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feralgrad

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Figured I'd kick this off this year.

How's your application process going? Where are you applying?

This  is my second round, and I'm applying to fewer schools this year. I'm applying to Hollins, VCU, and GMU (again). My portfolio is nearly finalized, but my SOP is still in the draft phase for all 3 schools (╥ᆺ╥;)

Edited by feralgrad

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Thanks for starting this, now I can panic with other people who understand my pain!

First time poetry applicant here so I'm casting my net pretty wide: Iowa, Cornell, Syracuse, WUSTL, Oregon State, UNLV, and VCU.

I finished Iowa, Cornell, Syracuse, and WUSTL apps on time. I surprised myself.

Godspeed everybody.

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Fiction here. I applied to five schools: UM, Iowa, Cornell, Boston U, and Michener...first time applying to all these schools. I'd applied to one school last year, Butler, accepted but did not attend.

Edited by rbr542

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Applied to a bunch of schools using other people's money. After submitting, feeling like it was a waste. Made the mistake of looking back over my sample after submission and OF COURSE I find typos, suspect grammar, and 'aesthetic' issues. Now I have to wait months for these schools to confirm what I already know: No Bueno. 

To make my first world problems worse, a frenemy found out I was applying and my petty-sensors can feel their hate-filled energy waiting to bask in my failure. FML.  

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31 minutes ago, litty said:

Applied to a bunch of schools using other people's money. After submitting, feeling like it was a waste. Made the mistake of looking back over my sample after submission and OF COURSE I find typos, suspect grammar, and 'aesthetic' issues. Now I have to wait months for these schools to confirm what I already know: No Bueno. 

To make my first world problems worse, a frenemy found out I was applying and my petty-sensors can feel their hate-filled energy waiting to bask in my failure. FML.  

I wouldn't stress about the typos honestly. I don’t think One or two mistakes matter so much, if the adcom likes your work as a whole, the originality of your voice, along with your resume, recommendations, SOP and things like that. For the top programs, it is a 1 in 80 chance of getting in anyway, so most of us are wasting our money, to put it in perspective. And haters gonna hate! 

Edited by rbr542

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Anyone else stuck in Last-Minute Edting Hell? I finished the (supposedly) final draft of this story a month ago, and now I'm in the middle of adding an entirely new scene...

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Yeh, see... What you did right there... Not advisable. But at least you didn't start entirely new samples two weeks before deadlines. Yep. I did that. 

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I really, really wanted to submit new stuff, but forced myself to submit only the older ‘mature’ stuff. I made myself not add anything new for a week before deadline. Don’t know which is better, honestly, because my older stuff is really not that good. The Michener center only allowed 9k words.....that sample really wasn't that great. Did anyone mention any faculty by name in their SOP?

Edited by rbr542

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20 minutes ago, rbr542 said:

I really, really wanted to submit new stuff, but forced myself to submit only the older ‘mature’ stuff. I made myself not add anything new for a week before deadline. Don’t know which is better, honestly, because my older stuff is really not that good. The Michener center only allowed 9k words.....that sample really wasn't that great. Did anyone mention any faculty by name in their SOP?

I went through the same issue. Do I put lipstick on a pig, or just watch the Muppets on Netflix? Hopefully for most, new stuff is always better than old stuff, BUT it still requires a lot polish, hopefully workshopping. What do I know... 

Anyway, I did not mention any faculty specifically. I mentioned reading the works of faculty and alumni. But I also didn't mention any current writers of influence -- I only spoke of the dead 😑

 

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3 hours ago, litty said:

Yeh, see... What you did right there... Not advisable. But at least you didn't start entirely new samples two weeks before deadlines. Yep. I did that. 

I actually finished something entirely new just last week, so I'm making all the wrong choices. That said, one of my beta readers told me it was the best thing I'd written.

For me, it felt necessary to send in an all-new portfolio. The pieces I had last year just aren't representative of what I'm doing now, and they were mediocre at best. Unfortunately I spent several months drafting a story that refused to bear fruit, which is why I'm running up against my deadlines. I still feel that it's been worth the stress, though, because these new pieces are shaping up much better.

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5 minutes ago, feralgrad said:

I actually finished something entirely new just last week, so I'm making all the wrong choices. That said, one of my beta readers told me it was the best thing I'd written.

