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2021 Applicants Forum


teasel

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On 9/25/2020 at 2:43 AM, Graceful Entropy said:

How would you go about even finding out who students are in the programs you're considering?

I wouldn't recommend reaching out on social media; it may feel like a bit of an imposition to some people. I'd go through someone working for the program, like an admissions counselor. Usually program websites will list someone in this role (i.e. lower-rank admin who interacts with potential students). I've done this several times with good results.

On 9/25/2020 at 2:43 AM, Graceful Entropy said:

I'm also wondering, what does strong research mean to you?

Personally, I didn't research faculty that extensively. I read short stories if they were available online, but I didn't consider it a good use of my time to read a bunch of books from professors I may never interact with. I'd focus on talking to current students, and potentially sitting in on a class via Zoom (although chances are you'll only be able to do this after you've been accepted into a program). Seeing what GC users have said about the program and the city was also helpful to me, although smaller programs may not be mentioned here.

Overall, though, talking to students was the most fruitful avenue for me. I'd recommend devising a few questions about your top priorities. For example, my top priorities were a sense of community, queer-friendliness, and openness to genre fiction. 

On 9/25/2020 at 2:51 AM, Graceful Entropy said:

And @feralgrad, thank you for the recommendation to see what other avenues of tuition coverage there might be.

Happy to help! But one caveat: chances are you won't be able to apply for other sources of funding unless you've committed to the program. It can be a bit of a gamble. If you're attending an in-state public institution, however, you lessen that gamble considerably. My school is about $5k per semester for in-state grad students, so depending in your circumstances, that could be doable with a part-time job outside the institution.

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So I need advice. The schools I’m applying to require as little as 6 poems up to a max of 15 poems. I currently have 9 that I’m totally on board with sending, and 3 extra that I could send if I really really need to. Is it wise if I only send the poems I’m comfortable with even though it comes slightly under most of the directions? Or should I pad my manuscript with one poem or two so they see how far I’ve come? I’m going to ask my recommenders what to do, but I’m curious what y’all think.

Edited by Ydrl
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6 hours ago, Ydrl said:

So I need advice. The schools I’m applying to require as little as 6 poems up to a max of 15 poems. I currently have 9 that I’m totally on board with sending, and 3 extra that I could send if I really really need to. Is it wise if I only send the poems I’m comfortable with even though it comes slightly under most of the directions? Or should I pad my manuscript with one poem or two so they see how far I’ve come? I’m going to ask my recommenders what to do, but I’m curious what y’all think.

This is a great question, and one that I've been considering as well. Brown wants 15-20 pages, while the rest of my apps want 10 pages max it seems. I think that if you're open to sending all poems you're considering to your mentors to ask what they think (which ones are strongest and which ones they think might need revising) that would be the best bet. From what I understand it's best to include your most polished work and not pad too much. At the same time, you have a couple months still to revise pre-existing work so maybe focus on revising those three poems or sending new stuff to readers/mentors for some ideas? Another thing to consider is which poems you're passionate about, and also how your pre-existing sample shows depth & range. Maybe it's worth including one of the poems that you're not as confident about if it reflects your interest & takes some risk. That's what I'm planning to do for what it's worth! 

Edited by teasel
egregious typo
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Cheers @Ydrl.  

I'm not totally familiar with poetry--coming from a fiction perspective--and putting less, but better work seems intuitively correct to me, but I will relay that the one school I got accepted from last year was also the only one I put a particular story in--one that I thought didn't seem very literary or whatever, but they allowed a few extra pages than other schools so I jammed it in.

So maybe don't short yourself. Self editing is important, but self rejection is a hell of a thing. Fine lines.
Maybe that one piece is what really connects with a person that day.

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7 minutes ago, Graceful Entropy said:

Cheers @Ydrl.  

I'm not totally familiar with poetry--coming from a fiction perspective--and putting less, but better work seems intuitively correct to me, but I will relay that the one school I got accepted from last year was also the only one I put a particular story in--one that I thought didn't seem very literary or whatever, but they allowed a few extra pages than other schools so I jammed it in.

