All posts tagged: research

How to Find a Writing MFA Program for POCs

Note: This piece originally appeared on Medium. Time for some Real Talk. If you happen to be coming from my How To Apply To A Writing MFA Program article, this is the part where I say a bunch of things that a lot of other people cannot get away with saying. When it comes to applying to a writing master’s program, it is not the same for us.  Why? Junot Diaz and David Mura say it best in “MFA vs. POC“ and “The Student of Color in a Typical MFA Program.” For minorities, I would consider these mandatory reading, so you are fully aware of what you are up against. A taste from Junot Diaz: I can’t tell you how often students of color seek me out during my visits or approach me after readings in order to share with me the racist nonsense they’re facing in their programs, from both their peers and their professors. In the last 17 years I must have had at least three hundred of these conversations, minimum. I remember one young MFA’r describing how …

Seeking POC: How to Choose MFA Programs

Image: Mike Cerrillo In my first creative writing workshop, a young white man wrote a stereotypical story about the experience of a young, white man who went to Lima on his study abroad trip and met a wife beating Peruvian man who scared the narrator into buying a pocket knife to carry around with him in the city for protection. Imagine my eyes rolling back into my brain. We workshopped his story focusing on “craft” until the only other Latino person in the class brought up the story’s race problems: “This piece reenacts the stereotype of violent Latino men.” I agreed and between the two of us, we pointed out Latino related issues including improper Spanish translations, weak characters, and an assumption of white readership. After a few minutes, our old white man professor said, “I think it’s cute that you guys want to discuss race in this story. But this is a problem of craft. This story isn’t working because it’s just not good. The race stuff is secondary to that.” In four sentences, …

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 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.

Shakarean Hutchinson Introduction (Applicant ’16)

Image: Andrew Taylor I finished my first application today (December 8th) with the mailing of my writing sample. I expected to feel something when the USPS worker took the envelope from me—happiness, relief, nervousness. Instead I felt what can only be described as meh. A 5 on a scale of 10. Baked but lightly salted crackers. Water. And not the icy cold water you drink after being out in the hot sun for hours on end either. Just plain, room temperature, straight from the tap water. *** I didn’t know anything about MFA programs until about three years ago while reading the bio of a random writer who had a short story published in an online journal I enjoyed. And even after doing a casual Google search on MFA programs I didn’t give it all that much thought. My future plans included getting an advanced degree in…something (hadn’t decided at the time), become a professor, and spend the rest of my life teaching and paying off student loans. And should I write a story or …

The Process is the Point

Image: moominsean I got an email from Interfolio today. My subscription is set to expire in three days, so a year minus three days, I got serious about applying to MFAs. When you put money down, you get serious, at least when you live close to the poverty line. The irony is I never logged onto Interfolio after paying. Lesson learnt. Mistake number one. But I’m not much of a tech person, I remember renting VCR tapes, learning Spanish on cassette, highlighting encyclopedias. So I learned the expensive way, Interfolio was not for me, although it sounded good, because it fed on my biggest application fear: organization. This is what I did, not to say it is the best way, but I did get one acceptance and three wait lists out of seven or nine applications. See I don’t even how many applications were even fully completed. I applied to and paid the fee for UNLV and then they never even sent an email. I feel like suing them. Being ignored is worse than being rejected. Furthermore, …

Jenny Pansing

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

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 still had my final semester of undergrad to do. But it was a lighter semester–a paper-making class and an independent study in drawing to finish my art minor. I also started a part-time job as a writing tutor in the tutoring center at my university. With what spare time I had beyond that, I got a Netflix subscription and watched my favorite shows (old Britcoms for the win). I played my video games (Star Trek Online is my most-played). I continued my involvement in social groups, even making new friends just as I was (possibly???) moving. And I spent time with old friends, not knowing if I would be in Minneapolis much longer. What’s the best piece of advice you received about applying? I think the best piece of advice I received was to relax. This …

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 …