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NickMcRae
Nick McRae

e-mail user

Jul 17, 2008, 5:39 PM

Post #76 of 1018 (16998 views)
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     Re: [lovemardou] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) [In reply to]  

Bri!!! It's about time I ran into another Bucknell fellow in here!

So your list looks pretty sweet. When you mentioned Illinois, you were talking about UIUC, yes? If so, I don't have any first-hand knowledge, but it seems like I've only heard good things about the funding situation there. If you apply there, we'll be applying to 6 of the same places (Michener, Virginia, Wisconsin, Michigan, Minnesota, and UIUC)! Maybe we'll even get into some of the same places? :)

Yow-zaa!


"You got a song, man, sing it. / You got a bell, man, ring it." - Robert Creeley

Nick McRae
nmcrae1@gmail.com
http://nickmcrae.com/


Raignn



Jul 18, 2008, 9:25 AM

Post #77 of 1018 (16953 views)
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     Re: [mchard] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) [In reply to]  

Yes, both of those programs were outlined in my response, which was all about Midwest schools!

Here it is: http://www.pw.org/speakeasy/gforum.cgi?post=268325#268325

I outlined what I know about Illinois, Western Michigan, Purdue, IU, Pittsburgh, and Ohio State.

And when I say full funding I mean stipend + tuition remission.


calumnian


Jul 26, 2008, 3:17 PM

Post #78 of 1018 (16832 views)
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     Re: [Raignn] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) [In reply to]  

Hey folks,

I finished a B.FA in Creative Writing last April and I'm applying for M.FA programs for Fall 2009. In the meantime I'm working as Assistant Editor of a magazine, prepping my portfolio and trying to sort out where I will apply.

My priorities are:

1) Funding: the majority of students are fully funded with a tuition waiver and a stipend of some kind (whether fellowship, gradership, ta-ship, etc)
2) Teaching Opportunities (with Editing/Internship Opportunities coming secondary)
3) Interdisciplinary work and experimental writing is permitted and encouraged (a single genre limitation seems like forcing a composer to write only string quartets).
4) Location: Northeastern states, North-Central states or the West Coast

My list so far includes:

University of Wisconsin
Genres: Poetry (2009) and Fiction (2010)
(interdisciplinary work is encouraged)
Location: Madison, Wisconsin
Length: two years
Deadline: December 15
Number Admitted: 6 per genre
Number of Applicants: ?
Teaching Opportunities: one class of intro cw in 1st year, one class of composition in 2nd
Editing Opportunities: ?
Faculty: Laurie Moore, etc
Rank: Atlantic Monthly up and coming program, PW 10th
Requirements: 3.00 GPA in last two years or a B
Deadline: December 15th
Funding:
a) tuition remissions and health benefits for everyone
b) teaching assistantship: 1 class each term ($10,300-$10,800)
c) $3000 summer scholarship

University of Minnesota

Location: Minneapolis-St Paul
Genre: poetry, fiction and literary nonfiction (genre experimentation encouraged)
Length: three years
Deadline: December 20th
Number Admitted: 13-15 total (4-5 per genre)
Rank: pw 11th
Teaching Opportunities: yes
Editing Opportunities: lit journal and young writer mentoring program
Application Notes: GRE Required for fellowships only
Funding: everyone for the full three years
a) teaching assistantships, research/administrative assistantships all include
stipend, full tuition waiver plus health benefits
b) other awards, residencies and retreats as well

Brown University
Genres: Fiction, Poetry, Playwriting, Hypermedia, Interdisciplinary
(students are encouraged to take workshops in other genres)
Location: Providence, Rhode Island
Number Admitted: 15 total
# of Applications Received:
Rank: PW 6th
Tuition:
Teaching Opportunities: one writing workshop per term
Editing Opportunities:
Funding: Everyone
a) first year fellowship: tuition, health insurance, small stipend
b) first year proctorships: nonacademic employment
c) second year: teaching assistantship (one writing workshop per semester)
pays full stipend, tuition and health insurance

