Posts Tagged ‘MFA’

So You Were Accepted By an MFA Program

Congratulations! After all those personal statements, interviews, recommendations and a generalized state of anxiety/expectation, you’re probably feeling pretty good about life. You should revel in that feeling! Enjoy it, embrace it and, please, try to at least remember a little about this moment: that flush of excitement, that delicious feeling of being chosen and, yes, a little validated.

Please bookmark this post, and when you’re done celebrating, come back here for a little straight talk. Because while you’re probably like, “Um, Kat, why? I already know I’m gonna go!”, I’m here to say, “Sure, but let’s be sure you know exactly what you’re choosing…and let’s do some things now that’ll help you make it through the times when you’re like ‘WTF WAS I THINKING WITH THIS GRAD SCHOOL BUSINESS?!!!'” Because you will question yourself, but tapping into your memory of this celebratory, hopeful, excited point will help keep you just a little from grad art school blues.

Take a moment to write down why you applied to school

Make a list, free associate, draw or take a photograph or something…but whatever you do, try to remember the big reasons why you want to attend a program in the first place. And while you’re at it, jot down what it was you wanted to learn, your goals, the ways you hope to grow and learn with grad school. At some point, you will be so sleep-deprived, disheartened, irritated, overwhelmed and BUSY that you will lose track of why you made this life-altering decision for yourself, so it helps to see a reminder of it, written at the time you actually had the most amount of idealistic hope.


So You Were Rejected By An MFA Program

I do remember this time many years ago, when I was anxiously awaiting for my letters of acceptance from the MFA programs I applied to. I had that sense of my life trajectory hinging upon it, the course of my existence waiting for this great, giant, neon sign. Do I go back to the East Coast? Do I stay in San Francisco and find a new path for myself?

Ironically, waiting to find out if I was going to get a master’s in filmmaking made me feel as if I were in the middle of my own life-movie, and I was in that montage sequence that showed me keeping busy, checking the mailbox, going out, checking the mailbox, going on trips and then checking the mailbox once again when I got back.

I’ve been in the position of getting a “Yay!” letter; I’ve also been in the other position of being rejected. I’ll tackle both, because both are what I call “pivot points,” though in different ways. This is the more obvious “How to cope with being rejected” post, where you’re probably feeling discouraged, unhappy, flummoxed, sad or angry. You might be wondering why the hell you spent all that time and money applying, only to get nothing. You may be feeling like you’re untalented. You might just be pissed. Here’s what you can do with all that, as well as a bit of tough love and a wallop of comfort:


Anatomy of the MFA Application: The Personal Statement

Wowza! I’ve gotten a spike of visitors to my site looking for MFA application advice and information, particularly at this general tips/tricks/how-tos post on program applications. In that post, I put a huge emphasis on the personal statement/biography. (Like, with ALL CAPS.) So I thought I’d follow up on my BOLDLY EMPHATIC statement and expand on the importance of the personal statement, as well as offer some general advice on this part that should be relevant, no matter what the MFA program you’re applying to — and should make your personal statement be absolutely compelling.

(Just in case, here’s everything I’ve got on Master of Fine Arts applications:

Now back to the regularly scheduled programming!)

You probably might suspect I’m over-stating the obvious or being way too emphatic about the importance of the personal statement, but let me make it clear again: this just might be the most important part of your application. As I said earlier, the entire application forms a portrait of who you are: you have any creative “tests” the department gives you, your portfolio, and your recommendations, but it’s often the personal statement that will give you any edge over one application or another in the processing of weeding out prospective students. If faced with a choice between two students of similar ability, talent and quality, they will turn to the personal statement to suss out any clues.

A personal statement does a lot of work: it gives the evaluation committee a sense of who you are, where your values and philosophy stand and provides evidence of your commitment to artmaking. Intangibly, it tells the program whether or not you’d be a fine addition to the classroom or workshop, and if you’re a good fit for the program in general. It can tell professors looking at your application whether or not they’ll find it a joy to teach you. It lets evaluators know if you’d fit into the rest of the school, or if you’d find it a miserable experience to be there. That is a lot of work for an essay of 4-6 double-spaced pages to do! And yet it’s such a daunting part of the application — how are you going to reduce your whole philosophy of art and portrait as an artist into such a short, compressed space?

It’s not easy, but keeping the following in mind should help you out:


Applying for Your MFA: Tips, Tricks and General Straight Talk

I’m getting a lot of hits to my site lately about MFA programs and applying to film schools in general, so this post is really meant for these curious peeps. I’ve written about this before, mostly on the question of whether or not a film MFA is right for you. Just for your handy-dandy convenience, here they are in one splendidly convenient place:

This is a bit more “service-y” than my usual m.o., and if you’re not interested in Master of Fine Arts programs, film school or any of that, there’s fun stuff planned for later this week. But if you are definitely going to apply to a MFA program, I’m more than happy to be a cheerleader and Girl Scout to help you along your way, especially since I have some insider-y knowledge of the process.