Wrapping up my second MA/MFA application season with four acceptances, one waitlist, and nine rejections. Last year, I applied to seven programs with one acceptance (unfunded), but looking back, I still cringe at my writing sample—I’m sure I’ll also cringe at this year’s sometime down the line.
I think this year I fell into the trap of casting my net too wide and not catering my application materials enough to each program. If I could do the season over again, I think I’d try to have my SOP reflect my understanding of each program more, but also touch on my interests for future research (I narrowed this down a few months after I submitted my applications). That was quite difficult to do with fourteen applications and limited prep time.
None the less, I was fortunate enough to receive acceptances to Lancaster (MA in Creative Writing – Modular & MA in Creative Writing with English Literature), the University of Glasgow (Creative Writing MLitt), and the University of Edinburgh (MSc Creative Writing).
I ended up choosing the program at Edinburgh.
I went back and forth a lot about each program after considering the strengths of each university and the structure of the programs.
Edinburgh had more course options that appealed to me in the end, and the opportunity for critical work was also important because I intend on applying for a PhD after, where I’ll need a critical writing sample as a part of my application. But I also considered whether I want to pursue a PhD at the same university as my master’s or a different one. In this case, I’m leaning towards Glasgow for PhD studies because of my desired to focus my creative work and research on fantastic literature. But for master’s, it doesn’t seem they have the option to take courses outside of the Creative Writing MLitt structure.
After making my decision, I feel relieved that the application season is over but also excited and anxious about moving across the globe. I do think the change in landscape and culture will help promote creativity, and I’m looking forward to how I’ll develop further both as a writer and a person through this experience.
On a side note, I’ve been considering doing a second master’s after the one at Edinburgh. There’s a program (Peking University’s Yenching Academy–Master’s in China Studies, of which University of Edinburgh is a partner university) I’m looking into, which focuses on interdisciplinary studies concerning various aspects of China.
Since I was born in China, but arrived in Canada at age four, I feel both culturally connected yet disconnected from my homeland. I think the program would be a great way for me to reconnect with my past, but also further expand on my literary knowledge through focusing on Chinese literature, culture, and history, and bringing it into conversation with my past and current English literary studies. I’d also love to weave what I learn in relation to both literary landscapes into my own creative work.
I’ll stop here since I’m starting to sound like I’m writing a statement of purpose!
Needless to say, it’s been stressful the last few weeks because many of us are waiting eagerly for admission decisions. Recently, I’ve been trying to keep my mind off MFA/MA notifications by working on new fiction pieces along with reading and editing for the literary magazines/journals I volunteer at. Unfortunately, I’m still impulsively checking sites like GradCafe and the Draft ’21 Facebook group. Of course, we don’t need MFAs or MAs to be considered writers, but as someone who loves learning in school environments—especially for something I’m passionate about—the option was too appealing to pass up.
On writing and my current WIPs, I’ve written about a dozen stories so far this year, but they’ll require some heavy revision. There’s still a lot for me to learn in terms of craft, but I’m looking forward to it! I attended the ProWritingAid Fantasy Writers’ week two weeks ago, and I’d definitely recommend other fantasy writers to attend the next time they host it! Brandon Sanderson’s Online Lecture Series is also an amazing resource (you can find it free on YouTube). Next, I’m signing up for The Writers of the Future Online Workshop. I’ll update with my thoughts when I finish it.
On a side note, I’m trying to polish up a piece for The Writers of the Future Contest. Anyone else planning to enter?
Until next time!
I wasn’t planning on having my first post revolve around my current MFA applications crisis, but here we are. I think I’ve spent about my entire summer looking through the different programs, taking notes on the specifics and specialities of each program, and the funding they offer. As an international student from Canada, it can be quite pricy to attend unfunded MFA programs in both the U.S. and in the U.K.
So, what I’ve discovered is that most of the U.K. schools do NOT guarantee funding, and it’s a likely case that you may have to pursue a Ph.D. in Creative after your MA because most of them don’t offer the terminal MFA degree. Well, this all depends on what your goals are after! Anyhow, I originally came up with a list of maybe 30-35 schools, but realized that was too many–the low acceptance rates of MFA programs really get into your head. I’ve finally managed to whittle it down to 16 schools, still quite a lot, but at least it’s not 30 anymore…
Now, I’m trying to finish my personal statement and decide on the pieces that I want to include in my writing sample. I’ve also been going back and forth with these two things for quite a while now. It seems like my notes for my personal statement just keeps getting longer but I still have yet to put it together… I promised myself that I’d be finished by mid-October so I can contact my past professors for references in time. We’ll see how this goes!
I’ve included a list of schools I’m planning on applying to below if anyone is also interested in applying for MFAs (the ones with an asterisk are my top choices so far), and if you happen to have any questions feel free to drop me a comment or email and I’ll try my best to answer it with what little knowledge I have!
*On a side note: This will be my second year applying to Creative Writing MFA programs. In my first year, I didn’t apply to any U.K. schools. I applied to 7 different programs and was accepted into 1 but ultimately declined because of the lack of funding offered.
New York University*, Columbia University, Iowa Writers Workshop*, John Hopkins University, Brown University, Boston University, Cornell University, Purdue University, and University of California (Irvine/San Diego).
Lancaster University, University of Glasgow, University of East Anglia*, University of Edinburgh, and University of Manchester.
University of Guelph.