Four Things You Should Know About Applying for the M.F.A

By Caitlin Costello

In December of last year, I went through the process of applying for my M.F.A in creative writing. I felt that I should share my experience of applying for these programs and what I know now that I didn’t know before about the process.

The Manuscript is very important

These programs are seeking one thing and one thing only, good writing. Your manuscript is the most important part of your application. It should feature your best writing. The length of your manuscript may vary since different programs require a maximum length, but usually, fiction ranges from 20-30 pages of prose, and poetry requires at least 50 poems. Your manuscript should be edited to a tee! I would recommend having someone you know read it and give you feedback before submitting it. Be creative, original, and most importantly be you in your writing! The best writers are those who stay true to themselves and write by their own truths.

Some programs are more prestigious than others

There are many creative programs in the United States, however, some are more prestigious than others. This can mean that you will have to be selective when choosing programs to apply to. Some of the top programs at the top schools are harder to get into. I personally don’t think there shouldn’t be a competitive side to writing, but unfortunately this is how some of these programs think. In is important to consider that many programs have very low acceptance rates. This means that a lot of people may apply to many these programs that offer very few spots. I know, it sounds unfair! I would recommend looking up M.F.A programs in every state, there are also books that list many unique programs and provide helpful information. When applying for multiple programs, don’t be discouraged if you don’t get accepted into some of them. There are still many programs out there that exist and they are willing to accept you!

The wait is the most daunting part

Waiting to see if you’ve been accepted or not to a program is agonizing! Especially since most programs want you to submit the application the previous year. Most deadlines fall between November-January. But you see, you don’t hear back from them until March or April at the latest. The wait is long and apprehensive, but it is worth it. I am currently waiting on hearing back from at least 3 schools, and have already been rejected by 3. So, at this point, I’m basically playing Russian roulette.

Rejection is inevitable, relax, it is not the end of the world!

Do not take their admission decisions to heart! In their rejection letter’s they will tell you that their programs are “selective” and “competitive” and that you’ve basically lost a hard fight. That’s not true at all. Some programs just don’t have enough spots for people. Therefore, you should always apply to your top schools, and then have multiple backups. When apply for these programs, you are guaranteed to get rejected! I know, and I say that happily! You are more than likely to be rejected more than you are accepted, and that’s okay! It is okay because their rejection shouldn’t mean anything to your writing and your dreams. You shouldn’t take it personally! You should continue to write and write more. Don’t be discouraged by their decision, instead take the opportunity and the time to grow and work on your writing. Besides, if you cannot not write, and if you feel in the deepest parts of you that you are meant to write, then you know that you are writer at heart.

One thought on “Four Things You Should Know About Applying for the M.F.A

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