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Susan Ito trying to do it all: reading writing mothering spousing daughtering working living

Friday, September 01, 2006

So You Want to Get An MFA?

My regular class at UC Extension, Writing Short Fiction From Life Experience, has been a little underenrolled as of late, and so they've decided to "shake things up" a little bit. I've been asked to teach a class called "So You Want To Get an MFA." (I feel like I should be up there in the front of the class with my hands on my hips, saying, "Prove it!") Apparently this class has been quite popular in the past.

According to the class description, this course is designed to help applicants choose schools, write their personal essays, make decisions about recommendation letters, choose and polish the creative work they’ll be including, and build a spotless application. In four meetings over eight weeks, you’ll have plenty of time to go over the specifics of your background in round-table discussions.

I feel a little dubious that people will want to take a class to figure out how to get into graduate school, but if they feel it will be helpful, I want to help them. I will try to make it interesting and fun and useful. I'll have a panel of current MFA students, teachers, post-grads and people who have been involved in low-residency MFA programs.

Personally, I am very happy that I got my MFA. It was a very busy time (I had a 3 year old and was pregnant the 2nd year) but it was also a total gift. I had been a science/health professional major as an undergraduate and was never asked to read a piece of literature. (criminal, in my mind) I struggled academically. I was an absolute dunce, really, and it wreaked havoc on my self esteem.

So when I was in my literature courses and my writing workshops in graduate school, I felt as if I'd died and gone to heaven. I felt like I was getting a true second chance. I was finally immersing myself in the world that I'd longed to be in forever: the world of words.

I met three of my closest friends in the world while I was in my MFA program. We formed a writing group that met for over a decade, and we are bonded in a way that is truly unique. We know each other from the inside out.

My decision making process in choosing an MFA program was a simple one: it was based largely on geography. It wasn't the world's most prestigious or well known program, but it worked for me. I wonder about these prospective students who have infinite freedom in choosing their programs. Will some of them end up across the country, or in other parts of the world? I'm curious about these writers, who they will be, and where they will end up.


Blogger C(h)ristine said...

what a shame fictionf rom life experience is underenrolled! :(

anyway--have you checked out the MFA weblog: http://creative-writing-mfa-handbook.blogspot.com/.

very handy.

applying for an MFA program is such a weirdly intuitive experience. my final choices were between: NYU, Mills, and st Mary's--the 3 most different programs ever!

Friday, September 01, 2006 1:19:00 PM

Blogger cloudscome said...

I linked you to say Happy Blog Day 2006!

Friday, September 01, 2006 1:43:00 PM

Blogger Susan said...

Christine, I am using that book (The MFA Handbook) as my textbook for the course!

Friday, September 01, 2006 1:53:00 PM

Blogger wasabi press said...

Very very iinteresting Susan, since I am in the throes of trying to decide if I want to get my MFA right now! However, I don't know if I'm going to go for writing (creative non-fiction if so) or art (printmaking). I"m really intrigued by the programs at CCA since they offer Visual Criticism and Curatorial Studies programs, plus they have a kick ass print department. Shoot! we should get together soon! xoxox-patty

Friday, September 22, 2006 5:14:00 PM

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