the hardest part about deciding to go to grad school

So deciding I want to get my MFA was easy. I mean, it was a big decision, but it just felt so right. I want to immerse myself in writing, as well as explore teaching. So an MFA just made sense. And since MFAs only really enroll for the Fall, and well, 2013 Fall semester is starting now… My next opportunity to join is Fall 2014.

I’ve always had the why. I have that what. I have then when. The how is something I’m working on. But it’s the where that has been driving me crazy. I have no idea what program to apply to.

Trying to choose which MFA program is right for me

There are a lot of good MFAs out there. There are a good handful of MFAs with full funding too. However, full funding in Chicago… not really a possibility. Because funding is important to me (it’s the how of all of this), I’ve had to come to the realization that staying in Chicago just might not be an option if I really want to get my MFA. Or at least if I want to be able to afford an MFA.

To say that this has been hard to come to terms with would be a terrible understatement. I love Chicago. I’m near my family. I love the city and its personality. I love being a part of Mucca. I just don’t feel ready to leave yet. But… my options are very limited here.

I’m researching my options. I’ve got a list of about a dozen schools. Some definitely have full funding, others I’m still trying to figure that out. I’m trying to remind myself it’s just going to be for 2 years. 3 tops. I can always return to Chicago when I’m done.

I never thought it would be this hard. And I’ve got 3 months to figure this out.


Part of my grad school application process involves writing 300 words to five pages of what is known as a Statement of Purpose.  Basically it’s the school’s way of asking what the hell makes you so special that we should admit you.  (Okay, so they’re also wondering why you chose their school over the others…)

So. Why the hell do I want to be a writer?  Why do I am an MFA?  What do I want to accomplish?

Honestly… I’m not sure.  I love writing.  It’s a part of who I am — just like blogging, doodling, and eating cupcakes.  The problem is, writing is a part of the hundreds of other people all fighting for very limited spots at these institutions of higher learning.  Hundreds of other people trying to explain in limited pixel space why they are the shit and why they should be picked over everyone else.

I know that getting my MFA is important to me right now.  That my main goal is returning to the world of academia, networking and collaborating with other writers and artists, and taking large steps forward to whatever this direction is.  Whether it’s towards a small press, a community education center, or a life of writing…  … a continued passion for learning is the root of this.  And that’s what I have to go on — and to try to use to scrounge up enough words to impress the admissions committees.

What’s your statement of purpose?  What are you trying to accomplish?