Marginalia, Graduate Blog

Applying to the Creative Writing – Fiction MFA Program?

Parker Stockman

Applying for grad school.

Applying for grad school.

Thinking of applying to Columbia College Chicago for the Creative Writing – Fiction MFA program? Awesome! Just know that applying for grad school can be a full-time job. Here are few tips you might want to know for your application to CCC’s.

1. The Writing Sample

At a recent Graduate Open House, the Director of Graduate Programs in the Fiction Writing Department, Alexis Pride, mentioned to students some tips. She told students that they didn’t need to necessarily have a complete short story, but a chapter of a novel or a complete section of a longer piece would suffice. She told prospective students to make sure to include a BRIEF synopsis of what the reader should know before reading the portion submitted if it is not a complete story, and that all pieces should have complete narrative story arcs—beginnings, middles, and ends. Characters should seek “something,” and there should be a change that happens in each story or section. Of course, other things are looked at in a student’s work, but she mentioned that this was very important.

Also, she mentioned that applicants should select a recently written essay for the expository prose section. Prospective students should select papers written about a topic about which they are passionate. The readers of the applications are able to tell and can connect with these types of essays better.

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2. The Resume

This should reflect any work done. If you have an industry specific resume, you may want to change it to a standard resume format or make a note in your application that it is for a specific industry. Since I worked in academia for awhile before applying, I submitted a CV. It wasn’t a problem for me, but I did make a note as to why my resume was in this format. If in doubt, contact the Fiction Writing Department!

3. Self-Assessment Essay

Make sure your passion for writing comes through with this. Make sure to tell a story, as the application instructions suggest. What does this mean? Well, tell CCC about yourself. In writing cover letters for resumes, a standard practice is to open with a brief paragraph of yourself in action in a job that shows how you perform the buzzwords you want the interviewer to get about you (e.g. multitasker, leader, team player, whatever). Apply this concept to your self-assessment essay.

4. General Information

Carefully proofread your work. Have many readers look at it. Seek some opinions. Most importantly, submit work that matters to you.

Good luck! Thoughts? Add them to my margins.

Applying to the Creative Writing – Fiction MFA Program?

Thinking of applying to Columbia College Chicago for the Creative Writing – Fiction MFA program? Awesome! Just know that applying for grad school can be a full-time job. Here are …

Creative Writing - Fiction MFA Parker Stockman, parker.stockman@loop.colum.edu
600 S. Michigan Ave. Chicago, IL 60605

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