So here they are (finally!)
Grad School Prospects
Something that I noticed throughout my research process is most schools with MFA programs have the same application and program requirements, so basing my choices on such wouldn't really be worth doing. Each program is three years; each school also has a two year M.A. in English program which I plan on doing as well. Every school has a chance to T.A. or G.A. and/or work on campus publications. They all have on-campus housing options for graduate students (very important for me since I want to live close to campus) and a football program (trust me, I love sports and it was on my list. Why not? Some people like party schools, others stone cold sober environments; I just want to be able to enjoy sports on the weekends)
In the end, there was something about each program or the campus itself that stood out from the others and that's why I have the top five I have now. So here they are in no specific order. Being able to go to any of these places would be a privilege.
University of Nevada, Las Vegas:
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada
What made it stand out: They require a semester abroad. I've never left the states before and it's been a dream for about as long as I've been alive to do so. More importantly, they have an agreement with the Peace Corps that allow students to join the Corps while completing their creative theses. It turns the three year program into a four year, but the chance to go abroad and serve would be amazing.
University of Memphis:
Location: Memphis, Tennessee
What made it stand out: This was actually a late addition to my list. I didn't know Memphis had an MFA program until my mom mentioned it. After researching the program, I found it a great place to be. I've visited Memphis before and I love the city and its museums. At Memphis, they have a concentration in Community College Teaching (good to have for a possible career opportunity) and a certificate in Teaching English as a Second Language (which I could use to either teach English as a foreign language in another country or as a application boost for the Peace Corps, which I could still do after graduation)
Location: Baton Rouge, Louisiana
What made it stand out: I like that it's close enough to where everyone is but far enough away where I could spread my wings some and start living a more independent life. They have plenty of housing options and tons of employment opportunities for their students, so much so that these options can altogether cover tuition costs. How great would that be if I could put in the work and not have to stress out about how to pay for it all without taking out loans (I have two from my undergrad/Post-Bac and I really don't want to take on anymore debt)
Eastern Washington University:
Location: Cheney, Washington
What made it stand out: Location, location, location. I find myself gravitating somewhere over in that region of the country if I would ever choose to settle in one location. There seems to be so much up there and with a more favorable climate than we have here. Some of the extracurricular choices are really what made this a stand out choice, namely chances to volunteer to teach writing to children or to people who are incarcerated; two potential long-term job opportunities.
University of British Columbia:
Location: Vancouver, British Columbia
What made it stand out: Location! Like I said, I think I'm a future Pacific Northwest resident. More importantly to me is the cost. Looking around, going there as an international student would be less expensive than going to a program and being an in-state student. How crazy is that?!?! The program itself looks great and there are also electives and other classes that I could take while there that I think would help me in the long run.
So here they are. My next steps will be to take my GRE (which I might be able to afford all four of the tests I'll need with two more paychecks) and to finalize my creative portfolio. UBC's application is due in November, but the other four aren't due until 2013. I still have some time, but it's time to get serious so I don't have to try and put everything together the last minute.