The end of another school year means many Drama Kids are finishing up their senior year and getting ready to graduate high school. This also means they are off to college! For those Drama Kids who are choosing to pursue a career in the theatre arts, we have a few tips to help you figure out the best program for you!
Arts Majors often have two degrees to choose from: a BA (Bachelor of Arts) and a BFA (Bachelor of Fine Arts). The BA is a typical liberal arts degree that can allow you to study a variety of subjects along with your performing arts major. The BFA is more focused and intense. It will include many more performing classes and require you to commit to a certain number of school productions throughout the year.
Types of Colleges
Conservatories or Universities? It depends on the experience you would like to have. A conservatory or stand-alone arts college provides an environment full of artists as they only offer various arts degrees. This community can be highly competitive. A university offers an array of degree options and will have a performing arts department within a larger system. Going to a university can offer options to take classes outside of the arts and even double major in another field.
Take into consideration where you want to live for the next 4 years. Is the school close to local theatres that will allow outside performance opportunities? Is living close to family important to you? Will being somewhere new allow you to grow as an artist and an individual? Never make a decision that will be detrimental to your mental and physical health just because the college is a good school.
Facilities and Offerings
Check out the campus. The dorm rooms, classrooms, athletic and leisure facilities. Performing Arts students spend a lot of time in the studios and rehearsal spaces. Ensure they are a place you can be comfortable and flourish. Ask the faculty how accessible these spaces are to students and how to book the space if you may need it. You will do a majority of your rehearsals outside of classroom time so having access to a performance space is important.
Talk to people you trust to see if they know anything about the college or program. Drama teachers, alumni, or fellow Drama Kids. Take what they have to say into consideration. They can also put you in touch with professors or staff they may know so you can interview them about what their program has to offer. Ask about what opportunities the college can offer after you graduate. Are any of the professors actively working outside of the college? If they are, they can help put you in touch with the theatres they work in as an intern or even a paid performer.
Philosophy and Emphasis
Different programs often focus on and teach different methods of acting. They will center many of their classes on acting methods like Strasberg, Stanislavsky, or even movement-based techniques. Your college decision might change depending on what you are looking to learn. Make sure to ask the faculty what their emphasis and philosophy is.
Prospective performing art students must audition into the program as well as completing the traditional college application. Most colleges will require you to perform 1 to 2 contrasting monologues and if you are auditioning for a musical theatre program, 1 to 2 contrasting songs. There might also be a movement or dance portion during the audition so always bring comfortable clothing. Requirements for each school are different so make sure to contact them directly or visit their website for their audition procedures. While the audition is a large part of the decision-making process, some colleges place equal or greater importance on academic achievements.
The Best Fit
Overall, ensure that the college is the best fit for you! While some of the most prestigious top programs might sound like the best option, be sure that it matches your needs, personality, interest, and goals. “When working as dean of enrollment at New York City’s Manhattan School of Music, I would run across the occasional unhappy student who came to New York City because someone else had told them that New York or a particular teacher was perfect for them. They listened to those mentors instead of their gut and made a wrong choice,” says James Gandre, dean of Chicago College of Performing Arts, Roosevelt University (IL). “No matter how talented the student and how wonderful the school, fit is always crucial.”
We hope these tips can help make your college search a little easier. To all the Drama Kids going off the college in the fall, good luck and remember, you will always be apart of the Drama Kid’s family!
Drama Kids International offers classes to children, tweens, and teens. We cultivate an environment that allows students to stick with the program throughout their educational career! Find a Drama Kids location near you.