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MissEsquire



Jun 27, 2010, 12:43 PM

Post #901 of 1018 (26372 views)
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     Re: [nine] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) (2010) (2011) [In reply to]  

Hi Nine,

I write work that would seem to fit the description you've given of yours, and am in a traditional MFA program in the fiction track. Have you read Wigleaf, Smokelong Quarterly, Unsaid, JMWW, The Collagist, Metazen, Annalemma, Gargoyle, Pank....the list goes on (?). All of these journals feature work that seems to fit the description you've provided here. Typically the folks writing this work are in the fiction track, but some are in poetry, too. And some have never gone to an MFA program and are doing fine.

The art school-based programs look fantastic for cross-genre work if you can afford to go to one. SAIC, for instance, is such a cool program. Alas, it's not cheap. I don't know much about CalArts. But maybe you should read some of the above journals -- or other journals you admire -- for writing you resonate with, check the bios of the writers whose work you like, and think about applying to the same programs and tracks they attend/attended, because their styles are a good indication of the type of writing that program encourages. Also, I made my MFA decision partly based on the journal I'd be editing. I loved this journal and really wanted to work on it. Perhaps you should apply to a program whose journal you admire. In terms of genre, it sounds like if you had to pick a track you'd probably enjoy fiction more for what you're doing, but nobody can make that decision for you. Isn't "sentences, not lines" Gordon Lish's mantra?

Feel free to message me for more info.


elissa
Elissa Field


Jun 27, 2010, 12:43 PM

Post #902 of 1018 (26372 views)
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     Re: [ericweinstein] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) (2010) (2011) [In reply to]  

Eric, that's what I was thinking (prose poetry).

There was a poet I liked out of Miami (or "North Havana" as he called it -- little joke for those of us down here, south of the south) who put out a successful collection with at least a handful of prose poems in it. Just found his collection on the shelf -- Richard Blanco, City of a Hundred Fires -- and there are several prose poems alternating in with more traditional forms. I love this book, will have to reread it now I've come upon it again. In case you're interested for markets he had the prose poems published in, the acknowledgements pages credits them as having appeared in Michigan Quarterly, TriQuarterly & Indiana Review, plus some more specifically themed pubs/anthologies (hispanic/latino). BTW, he had this collection published as he was finishing up at Florida International University (FIU)'s MFA program.


http://elissafield.wordpress.com/
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Swamp Thing
Jim Ryals

Jun 27, 2010, 5:00 PM

Post #903 of 1018 (26340 views)
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     Re: [elissa] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) (2010) (2011) [In reply to]  

Nine:

In addition to the list MissEsquire gave you, check out Spork and xStream. Things in there are pretty experimental and varied. If you see something similar to what you are doing, check the bio of the author.

Good luck to you.


nine


Jun 29, 2010, 8:35 PM

Post #904 of 1018 (26227 views)
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     Re: [Swamp Thing] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) (2010) (2011) [In reply to]  

thanks for all the responses. i'm going to go ahead and apply in fiction. i was leaning in that direction anyway.

MissEsquire, what MFA program are you currently enrolled in? what other schools were open to your work? just trying to get an idea of where i might want to apply.


bighark


Jun 29, 2010, 11:51 PM

Post #905 of 1018 (26202 views)
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     Re: [nine] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) (2010) (2011) [In reply to]  

A good exercise for you, nine, would be to peruse the authors and editors of journals that publish work like yours.

A couple of minutes with the fiction writers (and editor) of the most recent issue of elimae, for example, gave up the following MFA program leads:



Kim Chinquee (editor)
University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign

Sara Levine
School of the Art Institute of Chicago (Faculty)

Kyle Minor
Ohio State University

René Georg Vasicek
Sarah Lawrence College

Bonnie ZoBell
Columbia University

Fire up the Google. Many authors don't include their MFA affiliations in their lit journal bios (and places like elimae don't use bios anyway) but may discuss their schooling in interviews or personal websites. Click around. It's worth a look.

Of course, it should be noted that this method will also reveal a number of fabulous writers who didn't get MFAs at all.



Try a couple different journals and see which programs come up. That's a START to your research. Just because someone publishes some experimental work someplace doesn't mean they were supported for that kind of work in their MFA program. Still, this should give you some ideas of places to look.









