All posts filed under: Interview

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 …

An Inside Look With Mary B. Sellers, Louisiana State University ’18

Image: Billy Metcalf What is it like living in Baton Rouge? How far does your stipend go there living wise? I have the advantage of growing up in the South, so I wasn’t too worried about any ‘cultural shock’. But Baton Rouge itself—it’s a nice city. It’s got that “Louisiana” texture to it which I find delightful—like: big, beautiful trees, too many shrimp poboy signs to count, shockingly lax liquor laws… But one of the best things about living here is the proximity to New Orleans. It’s about an hour South (depending on whether you’re more of the speed-demon or grandma driving type), which is an easy drive to do, even for a day trip. There’s also Mardi Gras, which is a life-changer. Really. I don’t think anyone should be allowed to leave this Earth without experiencing a true Louisiana Mardi Gras. Baton Rouge has its own parades, too, which are just as fun as the New Orleans ones, but more intimate (translation: better chance of getting beads). As for safety, it’s varied. There are safe …

An Inside Look With Kenny Stoneman, Kingston University ’15

Image: Barnyz A note from Kenny: There didn’t seem to be a natural place to mention it, but I attended the MFA program at Kingston University – London from September 2014 – September 2015.  Because I only finished the first year, I received an MA, rather than the full MFA.  Most schools in the UK work that way – the MA is the first year, while the MFA is the second. What was it like living in London? How did you navigate the cost of living there? Lesson #1 about living in London: it’s expensive. There is absolutely no way around that fact, although I don’t think it’ll come as a surprise to very many people. Be prepared to budget, and also be ready for exorbitant prices on just about everything. But there are a few things most Americans won’t realize about London until they get there. For thing, if you’re on a student visa, you are legally not allowed to work more than 20 hrs/wk, so unless you’re independently wealthy, you will need student loans to support yourself. I …

An Inside Look With Dan Calhoun, University of Louisiana at Lafayette

Image: Kent Kanouse What is it like living in Lafayette? How far does your stipend go there living wise? Lafayette is in an interesting area. One of the upsides is the rich Cajun culture. The food is fantastic (red beans and rice, boudin and sausage, etouffee and fresh seafood) there are tons of festivals, and the locals are friendly. Another plus is New Orleans is a pleasant two hour car ride away from Lafayette (and Baton Rouge is a one hour car ride away and Houston is a three car ride away). Lafayette has the essentials: a good mix of local stores and restaurants and chain stores and restaurants. And if you happen to love daiquiris, Lafayette is paradise. There are at least six different bars dedicated to daiquiris (Daiquiris Supreme is my personal favorite).  The downside to Lafayette is the heat (summer is brutal!) and the traffic. Why did you decide to pursue a PhD after graduating from Wichita State? I decided to pursue a PhD because I wanted a few more years to work …

An Inside Look With Kellie Carle, Spalding University ’16

Image: Edsel Little Note: Thank you to first year contributor J.R. Dawson for providing me with these questions! How does your residency work and how it is paced? Spalding University’s Low-Residency program offers several options students can complete while enrolled in the program. The option selected decides the time they will attend residency. Some students, like myself, choose to attend residencies held on Spalding University’s campus in Louisville, Kentucky in the Fall (November) and Spring (May), residing at The Brown Hotel located in close proximity to campus. However, the program is designed with the idea that life happens and everyone does not have the ability to follow a rigid schedule. This flexibility allows students the option of attending in the Fall, Spring, Summer (the residency being held in an international locale overseas) or any combination that works for students as long as they complete the graduation requirements within ten years. During residency, students attend lectures taught by faculty and guest speakers regarding craft techniques, opportunities after graduation as well as readings by faculty and students. Discussions …

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

Image credit: Selbe Lynn 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 definitely struggled through the post application period.  In all honesty, I think the waiting is the hardest part.  At least the writing you can control. The admissions process is unfair in that it is not a synchronized event.  Acceptances, rejections, and wait list notifications go out at different time intervals.  Some say it’s alphabetical, but the truth is that no one really knows when you’re going to hear or why.  My advice would be to avoid forums like GradCafe and MFA Draft on Facebook.  Seeing live updates will drive you to insanity.  Unless you have a letter, e-mail, or phone call, do not lose hope.  Believe in yourself.  Trust your work. What’s the best piece of advice you received about applying? “Keep the faith, Lauren.  This is a journey.  Journeys are inherently …

So You’re Waiting to Hear Back from MFA Programs: Post Application Advice With David O’Connor

Image credit: Giovani Racca 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? Ah waiting, waiting, waiting–is a choice. I applied to 10 programs from Rio de Janeiro. I was single, teaching ESL and managing an Irish Pub. The World Cup had just finished and I had enough savings to walk away and write. I found a position through Workaway that would cover my room and board for four hours of daily labor. I picked the remotest, most beautiful place that would have me and went there to write a novel. I ended up writing poems and reading too much Bolano. I could not put down 2666, which says much about my mindset. I applied for fiction but now I only wanted to write poems. I was anxious and angry. I wrote some good stuff. The rejections started to roll in and I almost bought a fisherman’s …

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

Image credit: Photosteve101 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 got through the post-application season by having a child, multiple jobs, a credit overload, and two honors theses. Between teaching my kid to pee in the potty, tutoring first-year comp for my undergrad, copyediting a newspaper, two graduate courses, four undergraduate courses, a twenty-five-page chapbook of flash creative nonfiction, and a hundred-page exploration of how copyeditors at the Associated Press chose between the phrases “Native American” and “American Indian,” my hands were full. So this is the best advice I have to give. Just throw yourself into real life as hard as you can, until there are zero hours in a day you can devote to panicking. What’s the best piece of advice you received about applying? The best piece of advice I received about applying was that the process isn’t random. Some people …

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

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.

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 …