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2023 Creative Writing MFA Applicants Forum


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  • 1 month later...

Hi! I'm really considering applying to Brown University's Cross-Discplinary/Digital Writing concentration in the Literary Arts MFA. I already have a studio MFA but I get so excited thinking about that school/program, lmfao. 

Anyway, just wondering if anyone here went to Brown in their undergrad? 

Edited by annachristine
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Hey! Excited to be applying for fiction MFAs this upcoming fall. Was wondering if anyone happens to know what the application fee is for University of Miami and if they have fee waivers available? I can't seem to find the information on their website. Much obliged :)

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  • 5 weeks later...
Posted (edited)

Hey Everyone!

 I am still at UNH, so if anyone has questions about what it's like as a first year creative nonfiction student or a MFA student in general let me know!

If I am being honest I had a real rough first semester, but the second semester made up for it. In Fall 2022 I am still working at Research and Development, the Writing Center and TA-ing with a professor of mine, as well as writing my Masters Thesis. This is the advice stemming from my own experience only I would give to someone now being one year into my program:

1. The first semester is when you begin to transition into the grad-school writing life and into your writing community, but it may not be easy. Putting out my first essay (to a mostly second year cohort!) was rather scary because it was the first impression of my writing I gave to my peers and professor. This is where the rose colored glasses come off and the real work begins. Just be patient with others and yourself.

2. Look out for professional development opportunities outside of the classroom. Try for that Writing Center job you saw in that email or even grant writing. Even if down the line you realize you don't want to do it for a career, the experience will get you far and even help you make a little money. Yes the rumors are true, everyone is kinda looking out for the same careers post graduation. Everyone is looking to have that cushy tenure track job "teaching," (even if they've never done it in their entire lives or admit to hating undergraduates) or are looking to be the Editor and Chief of Penguin Random House. People will most likely brag and use every political tool they have to get ahead, but don't let it get you down. Think outside the lines, be yourself and keep on your own path. I personally thought I would be a terrible editor for the Writing Center, but it ended up becoming a passion of mine.

3. Find that one professor in your corner. You won't like every single person on the faculty, but you just need one who sees you and your writing for what it really is.

4. Even if you don't become extremely close with your cohort, if they respect you within the classroom as a writer, that's all that matters. In my experience, that whole "you will find friends for life," thing was an inflated unrealistic myth. (But if that aspect is important to you in an MFA program, then that's fine too.)

5. You might not all graduate together. I personally had no idea about this until recently. Everyone except for me extended their time in our two year program to 2.5 years and I am apparently the only one graduating in May 2023. Just don't be shocked.

6. Take that literature class your advisor warned you about. I took 2 master's level literature classes and not only did I get to know some awesome people outside of the MFA classroom, studying literature also helped my creative writing! I am also admittedly not an MFA purist. I describe myself as a academic/artist hybrid so I believe in cross-departmental study.

7. Take advantage of alumni from your program. One published alumni subbed for my nonfiction class once last semester and he is now helping me out with some aspects of my Masters Thesis! 

8. In the end, it's your writing. Just because they are your professors or second/ third years doesn't mean they have greater authority then you about your voice, style, POV ect. In the end, you get to call the play.

Again, this is small sage advice from one person, but I hope it helps!

 

Edited by lenagator1997
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  • 1 month later...

Heya folks. I've been a reader for my college's literary magazine over the summer. The vast, vast majority of pieces I read are from MFA graduates or MFA candidates.

Being in that seat where I have to say yes or no to incoming pieces has taught me a lot about what the difference between a "yes" piece is and a "no" piece is (and for reference, there have been dozens of "no" pieces and only like 2 "yes" ones... which I think is a lot like MFA applications lol). 

