Archive for the ‘MFA Programs’ Category

low res MFA programs

January 15, 2010

Alright, this is the place I’ve started my search for a low res MFA program. It’s an excellent blog with a listing of Low Res MFA Creative Writing programs in the US, their requirements, their financial aid packages, links to their site, etc.  I don’t know how exhaustive the list is but it seems like a great place to start any hunt for your low res program. As you go through the list, you’re bound to notice something that I noticed during my earlier jaunts through the low res universe – aid packages suck.

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Low Residency MFA: Writing Programs

January 8, 2010

I don’t have a big post on this (yet) as I’ve just started looking into it myself but something that has stood out: VERY few assistantships are offered in low residency programs.

Yet tuition is still quite high.

The universities seem to be standing behind this guise that, because it is a low residency program, an assistantship isn’t deserved. Despite the fact that the costs are no lower. Or that the work for the program could actually be more trying than that of a conventional program as they appear to be somewhat shorter but more intensive on the writing front.

I don’t see any reason why universities can’t find a way to offer assistantships to low residency programs. From my experience in various English departments there is always a ton of work that could easily be farmed out through email that would lift a lot of burden from the professors and support staff (secretaries). Even work on a literary journal could be farmed out to different places all across the globe and be successfully completed.

The low residency program seems like something that has popped up for people with lives too busy or too entrenched to allow for a move to a new place for 2-3 years of classes. but I think they are also at the edge of a growing digital age where the conventional classroom is going to gradually shrink and become less of a feature of the modern university. Give how most universities have chosen to not support low residency programs, instead just asking for cash on the barrel head, I wonder if we’re going to see a similar resistance to the growth of online/digital classes where more schools begin to offer them but also refuse to help finance the students who desire/need to take them.

forced meet and greets make me feel forced and dumb

August 29, 2009

the g/f is off to Akron today for an orientation and then some “break out sessions.” In essence it’s a meet and greet. It’s eating up pretty much her entire day. She hates being in the car this much. We were in the car two hours last night because of the X and the turnpike fucking up hand in hand. We’ll have to be in the car again Tomorrow to pick the kid up.

I’ve been toying with the idea of going back to school. To get an MFA. Etc. I’ve talked about it. I seriously consider it and then g/f has to go to one of these orientations. She has to go to a meet and greet. She has to go to a seminar on the use of blackboard in the classroom. And my desire to return to school takes a massive hit.

The schools decide we need to go to all of these things but they don’t provide for parking or gas. They rarely do a decent job of providing for lunch.

And this is all without having talked about the social awkwardness of these things. People crammed together with people they don’t know. Sometimes with people in radically different studies. People. People. People. I’m not a huge people person unless I’ve been drinking and there is never an open bar at these things which is probably good because I would be drunk off my ass halfway through.

I’m starting to consider looking into going back to school for respiratory therapy. It’s something I should be able to find work in and be paid well for.  Well. paid. two words I hope to put together in relation to myself in the near future.

back to school? MFA dreams and scheduling conflicts

August 10, 2009

lately, with the difficulties and horrors of the move to Cleveland falling upon me like starving mongrels upon the barest scrap of flesh upon discarded bone, I’ve been considering something that I swore I didn’t want to go back to. After accompanying my g’f to the university a couple of times to fill out paperwork and talking to a couple mutual friends, I’m considering going back to school.

Sitting in the hall while my g/f talked to one of the profs about teaching comp, I have to admit, I began to miss it. I enjoy being around university english departments. There’s a feel there that is comforting and known. But school has also been the one constant in my life. It’s known for a reason. I’ve always been doing it for nearly as long as I can remember and the only reason that it’s a “nearly” is because I do still have a few remnants of memory from when I was around four years old.  I have been going to class for a very long time.

But it’s also something I question the use of. At least for what I would be going back for (MFA in creative writing). I don’t care to workshop and I have read more in my life outside of a classroom than inside of one. I enjoy it and do it a lot. I trust my abilities to read and re-write my own work.

But a stipend would be really nice and it’s work that I know I can do. And maybe this is where people would have a problem with me going back. I would be doing it for the money. And the fact that I view someday working for auniversity, teaching creative writing, as a pretty cushy way of life. There’s work involved but coming from a family where my uncle worked 12+ hour days in a hot kitchen as the kitchen manager/chef, my grandfather worked as a construction laborer, my mom works in the (basically) un-airconditioned laundry of a nursing home and a dad who works in a prison – grading papers and talking about writing is pretty damn cushy. So maybe a fair share of it is just perspective.

The bad news is that I don’t know if it would work with my g/f’s schedule and watching the kid. We might be able to bend it to work but it’d be a bitch. So I’m looking into that. And we wouldn’t have the money to hire a babysitter and we still don’t know anyone in cleveland with whome we would trust the kid.

Whatever I do, I need to make my decision quick as I want to get in for the spring enrollments for the local MFA program. I need to decide if pursuing an academic career is something I really want to do. Or whether I want to look for another job that will help get us by while, hopefully, giving me time to write on the side.  The idea that I could have a career getting paid to write without really being successful (as I have viewed the majority of the writing instructors I have had) is fairly interesting to me. But, in the end, I just don’t know. It is something I have to sort out in the near future.

MFA Programs

March 25, 2009

girlfriend got accepted. Time filled with researching town/jobs/etc. and listening to her complain about her mom ranting about all sorts of damned things. I’m not married but, if I were, I can see I would have a very easy time not giving a damn for my in-laws. Or at least the mother-in-law. The old man’s good.

