MFA grad school nerves/woes/shots in the dark

I’m applying to playwriting MFA programs this year, and it’s the strangest thing – I have absolutely no idea what my odds of getting in are. I have no idea how I stack up against the competition or how competitive these programs truly are. I know Fiction Writing MFA programs are extremely tough. But, the pool of playwriting applicants is a lot smaller.

It’s an odd feeling, I guess. Applying to colleges, jobs, certain writing groups – you sort of have an idea of where you fit in – if you really have a shot. With this MFA stuff, I feel clueless. Is my work strong enough? What are they looking for exactly in my sample?

I went to my first open house two nights ago – for the NYU Dramatic Writing MFA. It sounds like a great program with notable (working!) alumni – but honestly, the lack of funding issue scares me. They offer limited scholarships to certain people accepted into the program – both merit and need based. But, I got the impression these scholarships are few and far between. I really can’t imagine how someone would go to graduate school full-time for two years in New York City, and not have a job. They recommended not even having a part-time job, as it would interfere with assignments.

The new goal is only to apply to schools that offer partial or full funding.

Those letters in the spring will be interesting to wait for.


4 thoughts on “MFA grad school nerves/woes/shots in the dark

  1. You’re definitely competing with a smaller pool than you would at an MFA fiction program.

    If you do get in without funding and decide to go anyway, like most things that require a leap of faith, it’s best not to look back. After all, people moving forward toward something are usually too busy for regret – and regrets take you nowhere.

    Also, if you don’t get in, re-apply. I know quite a few people who didn’t let one or even two years worth of “no” stand in the way of “yes.”

    And in theatre there is a lot of “No.”

  2. Thank you for the encouragement! You’re right – I’m slowly making peace with the fact that it could take several years before I get in. But, I will keep applying until I do.

  3. And remember, being denied in one place isn’t necessarily a terrible thing. Most success stories are studded with obstacles that couldn’t be overcome, but were gone around.

    It’s not always about what people won’t let you do if you make it about what you want to do.

    Which is theatre. And MFA programs, thankfully, aren’t the only way to do that.

    • Yes, I think so much about growing into myself as a writer is accepting this – and accepting that there will be a lot of rejections. But you’re right, MFA programs are only one option. And I live in NYC, I’m lucky enough to have so many theaters to submit work to!

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