For the next two months we’ll be asking some of our first year contributors to talk about the post application period and how they dealt with it last year.
What did you do to get through the post application period?
I kept really busy and tried not to think about applications too much. I was working full-time as a high school teacher in Los Angeles and also had a literary fellowship with the PEN Center, so I had plenty to keep my mind occupied. I stayed away from GradCafe, MFA Draft, etc. Everyone is different, but I knew that those sorts of things would just be stressful rather than helpful for me. Otherwise, I went about my daily life. I saw friends. I played with my dad’s dog. I read and wrote. Even if I didn’t get in anywhere, I knew I could always apply again the next year.
What’s the best piece of advice you received about applying?
Okay, so, I’m going to share three pieces of application advice. Yeah yeah yeah, I know I’m being greedy here, but they’re all tied for best!:
- Cast a wide net, and research the schools to which you are applying. Pick schools that seem like a good fit for you, not just the “top” schools.
- Funding! This is really important. Go to a funded program. Go to a well-funded program if you can.
- There is no rush. You don’t need to do an MFA directly out of college, and it can be beneficial to experience the “real world,” save some money, etc.
Biggest high? Biggest low?
The biggest high I experienced was when I received my first acceptance phone call. It was from Alabama. My biggest low was probably the first year I applied when I didn’t get in anywhere.
What would you do differently if you could apply all over again?
If I were to apply all over again, I would want to be more deliberate in researching the programs to which I applied. For instance, upon reflection, I applied to quite a few programs that heavily favor New Yorker-style realism, and while those sorts of stories can be great, that’s not at all what I’m writing. In addition, I would’ve paid more attention to the amount of funding programs offered, the size of programs, and the locations. For instance, even if it had a great reputation, I think I would’ve been pretty miserable at a really small program in a rural setting.