I decided to send my application in to Bennington. What would it hurt? I thought it would be good to know how I would be recieved by another program. I didn't send it in months in advance like I intended, but just weeks before the deadline. And something incredibly stressful happened.
I was offered acceptance.
I had to make a choice!
This was stressful to me because I'd been in relationship with Lesley for months, working on the B.A. Waiver essay and touching base about the process. I hadn't recieved my letter of acceptance yet, Bennington was giving me a week from their phone call to give them my answer. I really liked both programs.
This is how I discovered Blogspot and the Creative Writing MFA blogs that are on here. I tried to get advice. Who knew both programs intimately? Apparantly no-one who was reading my desperate pleas. I realized that noone was going to make this decision for me.
I called Lesley's and Bennington's Directors and let them each know about the other's acceptances. I spoke with faculty with whom I was familiar at both institutions. I asked a variety of questions. The differences between the programs were not in the areas that were really important to me.
At both programs I would be empowered to study in each of the genres I write: non-fiction, poetry and fiction.
Their residencies are for almost the same amount of time. Although I do prefer longer, Bennington's is slightly longer.
They are both in cold areas (I hate cold). Lesley is in Cambridge, an upper class urban area. I do like the more country environment at Bennington seemed (more like a retreat).
I could not ignore the established reputation of Bennington. On the other hand, I liked the idea of being a part of the developing reputation of Lesley's program.
Lesley seemed to have more of an emphasis on diversity, with more students and faculty of color.
I tossed and turned at night. I lost my appetite. Then I made a decision.
I called a friend and asked him how to announce my decision to the program to which I was not calling. He said to send an email. "Do not call." He was adamant. I don't know why. Maybe he felt calling would complicate my ability to make and go through with my decision.
I looked over all the emails from both schools. There were so many from Lesley, particularly updating me, sometimes several times a day, regarding the progress of the B.A. Waiver. The last email stated that the Dean had signed off and he was walking the Waiver to the Graduate office to get the letter offering admission. That it would go in the mail that day.
When I first heard from the Director at Bennington, I recalled the fact that my status as an applicant without a BA was missed at Lesley. "I don't have a B.A. You know that, right?"
"I'm not sure I know that," he answered, "but it doesn't really matter. We love your work."
I composed an email, expressing my regrets to one school. Then I made a phone call, expressing my decision to accept to the other.
I am now, officially, an entering student in the Bennington Writing Seminars, and will be focusing on Non-Fiction.