If this is your first year…

You’ve just had a hella weird introduction to grad school. Maybe you’ve been feeling anxious about your classwork, or your writing in general, or even about what you’re going to do with your life after you graduate. This is legitimate. Grad school takes getting used to, even at the best of times, and this last year has been far from “the best of times.” So be kind to yourself.

Take comfort in knowing that you are still in the middle of your first year! Your job right now is to relax into your writing, and to soak up the absolute luxury of being in an MFA program. You’ve worked hard to get here. You’ve earned this time/space to pay full attention to your artist self. 

As you prepare for your second semester: reflect on what you did well last Fall? (Be generous! What would your best friend say?) Showed up to all or most or even some of your classes? Awesome. Hit that one deadline? Great. Gave insightful feedback in a class? Wonderful! Everything you accomplished was harder than it should have been, but you accomplished  it anyway, because you are amazing and resilient.

What did you have trouble with? Ask for help with that: reach out to a faculty or staff member that you feel comfortable with, or even a classmate who’s further along in the program. Struggled with deadlines? It’s okay—maybe you were overextended, maybe you were out of “spoons,” maybe you were just dealing with mess that was 2020. Felt overwhelmed by Imposter Syndrome? It’s okay—we all do, and you are just as talented, capable and brilliant as any of your classmates.

Take advantage of the two-week “trial” period during which you can add/drop classes. Sit in on classes you’re considering. Go to the first couple of sessions for every class you’re signed up for or waitlisted for. Decide on your final schedule after that. The online description of a class won’t capture its in-real-life dynamic. The first session is often a ground-setting exercise. So it’s the second session where you’ll see what the class will feel like for the rest of the semester.

Connectedness is important. If a faculty member seems interesting to you, reach out to them; ask for a 20-minute Zoom conversation to get to know them, and to introduce yourself to them; this is not an imposition! They’ll let you know when they’re available, and they’re literally in this job because they like working with students. Similarly: have you encountered (future) classmates you’d like to get to know better? Invite them to hang out virtually over coffee/tea/whatever. We’re all some degree or shy and awkward artistic types anyway, so feel free to just say hi to people. 🙂 Too shy to initiate that but still want to meet people, maybe in a small group? Come to the GWC’s Sunday Night Writing Sessions

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