University of Michigan
Genres: Poetry and Fiction (no cross genre possibilities)
Location: Ann Arbour, Michigan
Length: two years
Number Admitted:
# of Applicants Recieved:
Rank: Atlantic Monthly top 10 MFA Program
Teaching Opportunities: 1st year gradership, 2nd year teaching
Editing Opportunities:
Funding: Everyone
a) first year tuition waiver + stipend ($16,000 + $6000 for summer)
b) second year tuition waiver + stipend ($14,700) + health care
c) $250 towards conference travel
d) $50 for contest/publication postage
e) summer internship in publishing/arts admin ($2000)
f) essay contest for residency in cottage in Ireland (+ $3500 for travel expenses)
g) InsideOut Detroit teaching cw 10 h/week in Detroit high schools and
editing the high school lit mag

University of Virginia:
Genres: Poetry and Fiction (no cross-genre possibilities)
Location: Charlottesville, Virginia
Length: two years
Number Admitted: 5 poets and 7 fiction writers
# of Applications Received: 500
Rank: Atlantic Monthly top 10 MFA program
Tuition: $14,900 (out-of-state)
Teaching Opportunities: one class per term 2nd year
Editing Opportunities: 6 lit journals
Funding: Everyone
a) fellowship covers first year tuition/fees + stipend
b) instructorship covers 2nd year health insurance/tuition + $9,250 salary



What am I missing?

Also, any Canadian applicants out there? I'm concerned that international applicants might have to prove they have sufficient funds (ie: tuition/living expenses) before being issued a student visa.


umass76


Jul 26, 2008, 3:59 PM

Post #79 of 1018 (16822 views)
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     Re: [calumnian] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) [In reply to]  

Calumnian,

Hi there! Okay, I'll take a crack at it. In answer to your question, based on your criteria you're missing:

1. University of Califonia at Irvine
2. Cornell University
3. Indiana University
4. Purdue University
5. University of Oregon
6. Ohio State University
7. Syracuse University
8. Johns Hopkins University
9. University of Illinois
10. University of Iowa
11. Southern Illinois University
12. University of Notre Dame
13. Minnesota State University at Mankato
14. University of Massachusetts

That said, I'm not sure what you meant by criteria #3. The only notably experimental-friendly program you've got on your current list is Brown, and all of the programs on both your list and the list above require students to select a concentration. I don't know of any schools that specifically prohibit a student from taking seminars out-of-genre (at Iowa, for instance, I could take all fiction seminars for two years if I wanted, despite being a poet and in the poetry-concentration program), but I also don't know of any programs that allow, say, poets to do more than (at most) take one workshop out-of-genre across a two or three year program, which wouldn't really qualify as "interdisciplinary" given the fractional number of credits a single workshop brings (in the big picture of the entire degree). The only program I'm aware of that specifically has interdisciplinary studies as part of its official mission statement, and not merely an (at most) across-the-board, minimal core requirement, is Northwestern University's new MFA, which meets most of your requirements except for the all-important funding piece.

Most importatly, though--and the reason I've put such a barrage of school recommendations, above--is that it would be extremely unwise for any applicant to apply to only four schools, particularly when two of those schools (Wisconsin and Virginia) are tied for the lowest acceptance rate in the United States (1.5%), and two others (Brown and Michigan) are only a fraction behind. Minnesota is also an incredibly hard admit. I know you said your list is just an early draft, but at the same time, I just want to make sure (for your sake!) that your four rigid requirements are not so rigid that you end up applying to anything less than ten schools--fifteen, if all of them are going to be in the U.S. top 25.

Taking your requirements into account, though--and now specifically thinking about requirement #3--I'd say the biggest omissions on your list are Cornell University, University of Iowa, and University of Califonia at Irvine. Claims that Iowa has a conservative aesthetic are ridiculous; in both the poetry and fiction programs, I've never seen anyone do anything but write whatever and however they feel like writing, period.

If a program admits you, it means--by definition--they're looking to support you in writing better the sort of poetry/fiction that already got you into the school in the first place. It's one reason I think aesthetic prerequisites (almost always based on hearsay, anyway) aren't very helpful in making application-related or matriculation decisions, as the admissions process is a self-selecting process in at least one sense: MFA faculties don't, as a rule, admit people just for the purpose of trying to fundamentally change their aesthetic.

