crunch time

tomorrow is the first of september, and according to the brightly colored reminders that decorate my google calendar, that means: one month and three weeks until the GREs, and three months and one week until MFA applications are due.

it is crunch time.

it’s hard to look back at a summer and deem it either successful or unsuccessful in terms of accomplishing all that one needs to accomplish to feel fully prepared for this marathon application period. will i ever feel that my manuscript is perfectly up to snuff? can i ever guarantee that i am applying to the right mix of top tier and higher odds schools? is this the year every twenty-something queer memoirist from new york applies to mfa programs? is this going to be a waste of several hundred dollars? am i really, really, really, really, really a writer?

let’s not even try to answer these, save for the last one: i’m a writer. there, i said it. i still feel selfish, guilty, insane, grandiose when i say this. (this probably means i’m due back for some time with julia cameron). a writer writes, and to the best of my ability, while also sailing through these months with rock camp, dancing, brunches, shows, bike rides, ice cream, and a few sweet dates, i’ve written. i have about five finished first draft new stories, and about five half-finished first draft stories. i’ve also cobbled together a handful of blog posts and interviews for various publications. as far as my manuscript goes: i’m expected to submit two short stories (more or less). one of these stories will be the story i had published in the full spectrum. and the second story? i’m on the fence, and will be soliciting the advice/revisions/tough love of any and all writer friends who are willing and able in the next week or two.

as the reality of applying to mfa programs truly sinks on (i’m doing this! i’m really, truly doing this!), i need to take a long, hard look at the schools i’m applying to. i am 95% sure that these are the thirteen (omg, thirteen) places i want to apply to. part of me thinks i should whittle this list down to ten or twelve schools; part of me is also still taking everything seth ambramson says as bible (such as his recent answer to an inquiry about iowa’s non fiction program as being ‘top’ for non fiction) and alternately doubting/loving my choices.

for those who haven’t already heard my rationale: i’d like to apply to three year programs, so i can maximize my time to write/develop relationships with faculty. i’m most comfortable writing memoir/essays, so am mostly applying to non-fiction programs, but also would love to attend for fiction (and just take all those memoirs, change some names, places, times, and call it fiction, right?). i’m definitely in need of full funding (or at least decent funding)–but really, who isn’t?

these schools are the ones i’ve researched, read about, perused, and can see myself at. most of this info comes from the creative writing mfa handbook (thank you, tom kealey et al), but also is what i’ve gleaned from the school’s websites and other’s experiences. it very may well have false information here and there, so for the love of god, don’t quote me.

the hopeful thirteen choices:

1.) UT Austin (Austin, TX)
*3 year program; fiction (with a minor in screenwriting, play writing, or poetry)
*full funding ($25 grand stipend; no TAs)
*2% acceptance rate

2.) Syracuse University (Syracuse, NY)
*3 year program; fiction
*partial funding (some fellowships and TAs; prizes and awards for consideration)
*5% acceptance rate

3.) University of Alabama (Tuscaloosa, AL)
*3 year program (4th year optional); fiction (with memoir minor)
*full funding (TAs; some fellowships)
*less than 3% acceptance rate

4.) University of Houston (Houston, TX)
*3 year program; creative non-fiction
*partial funding (TAs; fellowships)
*acceptance rate N/A (although it’s more of a top tier school than not)

5.) Indiana University (Bloomington, IN)
*3 year program; fiction
*full funding
*less than 3% acceptance rate

6.) University of Florida (Gainesville, FL)
*3 year program; fiction
*full funding (fellowships)
*7.5% acceptance rate

7.) University of Minnesota (Minneapolis, MN)
*3 year program; non-fiction
*full funding (tuition waiver; fellowships; TAs)
*5% acceptance rate

8.) Purdue University (West Lafayette, IN)
*3 year program; fiction
*full funding (TAs)
*4% acceptance rate

9.) University of Arkansas (Fayetteville, AR)
* 3 year program; fiction (with non-fiction courses available)
* full funding (tuition waiver; TAs; GAs)
* 4% acceptance rate

10.) UNC Wilimington (Wilmington, NC)
* 3 year program; creative non fiction (with cross genre requirements!)
* partial funding (no fellowships; 40% receive TAs)
* 8.4% acceptance rate

11.) University of Colorado (Boulder, CO)
* 3 year program; fiction (cross genres encouraged)
* partial funding (TAs; 70% receive funding)
* “higher odds” acceptance rate

12.) University of Memphis (Memphis, TN)
* 3 year program; non fiction (interdisciplinary program!)
* partial funding (TAs; GAs; some fellowships)
* “higher odds” acceptance rate

13.) University of Kansas (Lawrence, KS)
* 3 year program; non fiction
* partial funding (GAs; some awards for consideration)
* “higher odds” acceptance rate

i’m never quite sure who’s reading these haphazard blog posts (dear friends? strangers? the twitterverse? my mother?), but i’m here to ask your honest advice. about my choices, my research, my writing, my manuscript, my anything. just tell me. what do you think?

Published by universalchampion

writer/teacher/lover of milkshakes. queer social countess. rock camp for girls enthusiast. brooklynite + bicyclist.

3 thoughts on “crunch time

  1. This is just a pet peeve from someone who grew up in Arkansas: the postal abbreviation is AR – not Arizona (AZ) or Alaska (AK). SUPER common mistake.

    Dude, I would love to read your stories and offer my opinion if you want it. I may or may not be a writer but I'm MOST DEF a reader.

    I think you could find some real happiness in a lot of those places. And weirdly, I have connections (not like CONNECTIONS but like family members who go there) to lots of those schools.

    You are going to be awesome.

  2. thanks emily!!!! i will definitely tap you for some story feedback!!!! and big thanks for the arkansas correction–those little things are important! already fixed! xo c

  3. Firstly, I have been keeping up with this blog semi-regularly since we became facebook friends and I love it! Secondly, my two cents about this list of schools: I have a friend who goes to UT Austin for their grad program (in astrophysics, not writing, very different, but STILL) and he LOVES it. When he's not in the lab or looking at stars he's generally going on biking adventures or dancing at shows and doing other really fun, artsy, creative-type stuff, and I am continually jealous of all the awesome events that come around down there. Basically, my point is, as far as I know I think Austin would socially/etc. be a really great place for you!


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