Where are you applying to and why? 2017

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Hey all,

I'm a senior English Lit major in Baltimore. I've actually posted here before as a senior; wound up dropping out of uni for a little while because I was adrift and depressed and you get the picture. But now I'm BACK! And I know what I want to do!

I'm applying for creative nonfiction because it's where I'm strongest by far, but I want to pick up fiction while in the MFA program because I want to become a novelist but keep psyching myself out whenever I try to write a short story. I'm devoting time this summer to writing more fiction on a regular basis, but I'm nowhere near good enough to enter into an MFA program for it yet. (Ironically, I hate writing short stories but love writing books. I'm working on one right now that's actually quite good imo!)

So I'm applying to programs with concentrations in both fiction and nonfiction: Bard, Columbia, Emerson, Northeastern, and Sarah Lawrence.

My top three are Columbia, Bard, and Sarah Lawrence, respectively.

I chose them for various reasons: I thrive in the Northeast, I have a literary network in New York that I'd like to deepen and expand, Hilton Als teaches at Columbia while Teju Cole teaches at Bard, Alice Walker and Durga Chew-Bose went to Sarah Lawrence. And according to my editors and professors, I have a great chance at getting into any of them. (Then again, MFA programs really are a roll of dice, aren't they?)

My writing portfolio will be a short book of published/unpublished essays that I'm expanding and polishing for my senior thesis. It's called Cosmogyny and—forgive me, this is a rough summary because I'm still developing the prospectus so that the progression make sense—it's a bunch of personal essays/lyric-memoirs-disguised-as-longform-criticism that describe my coming-of-age as a girl, a Caribbean immigrant, and an American woman in the world. It's very inspired by Durga Chew-Bose's Too Much and Not the Mood, which inspired me to write the seminal essay "The Doomsday Diaries"...which you can actually read at full-stop.net next week!!! (It's nowhere near perfect pls.)

And I work at my university's writing center, which I heard helps gain some financial aid in graduate school.

Note: I'm not taking time between undergrad and grad school. I've experienced too much life at 21-going-on-22. I've had an abundance of jobs and lived in an abundance of places and seen an abundance of things I probably shouldn't have seen. I've had the epiphanies people have when they're 40. "Take time between undergrad and grad school" is the one thing I always hear when posting on things. I just don't think it's necessary.

So, where are you applying? What are you studying? Why? How will you cover financial aid? Let's converse!

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Hi! I'm currently looking into Creative Writing Programs in Fiction as well. Unfortunately, my list is rather long and I need to narrow it down. The best advice I've gotten for pursuing this program is, "don't pay for it" or " don't go into debt over it". In other words, look for programs that are fully funded or have a reasonable tuition/living stipend. Which is something I'll definitely need since I'll be footing the bill for this myself and am still paying off my student loans from my undergrad. So far my only school criteria is somewhere northeast and urban, so I can start networking and making those connections (and I've seen enough of Suburbia for more than one lifetime). I'm the only writer in my family, so I've had to figure everything out on my own. The only suggestions I get from relatives are emails with links to nursing schools and librarian training programs. (I think my family is still stuck in the 60s or something, idk). Talk about fumbling around in the dark. 

Here are some lists of schools that have good stipends and reimbursements for MFAs. I'm not sure when they were last updated, but they should be a good place to start if you're interested in pursuing a funded program. Some are rather notable like University of Iowa, NYU, and John Hopkins, etc. 



Even then I have no idea how I'm getting in. I graduated two years ago with my Bachelors in English and Literature (minors in writing and business) and have been working since. I recently got laid off because that's corporate America for Ya, so I'm recalibrating my grad school efforts. I was working part-time throughout school so my GPA was sub-par. Are Grad Schools willing to consider applicants whose final GPA was below a 3.0? That's what I'm worried about most. I'm gearing up for the GRE and plan on taking some matriculating courses if time and budget permit. Any other tips on how I can beef up my application? It might be dependent on the school and the program but would they focus more on academics or more on writing skill/potential? I partake in local writing clubs and am trying to get a blog off the ground. Not sure if either of those would help, but I'm open to any and all options. 

Other than that, I write every day and am little more than halfway through my first book. Not much of a short story person but somehow I can plan out a book series. Still in development stages, so really nothing to brag about. I also enjoy poetry but it's not my strong suit, due to my struggle to get published in a literary magazine. But I write because it seems like the only thing I'm good at in my mess of a life. Because I think too much. Because I've experienced loss and loneliness and have too many questions and what ifs about everything. 

Any school/program recommendations? Application tips? What are these programs looking for in potential students? How many graduates of these programs end up teaching at a university/college or getting published afterward? 

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11 hours ago, Martie0 said:

 I was working part-time throughout school so my GPA was sub-par. Are Grad Schools willing to consider applicants whose final GPA was below a 3.0?

GPA is not the most important factor in MFA admissions, although some programs will request that applicants meet a certain minimum requirement (this could be for the cumulative GPA and/or GPA in English classes). The other thing to look out for will be the admissions requirements of each university's graduate school--in other words, what's required of applicants to all graduate programs offered by a university. From what I have seen, it's quite common for grad schools to require at least a 3.0, though I'm sure there are places out there with lower minimums. 

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