I got a question from a friend on Twitter the other day that I thought would make a wonderful blog post.
She wanted to go get her MFA and wondered what I thought.
Well, I gave her some suggestions that were kinda harsh but true. Getting an MFA isn’t for the faint of heart, like I’m learning now and the hard way. It’s not something that you wake up thinking you should do. Not that my friend did that but she had the same questions I had when I was in her shoes several years ago.
That’s right. I said years.
Because getting an MFA shouldn’t be about the degree at all. Anyone who can fulfill requirements and meet deadlines can get a degree. An MFA is about being part of a journey. Not a way of getting from point A to B, mind you but an education of finding out how to become who you want to be.
I know this explanation is not very concrete so let me approach this way.
For me, an MFA is like the next phase in my life. I’m not getting it to earn money, or to get some sort of literary street cred (though it helps), or even to just get the degree. I’m spending an unGodly amount of money and time to do what I’ve always wanted to do.
Not that I need a degree to give me license to be writer. I write therefore I am. But there are two questions you have to ask yourself before going down this rabbit hole.
1) Why do I want to get an MFA?
Will it add something to your life? Will it make you a better person in some way? Is this part of your life goals? The answer to the why MFA question is important because purpose is more important than intent. It’s also the admission essay question.
2) Are you okay with the fact that you’ll earn a degree with no practical use and therefore will not be getting a job right away?
Or even a job doing anything creative. Let’s face it, there are only so many teaching positions in higher education and not every MFA will be an associate professor at a university teaching creative writing. You make be still at the job you hate after your degree, paying off the student loans.
Think deep and hard about this cause this degree and especially my program, is a life changer. Good or bad will depend on you.
It took me six years before I even applied, with several lists of schools. Lots of interviewing and questions were involved in my search. Questions of myself and of the program, it’s professors and it’s alumni.
I’m glad I took my time. I adore my program and I know that my decision was sold, not done in haste, and what I wanted at the time I wanted.
Good luck everyone!