2015, Archives, January 2015, The MFA Years

Now What?: The Waiting Game in the Application Process

Hello. You’re waiting, are you? You’re sitting there, biting your nails, waking up at random intervals of the night going, “What the hell am I going to do if I don’t get that fellowship? And worse, what if no one takes me at all? What if I fail at life and I have to work at the restaurant for the rest of my life-riddled years?! WHAT IF I NEVER BECOME A WRITER?!?!?!?”

First of all, breathe.

Second of all, go back to sleep and we’ll talk in the morning.

Alright, is the sun up? Are you calmed down? Then let us continue.

As I’ve mentioned before, I applied three different years before A. finding a program I actually wanted to go to, and B. a program who actually wanted me found me. I can say that if I’d gotten into some of my first picks that first year, I would not have been a happy camper. And I was too young to appreciate what I’d been given.

There is a reason why things happen the way they happen, and you might think I’m full of crap for saying that, but it’s true.

So let’s go through all the scenarios to assuage your fears.

What if I don’t get in at all?

Okay, then try again next year. What can you do in the meantime to make your application better? Did you pick the right schools? Did you not pick the right schools? Is this something you really want to do?

What if I only get into a school I don’t like?

Well, first of all, you shouldn’t have applied there. Second of all, don’t go. Wait. Find someplace you’ll actually like. Don’t feel obligated to go. You only get one chance with an MFA.

What if I get in somewhere, but I don’t get funded?

You’re going to have to work this one out for your own situation. I know that I could work it out so I could fund a low-res that doesn’t really give much funding at all. But I was willing to pay to go to this particular program. But I wouldn’t have been willing to pay to go to some other programs I applied to. You need to do your research and see what the dividends are going to be. You should never go to school just because it’s a way out, though. If you think you can get funding next year or you can do better next year, wait. Also, look at the reason why you didn’t get funded. Did you not get funded because it’s a low-res and they just don’t fund well? Or did you not get funded because they didn’t believe in you enough? Do you really want to go to a school that doesn’t believe in you enough to give you money?

What if I get a TA-ship and no fellowship?

Poor muffin. I know it’s frustrating, but we all don’t get the glass slippers, now do we? Be lucky you got a TA-ship. There’s a bunch of people who didn’t.

What if everyone else gets in and I don’t?

Not everyone else will get in. Other people will get in. Don’t compare yourself to other people or it’s going to be a long ride through the MFA program you do end up getting into.

What if I get into a program, but it’s not the program I wanted, but I get funded?

Cool. Then don’t go. I turned down programs before. Don’t go. If it isn’t jiving with what you want now, it won’t later. It isn’t going to magically turn into the school you want. Find the school you want.

I got into a program I really like, but it’s not Michener or IWW.

Well, why do you want those schools? Is it because of their awesome reputation? Yale has an awesome reputation, but I went to DePaul, because DePaul was more what I was looking for and DePaul wanted me more. Yeah, IWW is a surefire way to put fancy on your resume, but are you going to be happy? Are you going to turn into the writer you want to be? For some people, the answer is yes. But Stonecoast is making me exactly who I want to be, and IWW would not have. You need to think less about what everyone else thinks and what you need.

What if I get wait-listed.

Cool. Send them more stuff to back up your awesomeness. Express your interest in that school. Be glad you got wait-listed. It means you’re on the right track.

What if my partner won’t go with me?

As Ursula said to us when we were but wee things, “Life’s full of tough choices.” It’s true. I know your pain. You have to decide what is going to work for you and your partner. You need to see which one is your main priority right now. Also, if your partner is being a whackadoo about not going, then why are they acting that way? Is it because they’re not all that into this relationship, or is it because they are just scared like you? Are they okay with LDR? Can you guys afford LDR? You should never stay behind for someone who would break up with you if you left but who isn’t willing to move to be with you. They have other priorities. You aren’t the endgame.

What if I get into an amazing program, but I for some reason decide it isn’t what I want?

Are those nerves talking, or can you feel in your heart of hearts that this isn’t what you want? Don’t feel guilty about turning something down that isn’t going to fulfill your path. But at the same time, don’t make a decision based on a fear of the unknown. Some of the best adventures I’ve gone on started off with me not wanting to leave the bed.

In the meantime, stop thinking about it. Go watch hulu. Go paint something. GO WRITE. But don’t spend the next three months moping around and checking your mail. I wanted Boulder so bad last year. It was the only college I would have given Stonecoast up for. It was three years, in the city I wanted to move to, and was full-time. I got my rejection from Boulder during my bachelorette party weekend. I was in the mountains with friends, driving to our hotel. I could have stayed home and sat by the mailbox, but I didn’t. I went out and did things. And so when Boulder broke my heart, my girls were there … and so were the mountains.

And when you do get in, because if you really want it and you keep trying for it, I’ll see you on this side, where you never have to register for the f******* GRE again.

Here is a song to inspire you:

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