Wednesday, April 29, 2009

P is for PhD!: An Update

If you know me, you know I accepted OU's PhD offer three weeks ago. Today I finally received word via email from FSU:

April 28, 2009

Dear Applicant,

I regret to inform you that the Department of English has not recommended your acceptance into our graduate program at Florida State University. Like many graduate programs around the country, we are limiting our enrollments in light of budget constraints and of prospects for placement of our students upon completion of their degrees. Competition for the available spaces in our program was especially keen this year, and we have been forced to deny many applicants with solid credentials. At this time we have already accepted our maximum number of students into the program.

We do wish you success in your future endeavors. Thank you for your interest in our program.


Dr. Stan E. Gontarski
Director of Graduate Studies

Tara M. Stamm
Graduate Program Assistant
English Department

My understanding is that if I made it this far, then I was under serious consideration, which is nice, even if no cigar. Last year I was rejected in February. Word on the street FSU only had 2 spots this year instead of the usual “5 or 6.” That I made the inner circle is a huge compliment.

Yet, let us compare my email to the one sent Jackson Bliss, a fellow PhDer (who will be attending USC and with whom I *might* be cohosting a AWP panel on the creative writing PhD.)

And I quote from his live journal:

“Here's my gracious rejection email from Julianna Baggot at FSU, one of the final emails in a series of conversations we had:


It's a combination.

We usually overbook, meaning we usually accept more people than we actually expect to accept. We're trying to hit a target -- if we go over, well, we go over. But this year there was no margin to go over. At all. We could only accept as many as we had spots for. So it was tighter than usual. And then I was told one fewer and other wrenches. We had to wait. And wait. And now more folks -- from that tight offer batch -- have said yes than expected. So that's where we are.

The top seven-ten in both the PhD and MFA file in fiction, I felt like I would be honored to teach any of those students. Honored. The work was really stunning. Yours included. From there, it's a group decision. And it was painful for all of us. The work was really strong -- and varied. And the decision-making was so hard. You are hugely talented. You'll do great things. And I don't say any of this to make this easier.

All my best,


I can’t help but feel a little jealous. Did I receive intimate fuzzy emails from Julianna Baggott? Engage in gracious correspondence? You know, emails employing words such as “stunning” and “honored,” signed with an adorably diminutive lower case “j”? Of course, I’m a good girl dumbass too terrified to contact an actual faculty member. I contacted the overwhelmed administrative assistant, who is undoubtedly three manila folders away from ovarian cancer. This email exchange isn't FSU's fault, but my fault, because I'm a contact-phobe.

Oh well, no is no, no matter how nicely worded. In the end, no is the final word that counts.

1 comment:

Laurie W. said...

Sigh: budget constraints, budget constraints, budget constraints.

Yay for the AWP panel possibility. Rock. On.

And, my cat just ate a cashew off the floor. (Budget constraints, I guess.)