Best of luck,
Seth

MFA Rankings and More at: http://www.sethabramson.blogspot.com/


(This post was edited by umass76 on Jul 26, 2008, 4:01 PM)


S.K.J.


Jul 27, 2008, 11:11 PM

Post #80 of 1018 (16738 views)
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     Re: [calumnian] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) [In reply to]  

calumunmain,

I would have to agree with Seth. When I first showed my professor my list (Iowa, Brown, Cornell, UC Irvine, Syracuse) she said I was setting myself up for dissapointment. Not that I wasn't good enought to get into those places, just that I was working against some serious odds. She suggested applying to 10 programs at the least and 15 if I could afford it. She also suggested having some safety schools. Now my list is 10 long and could get even longer.


writerteacher


Jul 27, 2008, 11:35 PM

Post #81 of 1018 (16728 views)
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     Re: [S.K.J.] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) [In reply to]  

S.K.J. --

Did your advisor define "safety school"? I ask, because the common wisdom on these boards is that there is no such thing.

Surely, there are programs that receive fewer applications per year than others, which makes the applicant's odds better. But as far as writing goes... I don't know of any program I'd consider a shoo-in, since all admissions committees are looking for the finest writing they can find, the definition of which depends entirely on the individuals on the admissions committees.

And many programs, I've learned, don't fill quotas. That is, if they don't find enough writing that stokes them, they'll admit fewer students than they have room/funding for.

I'd love to see a discussion -- maybe a thread all its own -- on "safety schools" and what that means.

My best to you,
WT


S.K.J.


Jul 27, 2008, 11:54 PM

Post #82 of 1018 (16722 views)
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     Re: [writerteacher] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) [In reply to]  

 
WT,

You're right. There probably are no such things as "safety schools." I just meant that certain schools seem to fly a little lower under the radar than others. My professor seemed to think there was a certain amount of luck involved in the whole process and her whole point was to increase my odds by applying across the board not just to the schools that always seem to appear at the top of any ranking list, since those school inevitably attract more applicants.

SKJ


umass76


Jul 28, 2008, 11:02 AM

Post #83 of 1018 (16680 views)
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     Re: [calumnian] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) [In reply to]  

Calumnian,

I stand corrected. It looks like University of California at Riverside requires substantial interdisciplinary work. Their website claims TAships are available (though it does not say for what percentage of the admitted class), and it's on the West Coast, so it may well fit your requirements.

Be well,
S.


ejdifili
Emily

Jul 28, 2008, 1:26 PM

Post #84 of 1018 (16647 views)
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     Re: [S.K.J.] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) [In reply to]  


In Reply To

You're right. There probably are no such things as "safety schools." I just meant that certain schools seem to fly a little lower under the radar than others. My professor seemed to think there was a certain amount of luck involved in the whole process and her whole point was to increase my odds by applying across the board not just to the schools that always seem to appear at the top of any ranking list, since those school inevitably attract more applicants.



I think the reason there are no "safety" MFA programs is because acceptance is largely based on subjective criteria. If you apply for graduate studies in non-"artistic" disciplines, even including subjects like literature or philosophy, your acceptance is based more on measurable acheivements like grades, GRE scores, previous experience, etc.

Acceptance to an MFA program is based primarily on one thing: your writing sample, how "good" it is judged by the people who happen to read it, and how well they think your work fits into their program. This forum is riddled with stories of writers who have lists of prestigious publications and were rejected from every program to which they applied. This is why Seth wisely suggests candidates apply to at least ten schools.

I myself applied to only eight last year, and received just one acceptance after weeks on the wait list. Granted, that's all you need, and I'm thrilled to be starting my program in the next few weeks (!). Still, last February through the end of April were some of the most stressful months of my life, which I totally didn't see coming. I didn't get news of my acceptance until the last week of April, and I was convinced I was in for another year of applications.

