For high school, Cisneros attended Josephinum Academy, a small Catholic all-girls school. Here she found an ally in a high-school teacher who helped her to write poems about the Vietnam War. Although, Cisneros had written her first poem around the age of ten, with her teacher's encouragement she became known for her writing throughout her high-school years.In high school she wrote poetry and was the literary magazine editor, but, according to herself, she did not really start writing until her first creative writing class in college in 1974.
Cisneros was awarded a Bachelor of Arts degree from Loyola University Chicago in 1976, and received a Master of Fine Arts degree from the Iowa Writers' Workshop at the University of Iowa in 1978. It was while attending the Workshop that Cisneros discovered how the particular social position she occupied gave her writing a unique potential.