Pedro Eler


Jun 30, 2010, 10:18 AM

Post #906 of 1018 (26170 views)
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     Re: [bighark] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) (2010) (2011) [In reply to]  

This whole sending work out to literary magazine is a tough business. You need to have tough skin, because when the emails of rejection start pooring in it can be really hard. I sent out some of my work in early april, and got a few rejections already. What is specially harsh for me is how impersonal they are, they send you that mechanic response, it sincerey feels as though they haven't even bothered to read your work (but I prefer to believe that they read your work, but just don't bother to write a proper rejection letter). Anyway, I feel like one of those competitors in American Idol who cannot sing properly to save their lives, and go in there thinking they are the next Elton John, and then are shocked to be rejected... LOL

So, this is to say that sending your work out is dangerous LOL because it can lead to a lot of self doubting. But I'm still hopefull that I will get an yes. And even if I don't, I have heard from several people at Cornell (the place of my dreams) that publication is not important AT ALL. So, I'm not totally disincouraged.

And on the topic of experimentalism... how is Cornell on this? Do you guys know if they prefer stuff that is a little bit out of the box or if they are more traditional?

Good luck to us all!


WanderingTree


Jul 1, 2010, 11:38 PM

Post #907 of 1018 (26084 views)
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     Re: [Pedro Eler] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) (2010) (2011) [In reply to]  

Pedro,

Sending to journals is a tough business. What complicates matters is that there are several reasons why a story could be rejected that has nothing to do with the quality of the story itself. Perhaps a story is too long/short, maybe a story doesn't fit into the aesthetic mission of the publication (or a particular issue), maybe the editor just doesn't like what's in front of him/her regardless of merit, and perhaps a story just happened to fall into the lap of a reader who had a bad day.

Also, it's a numbers game. Acceptance rates at many journals make MFA programs look easy to get into by comparison. And as the rule of casting a wide net applies to MFA programs, I think it's equally important to do the same for journal submissions. I know a lot of people that send a single story to 10-15 journals (that they are familiar with in terms of aesthetic/mission etc.) to start with. And it's not uncommon to get an acceptance from even a top tier journal after over a dozen rejections. All it takes is one yes. And a lot of journals will work with you on edits if they believe enough in a story to make it as perfect as possible for publication.

And as far as editors not sending personal rejections to everyone, I think its very understandable. Many journals get hundreds of submissions each month and thousands every year. Journals are often run by people with other responsibilities and operate on shoestring budgets. It's just not possible to send a "proper" rejection letter. It just makes getting personal notes all the more special when you do get them though.


Pedro Eler


Jul 2, 2010, 4:42 PM

Post #908 of 1018 (26040 views)
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     Re: [WanderingTree] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) (2010) (2011) [In reply to]  


In Reply To
Pedro,

Sending to journals is a tough business. What complicates matters is that there are several reasons why a story could be rejected that has nothing to do with the quality of the story itself. Perhaps a story is too long/short, maybe a story doesn't fit into the aesthetic mission of the publication (or a particular issue), maybe the editor just doesn't like what's in front of him/her regardless of merit, and perhaps a story just happened to fall into the lap of a reader who had a bad day.

Also, it's a numbers game. Acceptance rates at many journals make MFA programs look easy to get into by comparison. And as the rule of casting a wide net applies to MFA programs, I think it's equally important to do the same for journal submissions. I know a lot of people that send a single story to 10-15 journals (that they are familiar with in terms of aesthetic/mission etc.) to start with. And it's not uncommon to get an acceptance from even a top tier journal after over a dozen rejections. All it takes is one yes. And a lot of journals will work with you on edits if they believe enough in a story to make it as perfect as possible for publication.

And as far as editors not sending personal rejections to everyone, I think its very understandable. Many journals get hundreds of submissions each month and thousands every year. Journals are often run by people with other responsibilities and operate on shoestring budgets. It's just not possible to send a "proper" rejection letter. It just makes getting personal notes all the more special when you do get them though.



Hey WanderingTree, I agree with you, sometimes submitting to these lit magazines is more about luck than anything. It's also about knowint which story to send where, which can be hard because of the big number of literary magazines. And I did just what you said, I sent the same story to several magazines. I think I have about 20 magazines reading my work right now. LOL

And I understand that it is impossible to give a proper rejection letter to everyone who applies. It is just not very nice to be rejected with that mechanical answer. But I completely understand, most of these lit magazines are run by people with other occupations and just the fact that they read my stories is good enoug. But I am still hoping to open one of those emails and read: we love you, let's publish your story! I know it will happen one day! LOL LOL

And knowing what we know, how tough the odds are to get published in a lit magazine and get accepted into the good MFA programs and even how harder it is to publish a novel and make a living as a writer, it makes me wonder why we still dream about it. We are either crazy or very optimistic! LOL LOL But that's the spirit. You got to at least give it a try! And when you love writing there is really nothing else to do...


