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Saturday, October 1, 2011

Mystery Alaksa

We’ve talked about how to pick which schools you’re applying to—and by "have talked", I mean that I have written something, which you may or may not have read.  The order of the list is individualistic, but here’s mine again;

1.)  Program Type – MFA, MA, MBA, SPACE JAM NBA, residency, low residency

2.)  Financial Aid – money, money, boo bah!

3.)  Location – near, far, desert, mountains, Space Jam planet

4.)  Faculty – profs whose works line up with what you want to do

5.)  Teaching experience – may also be part of financial aid factor

6.)  Post Grad Opportunities – doesn’t make much sense to go if you’re only going to be unemployed three years later… unless you’re just going to move to Space Jam planet

This list of priorities works for me, in this order, or at least it did until I decided to drop “location” a little lower down the list.  Getting rejected by nine schools makes a guy think, you know.  The Midwest and east coast are still where I want go because of proximity to my friends and family; however, this seems like the case for a lot of applicants, which makes the competetion at those schools that much higher.  So what to do?

Nanooks of the pain!
Go north, young man, go north!  Alaska north, as in the MFA program at the University of Alaska in Fairbanks—go Fighting Eskimos!  The program is legit, provides financial aid through teaching assistantships, has solid faculty, and as far as post grad opportunities go, apparently they’ll pay you $12,000 just to live in Alaska these days as long as you pretend like Sarah Palin never existed.  I’m already doing my best to do that right now.

Yes, I am applying to Alaska.  But as much fun as it’d be to write about riding snow machines while hunting moose with dynamite guns, I hope I don’t go here.  What in the name of Michael Jordan’s oh too short lived acting career is he talking about?

I really want to get into a Creative Writing MFA program, a lot, but even more than that, I want to know if I can get into one.  I realize that after two swipes at this thing, it just might not be in the cards for me.  It’s a possibility, if not a probability.  But I don’t ever want to look back on this with doubt.  No, when I’m old, retired from my illustrious career as an international Lawn Darts Champion, petering around my candy mansion with my loving wife Natalie Portman, I want to know with absolute certainty that I could have never gotten into an MFA program.  Natalie would be upset with me for anything less.  And though I’ll never truly know with absolute certainty, right now I feel if I give it my very best shot this time and it’s still not good enough, I’ll be able to move on with peace of mind. 

Remind me again, now why is this my Plan B?!

That’s where U of A comes in.  Based on only common sense and pure conjecture, I figure, who wants to go to school in Alaska anyway?  Alaskans don’t even want to do that. I got to believe that the competition to get into this program is significantly lower than in other places.  If I can’t get accepted here, then I’m probably not going to get in anywhere.

Aren’t there other ways to prove this, Moron Mountain?  Sure.  I could apply to less competetive programs, which don’t offer as much financial aid and support, or just to lesser academic programs in general.  I could.  But I think part of me also wants to know what I’d do if I did get accepted by Alaska.  Would I go? 

The friends and family who I never wanted to leave are now changing, moving themselves, evaporating.  Marriages, jobs, careers, mortgages, kids, their own dreams--they may not be in Alaska, but at times it feels like it.  Just how far would I go to pursue my dream, if this actually is my dream? 

Alright, I’m not going to end on a downer here so here's something awesome!

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