Notes On MFA Open Houses

I’ve attended a couple of MFA open houses in the past couple of weeks, and I’ve seen what works and what doesn’t. Here are some tips for those holding these open houses:

-Smile and be warm to prospective students entering. You can even joke with them.

-Hold your event in a nice room on campus, preferably one where everyone is seated comfortably, and not interrupted by people uninvolved in the proceedings passing through.

-Don’t sit at the front of the room in a panel, hunched over, looking scared shitless as you humorlessly attempt to answer people’s questions.

-Offer your guests food and drink in copious amounts. Throw them a party, basically, and let them mingle.

-Let the prospective students run the discussion. Don’t talk at them and act condescending.

-Do not, under any circumstances, use phrases like, “…then this may not be the program for you”  or “Good luck to you, wherever you apply.”

-Let prospective students leave with cool shit—a copy of your program’s lit journal, a book bag, pens, etc.

-Don’t mumble.

-Don’t bark.

-Try to act like you care, even if you don’t.

-Be patient and kind, look lovely, act magnanimous.

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