All posts tagged: sample

Let’s Find You Some Help

You should show your actual writing to as many people as possible, getting all the advice you can wrangle out of them, before you spend hundreds of dollars applying for grad school. In this article I list specific venues for you to get critiques from other people. 

Navigating the MFA Application Process: An Interview With Sarah Duncan

Image: AI_HikesAZ How many programs did you apply to? How did you narrow your list down? I applied to about 8 programs—one of which was not an MFA, but an MA in Expressive Arts Therapies. I could see myself taking a few different paths, so I wanted to see what the applications brought me before I made my decision. I narrowed my list down based on the programs themselves. I was looking for programs that didn’t seem too pretentious or too steeped in the white western cannon; I wanted programs that allowed for other study, like a minor or a dual focus; I wanted programs that allowed for multiple kinds of teaching opportunities; I did look at rank, but not very seriously; I looked at the way the programs presented themselves to students, and if they made it difficult or easy to apply. I also looked at only fully funded programs, because for an MFA I wasn’t looking to go into too much debt (though I don’t judge anyone who does!) How did you approach your …

Navigating the MFA Application Process: An Interview With A.A. Malina

Image: Pierre Wolfer How many programs did you apply to? How did you narrow your list down? I applied to seven MFA programs. I narrowed them down based on price and reputation. I looked for schools that weren’t very expensive, but would still give me a decent education. I made a spreadsheet comparing prose, cons, deadlines, and application fees. It also helped me keep track of which ones I’d submitted fees to, where I’d been accepted, etc. How did you approach your sample? Did you submit the same one to every program? For my sample, I simply compiled several stories that I’ve written. I used all of the stories that I’m most proud of having written, because I couldn’t imagine coming up with something new for the application. All of the pieces I used had been heavily workshopped by my undergrad classmates and writing peers, and heavily revised, far prior to me even deciding to go to grad school. I made the decision to go when I was already very close to all of the …

Navigating the MFA Application Process: An Interview With Roe Sellers

Image: Cavalier92 How many programs did you apply to? How did you narrow your list down? In 2013, I applied to eleven programs. I was accepted to four prorams, and was on the waitlist at two others. I did not do a lot of research, because I had been on the fence about applying to graduate school until the start of my senior year of undergrad. I made what I think is a pretty common mistake: I applied exclusively to very competitive programs with ideal funding packages. I’m not suggesting not applying to dream schools, but I just want to stress the importance of widening the net and looking for what educational environment is best for you. Ultimately, the funding didn’t work out at the programs I was most passionate about attending, so I opted to wait and reapply. During the 2014 application period, the grace period for my undergraduate loans came to an end. In my gap year, finances were really tight. I knew I wouldn’t be able to apply to as many programs …

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.

Is This Thing On?: Navigating the MFA Application Poetry Sample

Image: Chris Campbell I’ve talked briefly before about my application sample woes. A good portion of what ended up in my sample came from my junior year capstone project. I spent a year writing and revising poetry for it, and ended up with a nice looking chapbook, and some good to decent to bad poems. Everyone has a different strategy. Some applicants will submit things they’ve been working on for a while, others will submit newer stuff, and some will fall in the middle. The most important thing to remember about what you put in your sample is this: make sure it’s your best writing. The sample is the most important aspect of your application. Do not forget this. Do not focus less on your sample because you’re worried about your CV or recommendation letters or the GRE. Focus on your sample even more and on everything else too. Hey, no one ever said applying to creative writing programs was easy and not completely time-consuming. It’s also important to note that all of the advice I’m …

Researching the MFA

Image: astronomy_blog When you’re applying to MFA programs, research is your best friend. Taking the time to figure out what you want out of a program will help you narrow down your list, find places you love, and maybe even keep your application costs down (it can get expensive, believe me). There are a myriad of things to consider when you’re compiling a list: What’s your desired program length? Do you want to teach? How much do you want to teach? Do you want to be able to take classes outside of the creative writing department? Does location matter? Do you want to do cross-genre work? Are you interested in a specific cohort size (large, small)? And on and on and on… that’s why it’s helpful to ask yourself these questions early on. While I was finalizing my program list I created an Excel document that contained all of the application information for each program. I was better able to keep track of deadline dates, sample lengths, which schools had received my recommendation letters, and everything else. I’d recommend …