To MFA or not to MFA

How many of you have considered this question?

Graduate school has been circling the depths of my mind for close to thirteen years. Back then, I was trying to decide between studying geology or entomology. What a different ride it would have been had I chosen either of those subjects. But I didn’t, nor did I choose to go to divinity school or get my teaching certificate a few years later. No doubt, any of those paths would have proven exciting, inspiring, and enriching, but it’s water under the bridge now.

After two years of serious writing, graduate school has surfaced again. Should I get an MFA in writing? Specifically, writing for children and young adults?

So I’ve asked myself what I would get out of an MFA, and if I could get those same skills through a less expensive route. Probably the most important aspect of an MFA program – for me anyway – is the mentorship. My critique group (do we need a fancy name?) is an invaluable resource to me, and in no way am I going to let that go. But having a mentor whose sole purpose (among having many other sole purposes!) is to teach me the craft of writing sounds amazing. Reading and analyzing the books I’m already reading to improve my understanding of what makes a good story – yea! And the residencies – ten full days of workshops and readings followed by painfully short nights – well, they sound great, too. At least, they do right now…

Well, as of 10:13 this morning, I officially put my name in. Hence the delay in this post – I spent the better part of this past week writing and rewriting my personal and critical essays. Now they’re off. And of course, now I have to get in.

What’s been your experience with To MFA or Not to MFA? Why or why not? After deciding, yes or no, what’s your opinion now?


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