All Hands On Ship! Philosophy’s Been Hit!

February 26, 2009

Apparently the Humanities are under siege and we are supposed to care.  This is something that came up often in my MA classes. The university I went to had a new president who was less than enthusiastic about the role the humanities took and the amount of money it swallowed up. Though he was also more than willing to rake in the cash the composition requirements pulled in, which was a ton, as they were the largest money makers in the course catalog.

But I would often hear professors, especially the young ones who were more vocal, express their dismay about how the president looked down his nose at the humanities and how the university was just wanting to churn out a workforce for the local area that were similar to drone bees in a hive than to human beings. Many of the things cited in the article, such as money and readily available career options, were cited as reasons the humanities were somewhat less important than hard science and medical degrees while the humanities shot back that they were a core component of basic competancy and ethical deliberation for the other disciplines.

I sided more with the president than with the professors teaching my courses.  And I side more with whoever the Times article likely wasn’t targeted at.

English, foreign language, philosphy, etc. professors may not like to admit it but pondering the meaning of life or reading Jane Austen isn’t really a necessary component of day to day living. And their courses are not required to form anyone’s ethical grounds nor are they even needed for the survival of the arts they criticize. In short, they aren’t the most necessary of courses.

This isn’t to say they aren’t enjoyable. Nor that they don’t lead to a more enriched life experience. But they also don’t necessarily help pay the bills. Or at least they don’t help as much as, say, a nursing degree and I can always read Sartre in my spare time.

Besides, maybe it’s a good thing that the humanities might contract a bit. One of the most often mentioned gripes that I heard in my time milling around professors was the pace now required in churning out articles for publication. It had literally become a grind where it was a constant battle that was difficult to win when a full slate of classes was piled on top of it. With the humanities dialing back a bit, perhaps the competition will lessen and more time will be given to fewer papers.

Regardless of what happens, I’m really not overly concerned about the humanities. They’ve survived for this long, they’ll still be there tomorrow. They might just find themselves back where the article postulates: in the hands of people who can afford it.

Thinking of Going Back

February 13, 2009

I’m thinking of going back to school.

Maybe it’s the eight months of being out of school that have seen the economy crash, cash dwindle and the job market flooded with workers of every stripe, color and experience that has me considering this. Or maybe I really want to go back and pursue either an MFA or a PhD (though not in English Lit), I don’t know.  I do know that I am trying to piece together a paper or two on consumerism, the rise of a disposable society and the affect it has on media (and how media has in turn fed into it).  I also know that reading and writing are really the only two things that I do consistently any more and consistently enjoy.

So I am considering heading back. I am in a relationship with a woman who, as I think I mentioned in a previous blog, is also fresh out of grad school and is looking at MFA programs right now (Creative Writing). We have a five year old (well, she does, but legalities aside it is “we”) and we want to get our life going. So grad school, in any form, also looks sort of foolish and misdirected, at least for me.  But it’s getting to the point where I just don’t know what else to do.

I’m trying to decide, though, if I want to put the time and energy into it. If I want to dedicate the next several years of my living likely living hand to mouth in cramped quarters with my family while not providing much of a life for them. And if the payout down the road will be worth it.

A fair part of my decision likely rests on how well I put these papers together that I’m trying to get off the ground.  They look to be test flights in a way. If I can’t bring myself to do this bit of work on my own now, when for all intents and purposes I don’t have much of anything else to do, then I have to think that pursuing a career in this would be close to insane.

I think I could be good at it. And I think I could get good at the teaching part (especially if it wasn’t comp). But just not sure I’m up for the long haul. As it is, I think my mind is made up that I will not pursue any more degrees in literature. It’s either creative writing or some form of culture studies.  They seem more interesting to me. They seem to be more aligned with my interests.  I have some thinking to do on this. And some work.

MFA Programs

December 12, 2008

My girlfriend is applying to MFA/creative writing programs right now. She is stressed out, writing a bunch of statements about teaching adn the formative moments that defined her life as that of a writer. 

I’m not big on MFA/creative writing programs. I’m not big on creative writing being something that is taught or has an academic discipline. The process seems counter to the process of writing. It feels like something that clusters ideas and breeds conformity. It encourages writing that goes from point a to point b to point c and makes all of the right and expected stops along the way.

It’s something that would have been hard on James Joyce or Jack Kerouac or William Faulkner. Or Mark Twain. Or a host of others.

I’m also not thrilled with the negative environments it creates. Granted, having been in my share of writing/poetry courses, I know there are times you just want to say to something, “pick a different hobby.”  But it often seemed as if people were unnecessarily hard on eachother. they would bring sledge hammers and machetes into class and use them liberally.

I have a friend who just graduated from an MFA program at chatham in pittsburgh. She shares a lot of these concerns, which surprised me a bit with her going into the program. And now she’s pursuing a PhD in creative writing.

I guess if your goal is to teach, then options are a bit limited and this is what you have to do. But I think a lot of people go into these programs wanting to write. But if they really wanted to write they would just…write. 

And what’s especially odd for me is that, despite my reservations about such a program, I’m considering applying for a couple myself. Just test the waters. I don’t hate school and the idea of teaching at the university level isn’t a bad one.  But I don’t expect it to make me a better writer. I just want it to give me a career path.