How to Write a Personal Statement

The personal statement is an opportunity to present yourself in a straightforward and authentic way. It's like sitting down one-on-one with a faculty reader for 5-10 precious minutes. The personal statement features your voice, background, interests, facility with language, and creative heart and pursuits. It may sound generic but this is your chance to illuminate your… Continue reading How to Write a Personal Statement


You’re Admitted: A Few Questions to Ask

If you've been admitted to a program-- or perhaps more than one!-- you'll want to consider a few questions once you've gotten the offer. What other funding opportunities does the school offer? Some schools offer competitive scholarships in addition to the full funding. And there may be additional teaching opportunities, too. During my MFA studies,… Continue reading You’re Admitted: A Few Questions to Ask

Cover Letter Tips from “A Guy Who May Have Read Your MFA Application”

Things that matter in the cover letter (from Inside Higher Ed) Keep it brief, good-naturedly professional, and applicable. Our “how to apply” info says to describe what you want out of an MFA program, why this program sounds appealing, and your interest in teaching freshman-level English. This could be accomplished in a single page, one… Continue reading Cover Letter Tips from “A Guy Who May Have Read Your MFA Application”

6 Manuscript Tips from “A Guy Who May Have Read Your MFA Application”

Things to do with the writing sample (from Inside Higher Ed) Stick to page requirements. Our site says to submit no more than 30 pages of fiction, which is meant to be double-spaced—something we need to say on the website Format in a standard font and type size, use generous margins Proofread. A lot Make… Continue reading 6 Manuscript Tips from “A Guy Who May Have Read Your MFA Application”

Advice for the Final Weeks

I hope that you all enjoyed the holiday! With deadlines fast approaching, I wanted to offer some reminders and advice for your final weeks of applications. The manuscript accounts for 95%+ of the admissions decision. Many of you know this if you've read my short interviews with directors and professors. Make sure that your writing is truly… Continue reading Advice for the Final Weeks

Question from a Rumpus Reader

Q: Thanks for this incredibly resourceful and helpful interview, Ryan, Tom, and Robin! What’s the single most important thing you learned during your MFA that you don’t think you would’ve learned elsewhere?  A: Great question! What I learned in my program and what I continue to learn is written well on the Writing Seminars’ (Johns Hopkins) website:… Continue reading Question from a Rumpus Reader

Your Elusive Creative Genius

Whatever your feelings about Elizabeth Gilbert and her books, know that she is an intelligent, generous, self-aware, and articulate speaker on creativity, genius, and how to work as a writer. How did we come to collectively internalize and accept the concept that creativity and suffering are linked, and what other views have there been in… Continue reading Your Elusive Creative Genius