Jeanne Lyet Gassman
Mar 18, 2008, 6:44 PM
Post #1744 of 2685
Re: [Sibella] I think I should see other people.
[In reply to]
I'm in the low-res program at Vermont (fiction). You've brought up a lot of issues here. I'll see if I can address them...
Vermont residencies are 10 days twice a year in late Dec. and late June. The student/teacher ration is 5 to 1, and I can testify that the program is quite rigorous. After the residency, you have a semester project. For fiction, this means I have five packets that I send to my advisor. Each packet consists of 25 pages of creative work and two 3-4 page critical essays on my reading. I'm required to read 10 books this semester (selected by me and my advisor). The critical essays analyze some aspect of craft in each of the books. I'm not a big fan of critical essays, but I have to admit that I've really learned a lot from my analysis--more than I ever expected. That new awareness of craft is starting to show up in my own work, I think. The poets have slightly different requirements than the prose writers. My roommate was a poet, and I think she had to write fewer pages of creative material but longer critical essays. This may depend upon the advisor, however. You should check directly with the programs you're interested in.
Vermont doesn't require the GRE--Most low-res programs don't. I've never heard anything about a foreign language requirement either. We don't receive grades, but we do receive detailed evaluations. The students at the last residency ranged in age from mid-twenties to late sixties or even early seventies. (Who tells?) Gender was about equally split between male and female, and I would guess that the average age was around 45.
Vermont does offer a few (one or two) merit scholarships, but they're quite small. The majority of the funding comes from your resources. I'm still pretty new (first semester), so I can't tell you too much about post-grad support other than I've heard good things. I know of a couple of people who graduated a few years ago, and some of the faculty at VC are helping them with their novels now. A lot of people do seem to get decent jobs in academia--especially if they have a few publications and/or awards under their belt.
Most programs require a writing sample, a statement of purpose, transcripts, and letters of recommendation. The writing sample is the most important part of your application. Be sure to give yourself enough time to get everything in by the application deadlines.
If you're considering any low-res program, I would start by visiting the Websites of the schools. Most of them will send you an information packet if you request it. When I started looking at low-res schools, I read the threads on this site, checked out MFA blogs, looked at the schools' sites, and sent off for information. Then I made up a checklist, comparing the various programs, their costs, their faculty, their requirements, and their format. I had about 13 schools on my original list, but after some careful comparisons, I whittled my list down to 6 or 7. In the end, I applied to my top three choices first. If none of those worked out, I planned to go to my second tier. Fortunately, I was accepted by first-choice school.
Good luck to you. I love my low-res program so far.