Three schools down, five to go.

Application season is upon us. I’ve so far applied to Cornell University, Ohio State University and The University of Virginia. Ohio was a little intense, as they have an early submission deadline for international students, and on top of this, they’re one of the only schools that I’m applying to which has a critical essay section to their application. This meant that I essentially had to put my life on hold to get the essay finished, so that I had plenty of time before the deadline to revise it – and to make sure that my referencing fit the MLA standards. Something I’ve found difficult as an international student also, is removing standard English spelling from my writing. While I’d imagine an admissions committee wouldn’t refuse an application that used a couple of extra ‘U’s here and there, I wanted to demonstrate my commitment to being a potential student in the US and for my work to be a fluid read for them. Call me a people pleaser.

Regardless, I squeezed the Ohio State application in a week before deadline, and two out of three of my recommendations were submitted before the deadline too. Annoyingly, the link sent to my wonderful fiction lecturer wasn’t working so he’s speaking directly with the Graduate School to get this sorted. Normally, I would have been having a complete BF here but thankfully having been a member of the MFA draft group on Facebook for over a year now, I know that this is rarely something that ad-coms will punish an applicant over. Ideally, his letter will be firmly in place early next week and I can start thinking about the next three applications. My favourite part of the application so far was the mail-in requirement at UVA – it made the process feel very real and exciting.

For those applying now, or thinking about applying, application fees are definitely problematic. I’m currently paying off a delightful chunk of credit card debt, which will be gone in a few months, but paying these fees have slowed that progress a little. Applications fees vary from approximately $50-150 each, and depending on how many schools you apply to, it can get pretty costly. With 8 schools, you can imagine how barren my bank account is looking!
I’m managing by paying according to where each deadline falls in relation to my payday. For example, I’ll have to pay for Sarah Lawrence, Alabama and Columbia with my December Tenth pay check, as they all fall within the period between then and my January Tenth pay check – and yes, I know being paid mid-month is pretty weird! If you’re able to get any sort of fee waiver or reimbursement, I strongly suggest you do so – though it seems definitely advisable to do so quite far in advance as a lot of Drafters are having to chase up their fee waiver status before they’re able to submit which would give me horrific anxiety! Fee waivers can be given based on economic hardship, your location, your family background, your race and a number of other factors – usually they’re predicated on the recipient being a US citizen, so if you’re reading this and you’re aware of any sources that look kindly on international applicants, please drop me a comment below.

I’m feeling pretty happy that I’m keeping on top of applications, and my recommenders and my lovely circle of friends have been great in reassuring me and talking me up, but I’m now starting to feel the fear. Now that I’ve started applying, it won’t be long until the verdicts start rolling in. I’m trying to be as realistic as possible, as I’ve seen the results of previous Drafters – some had dozens of acceptances, and some are having to reapply because they were waitlisted or didn’t even make it to a long list. I think really I’m just going to have to put in my best possible efforts and then when all my deadlines are met, distract myself until all the chips have fallen as they may.

If you’re an applicant this year, let me know how you’re getting on – unless you’re international like me, I’d imagine you’re still perfecting your SOPs and making frantic changes to your submission pieces. For now, I have all my fingers and limbs crossed.

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