Here's some advice if you're still working on your writing sample:

-Good, solid prose is an entry requirement. I honestly thought literary magazine submissions would be filled with a lot of really mediocre writers, but they aren't. The writers are, for the most part, fabulous, and have very solid prose. You can tell these people know the craft and know the basics and principals. The writing is clean and polished from a prose standpoint. A lot of people feel like that's not important, but from my experience, it's more like it goes without saying that you already know your stuff.

-... but good, solid prose isn't enough to get you noticed. This actually sort of threw me, since I always thought the person with the best prose, mechanically speaking, would be the "winner." But as I'm reading, that's not the case, and in fact, one of my "yes" recommendations wasn't actually quite as solid on prose (it was still good, but it wasn't as amazing as some of the other ones I've seen.) Basically, prose seems to be a "you must be this tall to enter" line, not the end-all be-all for good writing.

-Your writing needs to feel like it is contributing to the literary conversation. I've spent a lot of time thinking about what made me say "yes" to the few I've said yes to. At the end of the day, it comes down to whether the piece felt like it had something interesting to say. I read a lot of pieces about popular topics which treated those popular topics... pretty much like everyone else does. They were well-written, and they were genuine, but it felt like a lot of them were saying things the same way everyone else has said them. 

I doubt everyone says yes for the same reasons, but the reasons I find myself saying yes are based mostly on:

Does this feel like a new insight?
Does it feel like they're approaching the topic from a new angle/perspective?
Does the work appropriately embrace complexity and nuance?
Is there enough ambiguity in the piece to allow it to be analyzed, while also having enough specificity to feel intentional?

The pieces I read which got a yes just went a hair further than the rejected ones. They were just a bit more unique, enough to make me think after reading them.

I hope some of this helps. I also highly recommend looking for opportunities to volunteer for a literary magazine. It's been one of the single best experiences for making me look at my writing in a harsher light. 

Best of luck!
 

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  • 4 weeks later...
On 8/30/2022 at 12:31 PM, strawberrybaldwin said:

just out of a simple curiosity, what's the consensus on switching programs? like if one was admitted somewhere but decided that maybe they wanted to go elsewhere after all? is that frowned upon?

I did it and now I'm at Iowa. If a program isn't right for you that's okay. Anyone who doesn't think so can go suck rocks.

Edited by Ydrl
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  • 1 month later...

Hey all,

Hope everyone is having a decent time putting together their portfolios and applications! This is my first time applying to programs, so I'm fairly nervous. I'm applying to 8 schools, all fully funded, with 4 being "higher ranked" programs and the other 4 being smaller/"underrated" programs.

I have my poems completed, but I need to really tidy up my SOP and get another letter of recommendation, (been out of school for 7 years eeep!)

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 10/23/2022 at 9:00 PM, jjooeeyy said:

Hey all,

Hope everyone is having a decent time putting together their portfolios and applications! This is my first time applying to programs, so I'm fairly nervous. I'm applying to 8 schools, all fully funded, with 4 being "higher ranked" programs and the other 4 being smaller/"underrated" programs.

I have my poems completed, but I need to really tidy up my SOP and get another letter of recommendation, (been out of school for 7 years eeep!)

Hi! Fellow poet here. I was in the thread a little last year but didn’t end up applying due to health reasons. Now, I am back to try again. 
One thing that is helping me with my SOP is printing out my manuscript. Then I read it as if I have never seen it before (or try to). It helped me see some common themes or topics in the poems. 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi everyone! I just finished my applications to 16 different schools (mostly in poetry, a few for poetry and fiction) and am waiting on fee waivers for my last 3 applications. This has been such an incredibly stressful, daunting and nerve-wracking process so far and we are only just beginning! I endlessly workshopped my SOP and writing sample with two professors and I am still double-checking every so often to make sure I didn't make a mess of anything. How does everyone survive the waiting process!? 

I also wanted to say that I was able to secure fee waivers for every program so far (other than the final 3) and if anyone would like help with the language to use when asking for waivers or what I had to use as proof of financial hardship, I am more than happy to help!

