2015, Archives, February 2015, The MFA Years

So You’re Waiting to Hear Back from MFA Programs: Post Application Advice With Gillian Douple

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?

During the post-application period, I wrote in my journal a lot about my anxieties of not getting into any school. My friends and family were great and supportive about my attempts to go to grad school, but I knew it would get pretty tiring if I could only talk about one thing. Journaling was a good outlet. When that didn’t work, I went to the gym. Obsessively.

What’s the best piece of advice you received about applying?

Best advice received: one of my undergrad professors told me that I was terrific, but that this entire process is a crapshoot. He told me I could slip through the cracks, that there were just too many applications, that sometimes the professors pick the wrong students. There was just no way of knowing. His advice helped me be realistic about this whole process, but it was also hard to hear. I knew that an MFA degree is largely worthless to most of the mainstream world, and if I were accepted, to get the most out of this degree, I would have to make the experience challenging, helpful, and learning. I would have to dive in.

Biggest high? Biggest low?

Biggest low: for me, I was sort of at a crossroads in my life. I was back in my hometown, serving/hosting/bartending/bussing tables at both a sports bar and a restaurant. If I got accepted into an MFA program, I’d move to a new place. If I didn’t get accepted into an MFA program, I’d move to a new place. For me, it was really hard feeling as if my life were on hold. Also, the applications really made me doubt myself as a writer. As I constantly read over my portfolio, I saw my poems devolve into a collection of words I could no longer be proud of.

Biggest high: the acceptances, when they came in.

What would you do differently if you could apply all over again?

If I could do it all over again, I would probably be better organized about the process. If I could do it all over again, I would decide to apply to MFA programs six months before the deadlines instead of one. I would try to hit some of the schools whose deadlines were December 15th, instead of only applying to the ones that were January 15th.

Image: Pig Monkey

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