Note that I only applied to "top 20" programs, because I foolishly believed, due to my previous accomplishments--both academic and creative--that I was a shoo-in. Ha! In this game, nobody is a shoo-in, because there is really no way to judge what kind of a candidate you are. It's not like applying in other disciplines, where you can look at your 4.0 GPA, perfect GRE scores, extensive publication history, stellar recommendations and years of field experience, then know you are headed to Harvard.


Raysen


Jul 28, 2008, 1:42 PM

Post #85 of 1018 (16639 views)
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     Re: [ejdifili] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) [In reply to]  

Great points.

Regarding how I pick schools, which I imagine is no different from how others pick, I placed my schools on an A-tier, B-tier, and C-tier and I'm applying to 4 schools in each tier.

A-tier:
UC-Irvine
Iowa
Michigan
Columbia

B-tier:
Wisconsin
Oregon
Arizona
Montana

C-tier:
New Mexico
San Diego State
Colorado State
Illinois

You will probably disagree with the schools in my tier system, especially the C-tier, but that's what I'm going with. Feel free to rip it apart.

In the meantime, I'm busy editing down my 25-page short story into a 12-pager. Aaaaaargggghhh!!


umass76


Jul 28, 2008, 1:52 PM

Post #86 of 1018 (16634 views)
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     Re: [ejdifili] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) [In reply to]  

Hi Emily,

Great post, and I'm so glad everything worked out for you. One thing I'd note (and I'm sure you'd agree) is that the ideal scenario, all things being equal, is acceptance to three or more programs--not for the purpose of stroking the ego, but for the far more pragmatic one of giving oneself (as applicant) as many options as possible. Many students were unlucky last year and the year before and, while getting into one school out of six or eight applications, weren't able to go to their sole-option program because no funding was offered them, or because for various unexpected reasons the location of the program was no longer feasible or desireable, or additional information about the program (e.g., a visit) soured the applicant on the school post-application, or a faculty member who had been the original impetus for the application chose to depart the program in question. And many other similar scenarios; the list is endless, and a lot can happen in the five months between November/December and March/April.

With multiple acceptances, the candidate not only has multiple options--and some time and space to really begin weighing which features of specific programs are the most important and valuable--but also in many instances can discuss their acceptances with administrative officials or faculty at individual programs, which sometimes results in an amendment to their financial aid package (NB: to be clear, this is not something I did myself, or would be inclined to do; that said, A., I know many, many people who did it, and B., sometimes programs will amend their financial aid offers simply upon discovering you are weighing other options--without any haggling, bargaining, cajoling, or needling on your part whatsoever).

So if people wonder, "Why can't I just apply to eight schools, if I'm only looking for one acceptance?", the answer is, "You can, but if you're only applying to top 25 schools eight applications probably won't be enough (for the typical applicant) for even a single acceptance, and if you're hoping to having even two options while applying to only top 25 programs, let alone three, likely 12 to 15 applications will be necessary."

Just wanted to clear that up, so that my "15 is ideal" theory makes some sense. And yes, I know there's also the "15 is damned expensive!" school of thought, too, which I also do subscribe to.

So, like anything, it's an if-you-can-possibly-afford-it piece of advice.

Be well, all,
Seth


(This post was edited by umass76 on Jul 28, 2008, 1:54 PM)


S.K.J.


Jul 28, 2008, 3:55 PM

Post #87 of 1018 (16602 views)
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     Re: [umass76] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) [In reply to]  

 
ejdifili,

Thanks for sharing your story. That's a good lesson. Personally, I be relieved if I get in anywhere at this point.

Raysen,

Your tiers make sense to me. Everyone has their own biases, and some might say Columbia doesn't belong in the top tier anymore, but I don't. I still think it's a top notch program if you can afford it.

Seth,

Your post was basically what my professor said to me verbatim. Apply to as many schools as you can afford.

Thanks to all of you!


umass76


Jul 28, 2008, 5:01 PM

Post #88 of 1018 (16582 views)
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     Re: [S.K.J.] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) [In reply to]  

FWIW, I think Columbia is indisputably a first-tier program, if you can afford it.

That may not be the case three years from now (for reasons of cohort), but it is at the moment.

S.