So maybe don't short yourself. Self editing is important, but self rejection is a hell of a thing. Fine lines.
Maybe that one piece is what really connects with a person that day.

Oh wow, @Graceful Entropy that’s interesting.  It would probably be beneficial to send in what I have (that fits within the overall theme of the poems). Also for those wondering, my poems have a common theme...that was a total accident. I didn’t realize until I wrote the subjects and themes down that there was a pattern.

And I’m a lousy judge of my own work, and my professors know that haha. I’m getting a professor to help me arrange my manuscript for that reason.

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Hi! I'm a graduate student at Columbia University's Journalism School, and I'm currently working on an article about the recent pause/reduction in admissions in many humanities programs for the next year. If you're an aspiring who is frustrated by this decision, and would like to chat with me briefly about the situation, please either message me or email me at nika.f@columbia.edu

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So I just heard that Umass Amherst won't be taking poetry applicants this year, which makes me especially sad since it has such an impressive faculty and alumni. Anyone heard of other MFA programs that are cutting their funding or not accepting applicants this round? 

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15 hours ago, teasel said:

So I just heard that Umass Amherst won't be taking poetry applicants this year, which makes me especially sad since it has such an impressive faculty and alumni. Anyone heard of other MFA programs that are cutting their funding or not accepting applicants this round? 

Ah geez, I took it off my list, but this is a troubling sign...

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14 hours ago, Ydrl said:

Ah geez, I took it off my list, but this is a troubling sign...

I think a good number of fully/mostly funded programs will still accept students this year. We're getting to the period when applications open, so if we were going to see mass cancellations, it probably would have happened already (it has in other disciplines, like philosophy). Keep in mind that many MFA programs fund students by having them teach gen ed courses; those students serve an essential function in the university. Take my opinion with a grain of salt -- obviously this will also be affected by undergrad admissions and subsequently gen ed course demand. 

I will say, though: Since this year will be more competitive, see if y'all can get out of paying those app fees. No need to deal with the financial hit on top of everything else. Plus a lot of people don't realize they qualify for fee waivers. 

Edited by feralgrad
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Hi everyone, I'm thinking of applying to a few MFA programs in poetry. Currently enrolled in a PhD in philosophy in NYC (this is my third year) but I'm thinking I might want to switch direction, at least for a bit. I only plan on applying to programs in NYC (and thankfully ones with no GRE). I just want to try my luck, so no harm no foul if I get rejected. So I probably will only be applying to Columbia, NYU and Hunter.

I think I can somehow cobble together some good poems from my collection and have been submitting to a bunch of lit mags/journals lately, but the literary essay for Columbia is what intimidates me the most...

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@soproperlybasic Welcome to the party! And yeah, the ones with a GRE requirement aren’t on my list. And I just took a look at the Columbia essay, it’s very vague. Do you know anyone else applying to Columbia? It might be helpful to bounce some ideas off each other. 

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On 10/9/2020 at 5:35 PM, teasel said:

So I just heard that Umass Amherst won't be taking poetry applicants this year, which makes me especially sad since it has such an impressive faculty and alumni. Anyone heard of other MFA programs that are cutting their funding or not accepting applicants this round? 

@teasel Is this true? There's no information on their admissions website about it and the applications are open. 

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2 hours ago, landscape said:

@teasel Is this true? There's no information on their admissions website about it and the applications are open. 

Not true as of now!! They are taking a new class, but a smaller one from what I understand. I’m a member of the MFA Draft FB group, where people have been updating on these types of things. Still waiting to hear news on UMNs funding tho

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On 10/17/2020 at 5:37 PM, teasel said:

Not true as of now!! They are taking a new class, but a smaller one from what I understand. I’m a member of the MFA Draft FB group, where people have been updating on these types of things. Still waiting to hear news on UMNs funding tho

10/14/20 Update: The application system is temporarily unavailable while the Creative Writing Program requests an exception to the College of Liberal Arts admissions pause for 2021. If you have started your application, your file will remain active and you will be able to access it again after October 31, 2020. 

