»

Subscribe | Give a Gift Subscription

Log In or Register | Help | Contact Us | Donate

Advanced Search

Main Index » Writing and Publishing » MFA Programs
What Have You Learned From the Application Process?
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!
135828 registered users
First page Previous page 1 2 3 Next page Last page  View All


taraberyl



Jan 19, 2010, 1:27 AM

Post #51 of 59 (4052 views)
Shortcut
Re: [emcsims] What Have You Learned From the Application Process? [In reply to] Can't Post

i echo those who swear by the master excel chart with fees/deadlines/etc - only in my case, it didn't really stick until i stuck it - literally - on a wall. i taped two pieces of printer paper together and made the chart old school style with magic marker. i also put things like "net id"s and passwords on it. i liked having everything on the wall where i could see it (and, ok, i never was so good at excel). PLUS it was really satisfying to draw lines through entire rows when i'd finished the app for that school. ahhhh.


lily_lee


Jan 19, 2010, 5:32 AM

Post #52 of 59 (4030 views)
Shortcut
Re: [JohnGradyCole] What Have You Learned From the Application Process? [In reply to] Can't Post

Excellent advice, JohnGradyCole! Thank you!


bighark


Jan 19, 2010, 12:40 PM

Post #53 of 59 (3989 views)
Shortcut
Re: [lily_lee] What Have You Learned From the Application Process? [In reply to] Can't Post

 A couple of things I've picked up along the way.


Writing Sample (Fiction)

1) Use the same writing sample for every school. Don't edit bits to fit page requirements. Don't mix pieces because you think they may fare better at a certain school or schools. Using the same sample eliminates a lot of the questions that may pop up at the end of the process when you're accepted at some places and not at others.

2) Unless a school states a specific minimum page length, donít worry about using a smaller sample. Itís perfectly fine to send 14 pages when a school says its limit is 25 or 30.

3) Donít sweat going over page limits by a few pages. If your two best stories come in at 32 pages, go ahead and send them to the 30-page limit places. If youíre me, you send them to 25-page limit places, too.

4) One strong story > One strong story and one OK story, but two strong stories > one strong story. Donít freak out if you donít have two strong stories, though.

5) Send your best work, and donít over-think the details. If your best story is a few years old, for example, donít worry that someone is going to look it up and ask why you havenít done anything more recent.

Personal Statement

1) Keep your personal statement to one page. This is an important document, and if you write it well, it can serve you in the future for things like residencies and fellowships. Shoot for a length of 350 words. Yes, thatís hard. Brevity, as they say, is the soul of wit.

2) Prepare a teaching statement just in case. Your schools may not require them, but having a teaching statement ready can save you some time if you decide to add a new school or find a place in an application where that content could be used.

Letters of Recommendation

1) Donít be shy about asking a recommender if he or she is willing to write you a strong recommendation.

2) If you want to ask a former professor for a letter after youíve been out of school for a while, take a few moments to write a summary of who you are (including what youíve done since school) and what you did in that professorís class. Be brief. Two or three paragraphs should be enough to jog a memory.

3) Take care of your letter requests early. Try to line up your recommenders before the end of October, and tell them that they need to have their letters ready by December 1.

4) Itís an extra expense, but Iíve been really happy with using Interfolio for my letters of recommendation. Your recommenders write one letter one time (although they can write personalized letters for particular programs if they wish) and then you take care of everything else. It makes things easy on the recommenders, and you only have to keep track of the letters in one place instead of a dozen (as would be the case if you use the online recommendation forms offered by most schools). If Interfolio is appealing to you, budget about $100 for the typical list of 10-14 schools.

5) I never did this, but I have heard from faculty that it doesnít hurt to have more than the required number of letters for your file. If a school asks for three, itís ok to send four or five. In any case, I can see the value in having back-up recommendations at the ready in case someone flakes out.


GRE

1) The GRE is worth taking if only to open yourself up to more possibilities in terms of schools.

2) Sit for the GRE as early as you can. Most schools will accept late-arriving material like GRE scores, transcripts, and LORs, but some donít, and you donít want to waste your application fees. Before November is best.

3) If you have to choose between studying for the GRE and working on your writing sample, work on your writing sample. Creative writing programs do not accept students on the strength of their GRE scores.

4) Some schools make money available to students with exceptional GRE scores. Think above the 1500 mark. Understand, though, that this money comes from the parent institution, not the creative writing program. Creative writing programs donít care about your GRE scores, and any funding they have to offer has nothing to do with your performance on this silly test.


