Part of a series in which I will attempt to capture the gory details of the process of applying to and participating in an MFA program in creative writing. Click here to see more MFA Diary posts.
Why do I want to get an MFA?
Honestly, I decided pretty late in my undergrad career that I wanted to be an English major. I always wanted to study literature, but it was always a second priority to me. This changed when I realized that I wasn't really enjoying the classes for my previous major. I wrote poetry in an intro to poetry class I took for the English minor and then went on to take a Creative Writing class (for the minor). That's when I realized that I wanted to study the craft of writing even more.
I think that an MFA program would give me the tools to be the best writer that I can be. For me, it's about reading other peoples' work and listening to their words and learning from them. It's also about getting feedback about my own work.
What will I do in an MFA program?
A lot of things, I imagine. I'm not in a program, so I don't know what will happen for sure. I know that I will read and write. I will learn different ways to present a story. Opportunities in teaching and outside internships will also probably be available to me. I'll spend a lot of money probably.
What do I imagine will happen after I get an MFA?
I am not sure, but I believe that it will make me a better writer (or at least, a more informed and educated one). I do hope it would lead to different career opportunities as well.
What will I learn in an MFA program?
I will probably learn about different writing styles, periods in literature (depending on the program), will learn how to be a reader and a writer, and I will probably learn a lot of humility (I've heard that graduate workshops are a very humbling experience).
Am I ready to go to graduate school?
I think I am, but I guess it's up to an admissions committee to decide in the end. I'm definitely in a space where I am still very eager to learn, esp. since I didn't really know what path I wanted to take until my senior year of college.
What kind of opportunities can open up during the process of getting an MFA (i.e. internships, teaching, etc.)?
Internship and teaching opportunities always seem to be available. I am also very interested in programs that have in-house literary journals because that can possibly provide some opportunities for editorial or publishing experience. I also think just the opportunity of interacting with different professors and students can be very informative and life-changing.
How much money will it cost?
This depends on where I go. I haven't gotten a lot saved up, to be honest. There are a lot of great programs out there that provide up to full-funding for students to go to their programs. Since I want to go to college that is in the city, it will probably cost a lot, but hopefully I can get some financial aid as well.
Some of these questions were answered for me by talking with students and staff at NYU and Columbia when I visited New York City last summer. Some I just had to think about. You've just got to do your research and talk to faculty and students in the programs.
I never thought I'd be pursuing this kind of degree, to be honest. I always new I'd get a graduate degree, but I really needed that time in college to decide what I really wanted. After all of that and after basically trying to major in every possible path for me, I am extremely sure that went in the right direction.
I do hope that an MFA will help me get a job that I really want, but I am really just excited to learn more about writing and to be more smart about my writing choices.