T. M. De Vos, New York University


When I first applied to MFA programs, I vowed I would only attend a university that offered me a full ride, stipend, and teaching experience. Several offered me all three, but I chose NYU, which offered only one semester of teaching and very little financial assistance. I chose it for the name, the location, the outreach programs, and the faculty; I also didn't, at that age, really know what it meant to have student-loan debt. After you've finished, most faculty will tell you they're too busy to give recommendation letters or blurbs, even if you've studied closely with them. Looking back, I wish that I had taught abroad for several years instead and taken advantage of the part-time schedule, and the isolation of a new setting, to write. An MFA is not the only, or the best, route to honing one's craft or creating a body of work.