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!”
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!
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!
Yet another good step in your unfolding life. Wonderful!
It makes me happy and encouraged to see other people refuse to surrender to the idea that they are too old for things.