All posts tagged: applicant

4 Ways I Improved My MFA Applications (After Failing Miserably the First Time)

When I failed in my first attempt at MFA applications, my resolve to try again meant taking a critical look at myself and considering where I could improve. At first, it seemed daunting, because I had spent a lot of time on my applications. But then I began to consider not the quantity of work I had done, but methods I had used.


Just Keep Writing

I launched my MFA dreams two years ago, starry-eyed and oblivious. At the time, I had three finished essays to my name (and I use the term “finished” very, very loosely). I figured, “I’ve taken a writing class or two; I have a few pieces that have gotten some positive feedback; I don’t have the SLIGHTEST clue where I’m going with any of it or what I want to write next, but I’ll do an MFA and figure it out when I get there.” Not surprisingly, things didn’t go according to plan. I mean, it wasn’t the WORST idea I’d ever come up with–and before the days of hyper-competitive MFA admissions, it might have been perfectly fine. But it also spoke to my inexperience, not just as an MFA applicant in-the-know, but as a writer with a dedicated approach to production and craft.

From Week 0 to Week 6

So, my intention was to do a dedicated week 0 post and then do a post each week for each week of school. Then reality set in along with practicality, and I realized the once a month model made way more sense. So, I’ll condense my week 0 experience and elaborate greatly on the good stuff: school work! I know there have already been tons of things people have said about the application process, and with everyone who is currently getting their portfolios ready for Draft ’15, I’ll say Caitlin’s post on the subject is very well informed and exhaustive. All I will add is don’t do what I did! If there’s anyone who’s constantly putting themselves at a disadvantage by doing things the hard way, it’s definitely me. If you haven’t started working on your samples already, get on that now! If you’re an early bird, the summer would have been a great time to do some sprucing and sorting of old material and workshopping and editing new material. Luckily, like I’ve said, it’s …

MFA vs. LDR: Some Thoughts On The Long Distance Relationship

So now it’s late September. The beginning of autumn—or, if you’re here in Los Angeles, of a bizarre season where 90-degree days mock us alongside nonsensical ads for pumpkin lattes and calf-high boots and chunky knit sweaters. For MFA applicants, it’s also the start of “high season:” summer is over, leaves are falling fast and application deadlines are suddenly as little as two months away. In other words, it’s crunch time. So naturally, amidst the sea of to-do lists, GRE score reports, transcript request forms, multiple SOP drafts and resumes littering my desk and haunting my dreams, I wake up on a sunny Saturday totally preoccupied with the issue of long distance. That’s right. The dreaded “LDR:” long distance relationship.

Lauren Westerfield Introduction Post, Applicant ’15

Note: Throughout the 2015 application process, we will be following and featuring writers who are currently applying to creative writing programs. This fall marks my third foray into MFA applications. By the time I submit the last batch of samples, transcripts, tears and hope, I’ll be thirty. I’d like to think there’s something auspicious about all these “3’s” — that they signify manifestation of dreams, maybe, or even good old-fashioned luck. But looking back, I’m mostly just grateful: for the false starts, trials, errors and confusions of the past two cycles that have landed me here, finally ready, finally clear on what I want to explore as a writer and how an MFA best fits into that dream. Of course, there are those who think it’s crazy, applying three years in a row. Those who, in the thick of their first “draft season,” take to Facebook with a chorus of, “how does anyone ever do this more than once?” and “I would never survive the stress.” If you are or have been one of these folks, …