NonaL


Jul 6, 2010, 1:36 PM

Post #909 of 1018 (25845 views)
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     Re: [Pedro Eler] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) (2010) (2011) [In reply to]  

Hey all! I'm getting ready to throw myself full force into the application process. I'm applying in creative nonfiction and this is my ever-changing list so far:

George Mason
Pittsburgh
Columbia (but considering the expense, this is kind of a pipe dream)
Penn State
Hollins
Memphis
Chatham

I'd appreciate any and all input you guys might have. I'm also on the hunt for programs where I'd have the opportunity to pursue travel/cultural writing (that's why Chatham is on the list), as I'm an English/Chinese double major and currently working on a senior thesis about my time in rural China last summer (a sort of "experiential ethnography," as my advisor calls it).

Thanks and best of luck to everyone!


Pedro Eler


Jul 6, 2010, 3:04 PM

Post #910 of 1018 (25831 views)
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     Re: [NonaL] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) (2010) (2011) [In reply to]  


In Reply To
Hey all! I'm getting ready to throw myself full force into the application process. I'm applying in creative nonfiction and this is my ever-changing list so far:

George Mason
Pittsburgh
Columbia (but considering the expense, this is kind of a pipe dream)
Penn State
Hollins
Memphis
Chatham

I'd appreciate any and all input you guys might have. I'm also on the hunt for programs where I'd have the opportunity to pursue travel/cultural writing (that's why Chatham is on the list), as I'm an English/Chinese double major and currently working on a senior thesis about my time in rural China last summer (a sort of "experiential ethnography," as my advisor calls it).

Thanks and best of luck to everyone!



Rural China!! That must have been so cool! I don't know why, but rural china sounds so literary, like a place you would go to and naturaly a novel will come out of that time! So, have you been writing about that?

I have little knowledge of non-fictional programs, but the list seems great! I am having a hard time settling on a list my self, so I understand the struggle, but I would greatly advise you to dump any university that doest not offer funding, unless you have enough money to cover living and studying and fees and everything else. So I would get rid of Columbia, even though it is a great school. But I've heard rumors that sometimes Columbia offers funding, but I have no idea if that is true... does ayone know if it is?


elissa
Elissa Field


Jul 6, 2010, 3:22 PM

Post #911 of 1018 (25828 views)
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     Re: [NonaL] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) (2010) (2011) [In reply to]  

NonaL, if you are interested in doing travel writing for magazines based on that prior trip, I wouldn't wait until an MFA program to work on it. You might consider doing an online workshop to get going -- I did a Travel Writing Boot Camp course through mediabistro.com a year or so ago (great, hands-on info about how to write and sell travel pieces). A big rule I learned is that your info has to be *recent* -- as in, within the last 6 months. I was dismayed as, like you, I'd done a bunch or really stunning travel before that I'd hoped to draw on, but it was too old for classic travel writing.

Of course, your travel experience will continue to inform all your writing and if you write travel essays they may have a longer shelf life than more factual pieces. You and I may be in the same boat in that I have studied travel writing not so much to write how-to pieces for magazines, but because the places I travel really affect my overall writing. But just thought it might help you to get a nudge to get working on it, rather than waiting for the MFA program. (I really do recommend that mediabistro program, which they offer several tiems a year, if you want to check it out. I learned a lot that I had no clue about the actual structure of travel/magazine work.)


http://elissafield.wordpress.com/
http://www.facebook.com/...p?id=100001772022683


(This post was edited by elissa on Jul 6, 2010, 3:23 PM)


nine


Jul 6, 2010, 4:11 PM

Post #912 of 1018 (25815 views)
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     Re: [elissa] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) (2010) (2011) [In reply to]  

Nona,

Check out Wyoming's MFA. Their website talks about how they have supported past student projects that included traveling abroad.

Here's an excerpt from their website's FAQ section:

"We are also aggressive in continuing to seek opportunities for our students once they've arrived in the program, and we actively collaborate with students on grant applications for research, travel, and writing support. Our students win numerous departmental and university scholarships, including English department scholarships, ENR program grants, and coveted Arts and Sciences Independent Study Awards that support summer writing projects. Through our program's travel grants, recent students have traveled to Mexico, China, France, England, Canada, Germany, Indonesia, Iceland, and Uruguay and returned with exciting new material for their fiction, poetry, and non-fiction."


