PM

Post #20 of 33 (5402 views)
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Re: [bighark] Before I leap [In reply to] Can't Post

bighark:

THANK YOU! I feel like I am getting one baby step closer to hitting the bullseye of my target. I will frequent those two websites over the course of the next several weeks and months as essential resources. I am sure they will help me greatly as I take the action steps to apply to these highly competitive graduate programs.


pongo
Buy this book!

e-mail user

Sep 14, 2005, 9:44 PM

Post #21 of 33 (5388 views)
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Re: [Welly Wu] Before I leap [In reply to] Can't Post

An AA program (as at Essex) is not a graduate program, but a sub-bachelor's program.

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/


bighark


Sep 14, 2005, 11:21 PM

Post #22 of 33 (5386 views)
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Re: [pongo] Before I leap [In reply to] Can't Post

Pongo, I think you misread her statement. Welly wasn't saying that Essex was a grad program--she was summarizing her experience, which included an associates degree at Essex.


pongo
Buy this book!

e-mail user

Sep 15, 2005, 10:07 AM

Post #23 of 33 (5369 views)
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Re: [bighark] Before I leap [In reply to] Can't Post

Yes, you're right. I should (as I tell my students all the time) read more carefully.

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/


dintennessee


Mar 9, 2006, 2:13 PM

Post #24 of 33 (5308 views)
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Need advice [In reply to] Can't Post

I am in at one program. It's a back-up school. I have been rejected by one of my top two choices and haven't heard from my dream school yet. Does there come a time when you should just go with an acceptance, or would it be worth the risk of turning down the acceptance and waiting and reapplying next year? I studied with a pretty prominent writer last summer and he said not to get in any hurry. It's more likely that I will not get funding at the school that accepted me. I just don't want to lose my chance at getting an MFA. Any suggestions? I'm having a difficult time making this decision. I've thought about it in terms of once in a program, you're in. Since it's a two-three year program, I'd rather start where I want to go. I just don't know what to do. I'd appreciate any advice.


clarabow


Mar 9, 2006, 2:29 PM

Post #25 of 33 (5294 views)
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Re: [dintennessee] Need advice [In reply to] Can't Post

I think it's bad form to start a program and transfer out unless you're really unhappy there. If you're not in at a school you'rehappy to attend, then don't go there. Wait until you go to a place you want to go. I would recommend hunting around for more top choices, tho...this is all such a game of chance.

I applied to a lot of schools, but I made sure that I didn't apply anywhere I wouldn't want to go to if I got in. That meant fewer "back-up" schools, but then again there's no such thing as a back-up school for MFAs, because it's all really subjective. People with no BAs sometimes get into MFA programs. It's not like law school, where you know your chances are def. better at one place than another, given your carefully calculated combination of grades and scores and etc.

If you want to get an MFA for the sake of getting an MFA, you'll be unhappy. Really. It's going to get you zilch in the end. All it's going to do is make you a better writer, so find places you think will help you become a better writer, or help you hep yourself become better, or whatever, and try to get in there. I know great writers who didn't get into MFAs their first or second times, but things worked out just fine for them.

I don't know how old you are (I'm quite young), but there's no hurry to get an MFA and publish. It isn't going to be any sweeter when you're in your twenties and thirties than it is in your forties or fifties or beyond. Your prof. is right - there is no hurry. Better to do things the right way. Doing them the wrong way will not help you achieve your goals.

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