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chelseahotel


Jan 16, 2006, 1:44 PM

Post #1 of 15 (3578 views)
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Standing out in the MFA Application Can't Post

Hey everyone,

I'm getting really nervous about applying to the MFA CW program. I have my letters of recommendation (well, waiting on them to be done), don't need the GRE (thank god!) for where I am applying and have been working diligently on my manuscript and statement of purpose. I am an English/Writing major, about a B average (haven't calculated the actual major gpa yet). Anyway, the stiff competition is really intimidating; it has always been my plan to get my MFA CW after undergrad. I was commissioned twice for a college textbook that a professor at my school co-authored; the first essay wasn't published due to business/copyright issues, and the second was used on the book's companion website. I was also commissioned again by the same prof for an essay in another textbook she is co-authoring. (And, of course, this is one of the profs writing the letter of recommendation :)

Do you think this could help me stand out from other applicants? I know my writing is strong, but nowhere near where I want it to be -- hence the MFA ambition. I've taken a few workshop classes, but couldn't get into the actual fiction workshop because my school is weird and only offers two sections, both at very inconvenient times, and I have to work to pay the bills.

Also, since I only have 500 words to write my SoP, should I take a line or two to discuss problems I had in my undergrad years? i.e. I was supposed to graduate last May, but there were medical problems, funerals, etc. that hindered my progress.

Thanks in advance for the feedback. I am going to be a nervous wreck until I find out whether I got in or not.


darredet
Darren A. Deth


Jan 16, 2006, 2:37 PM

Post #2 of 15 (3563 views)
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Re: [chelseahotel] Standing out in the MFA Application [In reply to] Can't Post

Hello:

The fact that you were commissioned by your college professor twice speaks volumes for your work. That is a definite asset.

I, too, was an English Writing Major, as well as a Psychology Human Services one. I graduated with a 3.11 and attended school for five years. Much of my last year was taking care of incompletes I received from previous semesters work; I was having some personal issues that hit me out of the blue. This was over 12 years ago.

The first two schools I applied to I didn't get into, but after taking some workshops and an online writing course, I was accepted into two other ones. For reasons I won't elaborate on here, I had to hold off on attending and am debating on whether or not I will ever go.

I would not elaborate on the problems you experienced unless they somehow contributed to your writing. Did they inspire you in some way? Did you gain some new perspectives?

What programs are you looking at? And by all means, when you have your personal statement completed and want someone neutral to take a look at it, let me know. I'll be happy to look it over for you.

Good luck,

Darren


chelseahotel


Jan 19, 2006, 9:31 PM

Post #3 of 15 (3491 views)
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Re: [darredet] Standing out in the MFA Application [In reply to] Can't Post

Thank you for the feedback and advice. Sorry it took a few days to reply; I got commissioned for yet a third essay by the same professor! :) This is definitely helping my confidence. And, I may just take you up on the offer about the personal statement. :) How would I get that to you, btw? As for programs, I am looking at UNC-Wilmington. Writing on the beach, can't get much better than that!

Thanks,
Ashley


(This post was edited by chelseahotel on Jan 19, 2006, 9:33 PM)


darredet
Darren A. Deth


Jan 19, 2006, 10:31 PM

Post #4 of 15 (3483 views)
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Re: [chelseahotel] Standing out in the MFA Application [In reply to] Can't Post

Hey Ashley:

What I can do as far as the personal statement is concerned is email it to me whenever you wish. I will private message the address to you.

And you are welcome regarding the advice.

There has also been a change of events and I will be starting at Vermont College in June. My wife had some medical concerns that appear to finally be resolved. We had about 7 months of anxiety there.

Darren


pongo
Buy this book!

e-mail user

Jan 20, 2006, 5:20 PM

Post #5 of 15 (3445 views)
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Re: [darredet] Standing out in the MFA Application [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To

There has also been a change of events and I will be starting at Vermont College in June. My wife had some medical concerns that appear to finally be resolved. We had about 7 months of anxiety there.


Now that is excellent news! When is the residency?

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/


darredet
Darren A. Deth


Jan 21, 2006, 4:01 PM

Post #6 of 15 (3407 views)
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Re: [pongo] Standing out in the MFA Application [In reply to] Can't Post

Hi David:

If all goes as planned, I will be starting June 26th. I just need to fill out another application and send in the application fee again to "reactive" the acceptance. I plan on having that in the mail by Monday or Tuesday at the latest.

