MFA All The Way!

I remember seeing an ad for the UT-El Paso Online MFA in Poets & Writers magazine back in 2011 (or maybe early 2012). Even before I knew much about the program, I was excited by the prospect of being able to pursue an MFA online, without having to leave Austin. (Heck, I didn’t even want to go for an MFA yet, and I was still intrigued.)

Yes, UT-Austin has not one, but two excellent MFA programs (one at the Michener Center, and one through the English Department), plus we’re adjacent to Texas State in San Marcos. But I never had a gut feeling that these programs were right for me. They’ve produced a lot of great work and have wonderful faculty, including some of my favorite poets. But I still never quite got the sense that these were programs that were right for me.

I kept re-visiting the UTEP Online MFA description every 4 or 5 months over the next couple of years. There was always a reason to talk myself out of it. I wasn’t ready, I wasn’t sure I wanted an MFA, I didn’t know how I was going to pay for it, I was getting divorced, and on and on. I kept finding reasons not to apply.

But toward the end of 2014, things began to feel settled. I also felt I was in a place with my writing where I was ready for the challenges an MFA could bring. It was the next logical step in my career path. So I applied.

The funny thing about the process was, I dreaded writing the statement of purpose. I still remember how much I struggled to write one in 2005 when I was applying to graduate school the first time around. But as it turns out, this time it wasn’t so bad. Maybe because I have a stronger sense of purpose at 31 than I did at 21.

So I applied, and I waited, and waited… and I found out last week that I got in! I’ve already received a course description list, and have an advising call tomorrow! The program starts in August, and I can’t wait. I look forward to meeting my other five new classmates when we convene in our digital space this fall.

4 thoughts on “MFA All The Way!

  1. Hi Allyson, I would be interested to know how your experience develops. I’ve been inwardly debating the idea of an online MFA for a while as well–I am reluctant to enter into a formal course of study when I am free right now to pursue any avenue my writing takes me, but at the same time I wonder if I would make progress more quickly with tutelage and the stimulation of formal study. I wish you the best!


  2. Congratulations! For what it’s worth, I was 29 when I started my MFA and there’s no way I would have gotten as much out of it if I had gone any earlier. I hope you have a productive and inspiring time!


  3. Congratulations, Allyson!
    It makes me happy and encouraged to see other people refuse to surrender to the idea that they are too old for things.


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