Transcripts

1) Order a set of transcripts for your personal use. Some schools offer ďunofficial transcripts,Ē which are free. Having your transcripts is useful when applications require you to fill out GPA forms and the like.


JohnGradyCole


Jan 19, 2010, 2:20 PM

Post #54 of 59 (3951 views)
Shortcut
Re: [bighark] What Have You Learned From the Application Process? [In reply to] Can't Post

Bighark: wonderful, simple, and altogether too true point about ordering a set of transcripts for your personal use. I found myself consulting my undergrad transcripts frequently during the application process, and for myriad reasons.


JohnGradyCole


Jan 19, 2010, 2:38 PM

Post #55 of 59 (3944 views)
Shortcut
Re: [taraberyl] What Have You Learned From the Application Process? [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
i echo those who swear by the master excel chart with fees/deadlines/etc - only in my case, it didn't really stick until i stuck it - literally - on a wall. i taped two pieces of printer paper together and made the chart old school style with magic marker. i also put things like "net id"s and passwords on it. i liked having everything on the wall where i could see it (and, ok, i never was so good at excel). PLUS it was really satisfying to draw lines through entire rows when i'd finished the app for that school. ahhhh.


Nice, taraberyl. I'm assuming you used a red marker to draw those satisfying lines.

Another fun thing I did with my chart was add color commentary. For example, one program I applied to last year required a comically short personal statement in addition to the regular personal statement. Under the "OTHER" chart section for this program, I entered "Completely pointless, ridiculously tiny statement. You have to do your best on it regardless, but still, what the f&#@. Seriously." In doing so, my chart became not only my taskmaster, but also my sympathetic friend. And who couldn't use more of those?


jessaheath


Jan 21, 2010, 11:20 PM

Post #56 of 59 (3776 views)
Shortcut
Re: [JohnGradyCole] What Have You Learned From the Application Process? [In reply to] Can't Post

Advice/Reflection

1. I'd like to echo... excel can be your color coding sidekick, and a good way to track your progress.

2. Large envelopes with sticky notes work just as well, and are also very satisfying.

3. Send SASPs to every school that has you mail your writing sample (even the ones who don't request/suggest). Postcards I bought from the Louvre when I was 15 have kept me from obsessively tracking down my materials. They are also very pretty on my windowsills, and a nice distraction while waiting for the real responses. This morning I received a postcard that read: U. of Virginia, Materials Received. 1/15/09. BAM. Initials I think, but it was still very satisfying to read.

4. Don't take in too much of the advice from other applicants. The Speakeasy and MFA Blog are great resources and a fantastic place to find support or answers, but this process is about expressing yourself/your work IN WRITING to the adcoms. Writing is what you are good at, remember? Trust yourself.


blob


Nov 13, 2010, 1:13 PM

Post #57 of 59 (2946 views)
Shortcut
Re: [jessaheath] What Have You Learned From the Application Process? [In reply to] Can't Post

Just responding to bump this thread up. I think people currently applying might find this very helpful. I know I did.


callieStacks
Callie Stackhouse

Feb 13, 2011, 2:01 PM

Post #58 of 59 (2649 views)
Shortcut
Re: [Woon] What Have You Learned From the Application Process? [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
At the risk of offending many of you, I don't understand what the big deal with all the angst about MFA applications. It seemed very routine and straightforward to me. I researched and applied to 13 schools. I sent out for my transcripts from my undergrad. I asked some of my former teachers if they could write letters of rec for me. I studied for, took the GRE, and did well. I finalized some short stories. I drafted my Statement of Purpose (or Personal Statement). I applied online. To me, it was all fun and I hardly broke a sweat.

If I don't get in, it's not the end of the world. It's an art degree, for pete's sake. We all have options, whether you believe it or not, if the MFA doesn't work out.

I mean, there's always Optometry school.

*nowthatthecoastisclear*

I was actually thinking Temple University's Non-Credit Creative Writing Workshop on Wednesdays in between swimming lessons Tuesdays and Thursdays.

*beendoggy-paddlingsincethesecondgrade*


merryflip
merry flip

Nov 18, 2012, 10:10 PM

Post #59 of 59 (1952 views)
Shortcut
Re: [ericweinstein] What Have You Learned From the Application Process? [In reply to] Can't Post

well, i love your post, surely, there are more options than this, personally speaking, it's just ok!

First page Previous page 1 2 3 Next page Last page  View All

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