Monday, March 05, 2007

Pride and Second Thoughts

So I applied to graduate school in...let’s call it a frenzied way. I decided on a whim after much trauma, much drama. I looked at an often-debated 1997 U.S. News and World Report ranking of writing programs and jotted down the names that I had seen before and others that sounded like they’d be somewhere cool (ooh, Hawaii). I went to their websites and got stars in my eyes. They all sounded amazing, they all sounded way too good for me. Some programs I would love to get for a myriad of reasons, and not all of them important or meaningful. I’m ashamed to say some are on the list simply for the impress factor, or because it's just really, really cool to run off into the sunset.

Those programs, the ones for which I’ve put the last few months on the line, for the most part, have a 2-5% acceptance rate.

As if it’s not hard enough to be a wanna-be writer in Manhattan? I’ve got a better chance of getting a blogging book deal than gaining a prized assistantship.

Other programs, well, I didn’t even realize they existed. Not until I started obsessively checking MFA boards for acceptances and rejections, feeding the frenetic pulse, the screaming, the wailing, the sour grapes, the finger pointing. People are freaking out over places I hadn’t even considered and I’m kicking myself. Wait, how many schools are on the California coast? Wow. Someone tell me why I thought schools on the eastern seaboard were the only ones that I might be suited for.

Some of these other programs sound incredible. Full funding, by the water, combined art degrees, installations as part of writing, laid back faculty, multiple literary magazines and unmatched teaching opps. And the odds are better (around 11%--but who’s counting). I applied to 10 schools, I’m waiting to hear from 9, and how I wish I had applied to 8 more…I want to go somewhere that will be good for me, not just for my resume, if I’m lucky enough for even that.

Maybe I’ll stay in New York for another year, write the next 100 pages of my novel, and do it right next Fall…I’m starting to get a little nostalgic about the grit, the noise and the bars, and once again, am back to the confused puddle I can never pull my feet from.

I don’t know what I’m supposed to be doing with my life but like all silly kids I think the answer may materialize in the sunshine…


goodness gracious! said...

that's like clinical psych programs - 0.05% to 2 % acceptance rates. it's horrifying. but what are you going to do? you want to go, so you apply, do your best, and if you don't get in you a) have an opportunity to see if it's something you really wanted to do, ie, are you willing to go through the appplication process all over again? and b) you have the chance to really craft your application. my pal applied to grad schools because it seemed interesting, didn't get in, realized how much she really wanted to go to the program, and spent the next year and a half working her ass off to get more expereince, and got into the 2 best programs in the country, will assistantship.

opportunities abound, either way.

Frannie Farmer said...

You, my dear, are going to be better than fine. You will be terrific where ever you land. The novel will come, as will great success, and I can't wait to hear all about it!

b said...

As someone who frantically tried the grad school application process last-second, only to be rejected and thrown into (presumably) another depressing year of waiting to get back to where I belonged, I can tell you it'll most likely be ok. I ended up doing it right (more or less - my standards are pretty flimsy) and at the right school, with the right opportunities. So, even though it's asking the impossible, don't sweat it too much. Suerte.

Anonymous said...

Are you going to reveal which school you heard from (and better yet, what the answer was)? Sorry to pry, I'm just way too nosey ;)

Good luck with whatever you decide to do! And thanks for going through the motions of this 'publicly''s illuminating and profoundly comforting for those of us who are in the same sort of situation.