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Apr 6, 2008, 8:31 PM

Post #526 of 793 (13461 views)
Re: [janeeyre] Has Anybody Made a Final Decision? [In reply to] Can't Post

You said, "If I was moving on my own, I'd have no trouble deciding to take the higher $$ offer." It sounds like that is what you really want to do, and since you said your husband is supportive of whatever you choose, you should take the better offer. Even though Madison was your dream school, the reality is what you will be living with for the next few years.

More money equals more time to write, period. If I were you, I would save the extra money if you don't need it and use it to prolong your writing time without having to get a job for another year out of school. Not having to teach for two years will signficantly add to the amount of time you get to spend writing--plus it sounds like if you want the teaching experience, there is a third funded year to do that. M.F.A. programs are incredibly short, and if you have to spend a significant amount of the two years teaching, even a single class, you may end up shortchanging your own writing. At Wisconsin, the HEAF is open to all alumni who haven't published, so although you have a shot, you can't really count on winning that, but it sounds like at Wash U you can count on having a third year. They are both really great programs, but it sounds like Wash U is offering you a better deal.

The only reason I would recommend attending Wisconsin is if it is the only school where you have decent funding. I was all set thinking Wisconsin sounded like a dream school myself, but right before I applied, I heard from a couple writers who have experienced Lorrie Moore in workshop that although she is a brilliant writer, she can be quite unpleasant as a teacher. After hearing details, I decided not to submit my application. Since the program is so small, you'll have to take a workshop with her at some point during the program, and if you end up having her as your thesis advisor, as two of the six fiction writers do, that might be two very painful years. I don't mean to malign the program or an admired writer, but I also know that it might be helpful information to you under the circumstances. If you're thick-skinned, you might get along with her just fine. But I find workshop to be difficult even when everyone is being nice, and this is something I would want to know before committing to a program.


Apr 6, 2008, 10:23 PM

Post #527 of 793 (13345 views)
Re: [oholasula] Has Anybody Made a Final Decision? [In reply to] Can't Post

Actually, I visited Madison recently and got to meet all the current fiction students, and they talked about how much they loved all their professors, including Moore. I don't buy the evil Lorrie Moore story. Everyone I've spoken to thinks she's a wonderful teacher and mentor.


Apr 6, 2008, 10:33 PM

Post #528 of 793 (13780 views)
Re: [upsetme] Declining etiquette [In reply to] Can't Post

upsetme, not sure if you're familiar with the Pitt blog that was started: http://pittmfa.blogspot.com. I plan to attend Pitt as well.


Apr 7, 2008, 1:56 AM

Post #529 of 793 (13686 views)
Re: [franz] Has Anybody Made a Final Decision? [In reply to] Can't Post

I have declined an offer from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (in poetry). Two years of funding.


Apr 7, 2008, 2:17 AM

Post #530 of 793 (13675 views)
Re: [janeeyre] Has Anybody Made a Final Decision? [In reply to] Can't Post

I second janeeyre's defense of Lorrie Moore as teacher. I just visited Madison as well and met all the fiction students and everyone had great things to say about Lorrie Moore, especially the two students who have her as thesis adviser. Even though she's on leave this semester she's still working with both of them on their theses, meeting regularly, etc, even attending the birthday party of one of them.

I'd heard the evil Lorrie Moore stories as well, and now I believe none of them. Perhaps we feel that anyone who's such a great writer must have a bad side: cruel teacher, cold colleague, kicks puppies, etc.


Apr 7, 2008, 2:59 AM

Post #531 of 793 (13655 views)
Re: [katiej] Has Anybody Made a Final Decision? [In reply to] Can't Post

Hey katiej... have you decided between Madison & Michigan yet?


Apr 7, 2008, 3:23 AM

Post #532 of 793 (13637 views)
Re: [janeeyre] Has Anybody Made a Final Decision? [In reply to] Can't Post

I'm sorry, I didn't intend to say Lorrie Moore is evil. She is one of my favorite writers, and I have great admiration for her. The only reason I said anything about it was that two people who seemed like legitimate sources said almost the same thing to me on different occasions--that she makes comments in workshop that are difficult to stomach--and I assumed that their stories corroborated each other, and thought it was worth mentioning as a result. However, I realize now that I have no way of knowing whether the information is really true. You seem to know more than I do, so if you think she is great, that is what is important since you are the one making the choice.

