Can someone make this process into a science? The constant double checking of materials is never ending and the personal statements are all over the place. Why can’t graduate schools use the common application the way it was for some undergraduate applications?
I thought to myself, “Why is this so frakking stressful? I didn’t do any of this when I applied to college the first time around.” Then I remembered – my school adviser mailed all of my applications off. I didn’t do all this administrative work before and I hate it now.
Today, I spent the whole day visiting my school websites to figure out their personal statement requirements. The good thing is, most of them want a 200-500 count personal statement while only two ask for a 2-5 page minimum. Why can’t they all ask for uniform personal statements? The most important part of the application is my work of art anyway.
But I do have to say that the binder I allotted for all my application materials has significantly helped me through this. I write a note on each MFA checklist per school and stickers on the schools that accept online personal statements, which makes my life a whole lot easier when I mail out supplemental materials like the manuscript.
As for my manuscript, reading the speakeasy forums on the Poets and Writers website has significantly silenced any self-doubt that was constantly chatting in my head during this process. I don’t know if the doubt sprung from being critiqued by a friend who was trying to help that shot my ego into bits; being unemployed due to department lay-offs; having an interview for a publishing intern position and unsure if publishing is even something I genuinely imagine myself working in; or having cabin fever because all I’ve been doing is editing my manuscript for this application. For the past week, I was pregnant with dread, self-doubt, and anxiety. I always feel this way when my work is critiqued by a friend (but I never feel this way after a writing workshop critique) and when I’m about to embark on a journey that is bigger than me.
This Saturday, I attended a Write it Right! workshop administered by the Gotham Writer’s Workshop. This class focused on the functions of basic grammar starting with the noun and ending with bracket usage. The last hour of the class is a little fuzzy because I had stopped paying attention after semicolon usage. The class was very helpful; I feel confident and comfortable using the semicolon and comma in most sentences, like this one. In this class, the people in attendance were from all walks of life – more older than younger actually. One girl mentioned she was accepted into the Sarah Lawrence program and had to withdraw because it was so intense. My hypersensitive emotional state during this process was stimulated when she mentioned her experience; am I ready to dedicate my full attention to writing in an MFA program? After reading the speakeasy forum, I have the confidence to answer this question with a simple: Bring it on!
Writers have different experiences when they obtain their MFA degree. If and when I am accepted, the only thing I am certain of is that I’ll be surrounded by writers that can help me shape my writing. I’m taking my writing seriously for the first time in my life. It’s now or never.