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Justin G

How formal should an MFA personal statement be?

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Hey everyone,

Currently working on my application for Fall 2017 fiction MFA programs. I'm wondering if y'all have any insight into how formal MFA personal statements ought to be. My reflex is to write something conversational. Would particularly like to hear from those who have been accepted in years past - what worked for you?

Thanks,

Justin 

Edited by Justin G
I screwed up

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What type of MFA?  It's really going to depend on the school, but generally I'd say most faculty don't want to read an overly formal personal essay.  If you can do conversational, but still have it written well, I believe that would go over well pretty much anywhere.  Some MFA programs barely put any emphasis on the essays anyway, preferring to weigh the majority of your application on the portfolio, artist statement, and letter of rec- as is the case with UCB (where I'm applying).  

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Yes, I'd say your personal statement is a good opportunity to give them your voice as a writer and the "why" of your writing as well. Prior to my MFA I was in a super intense grad program in a completely different field, and I'm still trying to purge my writing of Latinate academic language. That'd be the thing I would most want to revise about my statement. In it, though, I mentioned a queer writer whose debut novel reached me in a period of total isolation. A lot of my faculty stress the social importance of writing, so I think my values connected with theirs on this score. They want to know that you're good, you're unique and you share interests/style/values with at least one of them.

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