Looking at other MFA options

Although I haven’t officially received notification of rejection, I know its coming.  Therefore, I’m locked on to applying to low residency schools and a few city schools.  I didn’t want the city experience for graduate school but, this time around, I would be open to applying to New School University and Brooklyn College.  These are the only schools that I would be content and satisfied with attending in the city.

When I first made the decision to apply for an MFA program, I looked at schools in New York mostly – Columbia University, NYU, New School University, Brooklyn College, Adelphi, and even Sarah Lawrence.  But I only visited four New York City  schools due to convenience.  Those were Columbia, New School, NYU, and Brooklyn College.

Brooklyn College was my first stop.  The campus was gorgeous, the commute from my neighborhood was a cool 50 minutes, and the autumn weather made the visit even more pleasant.  I visited during a visitor’s weekend so the campus was bustling with young high school students eager to learn about Brooklyn College.  Being one of the few graduate students visiting the school, I wanted to learn more about the program than the campus.  I did take a tour with prospective undergraduate students which was cute because I thought about myself as an undergrad and how excited I was when I first started college.  The most salient feature, for me, was the library.  The different places to nap, write, and study in the facility entranced me and I fell in love with this place.  I knew if I applied and accepted, I would live at the library.  But I digress.

When I finally visited the department, there was only person there; she was very friendly in discussing the program to me and another prospective student.  The MFA writing program is part of the English department which makes me wonder how much concentration on craft there will be versus emphasis on English literature.  I also feel that I’m more versed about the traits I’m looking for in a program than two years ago. 

At the time, I wasn’t interested in applying to this program because the education provides the opportunity for those interested in teaching to obtain a position either in the school or elsewhere.  Now that my priorities have changed, I may be applying for next fall.  All in all, a great program and campus so this school is on my radar.

My second stop was New School University.  I absolutely fell in love with the faculty and the community they discussed during the information session.  Additionally, I appreciated the insight that the currently matriculated students and alumni provided for prospective students like myself.  What was it about the program that I liked?  Every faculty member was genuine about the kind of support they provided their students and the alumni also spoke highly of everyone.  The location is also very convenient as well.  After I left the session, I was completely enrolled in the possibility of attending the school.

My third stop was NYU.  Being an alumni of the undergraduate program, I didn’t graduate with high opinions of the school.  Perhaps it was a mistake to attend a school in a city I’m familiar with because I’m a native but I felt like a complete outsider the whole time.  I’m aware this factor had to do with the fact that I was a commuter all four years so I can’t necessarily fault the school for my experience.  But because of that, I walked in completely skeptical but still open to learning about the program.  The director spent a big portion of the information session plugging all the visiting faculty that’s well-known which is nice but not beneficial if I don’t a) know who the frak they are and b) know if they will be a good instructor or not.  I did like the prospects of studying abroad with the program but my heart wasn’t interested in attending NYU for grad school. 

My last stop was Columbia University.  The information session also had me excited about applying to the school.  I think the most interesting part of the session was the opportunity to talk about the program without the director present.  He spoke and answered questions or concerns prospective students had, which was effective, at the beginning of the session but the insider’s view from the current students put everything in focus.  There were students from different sections of the globe, two from each concentration in the writing program, to discuss their experience at the university.  They talked about the lack of financial aid.  One woman said, “If you are attending Columbia University, expect to be in debt. That’s the bottom line.”  Which is why all of the students were competing to obtain a teaching assistantship because there is tuition remission, if I’m correct or there is more financial aid.  I wasn’t thinking about financial aid, only thinking about how I’d mix in with the folks at the school.  I didn’t apply because I wasn’t interested in staying in NYC but maybe next fall?  I’m not really sure if this school is on my radar.  It’s super competitive and the thought of more crazy debt makes my stomach clench into a ball.  Not sure if I’m going to apply there but I won’t rule this out yet.

I wasn’t interested in applying to out of city schools like on Long Island or further than Manhattan at the time because I thought of my commute. 

As for low residency programs, I’m slowly researching by using the database on the Poets & Writers website.  I need to take a few hours and narrow my decision to what program would work for me.  Once I’m there, I’ll be more focused.  Especially after I receive my last two notifications. 

I’m on the right path; positivity is key.  Many prospects afoot.  I’m excited!

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