 

Update for University of Minnesota. Hopefully everything goes okay.

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Pitt's out for this year. From their website:

"In response to the disruptions caused by the global pandemic, graduate programs in the Humanities and Social Sciences in the Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences at the University of Pittsburgh are pausing admissions for fall 2021. This includes the MFA and PhD programs in English."

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On 10/17/2020 at 5:37 PM, teasel said:
On 10/17/2020 at 2:42 PM, landscape said:

 

Not true as of now!! They are taking a new class, but a smaller one from what I understand. I’m a member of the MFA Draft FB group, where people have been updating on these types of things. Still waiting to hear news on UMNs funding tho

Thanks! I requested to join the FB group a few weeks ago but they haven't responded to my request for some reason. 

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2 hours ago, landscape said:

Thanks! I requested to join the FB group a few weeks ago but they haven't responded to my request for some reason. 

I feel ya. Me too. The group members are slowly climbing, though. So either they're backed up and slowly going through the member requests, or they just don't like us 😭

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On 10/26/2020 at 12:41 PM, Graceful Entropy said:

I feel ya. Me too. The group members are slowly climbing, though. So either they're backed up and slowly going through the member requests, or they just don't like us 😭

They didn't accept me either. We might need to make a new group with the current misfits and rejects. 

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Does anyone worry about the content of their writing? I worry that my poetry is too depressing. Should I add humor? I am not sure I can even write humor in this current climate, and being in quarantine has only brought depressing ideas to surface. 

Some days I look at my poetry and think, "yea, I can write." Other days, I hate the sight of what I write and think of giving up. I think this comes with rereading a poem over a hundred times, or I just really can't write and fall into delusional grandiose state of mind. 

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5 minutes ago, FairleyAlfy said:

Does anyone worry about the content of their writing? I worry that my poetry is too depressing. Should I add humor? I am not sure I can even write humor in this current climate, and being in quarantine has only brought depressing ideas to surface. 

Some days I look at my poetry and think, "yea, I can write." Other days, I hate the sight of what I write and think of giving up. I think this comes with rereading a poem over a hundred times, or I just really can't write and fall into delusional grandiose state of mind. 

I wouldn't force yourself to write anything; it won't lead to your best quality work. If you're excited/passionate about what you're writing, that will come through regardless of subject matter. The reverse is also true: if you're writing something because you "should," the work is likely to feel... tepid.

Adcoms aren't looking for perfection, they're looking for passion and potential.

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1 minute ago, feralgrad said:

I wouldn't force yourself to write anything; it won't lead to your best quality work. If you're excited/passionate about what you're writing, that will come through regardless of subject matter. The reverse is also true: if you're writing something because you "should," the work is likely to feel... tepid.

Adcoms aren't looking for perfection, they're looking for passion and potential.

Thank you for the advice! 

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2 hours ago, FairleyAlfy said:

They didn't accept me either. We might need to make a new group with the current misfits and rejects. 

I promise (to the best of my ability) that they don't hate you; they just try to be really thorough when screening folks to make sure no professors infiltrate the group.

(I haven't been in Draft since '19, but did see profs in there in the past trying to advertise their programs)

2 hours ago, FairleyAlfy said:

Does anyone worry about the content of their writing? I worry that my poetry is too depressing. Should I add humor? I am not sure I can even write humor in this current climate, and being in quarantine has only brought depressing ideas to surface. 

Some days I look at my poetry and think, "yea, I can write." Other days, I hate the sight of what I write and think of giving up. I think this comes with rereading a poem over a hundred times, or I just really can't write and fall into delusional grandiose state of mind. 

You might want to see about joining the MFA Draft Poetry Workshop group on FB; it's been a hot minute, so I'm not sure what the vetting process is like there, but since it's smaller, might be easier to get green lit? 

I do the exact same thing, re: quality of work. Pre-, post-, and during MFA. I say this in a, hang in there, you're not alone! sort of way. 

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