(This post was edited by umass76 on Jul 28, 2008, 5:02 PM)


Raignn



Jul 29, 2008, 10:17 AM

Post #89 of 1018 (16520 views)
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     Re: [umass76] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) [In reply to]  

I'll have to second or third applying to as many schools as you can afford. I only applied to 6 and it was VERY nerve-wracking. I felt incredibly lucky, in the end, to have been accepted by four, waitlisted by one, and rejected by Virginia :). It normally doesn't work out so well! Cast a wide net and you'll have more options in the end.


lapwing


Jul 29, 2008, 10:50 AM

Post #90 of 1018 (16508 views)
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     Re: [S.K.J.] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) [In reply to]  


In Reply To
WT,

You're right. There probably are no such things as "safety schools." I just meant that certain schools seem to fly a little lower under the radar than others. My professor seemed to think there was a certain amount of luck involved in the whole process and her whole point was to increase my odds by applying across the board not just to the schools that always seem to appear at the top of any ranking list, since those school inevitably attract more applicants.

SKJ


Echoing SKJ: While there don’t seem to be any safety schools when it comes to well-funded, elite traditional residency programs, maybe there are some schools that are easier to get into than others (though still not easy to get into, in terms of a guarantee). Here are some proposed categories of safety or “safer” schools, with most of them being otherwise unappealing for one reason or another:

1. Schools with relatively poor funding, such as Columbia (this attribute also figures into many of the other categories below).

2. Schools with low yields (i.e., relatively few of the students they accept actually choose to attend, usually because there’s poor funding plus urban cost of living). An NYC-area school like Sarah Lawrence is one example. Another is Pitt.

3. Schools that receive relatively few applications. They may admit only a few students as well (so they’re just as statistically competitive), but at least it will be a little easier for the admissions committee to remember your writing sample. Examples include NC State and Bowling Green.

4. Schools that admit a lot of students overall (relatively speaking) such as the University of Arizona. Again, they may be just as competitive in statistical terms . . .

5. Schools that admit close to the same number of nonfiction MFA students as they do fiction or poetry MFA students. Iowa State? There just don’t seem to be as many people applying in nonfiction, the so-called fourth genre.

6. Brand-new low-residency programs, such as Alaska or Converse College.

7. Lesser-known low-residency programs, such as Pine Manor.

8. Elite low-residency programs that admit 10 percent or more of applicants. (The problem of course is paying $30,000 for a Bennington.)

9. Schools of art and design that have writing programs, such as Cal Arts and OTIS.

10. “Night-school” or “adult-education” MFA programs geared toward working adults, such as Northwestern.

11. Brand-new MFA programs, such as UCSD.

I guess I've tortured the definition of "safety school" so much that I'm left with schools that few would want to attend. But then again, a safety school is, by definition, not that great, right?

--Lapwing


Raysen


Jul 29, 2008, 11:34 AM

Post #91 of 1018 (16491 views)
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     Re: [lapwing] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) [In reply to]  


In Reply To

In Reply To


3. Schools that receive relatively few applications. They may admit only a few students as well (so they’re just as statistically competitive), but at least it will be a little easier for the admissions committee to remember your writing sample. Examples include NC State and Bowling Green.


You brought up a lot of interesting factors, lapwing. But I wonder how we can get info like low yields and low applications. The school website will often say they receive "hundreds" of applications for a few spots. They rarely give actual numbers of the number of applications. Well, I take that back...sometimes they mention numbers, other times they don't.


umass76


Jul 29, 2008, 11:45 AM

Post #92 of 1018 (16488 views)
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     Re: [lapwing] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) [In reply to]  

Lapwing,

That's an excellent, excellent post. Only thing I'd quibble with is that I don't think there are, at present, any low-residency programs with acceptance rates under 10% (Warren Wilson is the most selective, at 12.5%), so really any low-residency program would fit into your rubric.