I still think Wash U sounds like a better opportunity because of the superior funding with no teaching responsibility and the clear possibility for a third year. That is the logic I have used to make a fairly firm decision about where I am going to attend (a less well-known 3 year program with good funding), although I haven't commited because I'm on the waitlist at a very prestigious two year program. I will probably still pick the school I have gotten into, since it is better money and more time to write, which I think are the two valid reasons for getting an M.F.A., since it isn't a degree that is particularly marketable professionally, so reputation means less than the work you do while there. Still, it is hard not to be swayed by the romanticized idea of a place, and I was trying to provide a counterbalance to the overwhelming "Pick Wisconsin" vibe of the previous posts. In any event, good luck to you in picking between two great choices, and where ever you end up, I hope you are happy with it.

(This post was edited by oholasula on Apr 7, 2008, 3:28 AM)


Apr 7, 2008, 8:27 AM

Post #533 of 793 (13597 views)
Re: [littleneck] Has Anybody Made a Final Decision? [In reply to] Can't Post

In Reply To
I have declined an offer from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (in poetry). Two years of funding.

Just curious. What did you accept over Michigan?


Apr 7, 2008, 9:37 AM

Post #534 of 793 (13563 views)
Re: [Regi] Has Anybody Made a Final Decision? [In reply to] Can't Post

Between Madison and Wash U, I think Wash U--because of funding, student enthusiasm, and their secure reputation among the literary community (dating back to Stanley Elkin & co.)--is the better option. St. Louis is a great city on its own terms while Madison surrounds the nucleus of the university. A few friends of mine attend the Wash U program, and their spouses had little trouble finding great jobs--most of them non-profit, for what its worth. The arts community in St. Louis is thriving, and Forest Park is a hidden Midwestern gem. Wisconsin is a stellar program, no doubt about it. And yet, I think Wash U works hard to husband and cultivate their students' talent, and the optional third year is a considerable perk. Also, I'd think about the other students in the program, as they will largely shape the trajectory of your writing career. A surprisingly warm welcome from students is usually a pretty good indication of how students feel about the program, and open arms indicates a program in which you would do well to steep yourself. I have spent some time in St. Louis, and I had friends that did their undergrad in Madison, and generally, Madison is more of an undergraduate community while St. Louis, especially around Delmar Loop, has a budding young professional community, less populated by all the big-ten hoopla. In any case, congratulations on your acceptances, and good luck with your decision.


Apr 7, 2008, 10:05 AM

Post #535 of 793 (13529 views)
Re: [epound12] Has Anybody Made a Final Decision? [In reply to] Can't Post

janeeyre's initial post concerning Wisconsin and Wash U: April 6.

Accounts created April 6 or 7, after janeeyre's post, only minutes before posting their reply: audhep1929, oholasula, and epound 12, all of which strongly advocate one choice and strongly oppose the other.

Let's all be sure we're trying to help our fellow writers, not just sway their decisions!


Apr 7, 2008, 1:03 PM

Post #536 of 793 (13334 views)
Re: [paperplanes] Has Anybody Made a Final Decision? [In reply to] Can't Post

I don't know about the others, but I only just yesterday discovered the Speakeasy, thank you very much, out of dismay that Seth's blog died down, and I'm still waiting on a waitlist UNRELATED to either school in the discussion. This was the first thread I happened to read. I was only trying to give my best advice about a topic that piqued my interest. Forgive me!! And in fact, the only reason I piped up at all was because the board had been, without variation, strongly advocating for Wisconsin with no one giving consideration to Wash U. And I think Wash U has a great program, and in this case, a superior one. I think going to a school for the reputation is kind of dumb when it isn't going to help you professionally, not like a business or law degree would, and no one was saying that. Plus, these blogs have a pretty skewed view of the "prestige" of programs among the older literary circles, anyway, and those are the people who are going to consider it if you are using an MFA to get a job. I was trying to bring a little balance to this board since it's not a fascist regime where everyone has to agree or be thrown in jail, and I'm so sorry I started off on such a wrong foot, but everyone's posts are, in essence, going to sway a person one way or another if they are well argued. If janeeyre didn't want to be, essentially, swayed, why did she put her decision on a public forum and ask for advice? If she really wanted advice weighing the pros and cons of the schools, then it doesn't matter what side people come down on, and it is to her advantage to hear arguments for both so that ideally she can weigh both in her own mind and make a more sound decision because she has heard all sides. Like I said before, I didn't even apply to either of these schools, so I have nothing personally invested. I was trying to be helpful to someone whose situation I related to and share what I thought was helpful information. Sorry to do such a horrible thing!


Apr 7, 2008, 1:10 PM

Post #537 of 793 (13321 views)
Re: [paperplanes] Has Anybody Made a Final Decision? [In reply to] Can't Post

i just checked, and janeeyre's account was also created on April 6 moments before she posted her question, just to point that out, so i don't think your post really proves any legitimate point at all. it seems a lot of people have recently migrated to speakeasy after the other blogs stopped updating as regularly.


