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2021 Creative Writing MFA Applicants Forum


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  • 2 weeks later...

Hello! This will be my second time applying. (Didn’t apply last year but the year before.) I am starting much earlier this year than last time!

So far, I am applying to Iowa (fiction), UMass Amherst (poetry), Stegner Fellowship @ Stanford (LOL- thought I’d give it a shot) and Michener. Going to be adding some more as I narrow it down. 

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  • 3 weeks later...

Hey all! I'm an MFA student who haunts these forums because I remember what it was like to be waiting to hear back from programs. I have a few things to say to applicants if you're willing to listen. 

1) Only apply to funded programs. I know it's old advice, but  it's still good advice. Even funded programs that are "lower" tier are still better than the best unfunded program. Consider that Columbia costs around 150k, comparable to medical school, and that even doctors have a hard time paying off their loans. So please don't think you'll be paying it off with writing. Only go to a non-funded school if you have 150k to spend, in which case, do it if you really want to. It will still be the same thing--some workshops, some other classes, some award-winning writers. Every MFA has that stuff.

2) Actually do your homework. Read some work by the authors at these programs. If you like the work, mention that author by name in your statement of purpose. Everyone loves to be complimented, and they will feel good knowing that you have actually done the work of seriously looking into the school. And speaking of SoPs, actually take the time to truly tailor each one to the school.

3) Submit your best (and favorite) work. Take your best and favorite story or two (or poem or essay) and revise and revise and revise until every single word can stand trial and still remain in the story. As Raymond Carver said (quoting another author), you are finished revising when, on one pass, you take a single comma out of the story, and on the next pass, you put it back in.

4) Submit and forget. Once you've submitted, go back to doing things you love. Go to the gym. Hang out with friends. Anything that will be good for your soul and push the dreaded decision letter out of your mind.

 

Good luck everyone! It took me a couple application rounds to get into a program. If you don't get in, just keep living and writing and try again next time.

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Hey, y'all! Glad to see some familiar faces around here. For those of you who don't know me, I've been on GradCafe for a couple years. I did two rounds of applications before I got into the right program, and this board was so helpful! I'll be popping in occasionally to offer my opinions/bother y'all.

It's still way early in the cycle, but I will say: don't underestimate the importance of the research phase! I rushed through it my first round, and it bit me in the butt. If funding is a major concern (and it should be for most applicants), I recommend digging deep for less famous programs. UMass, Michener, Iowa, etc. are great, but applying to 5 programs that accept >1% of applicants gives you much lower chances than applying to one program that accepts 10% (e.g. Hollins -- which is still fully-funded and well-respected). And trust me, each program you add to your list piles on more work than you think.

Aaaanyway, good luck, everyone! I'll see you around :)

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  • 2 weeks later...

After getting rejected this year I was finally able to put MFAs out of my mind. I didn't feel at all motivated for this next application cycle, even though I explicitly had the intentions of applying again. Well, now I'm finally sucked back into thinking about it every day.

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Hey Guys, ( I think I posted on the wrong forum but if not, apologies for the double post!)

I'm an incoming MFA CW Nonfiction student going to The University of New Hampshire who applied in Fall 2020. If anyone wants any advice on the application process as a whole, or about any of the programs I applied to below let me know! My biggest pieces of advice are:

1. Have your portfolio reflect your best work, as well as the widest range of your abilities as a writer possible. Admission committees like to see your depth.

2. Ask for your letters of recommendation as early as possible to have a stress-free life for you and your professor.

3. Cast a wide net when applying for schools. I know they say rankings and selectivity don't matter but they do. (see book below for some statistics)

4. Figure out what type of program works best for you. Consider if you want high or low res, cross genre or a more focused program, size, faculty, ect.

Also here is a link to the book: The Insiders Guide to Graduate Degrees in Creative Writing, which I wish I would have found sooner in the process: https://www.amazon.com/Insiders-Graduate-Degrees-Creative-Writing/dp/1350000418

University of Wyoming

University of Minnesota

Columbia College Chicago

Rosemont College

University of New Hampshire

Hollins College

Sarah Lawrence

UNC Wilmington

Washington University St. Louis

Washington University Seattle

USF

Colorado State

Hofstra University

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On 5/31/2021 at 12:52 AM, mrvisser said:

After getting rejected this year I was finally able to put MFAs out of my mind. I didn't feel at all motivated for this next application cycle, even though I explicitly had the intentions of applying again. Well, now I'm finally sucked back into thinking about it every day.