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On 11/20/2022 at 9:08 PM, Veneralia said:

Hi everyone! I just finished my applications to 16 different schools (mostly in poetry, a few for poetry and fiction) and am waiting on fee waivers for my last 3 applications. This has been such an incredibly stressful, daunting and nerve-wracking process so far and we are only just beginning! I endlessly workshopped my SOP and writing sample with two professors and I am still double-checking every so often to make sure I didn't make a mess of anything. How does everyone survive the waiting process!? 

I also wanted to say that I was able to secure fee waivers for every program so far (other than the final 3) and if anyone would like help with the language to use when asking for waivers or what I had to use as proof of financial hardship, I am more than happy to help!

Congrats on finishing 16 applications already!! The waiting sure is difficult but at least you don’t have to worry about sending apps in during the holidays. 
Is this your first round of apps?

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5 hours ago, Leeannitha said:

Congrats on finishing 16 applications already!! The waiting sure is difficult but at least you don’t have to worry about sending apps in during the holidays. 
Is this your first round of apps?

Yes! I am just finishing my first undergraduate degree this semester, as a non-traditional student, and I focused on English and Creative Writing. I will definitely apply again next round if I don't end up anywhere this time--I know people often get in on subsequent rounds, but hey, fingers crossed and all that.

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On 11/23/2022 at 11:00 PM, Veneralia said:

Best of luck to you!! With apps and the rest of your undergrad classes. 
Which programs are you applying to? Maybe we have some in common. 
 

I’m applying to:

Michener 

NWP

Iowa Writers’ Workshop

NYU

Umass Amherst 

Syracuse 

Helen Zell program

& maybe Northwestern?? 
All for poetry 😊

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22 hours ago, Leeannitha said:

Best of luck to you!! With apps and the rest of your undergrad classes. 
Which programs are you applying to? Maybe we have some in common. 
 

I’m applying to:

Michener 

NWP

Iowa Writers’ Workshop

NYU

Umass Amherst 

Syracuse 

Helen Zell program

& maybe Northwestern?? 
All for poetry 😊

I'm applying to all of those except for NYU, Umass and Syracuse! I live like twenty minutes from Amherst though and it's lovely here! I just want to move to a new place. I'm also applying in poetry. Would be so rad to cross paths!

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Hi friends! Happy holidays and happy application cycle! 

I am applying to Michener and I'm a little confused about the process. I submitted my ApplyTexas online application and got an email from UT, Austin telling me they received my app. I set up my MyStatus account but now I cant figure out how to upload my additional materials (personal statement and manuscript ext.) Can anyone help me? Thank you in advance! 

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On 11/28/2022 at 12:34 AM, alligator mississippiensis said:

Hi friends! Happy holidays and happy application cycle! 

I am applying to Michener and I'm a little confused about the process. I submitted my ApplyTexas online application and got an email from UT, Austin telling me they received my app. I set up my MyStatus account but now I cant figure out how to upload my additional materials (personal statement and manuscript ext.) Can anyone help me? Thank you in advance! 

Hi sorry just saw this!!! I know the deadline is approaching. 
Go to your my status page and click the “admissions” tab. It should have sections to upload each part. This is what mine looks like. 
(I am on mobile so I hope this picture shows up)

I think you have to click “details” first on the right, then it will take you to a separate page to upload.

9F2CAD8A-65F5-4543-A4B9-43EB6B914204.jpeg

Edited by Leeannitha
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On 10/23/2022 at 9:00 PM, jjooeeyy said:

Hey all,

Hope everyone is having a decent time putting together their portfolios and applications! This is my first time applying to programs, so I'm fairly nervous. I'm applying to 8 schools, all fully funded, with 4 being "higher ranked" programs and the other 4 being smaller/"underrated" programs.

I have my poems completed, but I need to really tidy up my SOP and get another letter of recommendation, (been out of school for 7 years eeep!)

I had a hard time figuring out underrated programs. Which ones did you apply to?

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