Apr 7, 2008, 1:53 PM

Post #538 of 793 (13258 views)
Re: [oholasula] Has Anybody Made a Final Decision? [In reply to] Can't Post

People, are we really questioning the validity of anonymous guidance counseling? Rarely does the word "duh" seem appropriate, but I think it's called for.

Is anyone truly swayed by the offhand advice of strangers? It helps to hear what people say to get a larger picture of the place, but you don't know where the advice is coming from. These people don't know what your goals are, what your writing is like, what it needs, how you would fare in a particular environment. It's never gonna hold more weight than your husband's input or your financial needs. I feel like people take the advice/info posted in these forums the same way they take any statement of opinion - if it aligns with their instincts, they file it in the "evidence for" folder, if it doesn't, it will be dismissed entirely or considered lightly (or even, in some clever way used to embolden their original view).

This is free market chatter. Have at 'er.


Apr 7, 2008, 1:58 PM

Post #539 of 793 (13244 views)
Final Decision: San Diego State (Poetry) [In reply to] Can't Post

I've made my decision to go to San Diego State for Poetry!

That means a space opens up at Mills, and I don't have to wait for UCD to reject me (my file was still "pending" but I wasn't the first round of acceptances nor on the first waitlist-- so chances were slim to none).

PM me if you're going to SDSU, too!


Apr 7, 2008, 2:32 PM

Post #540 of 793 (13197 views)
Re: [gina.bee] Final Decision: San Diego State (Poetry) [In reply to] Can't Post



Apr 7, 2008, 2:33 PM

Post #541 of 793 (13193 views)
Re: [Raignn] Final Decision: San Diego State (Poetry) [In reply to] Can't Post

Thanks, Raignn!!


Apr 7, 2008, 2:43 PM

Post #542 of 793 (13169 views)
Re: [00emily] Has Anybody Made a Final Decision? [In reply to] Can't Post

You're right, of course.

I apologize for the suspicion.

Good luck everyone!


Apr 7, 2008, 2:59 PM

Post #543 of 793 (13129 views)
Re: [paperplanes] Has Anybody Made a Final Decision? [In reply to] Can't Post

So, I declined today at Minnesota. It was hard, because it's a fantastic program. If anyone gets in off the wait list and is wishing they had time to visit, I just did visit, so I could tell you what it was like. I got to meet with the director and sit in on a workshop, and it seemed like an amazing program where people were producing good stuff. They have great class progression in their TA program (lit, creative writing, and comp) plus a lot of course flexibility (cross-genre work & out of department electives).

Congratulations to everyone who's confidently striding forward in making final decisions!

And thanks, everyone, for the thoughts on Wash U vs. Wisconsin. It's a very personal choice, but it's nice to hear people's perspectives. At this point, I think I'm just going to flip a coin!

Cobra Cobachi

Apr 7, 2008, 3:03 PM

Post #544 of 793 (13168 views)
Re: [motet] I'M IN! [In reply to] Can't Post

Okay, this may be a slight digression from the topic at hand, but...I need some input.

-I am currently waitlisted at Southern Illinois University, Carbondale (MFA). Should hear back from them at the end of this week or the next.

-Rejected from all other MFA's (applied strictly to Elites, first time applier, oops.)

-Accepted with a Graduate Assistantship to the MA program where I am about to finish my Undergrad in English, Western Illinois University. (MA in Language in Literature, GA tutoring at the writing center)

-Accepted at Northern Michigan University's MA in Writing (which for all intents and purposes is pretty much a mini-MFA with plenty of diverse workshops and courses in the forms of writing) with a "viable option as a backup" for funding, if any should become available.

Here's the question: if I am rejected from SIUC, which MA program should I choose? The logical side of me (financially speaking) says "duh, WIU. Funding, 'nuff said." But then the logical side of me (academic, career, professionally speaking) says "duh, NMU. Fantastic preparation for applying to MFA's in two years."

I feel as if a change of scenery from Macomb, IL (where I have been for five years) would do me a lot of good. But, on the other hand, NMU may not provide funding, in which case I could go an additional 36k in debt. I have absolutely NO intention of NOT receiving an MFA in my lifetime. Above all else (except being a professional writer, of course) I want to teach creative writing at the college level. The MA at WIU offers absolutely NO writing workshops, next Fall being the first year in which that will be the case. But, my serious significant other will be here at WIU next year, her last.

