Tisch, Carnegie Mellon, BoCo? Don't Stress--simplify!
Aug 12, 2016
If you're anything like I was when I was a senior in high school, you're looking at college applications for theatre programs, hyperventilating, and turning on HGTV instead.
While deciding which colleges to apply to may seem daunting, you can simplify your selections by answering the following questions:
Where do I want to be:
Quick! What do you think of when you think of 'college?' Did you see a beautiful serene campus with quaint dormitories? Or jumping on your bike and navigating through the streets of a big city to get your class across town?
What excites you more--a mega-campus with 30,000 people, or a small grounds where everybody knows your name?
Do I want an academic life outside of theatre?
If everything but theatre, food, and Netflix bores you, then a BFA is your kind of program. It means theatre is about 80% of your academic commitment.
If you are like me, and still want to be a paleontologist, astronaut and president, then a BA is what awaits you. It means between 50-70% of your studies are theatre, but you can have a minor, and in some cases a double-major. (Again, paleontology requires some serious study)
Where do I want to study abroad?
Some theatre programs have dedicated study abroad locations for theatre, often England, because, well, Shakespeare. And the whole speaking the language you're acting in.
Some programs give you a semester in New York City
Some have a veritable plethora of study abroad locations, though not necessarily all for theatre.
And some, especially conservatory-style schools, have none.
What can I afford?
College selection is a collaboration between you and your parents. Money is a necessary factor in determining your school selection.
If your parents have a hard limit on what is affordable, check out www.fastweb.com, and www.studentloans.gov for what scholarships and grants are available. And contact the theatre departments to find out what talent based scholarships are available.
And the most important question...how much do I want to do??
Regardless of your choice of colleges, you determine what you get out of it.
If you're at a less-than-stellar school in NYC, use your location to your advantage. Start auditioning and building connections.
If you're in the midwest at a great conservatory, take all the additional master classes offered.
If you're at a general BA program, contribute to the student theatre company.
A degree shows the world where you graduated, but the diploma doesn't make you a better performer, or a more interesting actor, or make you happier with your work or your experiences. Invest in your happiness when you choose a school.
The question is not which college will make you a better performer, but where you will be happiest proactively making yourself better?