Tips for Sophmores Applying to MSA

     This time last year, I sat in my room, blaring music and staring at the notes app on my phone trying to come up with ideas for my literary portfolio. I had dreamed of coming to Mississippi School of the Arts since I was thirteen; now, applications were open, and everything became much more real. All of the stories I had fantasized about wowing my future teachers with suddenly vanished, leaving me worriedly staring at a blank page. I thought to myself, “What am I even doing? I could never write something good enough to propel me into a fine arts school.”

     Almost twelve months have flown by since I first began my application to MSA, and I could not be happier with where I am. Though it feels surreal, the next class of students are exactly where I was. This blog is advice for the hopefuls working on their applications, specifically literaries, but much of this can be applied to all discipline auditions. 

     First things first: STOP SIKING YOURSELF OUT. The biggest killer of applicants is students convincing themselves their art is not worthy. You are playing yourself! Have confidence in yourself and your abilities, and understand the value of your art. Nobody is looking for perfection from applicants, just potential. Let your creativity and skill shine, and don’t get bogged down in trying to make every little detail the work of gods. It is wonderful to have standards and expectations for yourself, but please, don’t hurt yourself trying to revise, revise, revise every little thing you have to do; you will inevitably experience burnout, and that is the last thing you want. I am begging you, do not cheat yourself out of this opportunity because your inner critic has convinced you that you will not get in. Just give it a shot, or you’ll kick yourself for the rest of your life about it. Don’t wonder what could have been–find out.

     Secondly, do not stress yourself out about the audition, especially the interview portion. I remember anxiously waiting for my name to be called for the interview with the faculty; I got so nervous I forgot what classes I was enrolled in. I promise, you are not going to be interrogated about the great works of your favorite artists, and you are not going to be expected to be anything but yourself. They know you’re nervous, they understand, and they are not going to think any less of you as a student, artist, or person if you stumble over your words, or blank on a question. The questions are just to get a gauge of your study/living habits, conflict resolution skills, and things of that nature to help them decide if MSA is a good fit for you.

     I only auditioned for literary, so I cannot give much insight as to how the on-site auditions for other disciplines are going to go. For literary, we were given a prompt and given a certain amount of time to write about it. Though it may be presented to you in a way that makes you think you have to use a certain style of writing, you are actually not limited. You could write a creative nonfiction piece, a narrative poem, ANYTHING as long as it fits the prompt. This does not make or break your literary application, so if you leave that audition not feeling like it was your best work, do not beat yourself up about it. Try to relax as much as you can, and remember: if you were invited to audition, it means they see something in your work. You. Are. A. Talented. Writer. They would not let you get this far into the process if that was not true.

      If you have any questions, or you’re still feeling worried, reach out to someone at MSA. Our admissions recruiter, Brianna Moore, would love to tell you about our school; you can get in contact with her at or by calling her office number  601-823-1309! This page will have much of the information you need to apply to MSA, but feel free to explore the rest of the website to get a better understanding of the school: Also, you can always reach out to present students; you can find the majority of us who contribute to the school’s public blogs on social media by searching our names. Please, don’t feel embarrassed about messaging us! Even if we do not know you personally, we are happy to help in any way that we can. Class of 2023: Your applications are due by February 1st, 2021! Remember to have confidence in your work and recognize your value as an artist. Good luck, and I  hope to see you soon!

Author: Sydney Knotts

“A person is a fool to become a writer. His only compensation is absolute freedom. He has no master except his own soul, and that, I am sure, is why he does it.” — Roald Dahl