Saturday, March 19, 2011

Alana Saltz (Vermont College of Fine Arts, 2013)

Hi everyone, my name is Alana. I hail from sunny Los Angeles, California. It's very exciting for me to be here as a contributor to this blog.

I started my obsessive MFA research/application process over a year ago and remember stumbling onto this site. At that time, I was finishing up my last semester of college, getting ready to graduate mid-year and move back home until I figured out what to do next. As I came face to face with a frighteningly uncertain future, I started to think about what I wanted to do with my life, and the idea of getting an MFA in Creative Writing came about.

Since the age of 12, it's been a dream of mine to write a memoir (I know, I was a weird kid). Writing has been a passion of mine for as long as I can remember, so a Creative Writing MFA seemed perfect. I only applied to three programs in Creative Nonfiction. I knew it was a long shot, but because I was applying last minute with no GREs, in a less common genre, and was hoping to stay on the West Coast, my options narrowed down very quickly. I received three thin envelopes in the mail a few months later.

After my total MFA rejection, I concentrated on finding work. Since graduating college, I've taught creative writing classes at senior centers, copyedited theses for graduate students, and very briefly had an office job that I had to quit after I was asked to write fraudulent college admissions essays. It's a tough world out there for anyone, and as a little-to-no work experience English major, I was no exception. I couldn't even get hired at a bookstore or cafe. But I tried to make the most of my time of relative unemployment by doing things like starting a local writing group and adopting a dog.

Exactly a year after my initial MFA interest came about, I was having a conversation with a writer friend, and the subject of low residency MFAs came up. The first time around, I had written them off without any research, but this time I had already decided that the traditional MFA was not an option I wanted to pursue again. Low residency presented me the option of staying in L.A. and of keeping me somewhat involved in the working world. As I learned more about low residency and all of its advantages, I got really excited about the idea, and decided to apply.

I got a few acceptances, but I fell in love with Vermont College of Fine Arts' program. I officially start at the end of June with my first 10-day residency in Montpelier. I'll be studying Creative Nonfiction with an incredible faculty including Sue William Silverman, Robin Hemley, and Xu Xi. I think that low residency programs are a hidden gem in the MFA world. However, more and more recent college grads are applying to low res programs not because they have full-time jobs or families, but on the programs' own merits.

I look forward to continue blogging about my MFA experiences here as well as over at my personal blog and to following others along on their own MFA journeys.


  1. Yay! Welcome, Alana! I'm so excited to get to hear more low res experiences! I know tons of people that can benefit from this type of program so I'm so glad you'll be on the blog!

  2. Congrats on your (much) better year, this year! I am excited to learn about the low-res MFA. Who knows, I may be applying to one in two years!

  3. I just applied to VCFA. I hope to get accepted and am very excited to begin in the winter session.


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