Columbia MFA Screenwriting/Directing 2021 -- autobiographical essay + other questions

acsiv

Member
Supporter
Hi everybody,

I'm applying to Columbia's MFA in Screenwriting/Directing for Fall 2021, as well as a couple others. One of the required creative materials for CU is characterized as an "autobiographical essay," with the following prompt:

"Tell us something about yourself and your background, artistic experiences, creative influences, and professional objectives."

Assuming the prompt doesn't change for the 2021 admissions cycle (since I don't think it's been updated since 2020's cycle), I'm wondering whether this essay should be a straightforward, formal, cover letter type essay, or whether I can do something slightly more...experimental? For example, USC's MFA has a similar type of essay, which they call an Autobiographical Character Sketch:

"Write a creative essay or short story that evokes an understanding of how you became who you are. This should reflect your individuality. It's not a resume."

Basically, I have a strong concept for USC's prompt, and I'm wondering whether I could use it for Columbia's, or if they're looking for something more straightforward.

Also as a completely random aside: how do we think COVID will affect admissions cycles? I'm in the US, and I'd have to assume that there would be less international applicants, given how uncertain future travel restrictions will be, and also because our country is fairly fucked COVID-wise.

Do we think these programs will prioritize applicants who can pay in full, as opposed to those that require financial aid?
 

jeanluc

New Member
Do we think these programs will prioritize applicants who can pay in full, as opposed to those that require financial aid?
The main application and the financial aids application are separated, it will be reviewed by two different departments.

Also as a completely random aside: how do we think COVID will affect admissions cycles?
From what I know, it might be a little bit more difficult this year as a number of students have chosen to defer to Fall 2021 (myself included) and Columbia has a set number of people that they take every year.
 

marianass45

Member
Supporter+
I'm also curious if I can use roughly the same USC character sketch I wrote for Columbia's autobiographical essay. What did you end up doing?
I have the same question about this!
 

quarantini33

New Member
For the essay, IMO, tell Columbia who you are as a person. Everyone in my cohort (I'm a second year CP) has a unique story and Columbia wants to hear yours.
Hey Holly, question for you. When you applied, did you present yourself as both a screenwriter and director? I really only have screenwriting experience, but because this program is so multifaceted i'm not sure if I should also be highlighting myself as a director. I somewhat have experience in the latter, but definitely not as much.
 

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