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Writing Sample and re-applying


deparkison
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So, I was rejected by the schools I applied to last year. I'm applying to PhD programs focused in creative writing. Should I write a new critical sample, along with a new creative sample? Should I display my amazing revision skills? Start from scratch?

Any feedback/suggestions would be awesome. If not on this forum, perhaps through my email:

deparkison@gmail.com

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To start, have you tried asking last year's adcom committees for feedback on your rejected applications? Did they point out any weaknesses in your writing samples that might be simply addressed through revision?

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Yeah, definitely ask for feedback. It may be that other aspects of your application (SOP, GRE scores, LORs, etc.) were what made the difference. However, I would at least revise my writing sample, if not replace it entirely. There is likely some tweaking you can do to make it stronger.

Edited to add that unless you have an MA, you may want to add some MFA programs to your list. Ph.D. programs are super competitive, so having some Ph.D. applications and MFA applications may give you some more options.

Edited by lyonessrampant
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Edited to add that unless you have an MA, you may want to add some MFA programs to your list. Ph.D. programs are super competitive, so having some Ph.D. applications and MFA applications may give you some more options.

I agree that this would provide more options, though word on the street from my PhD creative writing friends is that MFAs are possibly more competitive. (The application fees are also atrocious, from what I hear!)

But I don't know this through first-hand knowledge/experience, so take it as you will.

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I agree that this would provide more options, though word on the street from my PhD creative writing friends is that MFAs are possibly more competitive. (The application fees are also atrocious, from what I hear!)

But I don't know this through first-hand knowledge/experience, so take it as you will.

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Sorry, I should have given a little more context. I received my MA through the University of Rochester. My final project, the "Masters Essay," was a small collection of poems, written under the advisement of the resident poet, James Longenbach.

I've been seeking feedback but haven't heard anything from the schools I applied to... I'll continue searching on that front. I didn't know if, perhaps, there was a hard and fast rule about this, or something like graduate applicant decorum... I've felt really lost with all of this... I'm the first in my family to receive my MA, and the first in my wider family to try for a PhD. I come from a lower/middle class background, and really feel like I'm simply (thanks Donald Rummsfield...) not aware of things of which I am not aware...

I'm not sure if that alters your perspectives on what my course of action should be... but I do think the fuller context will help you understand where I'm coming from. Thank you, folks, for the replies! I really appreciate it.

Edited by deparkison
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Hi! I too am the first in my family to go to college, get an MA, and now go for a Ph.D. I've made a lot of mistakes along the way and so wish I knew then what I know now, but c'est la vie, no? You'll be able to help your students and kids (if you have them) A LOT more because of your experiences :) Anyway, some programs just won't reply to requests for feedback. When I asked in the past I emailed the DGS and explained that I would really appreciate any responses on the weaker components of my application. I kept the email short and to the point, and some schools never replied at all. If you've already done this with all the schools you've applied to, then that's all you can do. Next steps! What kind of feedback have you gotten from poets who read your work? The best thing you can do is circulate your poetry to as many poets as possible and get their responses. Revise based on those responses. Perhaps contact some professors you really want to work with at schools you are applying to. I would email them saying you like their work and ask a question about their work. This might help you get your foot in the door. Also, get as many people as possible to read your statement of purpose. Tailor it to each school. If you want,I'd be happy to read it and provide any recommendations I might have. Just PM me and I'll give you my email address. What are your GRE scores? If you think you might be able to boost your verbal score, maybe do that. This is the least important part of your app, though, so don't spend a ton of time and money you don't have here. What schools are you applying to? Do you think all of your LORs were strongly positive? If not, is there someone you could ask to replace one of those writers? Anyway, best of luck!

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I definitely agree that your workshop both your creative and critical work as much as possible (since you're going for a PhD, the critical work is important too, though probably not AS important as your poetry).

In addition to running your writing by friends/old classmates: Are there any faculty from your MA program you'd feel comfortable running your writing by? Because it's summer, it'd be a good time to ask for this kind of favor. I did this with my critical sample and was really glad I did.

Good luck!

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