I think that's about it. In summation, I really want to go to NMU because it would make me a better writer. WIU's only Pro's are a) funding and b)sig. other.

Any words of wisdom? Correct me if I'm wrong, but it seems that successful MFA applicants tend to have MA's.



Apr 7, 2008, 4:01 PM

Post #545 of 793 (13081 views)
Re: [richardkae] I'M IN! [In reply to] Can't Post

Follow the money. I don't think it's a good idea to go 35K in debt for an MA English Degree, even if it's one that offers a CW concentration. Some asst. profs with PhD's start out in the high 30's low 40's after 8-10 years of grad school.

While the funded position might be in a lit program, you'll still gain valuable teaching experience, which will be appealing to many MFA programs two years from now, because you'll be able to teach right away. You can always make up for the lack of workshops during the academic year by attending summer workshops elsewhere.


Apr 7, 2008, 8:09 PM

Post #546 of 793 (12913 views)
Re: [gcsumfa] I'M IN! [In reply to] Can't Post

Hey richardkae...

I would second that advice about not going into debt for an MA. I really don't think you need an MA to be competive for an MFA program when you re-apply. This is just my personal experience (and each person is different), but I applied to MFA programs as a senior in college and only got into my "safety" school with no funding. I decided not to go, and I'm so glad I did! I've spend the last five years working full time and writing fiction. Not as much time to write as I would like, but definitely a lot of great life experience that I feel makes me a better writer. I applied to thirteen programs this time around, with a range of "rankings" and sizes, and ended up accepted at nine (including my top three "elite" programs), waitlisted at two, and rejected at two. I don't really think it's a coincidence... my work is definitely way stronger after being out of school for a few years. I looked back at my old application materials when I was putting stuff together this year, and was appalled that I had ever thought it appropriate to send it out... my personal statement was particularly ridiculous...

I know a lot of it is luck and timing and the mood of the admissions committee when they read your work on a particular day, but that's my story, if it's any use to you!

Cobra Cobachi

Apr 7, 2008, 8:51 PM

Post #547 of 793 (12865 views)
Re: [janeeyre] I'M IN! [In reply to] Can't Post

Thanks for the feedback, I appreciate the input. My main problem with the funded school is that it's in the same boring place I've been in for the past five years, and I find NMU's environment to be particularly inviting, despite the fact that it snows 6 months out of the year. You're both speaking words of wisdom of which I put great stock in. Here's to hoping that I am offered funding at NMU! (not to mention the possibility of making it in to Southern Illinois off the waitlist)

Patience is the name of the game, I suppose.

Thanks again,


Apr 7, 2008, 11:23 PM

Post #548 of 793 (12775 views)
go rebels [In reply to] Can't Post

Next year I will be attending Ole Miss for fiction. Thanks to everyone who offered advice. . .In the end the Oxford vibe and the energy and commitment of the faculty seemed too good to turn down.

For those of you on waitlists, I'm declining offers from Vanderbilt and Montana.

I was also rejected by the usual suspects: Iowa, Michigan, UVA, Michener

Thanks again and good luck to everyone with the decisions.



Apr 8, 2008, 12:37 AM

Post #549 of 793 (12724 views)
Re: [richardkae] I'M IN! [In reply to] Can't Post


If you don't get in at Illinois (here's hoping you do), have you thought about staying where you are for another year and taking some courses that could transfer as general electives? I noticed when I was researching programs that several will let you transfer in some hours...I think Umass Amherst was one. Boston University too, if I remember correctly. Maybe in the meantime you could take some writing workshops and work on strengthening your writing sample (or get feedback that it's strong enough as it is), and be ready to re-apply as soon as schools begin accepting applications. As someone pointed out, the grad. assistantship/teaching experience will look great on your application. After a semester you're bound to already look better on paper. Plus, if your gpa isn't great as an undergrad this plan could help out in that sense too.

These are the kind of things I've been tossing around in the old noodle lately. Hard to counsel someone without knowing much about their life, but thought I'd try anyway.

Good luck,



Apr 8, 2008, 9:10 AM

Post #550 of 793 (12638 views)
final tally, if anyone is interested [In reply to] Can't Post

My final acceptance/rejection for poetry tally is as follows:

New Mexico State University
University of Arizona
University of New Orleans

Colorado State University
University of New Mexico
Vanderbilt University

University of Colorado at Boulder
Arizona State University
UNC Wilmington

I'm still waiting on UNC Greensboro, but I'm assuming rejection. My head was swayed by getting into a top-ten program (Arizona), but I've decided to take the offer at NMSU and am excited to be moving to Las Cruces in the fall. If anyone else is going there, feel free to contact me!

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