Apr 12, 2007, 1:11 PM
Post #165 of 2090
It's so nice to see some "life" in this thread again!
I've spent a lot of time over the last month and a half researching programs. FSU was SO great about answering my e-mails, and David Kirby was awesome enough to forward my questions to students who are: 2nd year, 3rd year, and 4th year so that I could get different perspectives. Missouri was a bit weirder with the response. Utah was quick and short but did ask me to e-mail questions again over the summer when there was more time to answer. I've also just been talking to people (former thesis advisor and former professors, alums from BFA, MFA, and PhD programs, professor friends of mine who write poetry, alums from my MFA program, etc.) to get perspectives on programs (and on the degree itself) to really start to think about my applications.
Right now, my application list is:
All of these programs are fairly similar in that, of course, the primary focus is creative writing but students must also have a "minor" focus that is more literature-based (well that proportion is more equal than major/minor at Utah, which is fine with me). There seems to be a pretty standard 2/2 teaching load that has some flexibilityto allow students to maybe have a 1/1 teaching load while working in administrative capacities or in editorial capacities at whatever literary journal is associated with the program.
(I *might* also apply to the PhD program at Goldsmiths College at the University of London--I would very seriously welcome the chance to study with Lavinia Greenlaw, and my Greek citizenship might make it easier for me to find part-time jobs to make living in London a possibility--but right now I am highly unsure)
I felt so clueless a couple of months ago because of how much I didn't know and because of how much I had to muster up the guts to ask other people (not the easiest thing for me to do). But I feel pretty good right now. I've gotten a lot of opinions from people on programs and on what really matters in a program, I've thought a lot on my own about what matters to me and why I am applying to each of these programs, and I have started reading the work of faculty members and searching online and in the library for articles that poetry faculty members may have published on the craft of poetry (which, I think, will do more for me to figure out how I will jive with them as their student than just straight-up reading their poetry will). I've started looking at the cost of life in each of the towns that programs are situated so that I can make sure I can afford to be a graduate student in each of these towns should I wind up there, and I have altered my budget to really amp up my savings--applications themselves are expensive, and I think it would be a wise thing to have some financial cushion if I find myself in the "poor grad student" situation.
And this: as silly as it may sound, I've sort of created "Team Stephanie." Getting a PhD and taking that time to consider my work seriously as something publishable AND dcontinuing to develop as a teaching professional really, really matters to me. I have a small network of people who I trust quite significantly with my writing and teaching career who want to help me out in any way possible and who have committed to help me with arranging my poetry manuscript, giving me feedback on my statement of purpose, and helping me make sure, as I am getting applications out the door, that all of my t's are crossed and my i's are dotted. If I am REALLY lucky I will get into one of my top 2 choice programs when I send my applications next year. If I am lucky I will get into a program next year. If not, then I can only keep on applying (watch--in about 10 months I will be a nervous wreck and this shot of perspective will be thrown out the window). Nonetheless--acceptances in hand a year from now or no--I really want to feel confident that I put forth the BEST applications that I could and that I let the people who want to be there for me--and who have enough understanding of these programs--help me. Because I know that as much as I have researched and will continue to research, I don't know everything, I don't have every great idea, and I could definitely use all the help that comes my way.
I'm sort of psyched. Nervous as hell, but psyched as hell. And I am REALLY happy that all of you are coming out of the woodworks to talk about your applications for next year. When I applied for my MFA (gosh, that was 6 1/2 years ago now...), I had the other threads on this board to turn to and to get advice from and to support and be supported by. With the PhD applications, it's sort of different. There aren't as many programs, aren't as many applicants (collectively...), isn't as much of a presence on these boards. But y'all are a great presence! I hope that we can all just really support each other in this kickass sort of way next year. :)