Graduate School Epiphanies

While I’m currently earning a degree in Dramatic Writing, it’s not what I want to do as a job. (I switched from Animation to Dramatic Writing about a year ago, because transferring would’ve put me in more debt as I’d have to almost restart my education. I’m still learning story techniques, and it’s been a great deal more beneficial.) I would love to write books for a living, but until I can get to that point (or if I ever), I want to be an editor. Thus, I decided a while back that I wanted to look at graduate schools. There are certain stipulations I have in mind when looking at schools, and are as follows:

  1. Located in the Northeast
  2. Full scholarship potential
  3. Writing/Publishing electives


A funny thing happened while I was going over the schools I was thinking about for this blog post. I realized three of the five schools weren’t for me. Yikes. I won’t say which ones I took off, but the two that were left were Emerson and Baltimore University. I really want to have a combination of writing and publishing in my degree, and I realized the majority of the schools (that I took off my list) didn’t even have publishing electives. Considering I want to focus on both the craft of writing novels and also learn about the publishing world while focusing on editing, those schools just weren’t going to work out.

For my undergrad degree, I never had to try that hard to get into my current college. While that sounds a bit pretentious, my SAT scores were higher than the average accepted students for the school, I had about a 3.8 GPA, and this school didn’t require a portfolio. (The latter should’ve alerted me to the money grabbing nature of the school as a business first and foremost.) So I didn’t have to worry about getting in or not; my advisor essentially told me I was guaranteed to get in, and I got in. I had visited the school beforehand, and in that trip, I found the Savannah at its friendliest. I have never seen it that friendly since.

I don’t want to fall into the hole and make the same mistake just because I think a city would be interesting to live in, especially if I haven’t seen it. In another case, I didn’t want to go just on rank alone. While my current school is ranked highly for my prior Animation major, the department itself was understaffed and hiring unqualified people to teach to try to accommodate the overflowing amount of students that were automatically accepted. I didn’t want a place like that for my graduate degree.

While I was having a mini life crisis, I did some more digging and found another college that had previously gone off my radar. Why? Because it wasn’t on the typical ranks for the “best” college programs for Writing and Publishing, and originally I had been searching the lists for guaranteed full funding or a potential for a fully funded scholarship.

This college also turned out to be around the area I grew up in and would allow me to do a dual MFA for Creative Writing and MA for Publishing. Rosemont College made it quickly onto my radar, and I delved deep into researching the program, classes, teachers, and area around the college to the point I was up for three hours lost in trying to find out all I could. I’ve already spent the time on the other programs I was looking into, so I needed to catch up. Because I have a Pennsylvania address where I primarily reside when I’m not in school, it would be in-state tuition, something that good old Uncle Sam would just have to give me more help on instead of cutting it for the distance. 60 credit hours sounds like a lot, but from the perspective of my current degree being 180 credit hours for four years, to me, it doesn’t seem like too much to handle. The classes are relevant to what I want to learn, and I really like how some of the publishing classes include business classes. While I can’t tell if it’s possible to get full funding, I totally plan on applying.

One of the other schools I’ve been planning to apply to is Emerson. I visited the school last year and really enjoyed the experience. A grad student (although for nonfiction, which was weird since I’d be for fiction) gave my Mom and I a tour. I’m stuck between two different degrees, the Creative Writing – Fiction MFA, and the Publishing and Writing MA. Emerson has some great classes in publishing that also include a few design elements. While I don’t see myself becoming a book designer, as an elective, it’d be interesting to learn more about considering I can draw as well and illustrate. Both degrees allow room for departmental electives, which would mean I could use some of the classes from the other degree. There’s potential for a full, partial, or different types of scholarships that are important to me. The only real downside is that Boston itself is an expensive city to live in and around, but I’ve been scouting and planning ways to make it work. I also really like the idea of working on campus and maybe even teaching a class or helping out with one.

The other school I’ve been planning to apply to is Baltimore University with their MFA in Creative Writing and Publishing Arts. I did a pre-college program in the summer of 2014 at MICA, so I have a solid sampling of what it’s like to live in Baltimore and get around. I really like the idea of potentially taking book design classes along with the departmental elective choices between design, publishing, and literature. They offer different work-study programs and TA positions, along with the ability to teach a class or two, so the opportunities to fund me besides their scholarships are great. However, I’m not too excited about a foundations class. At my current college, we had several we had to take, and while some of them helped, I still feel as though if we are accepted into the program, we should probably have the foundations understood already. It’s only one class though, so I don’t mind. It looks fun, anyways.

Overall, I feel confident in going forward with my choices of schools to apply to. I send my thanks to a blog post from AWP’s free membership weekend for reminding me of the mistakes not to make for the second time around. I don’t know how long it would’ve taken me to recognize that three of the schools I was applying to weren’t good fits, but I’m glad I recognized that now instead of when I’m applying, or after I’ve already written my statement of purpose letters. Those are next on my task list, now that I’m certain of the schools.