I also think there are, actually, tons of great programs which fall under the--if not "safety school" by any means, then simply what I've called in the past "higher-odds"--rubric you laid out. I think the three most interesting categories there, the ones including the best programs, are the "night" MFA grouping (which right now includes only the excellent and surprisingly affordable Northwestern MFA), the "large class" grouping (which does include a few prestigious schools where at least a handful of admittees will get funding, like Arizona, George Mason, New Hampshire, and New Mexico, and some where many admittees will, like Iowa), and the "small applicant pool" grouping (perhaps the best grouping of the lot, pragmatically speaking, as it includes well-funded schools going through meteoric reputation rises, like Alabama, Purdue, Vanderbilt, North Carolina at Greensboro, Arizona State, Florida, Bowling Green, and Illinois).

The key, I think--assuming an applicant with either limited funds or no desire to pay for the MFA degree--is to avoid programs in New York City and California (excepting the well-funded Irvine), and other notoriously unfunded programs (e.g., Pitt, SAIC), have realistic expectations about the most popular programs in the "ultra-selective/ultra-funded" category (Cornell, Texas, Wisconsin, Virginia, Irvine, Brown, Michigan, Oregon, and Indiana, all "fully-funded" in at least some sense of the term, and with a less than 4% acceptance rate), and load up on the many excellent, well-funded, second-, third-, and fourth- tier programs out there (meaning, schools ranked #13 to #48) that have smaller applicant pools and/or higher acceptance rates, but still good funding, many of which are listed above.

That said, I'm still tempted to say that, even for those applicants who follow the above prescription, the application cycle--in terms of selecting which schools to apply to, and whether or not the applicant ends up feeling like s/he pulled a "coup" and got into a school s/he is stunned and thrilled to be accepted to--can be made, or broken, in the schools that fall into a sort of [absolutely non-pejoratively speaking] "gray area" (well-regarded, mid-size applicant pools, average to elite funding, very selective but not an impossible admit, low-first or second- or third- tier), for instance (from approximately toughest admit this year to least):

Minnesota
Montana
Syracuse
Arkansas
U. Washington
Houston
Washington U.
North Carolina at Wilmington
Ohio State
Southern Illinois
Mississippi
Hollins
Penn State
Colorado State
LSU

These are the schools where chances of admission are much tougher to judge, largely because more is known about their funding than their selectivity, but (despite not having admissions numbers for some of these) their reputation is nevertheless well-established. I think a good route for many applicants will end up being something like (vaguely like):

4 toughest-admit schools
2-3 large class-size schools
4 small applicant pool schools
5 "gray area" schools
1-2 less-selective schools * OR (more likely) well-funded unknowns/less-knowns ** OR new programs ***

* This would include schools that don't fare at all well on the P&W Reader Poll, report no acceptance-rate data, and are not known to have significant funding; a strong applicant who gets rejected from all other programs may nevertheless be admitted to and be one of the rare "funded admittees" at a school in this grouping.

** Includes McNeese State, UNLV, Virginia Tech, West Virginia, VCU, Idaho, Miami, GCSU, Wichita State, Minnesota at Mankato.

*** E.g., Rutgers, UMass at Boston, UCSD, Wyoming, etc.

I realize that's proposing 16 to 18 applications, so realistically I could see applicants shaving off 1 to 5 schools total from various of those five categories.

Be well,
Seth

Rankings & Acceptance Rates Available at: http://www.sethabramson.blogspot.com/


(This post was edited by umass76 on Jul 29, 2008, 11:52 AM)


lapwing


Jul 29, 2008, 12:08 PM

Post #93 of 1018 (16470 views)
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     Re: [Raysen] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) [In reply to]  


In Reply To

In Reply To

In Reply To


3. Schools that receive relatively few applications. They may admit only a few students as well (so they’re just as statistically competitive), but at least it will be a little easier for the admissions committee to remember your writing sample. Examples include NC State and Bowling Green.


You brought up a lot of interesting factors, lapwing. But I wonder how we can get info like low yields and low applications. The school website will often say they receive "hundreds" of applications for a few spots. They rarely give actual numbers of the number of applications. Well, I take that back...sometimes they mention numbers, other times they don't.

