2 month checklist

October is coming to a close! That means you have 1-2 months left to get ready for MFA applications! (OK, I’ll stop using exclamations.) Here is a sketch of what you should be doing to prepare for the deadline.

2 months before deadline

  • Register/start the online application. Assess how much you will need to write and estimate the time it will take you. How many statements of purpose, teaching statements, critical writing samples, and fellowship applications will you need to write? How many are unique and how many overlap in content?
  • Prepare your materials for recommenders. Get your CV/resume together and write a short description of your work in the faculty member’s class. Even if she/he knows you, it’s always helpful to have a refresher, speaking from experience.
  • Identify which schools will need GRE scores and start organizing a sheet of codes so you can send your scores.
  • Work like crazy on your creative sample so that it isn’t left for the last minute. Your writing sample is the most crucial part of the application.

1 month before deadline

  • Request letters from your recommenders. If you request about 4-6 weeks in advance, this gives the recommender ample time to write a letter. Draft your email, or call your recommender. Be courteous and appreciative. And never underestimate the power of a small gift (chocolates, a bottle of wine, a card, a gift card). Really. Send a friendly reminder 2-3 weeks before your deadline if your recommender hasn’t uploaded the letter. Consider emailing her/him a pre-written recommendation. (If you have an emergency, contact me. I have written numerous student recommendations as a faculty member and can get a pre-written letter to you.)
  • Wrap up your online applications. Give yourself a week or two to proofread everything. You don’t want to make the mistake of submitting a statement for School B to School D.
  • Make sure that your paper materials and GRE scores have been sent. In most cases, you’ll be able to check online, or will receive your SASE back. In other cases, email or call.

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