Taylor Bruce, Brooklyn College

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The main program criteria for me was class size: I really wanted workshops and craft seminars with a dozen students (or less). I hoped for a tight-knit community of writers, more supportive than competitive. Beyond the program itself, I only applied to schools in big cities outside the South. I figured literal distance from my roots would allow for some creative perspective. Not to mention a good reason to move to New York City or San Francisco. Looking back, reading the work of a program's instructors is key, and beyond that, calling the director to find out who will actually be teaching your first year. Program websites sometimes misrepresent their faculty.