Raysen, I agree that schools' Web sites usually leave us applicants in the dark about this stuff. But I think you can safely assume that a big-city program with poor funding will have a low yield. That said, I'm hoping that Seth will respond with a better answer, because his blog is where I found info on yield (as a concept) and on which schools get how many applications. --Lapwing


Raysen


Jul 29, 2008, 2:45 PM

Post #94 of 1018 (16434 views)
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     Re: Choosing an MFA Program (2009) [In reply to]  

Does anyone have any insights on the University of New Mexico MFA program? It's fairly new.

(I don't think I'm allowed to create new threads here. :( )


Raysen


Jul 29, 2008, 5:28 PM

Post #95 of 1018 (16402 views)
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     Re: Choosing an MFA Program (2009) [In reply to]  

I also want to bring up another topic: applying to your alma mater.

I've heard that it's best to save your money and not apply to your alma mater. Schools want diversity and want their students from a wide variety of undergrad backgrounds. For example, I went to Michigan for undergrad and therefore, I shouldn't apply to the Michigan MFA program because these creative writing programs want diversity. This is just an example. I don't know for sure whether Michigan does this or not.

Could anyone comment on this? Is this another myth? Do these schools just want, first and foremost, the "best" candidates based on the writing samples?


Scarlo


Jul 29, 2008, 5:34 PM

Post #96 of 1018 (16397 views)
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     Re: [lapwing] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) [In reply to]  


In Reply To




1. Schools with relatively poor funding, such as Columbia (this attribute also figures into many of the other categories below).




Do you really think that's true about Columbia? I have no idea myself. I'm just asking.


Clench Million
Charles

Jul 29, 2008, 5:54 PM

Post #97 of 1018 (16394 views)
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     Re: [Raysen] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) [In reply to]  

I think safety school are a tough topic. Everything said above makes a lot of sense, but at the same time since there are no true safety schools maybe it is best not to worry about it? I don't know. When I applied, all the school I was accepted to or wait listed at where at the very top of my own list and the rankings. The schools I had put on as "safety schools" rejected me promptly. In retrospect I wish I had only gone for the very best schools... but perhaps that is easy to say since I did get in. If I hadn't, maybe I'd be complaining about how I should put safety schools on.

Still, for my money the number one application factor should be quality. (Funding and location might be the most important factors for picking where to go from your acceptances, but quality should be the main factor in deciding where to apply). Quality is hard to define, but a school with good peers, good teachers, good alumni success and so on is the best bet for a good education and good experience.

I'd probably put on some large schools and maybe a few up-and-coming programs that look like they have a great faculty and exist in quality universities, but I would go for as many of the best programs whose faculty impress you as you can....then hope for the best. You don't want to be caught at the end of the process kicking yourself for not applying to Iowa and Michigan (or wherever you kick off your list to make room for safety schools) and never knowing if you would have gotten in.

Or maybe not...I'm sure some people wouldn't give that a second thought, but it would eat at me till the end of days. Just my 2 cents.


jaywalke


Jul 30, 2008, 9:10 AM

Post #98 of 1018 (16340 views)
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     Re: [Raysen] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) [In reply to]  


In Reply To
I also want to bring up another topic: applying to your alma mater.

Could anyone comment on this? Is this another myth?


It's not just a myth, but it also does not apply across the board. I've certainly heard, from graduate professors in varied disciplines, that they want to avoid the impression of "incest," and they want their undergrads to have a different experience.

The same holds true for in-house hiring after graduation. Some schools won't consider their own grad students for tenure tracks because they don't want to appear insular.

Other schools don't seem to care. I think it's personal opinion rather than written policy, and the odds are that the brighter the student's star, the less likely it is to matter.


lovemardou


Jul 30, 2008, 12:11 PM

Post #99 of 1018 (16299 views)
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     Re: [umass76] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) [In reply to]  

not to turn this in a different direction, but seth -- what do you know about houston? i've been told by two different teachers now that i'd do well there, but unfortunately their website is in a bit of disarray and i can't seem to glean that much information from it. what's the funding like? are there any houston students out there who can talk about their experience?


umass76


Jul 30, 2008, 5:49 PM

Post #100 of 1018 (16244 views)
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     Re: [lovemardou] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) [In reply to]  

LM,

Which genre?

S.

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