(This post was edited by nine on Jul 6, 2010, 4:16 PM)


blue_skies


Jul 6, 2010, 8:15 PM

Post #913 of 1018 (25783 views)
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     Re: [NonaL] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) (2010) (2011) [In reply to]  

"'Hey all! I'm getting ready to throw myself full force into the application process. I'm applying in creative nonfiction and this is my ever-changing list so far:

George Mason
Pittsburgh
Columbia (but considering the expense, this is kind of a pipe dream)
Penn State
Hollins
Memphis
Chatham"


Pittsburgh has almost no funding, and Chatham funds very few of their admittees as well. If you can afford it, that's great, but conventional wisdom has it that you shouldn't take out loans to get your MFA. I'm at WVU in the Creative Nonfiction program, and it's small, but I really enjoy it here. The TA'ship, which is practically guaranteed if you're admitted, is for $14,000, and Morgantown has a low cost of living. In the past couple of years, our nonfiction students have been published in Agni, River Teeth, Ninth Letter, won a Pushcart Prize and notable mention in Best American Essays, and been awarded the Colgate Fellowship.

Funding can be hard to come by at George Mason and Hollins also. Memphis looks like a fantastic program.

I wouldn't overlook some of the smaller (but better funded) programs.

Ohio State,
and if you're willing to go West....
University of Idaho
Eastern Washington


nine


Jul 9, 2010, 11:45 AM

Post #914 of 1018 (25255 views)
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     Re: Choosing an MFA Program (2009) (2010) (2011) [In reply to]  

anyone know of other programs that only require workshops and electives? I'm only aware of Brown and Iowa.


bighark


Jul 9, 2010, 11:53 AM

Post #915 of 1018 (25252 views)
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     Re: [nine] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) (2010) (2011) [In reply to]  

SAIC


nine


Jul 9, 2010, 12:14 PM

Post #916 of 1018 (25249 views)
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     Re: [bighark] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) (2010) (2011) [In reply to]  

Thanks for the suggestion, bighark, but I was looking for programs that aren't at art schools only because it seems like they don't have simple workshops. Their workshops are based around a theme. Like 'Writing the Body" or "Fractured Narratives". To me this seems like if you take the workshops you have to write for the theme of the class instead of being free to write whatever you want. Am i wrong? Anyone from an art school CW MFA have more info?


bighark


Jul 9, 2010, 5:59 PM

Post #917 of 1018 (25147 views)
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     Re: [nine] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) (2010) (2011) [In reply to]  

You should double-check the format of the art school workshops. I know California College of the Arts has a traditional workshop structure. Not sure about other art schools.

If they're set up like SAIC, then yes, their workshops won't be "simple."

Here's the thing, though: SAIC is a 60 credit hour program. If you were to finish in two years, you'd take five 3-credit hour classes a semester. If you wanted to take three (or more) workshops in a semester, you could. Around five or six different workshops are offered every term.

Between workshops, generative seminars, and grad advising, where you work one-on-one with a faculty member on whatever projects you want, I never heard anybody complain about not feeling free to write what they wanted.

Also, I hesitate to describe SAIC's workshops as being based on themes. It's more like techniques. That "Fractured Narrative" class you mentioned puts studio artists (filmmakers, painters, performance artists, etc), poets, fiction writers, playwrights, and screenwriters together in setting where they'll investigate the essence of story.

If you want to expose yourself to new modes, processes, and techniques of writing and storytelling, then you may find value in that kind of class.

If you want to focus only on traditional short story/novel writing, it may not be your cup of tea.


(This post was edited by bighark on Jul 9, 2010, 6:01 PM)


ericweinstein
Eric Weinstein


Jul 11, 2010, 5:28 PM

Post #918 of 1018 (24664 views)
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     Re: [nine] Choosing an MFA Program (2009) (2010) (2011) [In reply to]  

NYU requires (in total, across two years) four workshops, one craft course, and three electives. (Provided you get a different instructor each time, you can, if you wish, take four craft courses in lieu of one craft course and three electives.)


Hans Landa: You'll be shot for this!
Aldo Raine: Nah, I don't think so. More like chewed out. I've been chewed out before.


dream17


Jul 22, 2010, 7:52 PM

Post #919 of 1018 (23741 views)
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     Re: (2009) (2010) (2011) [In reply to]  

Hello fellow writers!

I was wondering if anyone has tips on how to get into Cornell? It's the right school for me, considering it is both fully funded, a two-year program, and close to home. Just how much weight is placed on GRE scores in comparison with your writing sample?

Also, I was wondering if anyone has information on Oxford's MA program in creative writing - how hard is it to get into compared with the top US MFA programs?

Any info would be appreciated, thanks in advance!


