I’ve done it. I pulled together my best fiction, I wrote my heart out about my love of teaching and writing, and I submitted my CV and letter of interest for a creative writing MFA and associated graduate assistantship at the University of Arkansas at Monticello as well as the MFA program at National University.
Cue the panic attacks.
I know the deadline for applicants isn’t for another ten days, but that hasn’t stopped me from checking for my rejection acceptance letter every ten seconds.
You think I’m kidding? I’ve checked three five times since I started writing this post.
Thinking about joining me in my anxiety? Here are the factors I considered in choosing these particular programs that go beyond the standard advice of “research the staff” and “read their lit mag.”
Residency vs. Online
I am fortunate in that I live within a reasonably acceptable distance of two writing MFA programs: NEOMFA (a consortium program spanning a handful of NEOH universities) and Ashland University.
And I decided not to apply to either of them.
I work full-time. I have a house to take care of and a husband (who is also in school) who I want to see at some point each week. Entering into a program that required me to travel to and from school, no matter how reasonable the distance, simply wasn’t for me.
I am also fortunate in that we live in the Internet age, and there are (admittedly only a few) 100% online MFA’s to explore.
I remain torn between UAM and National University’s online programs. Both NU and UAM offer online options, but NU’s price tag is fairly steep when compared to UAM. Further, UAM currently has two spots available for graduate assistants, which could–if I succeed in getting a position– bring their already more-affordable price down to ZERO!
General Flexibility of Courses
In this area, NU beats UAM. They offer accelerated courses at four weeks for electives and eight weeks for workshops. This allows for a good deal more flexibility in semester planning that the standard 16-week classes.
Already having an MA in English, I have taken several courses that meet the elective/literature requirements. However, NU only accepts the 13.5 quarter credits if they hadn’t been used for a previous advanced degree. UAM accepts 9 credit hours from courses taken in the last six years.
All things considered, I took the plunge with UAM first. The graduate assistantship opportunity is for Spring 2018 and had an Oct. 15 deadline; I needed to do it immediately if I was going to get in. However, I am still very tempted by NU. Depending on how my application is received and the opportunities offered, I may still apply and pursue NU for Fall 2018.
Keep your fingers crossed for me! If I get in, I’ll share my experiences as I write my way through an MFA and, hopefully, give you the insight you need to decide if an MFA program is for you!