I was beginning to wonder if I would ever make it.

Darren


rooblue


Jan 21, 2006, 11:32 PM

Post #7 of 15 (3379 views)
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Re: [darredet] Standing out in the MFA Application [In reply to] Can't Post

Darren, Was it just two years ago that we did that Vermont online class at the same time? (seems like a decade ago) I know you've been going through this MFA process forever, and I'm glad your family's health issues are resolved and you're finally going to be able to go. I hope you enjoy Vermont -- it's a great program -- very best of luck to you.


darredet
Darren A. Deth


Jan 24, 2006, 5:51 AM

Post #8 of 15 (3307 views)
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Re: [rooblue] Standing out in the MFA Application [In reply to] Can't Post

Hi rooblue:

I can't believe it's been two years either. I had to check my resume to verify when it was so I could put in my VC application.

What are you working on these days?

I'm working on a novel. I'm also trying to catch up on the messages here.

Darren


zebulon


Oct 7, 2007, 7:47 PM

Post #9 of 15 (2975 views)
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Re: [chelseahotel] Standing out in the MFA Application [In reply to] Can't Post

I am curious if having a publication history affects your application, either positively or negatively. I've read both, positive because it speaks of ambition and the quality of work, and negative because it might mean the writer may be slightly arrogant about their accomplishments. Does anyone have any insight into this? Should I be upfront and proud (though, of course humble) about my publications, or not mention them at all?


pongo
Buy this book!

e-mail user

Oct 7, 2007, 8:48 PM

Post #10 of 15 (2967 views)
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Re: [zebulon] Standing out in the MFA Application [In reply to] Can't Post

I had a small track record when I was applying, and it didn't seem to do me any harm. I got in the one place I applied.


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/


__________



Oct 7, 2007, 9:02 PM

Post #11 of 15 (2963 views)
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Re: [pongo] Standing out in the MFA Application [In reply to] Can't Post

Wait...schools won't know of your publications unless they like your story enough to peek at the personal statement, right? Or do you mention it in the manuscript, like: Architect of Ruins, first published in PARIS REVIEW!!!)


six five four three two one 0 ->


zebulon


Oct 7, 2007, 9:44 PM

Post #12 of 15 (2955 views)
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Re: [Junior Maas] Standing out in the MFA Application [In reply to] Can't Post

Well, that's kind of what I was asking about... from one post I read, can't remember where, they said that some schools may see a publication record as a sort of loss of humility, a hardening of the putty they're hoping to shape... not sure how correct that is... I don't have anything in PR, but a couple in Southern Review, New York Quarterly, OnTheBus, Evansville Review, and then a few really small journals... Should I mention just a couple in the SOP, or none, or all that i have, or have a cover letter with the manuscript with the publications credits... stuff like that. Just don't want to mess it up. haha


jlgwriter
Jeanne Lyet Gassman
e-mail user

Oct 7, 2007, 11:40 PM

Post #13 of 15 (2938 views)
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Re: [zebulon] Standing out in the MFA Application [In reply to] Can't Post

The low-res schools I applied to all had a place on the application form to list "honors, awards, and publications." If your list is too long to fit on their three lines (the average amount of space given), then type up a separate attachment. I don't know if my credits helped me, but I don't think they hurt me, either.

Jeanne


http://www.jeannelyetgassman.com
http://jeannelyetgassman.blogspot.com


Moondog


Oct 8, 2007, 8:03 AM

Post #14 of 15 (2912 views)
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Re: [zebulon] Standing out in the MFA Application [In reply to] Can't Post

Publications, regardless of how big or small, speak to a writer's commitment to their craft. People who write and send their work out are generally people who are hungry to be better. I don't think schools look at prior publications for much else. Also, I don't think publishing track records are all that unusual. Two members in my advising group at Goddard had published significantly in non-fiction, and all of us had published short stories and poetry to varying degrees.

Our writing samples speak loudest and clearest - if you're going to sweat anything, sweat that.


zebulon


Oct 9, 2007, 2:17 PM

Post #15 of 15 (2820 views)
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Re: [Moondog] Standing out in the MFA Application [In reply to] Can't Post

Believe me, I've been sweating is for awhile. Haha, went through my potential first manuscript over the summer with William Mohr and cut almost 1/2 of it, which made me take quite a critical eye to what my 'best' poems are... and sadly they aren't terribly numerous, or, not as numerous as my pretty good poems. Thank you guys for the help.

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