Sunday, November 15, 2009

Applying to Top MFA Programs

About three months ago I had an unexpected mental development: This will be the year I finally apply to the Michener Center. I still wasn't entirely married to the idea of going, even if I got in (and that's probably a long shot), but I figured going through the process of applying to one, and not getting in, might motivate me to apply to several the following year.

That motivation, to apply to several, struck me much earlier than I thought.  I've spent the last couple of weeks preparing my application materials for nine schools, in the hopes of having most of them submitted by December 1st.

Over the next few months I intend to document my full experience here, and will provide any documents I create to keep myself organized and the schools organized, samples of my personal statement, and any other bits of wisdom I might garner from the experience. Items I would like to include:

*Studying for and taking the GRE - (let's just say I have some strong opinions about Kaplan now)

*Selecting schools to apply to


*Securing worthwhile letters of recommendation - (a challenge considering I've avoided the writing community since starting the novel)

*Choosing and preparing the writing sample - (not much to this, it's the same piece I've been submitting to journals and has been rejected about 30 times --- I think it bodes well)

*Writing the personal statement

*Helpful resources

*My charmingly witty reflections

This will take a while, and will probably be of little use to my fellow applicants this year.  Hopefully it will be worth something to next year's class.

In the meantime, cue the drum roll, because here are the nine programs on my list, not necessarily in order of preference. More detail on selection process to follow, but there's no real secret formula --- they pretty much represent the programs have the best reputations and/or the best funding, minus a few, like Iowa (Ye Olde "Writers' Workshop" does not pay enough to live in Des Moines) and Cornell (love my alma mater but I think going back would be a constant and depressing reminder that my glory days are behind me).

I've also included check boxes that anticipate these programs' ultimate, yet-to-be-calculated quality rating, as determined by an algorithm which incorporates a broad constellation of weighted factors (The author admits this rating will be based in small part upon whether the school accepts me, wait-lists me, or rejects me):

1. UT-Austin (aka Michener Center)
program awesome program "waiting" to decide if it sucks program sucks

2. UC-Irvine
program awesome program "waiting" to decide if it sucks program sucks

3. UMass-Amherst
program awesome program "waiting" to decide if it sucks program sucks

4. University of Michigan
program awesome program "waiting" to decide if it sucks program sucks

5. University of Wisconsin
program awesome program "waiting" to decide if it sucks program sucks

6. Indiana University
program awesome program "waiting" to decide if it sucks program sucks

7. University of Florida
program awesome program "waiting" to decide if it sucks program sucks

8. Brown University
program awesome program "waiting" to decide if it sucks program sucks

9. University of Virginia
program awesome program "waiting" to decide if it sucks program sucks


2 comments:

Anonymous said...

I wonder if you ever found out before you finished applying that U of Iowa is in Iowa City and not Des Moines... and that Iowa City is a pretty fabulous place, from everything I have heard.

Jim C. said...

Oops! Point taken. And no, though I am applying to IWW this year, and in fact just submitted my application, I was not aware that University of Iowa was in Iowa City until you told me.

That's a good marker for my scattered mental state these days.