After being rejected on the first round, I didn't think about my next round of MFA applications until mid July. The urge to apply came, went, then came back again. It's one of the things that stuck in my mind, much like writing, and there wasn't a way to get rid of it completely.

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  • 1 month later...

Hey so I applied last year to 5 places (in poetry) and wound up being waitlisted at Michener and Wisconsin. Not a total loss, but I'm finding it hard not to be discouraged and go through the whole thing again, even though I do think my writing is better than this time last year. So who knows. I'm wondering if I should cast a wider net, or if there is some way to improve my application. 

 

 

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On 7/6/2021 at 8:40 AM, mr. specific said:

Hey so I applied last year to 5 places (in poetry) and wound up being waitlisted at Michener and Wisconsin. Not a total loss, but I'm finding it hard not to be discouraged and go through the whole thing again, even though I do think my writing is better than this time last year. So who knows. I'm wondering if I should cast a wider net, or if there is some way to improve my application. 

 

 

Hey There,

MFA CW programs are selective at the best of times so casting a wider net may be beneficial! I applied to 13 places in 2020. It was difficult to discern which ones were more selective than others, but I focused more on if I liked their curriculum, faculty, and if I thought my writing style meshed with their programs.

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On 7/6/2021 at 11:40 AM, mr. specific said:

Hey so I applied last year to 5 places (in poetry) and wound up being waitlisted at Michener and Wisconsin. Not a total loss, but I'm finding it hard not to be discouraged and go through the whole thing again, even though I do think my writing is better than this time last year. So who knows. I'm wondering if I should cast a wider net, or if there is some way to improve my application. 

 

 

I tend to be suspicious of casting a wide net for grad apps. That strategy can make it harder to research each program thoroughly, which can lead you to attend one that's a poor fit. For example, there have been a few people in my program that ended up disappointed because they actually wanted cohort with a more conservative, literary aesthetic (in other words, they probably didn't do any research aside from reading the website...).

I know the feeling: you're itching to get in and want to ensure success. But I think you can save yourself a lot of trouble by looking for a handful of programs that are truly what you want -- because those are also the programs most likely to accept you. They're the programs that will get your most inspired personal statements, and they're more likely to have adcoms with similar aesthetics to yours.

If you don't have many specific ideas about what you want, I'd really recommend starting there (e.g. Do you want teaching experience? Do you want to take classes outside your genre? Will it piss you off if you're required to take a lot of literature courses?). I highly, highly advise talking to current students/alums before you even start on your application to a program. Last year, I talked to a student who helped me decide that her program was a bad fit for me. This saved me hours of work and 75 dollars.

Also, keep in mind that 10+ applications is a LOT of work. As you probably know, many programs have different requirements. Moreover, tailoring your personal statement to each school will take twice as long as you expect (at least, this was my experience in my 2 rounds of apps).

The wide net approach can certainly work, as it did for lenagator. But personally, I believe in quality over quantity. And anyway, if you got waitlisted at Michener, you certainly don't need to worry about being "good enough" ;-)

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  • 2 weeks later...

Thanks feralgrad. That makes a lot of sense. 

I guess the first time around I used one metric only—how much was the fellowship, and didn't do any more research. This still seems like the critical question, like can i afford to live on this without debt or taking on another fulltime job outside the program. And I only came up with five that seemed like they promised that—Brown, Cornell, Michener, Wisconsin, Umass, (and Michigan and Florida, but I didn't remember to do these apps). So I'd be interested in other schools people know of that 1) promise funding upwards of ~25,000 a year and 2) guarantee funding (more or less equally) to all their students.  

Not to single any one school out, but I just looked at Hollins' page, which up front claims that they are "extremely well-funded," but after clicking through a few more pages saw that the first year stipend was $7000!    

Edited by mr. specific
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12 hours ago, mr. specific said:

Not to single any one school out, but I just looked at Hollins' page, which up front claims that they are "extremely well-funded," but after clicking through a few more pages saw that the first year stipend was $7000!    

I also had been considering Hollins, but laughed out loud at the stipend. It's nice to offer some funding, but for that you'll have to take out loans, which I am totally unwilling to do for an MFA.

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