»

Subscribe | Give a Gift Subscription

Log In or Register | Help | Contact Us | Donate

Advanced Search

Main Index » Writing and Publishing » MFA Programs
Sizing up the Competition
Edit your profilePrivate messages Search postsWho's online?
You are not signed in. Click here to sign in.
If you are not a member, Register here!
139054 registered users


chitown


Apr 20, 2005, 7:08 PM

Post #1 of 6 (2921 views)
Shortcut
Sizing up the Competition Can't Post

Applying for MA programs is somewhat easier, because you can look at GRE and GPA requirements and get a feel if you have a shot at getting in. Not so much with MFA programs. Does anyone have any advice for judging the caliber of work produced by students in MFA programs (applicants or current students)? So I know if I have a shot at getting in :) I've been trying to get a collection of literary journals by programs I intend to apply to and that's pretty much all I can think of. I was just wondering how anyone else handled this, or if you didn't give it a second thought.


(This post was edited by motet on Jul 14, 2006, 12:03 PM)


bighark


Apr 20, 2005, 7:45 PM

Post #2 of 6 (2915 views)
Shortcut
Re: [chitown] The Writing Sample? [In reply to] Can't Post

I don't think you'll have much luck looking at the official journals published in affilliation with a school's MFA program, as many have policies against publishing the writing of current or former students.

Some schools have links to less formal online journals that feature the poetry and fiction of current students, though, so you may have luck there (at least a handful of schools I looked at offered this rare peek into student writing, but I should stress that they were in the minority).

I know what you mean about getting a chance to size up your competition, but I think your best bet is to identify the programs that interest you most and to apply with your best work. I think almost everybody on this board will agree that it's impossible to gauge the tastes and sensibilities of the selection committees.

Some people on this board got rejection letters from "easy" schools only to get accepted to prestigious programs, and I've heard stories from students (I don't recall if they visit this board or another one I frequent) who report being wholly unimpressed with the quality of writing from their classmates.

Anyway, good luck!


catenz
CATenz

Apr 20, 2005, 8:49 PM

Post #3 of 6 (2908 views)
Shortcut
Re: [chitown] The Writing Sample? [In reply to] Can't Post

Check out the "Best New American Voices" collections if you're interested in fiction.


Wilding


Apr 21, 2005, 12:14 PM

Post #4 of 6 (2863 views)
Shortcut
Re: [chitown] The Writing Sample? [In reply to] Can't Post

Keep in mind that many of these literary journals are not edited by MFA students but by undergrad, MA, or English graduate students (research their mastheads). After you narrow your school search you can contact current students in the programs and ask them directly or Google them to find what they have published.

Remember that each MFA committee member will be drawn to different work for various reasons that SIMPLY CANNOT BE CALCULATED. I suggest you lean towards programs featuring faculty whose work you fully respect and in a place you'd actually not mind living. (Although this does not mean the faculty will be good at teaching, mentoring, or will not have major personality flaws to contend with.)


Kaytie
Kaytie M. Lee

e-mail user

Apr 21, 2005, 12:59 PM

Post #5 of 6 (2854 views)
Shortcut
Re: [chitown] The Writing Sample? [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
Does anyone have any advice for judging the caliber of work produced by students in MFA programs (applicants or current students)? So I know if I have a shot at getting in :)


The only writing that would help you judge in this case is that of the other writers applying for the same spots you are. Each school is going to try to pick the best of the applications, so the writing of current students or graduates of the programs you are applying to will likely have little or nothing to do with how the admissions committee looks at your work.

The only aspect of this process you have control over is presenting yourself in the best possible light, so I think you're better off polishing your own submissions as best you can rather than worrying about others. Have someone else look at them--seems like there's always a typo or a grammar error an author will miss but a reader will catch--and follow each school's formatting guideline. The only aspect of this process you have control over is presenting yourself in the best possible light.

When I was applying to schools, I didn't give a thought to the other writers, but I attribute that to my own naivete rather than confidence. Now that I'm aware of so many other emerging writers, I tend to think about them too much. Awareness is a good thing--agonizing is not. :)

And as people mentioned, the application process for an MFA is as selective as any submission process, so a rejection doesn't mean you're not talented and an acceptance doesn't always mean you are...


But, if you're trying to decide where to apply, the other posters gave you good advice about that--check out the faculty, and see if there's anyone there you'd love to work with. Then make sure they'll actually be teaching when you're attending the program. Attend a class if possible--my program allowed prospective students to attend workshops, and that can be a great way to make your decision.


Kaytie M. Lee Last Updated November 2008


chitown


Apr 23, 2005, 10:59 PM

Post #6 of 6 (2782 views)
Shortcut
Re: [chitown] The Writing Sample? [In reply to] Can't Post

Thanks all for the advice! I just ordered a copy of "Best New American Voices."

Main Index » Writing and Publishing » MFA Programs

 


P&W Newsletters

Sign up to receive our monthly email newsletter to stay informed of the latest news, events and more.

Click to Sign Up

Subscribe to P&W Magazine | Donate Now | Advertise | Sign up for E-Newsletter | About Us | Contact Us

© Copyright Poets & Writers 2011. All Rights Reserved