(This post was edited by dream17 on Jul 22, 2010, 7:55 PM)


kbritten

e-mail user

Jul 22, 2010, 9:30 PM

Post #920 of 1018 (23722 views)
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     Re: [dream17] (2009) (2010) (2011) [In reply to]  

Let's see, how to get into Cornell, the school with a whopping .87% acceptance rate for fictioneers... I can't say I can crack the code on that one... I will say that because they can be so choosy, you can only hope to get accepted if you have one hell of a writing sample. Not only that, but it has to "fit" with their program's vision, so it's gotta be what they're looking for. The only way to guess that is to read alumni work. There are several Cornell alums on the board (Alexi Zeitner is one and I'm drawing a blank on his screenname), and Siblyene is another. Alexi has one of the stories he used in his sample on his webpage, so that's a good thing to read. To put things in perspective, that story was nominated for a O'Henry (or Pushcart? Some major award), so that will show you how good your sample has to be. It's a great story, by the way. Maybe you can PM them and get the inside scoop on the program. Good luck :D


bighark


Jul 22, 2010, 9:44 PM

Post #921 of 1018 (23715 views)
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     Re: [dream17] (2009) (2010) (2011) [In reply to]  

In general, dream, the GRE doesn't account for squat.


silkentent
Margaret DeAngelis

e-mail user

Jul 22, 2010, 10:38 PM

Post #922 of 1018 (23703 views)
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     Re: [kbritten] (2009) (2010) (2011) [In reply to]  


In Reply To
(Alexi Zeitner is one and I'm drawing a blank on his screenname), and Siblyene is another. Alexi has one of the stories he used in his sample on his webpage, so that's a good thing to read. To put things in perspective, that story was nominated for a O'Henry (or Pushcart? Some major award), so that will show you how good your sample has to be. It's a great story, by the way. Maybe you can PM them and get the inside scoop on the program. Good luck :D


Alexi is hopperfu (I think). Richard Bausch invoked him and read a paragraph from Alexi's O. Henry award story here at Sewanee (along with Alice Munro, Chalres Dickens, and Joseph Conrad, among others). I wanted to jump up and yell "I know him!! I know him!!"


Margaret DeAngelis
Markings: Days of Her Life
http://www.silkentent.com/Trees


Glinda Bamboo


Jul 22, 2010, 10:48 PM

Post #923 of 1018 (23700 views)
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     Re: [bighark] (2009) (2010) (2011) [In reply to]  

Cornell takes only 4 fiction writers every year and probably gets, what, 500-800 applications? (Just a guess.) The GRE means basically nothing. It's going to be your writing sample, some luck, and your writing sample again. By all means, try for this awesome program -- but be aware that the chances of getting in are extremely slim, so have lots of other options. Good luck.


ericweinstein
Eric Weinstein


Jul 23, 2010, 10:25 AM

Post #924 of 1018 (23650 views)
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     Re: [dream17] (2009) (2010) (2011) [In reply to]  


In Reply To
I was wondering if anyone has tips on how to get into Cornell?



Ritual sacrifice; black magic; voodoo; bribery.

In all seriousness: you need to have a truly phenomenal writing sample. They take four fiction writers and four poets per year. There are few endeavors you could undertake in which the odds are more against you.


In Reply To
Just how much weight is placed on GRE scores in comparison with your writing sample?



Writing sample, 99.99%; GRE score, 00.01%. The university requires the GRE of all graduate school applicants, but the program itself probably couldn't care less about your score.


Hans Landa: You'll be shot for this!
Aldo Raine: Nah, I don't think so. More like chewed out. I've been chewed out before.


napk132


Jul 23, 2010, 12:32 PM

Post #925 of 1018 (23620 views)
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     2011 MFA [In reply to]  

I've been lurking around this board for the past four years, ever since I was a big-dreaming undergrad who wrote terribly and didn't drink coffee. It's beginning to look like this is finally the year I'll apply to MFA programs. It's a weird feeling, because I've spent a lot of time preparing for this day. My spreadsheet is ready with all the school data on requirements, dates, fees, etc. I have three or four stories at various stages of revision that I don't completely loathe, which is promising. I've started asking former instructors about potential recommendations. I took the GRE last year and survived.

I'm thinking of applying to 8-12 programs, which seems like the right range.

Syracuse University
Purdue University
University of Minnesota
Southern Illinois University
Iowa State University
MSU - Mankato
Hunter College
Johns Hopkins University
Portland State University
University of Montana

I think I'd prefer funding and three years. but I love Hunter, JHU, and Montana too much. The ridiculous acceptance rates at most of these places scare me.

I guess I'll be seeing more of you all in the coming months.

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