For me, it felt necessary to send in an all-new portfolio. The pieces I had last year just aren't representative of what I'm doing now, and they were mediocre at best. Unfortunately I spent several months drafting a story that refused to bear fruit, which is why I'm running up against my deadlines. I still feel that it's been worth the stress, though, because these new pieces are shaping up much better.

That's really great....I wish you good luck!

When are your deadlines? mine were Dec 1 and Dec 15, so I'm done with the submit button for now, afters some last minute Recommendations letters stress- which were submitted only a few hours before! 😑

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49 minutes ago, rbr542 said:

That's really great....I wish you good luck!

When are your deadlines? mine were Dec 1 and Dec 15, so I'm done with the submit button for now, afters some last minute Recommendations letters stress- which were submitted only a few hours before! 😑

Thanks! Wishing you luck and sanity while you're waiting to hear back (that's always the worst part, I think).

My deadlines are all in January, thank God. My earliest is January 6th, so I'm not panicking yet, but I'm still much closer to the 11th hour than I'd like.

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12 minutes ago, feralgrad said:

Does anyone want to trade SoPs? I could use another set of eyes on mine, and I can review yours in return.

Yeah, I haven't written my VCU one yet, but I've written four different ones customized for each different school. I've written for Cornell (reviewed by three teachers), Iowa, WUSTL, and Syracuse. If any of those seem close enough to the VCU one I'll send it to you later.

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Also this is a relic I found a month ago: Draftmemes (on Tumblr). I promise you won't regret looking this up, you might even have a case of the giggles like I did. They have Gradcafe memes and workshop memes too. 

Enjoy.

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I'm stuck drafting one of my SOPs because it's below the word count. The program website says 750-1000 words, and I'm tapping out at around 550... I don't want to add filler, but I've said everything I want to.

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31 minutes ago, feralgrad said:

I'm stuck drafting one of my SOPs because it's below the word count. The program website says 750-1000 words, and I'm tapping out at around 550... I don't want to add filler, but I've said everything I want to.

Well definitely don't add words for the sake of adding words.

However, since I think you're writing for GMU, here's how I'd break down what your SOP should address: (Attention all, this is VERY loosely the style that I wrote my SOP. This is specifically geared to answer feralgrad's question. Make sure if you break it down like this that you to tailor it to the university's questions and you're golden)

1: Why do you want to go to GMU? (Mention professors you want to study with and why you like them, also mention things you like about GMU that other universities don't have)

2: How does GMU fit in with your goals, career and academic? (Link this to above, and mention academic and career goals here, there's no going overboard with your goals. Have many if you need to fill space.)

3: Research interests. (This is kind of a trick question, especially for fiction writers- YOU DON'T LIVE IN A VOID. If you don't know what you want to research maybe you should figure that out. Do you have academic interests you'd like to teach? British literature of the 1300's? That's cool. Have biology you want to incorporate into your writing? Also cool.)

4: Highlight information you'd like them to know. (If you're super passionate about, let's say, the staff and your research interests, make sure that's very clear and that you spend time on it. Don't get lazy now. It's the final push y'all, I know we can do it!)

That's my rant. This was the type of thing approved by my professor for me, and I love helping people so I'll help anyone who has questions.

Edited by Ydrl

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6 minutes ago, Ydrl said:

3: Research interests. (This is kind of a trick question, especially for fiction writers- YOU DON'T LIVE IN A VOID. If you don't know what you want to research maybe you should figure that out. Do you have academic interests you'd like to teach? British literature of the 1300's? That's cool. Have biology you want to incorporate into your writing? Also cool.)

Thank you for pointing this out, because I saw this on the website and glossed over it, as I wasn't quite sure what it meant. I'm a huge history buff, and I can definitely fill up 150 words talking about that.

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1 hour ago, feralgrad said:

Thank you for pointing this out, because I saw this on the website and glossed over it, as I wasn't quite sure what it meant. I'm a huge history buff, and I can definitely fill up 150 words talking about that.

Believe me, I glossed over it too. I was definitely so confused for awhile. But once I realized what they meant I was like: Oh, I do so much research/reading for my work, may as well mention it! I'm personally a biology and history buff myself. I have found one of my kind haha.

