Some Reasons to Pursue a Low-Residency MFA
If a full-res MFA doesn’t sound right for you, you might want to consider a low-res MFA program. You might be your happiest in a low-res program, and it might be better for your writing than a full-res program would. Though there are fewer options for full-funding, a low-res MFA might be more cost-effective for you in the long run.
1. My Life is Really Settled Here
The main reason I’ve heard writers say they chose to pursue a low-res MFA instead of a full-res is because their lives are pretty settled. Maybe you have a career you love that pays you well. Maybe you love your home or moving your family is just too much. Regardless, a low-res MFA will allow you to get all the focused discussion on your writing and readings without having to uproot your life.
2. You Don’t Want to Be Back in a Traditional College Setting
The life of an on-campus grad student can be isolating despite the fact you’re surrounded by thousands of other grad students. Depending on your cohort, you might not have a lot in common with your classmates. This is by no means a hard and fast rule, but full-res programs tend to have younger students on average (20s and 30s) simply because they are more likely to be able to relocate. Full-res MFA programs tend to be full of evening readings and parties, and all the socializing that comes with that. If these things sound like they might make your time in a program less enjoyable, you might prefer a low-res MFA.
3. You Want a More Flexible Structure
Though the structure of each low-res program differs, and you still will be required to travel to attend residencies each year, their structures are generally more flexible. You’ll work closely with mentors and other students to create a structure, reading schedule, and writing schedule that works for you. Imagine a more intimate, focused series of online classes. This might work better with your responsibilites or health needs than attending a full-res program. If showing up to the same class on campus every week would be difficult to fit into your life, then a low-res might provide you the flexibility you need. Or maybe you just really dislike the idea of taking in-person classes ⅔ of the year. That’s legit, too.