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14 hours ago, Ydrl said:

Believe me, I glossed over it too. I was definitely so confused for awhile. But once I realized what they meant I was like: Oh, I do so much research/reading for my work, may as well mention it! I'm personally a biology and history buff myself. I have found one of my kind haha.

Update: I'm finally approaching the word count. I got a lot of material out of explaining that I'd use a travel grant to visit the Faroe Islands, haha! Thanks again, you're a life-saver.

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4 minutes ago, feralgrad said:

Update: I'm finally approaching the word count. I got a lot of material out of explaining that I'd use a travel grant to visit the Faroe Islands, haha! Thanks again, you're a life-saver.

Awesome! I'm glad you're getting to your word count alright. And the Faroe Islands travel grant thing sounds both unique and interesting. I imagine the committee will also think it's interesting.

Also you're welcome! It was the least I could do. I don't want any of us to struggle last minute.

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Can I take a moment to address all the applicants who have little to no self-esteem? I’m talking about those people whose recommenders, family, and/or friends believe in them more than they believe in themselves. Have some faith (if not in your work, then in your tenacity and strength for choosing to apply). Don’t give up before you’ve tried, self-sabotage is only going to make you feel worse in the long run. Much like I said in my personal statement, even if I don’t get in anywhere, at least I can say I was brave enough to try. Believe me, I’m terrified, but I’ll be way more upset later if I don’t choose to chase my dreams when the opportunity is in front of me.

That being said, if you aren’t ready in some vital way (financial, health, etc.) then it’s okay to wait. What I mean by the above statement is: Don’t let your self-esteem bully you out of applying.

End rant. I hope someone is helped by this, I know I needed to hear it today as I’m super nervous and upset.

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12 hours ago, Ydrl said:

Can I take a moment to address all the applicants who have little to no self-esteem? I’m talking about those people whose recommenders, family, and/or friends believe in them more than they believe in themselves. Have some faith (if not in your work, then in your tenacity and strength for choosing to apply). Don’t give up before you’ve tried, self-sabotage is only going to make you feel worse in the long run. Much like I said in my personal statement, even if I don’t get in anywhere, at least I can say I was brave enough to try. Believe me, I’m terrified, but I’ll be way more upset later if I don’t choose to chase my dreams when the opportunity is in front of me.

That being said, if you aren’t ready in some vital way (financial, health, etc.) then it’s okay to wait. What I mean by the above statement is: Don’t let your self-esteem bully you out of applying.

End rant. I hope someone is helped by this, I know I needed to hear it today as I’m super nervous and upset.

Thank you for saying this, I've never thought of it this way; I think that a thousand other people apply, and I'm no special just for trying, which is firmly in the camp of ‘recommenders and family believe in me more than I do.’ Tenacity and dedication have their own value, as it isn't always the most gifted writers who succeed, its those who stick with it for years and years without giving up. Rejection is part of this journey, and as my sister told me recently, where’s the fun in succeeding quickly? 

Edited by rbr542

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12 hours ago, Ydrl said:

Can I take a moment to address all the applicants who have little to no self-esteem? I’m talking about those people whose recommenders, family, and/or friends believe in them more than they believe in themselves. Have some faith (if not in your work, then in your tenacity and strength for choosing to apply). Don’t give up before you’ve tried, self-sabotage is only going to make you feel worse in the long run. Much like I said in my personal statement, even if I don’t get in anywhere, at least I can say I was brave enough to try. Believe me, I’m terrified, but I’ll be way more upset later if I don’t choose to chase my dreams when the opportunity is in front of me.

That being said, if you aren’t ready in some vital way (financial, health, etc.) then it’s okay to wait. What I mean by the above statement is: Don’t let your self-esteem bully you out of applying.

End rant. I hope someone is helped by this, I know I needed to hear it today as I’m super nervous and upset.

I appreciated your words. My self esteem is usually alright, but application season makes me so insecure.

Honestly, what's helped me this time around is looking at my app materials from last year. In 2018 I sent in a 28 page story that was just scene after scene of people walking around looking at things. My SOPs were bland and unpolished. Reading them, I was shocked by how much I'd improved! Even if I don't get the results I want this year, I can feel good about that.

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