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HS Junior visiting colleges-- Good Qs to ask?

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Replies to: HS Junior visiting colleges-- Good Qs to ask?

  • broadway95broadway95 Registered User Posts: 742 Member
    I have never found a problem with any of them letting you sit in on a class....we did this at a few. In fact at U of M, she actively participated in the MT class singing and doing the choreography with the other students. We did not do the voice lessons but at one of the schools when we did meet with one of the voice teachers he did have my D sing what she was currently working on.
  • Christie2Christie2 Registered User Posts: 382 Member
    It's a very good idea to try to make your visit as personal as possible, so you get an honest view of the school and program. We always persisted in trying to get an interview/meeting with someone in the MT department and most schools were very welcoming. Go online to the website and scope out the staff and send them a personal email. We even scored one at NYU Steinhardt in the middle of the summer, and that was unheard of . . . and where my daughter ended up! Also, it's smart to ask to meet one of the students in the department for a tour or coffee. We really learned a lot that way. And, we even scoped out some students on CC or Facebook and took them out for a meal! The more personal you can make your visit, the clearer picture you will get of the university and program.
  • PelkyAgainPelkyAgain Registered User Posts: 202 Junior Member
    Another good thing to do is try to see a show at each school. Last year were able to visit UMich, CCM and CMU in a single trip and see shows at every school. This year we also saw shows at Rider, Pace, NYU and an opera at Baldwin-Wallace. It really gives you an idea of the production values and talent level at each school.
  • MomCaresMomCares Registered User Posts: 3,146 Senior Member
    Another good thing to do is try to see a show at each school... It really gives you an idea of the production values and talent level at each school.

    This has been discussed at length on other threads, but be very careful about judging/comparing programs based on seeing shows or YouTube videos. Different schools have VERY different philosophies on the level of risk to take in casting, student direction, etc, so while seeing shows is awesome IMHO it will NOT provide and apples-to-apples comparison of training programs, or in many cases even a representation of the talent level on campus.
  • theatremommatheatremomma Registered User Posts: 500 Member
    Texas State has a youtube channel and posts lots of performance video. If you find their channel (search Texas State Musical Theatre) and select "all videos" on the right side you can also view their Guest Artist clips. They just put up 3 new videos. I think this is very smart for a school that is trying to build their program. I'm hoping "Into the Woods" goes up soon. We saw it on campus and it was very good.
  • MomCaresMomCares Registered User Posts: 3,146 Senior Member
    I'll try to find the threads where using shows and YouTube to compare programs has been discussed previously, as I think they provide great food for thought.

    Here's one...

    http://talk.collegeconfidential.com/musical-theater-major/1171596-youtube-cons-cautions-kudos.html?highlight=youtube
  • KatMTKatMT College Rep Posts: 4,069 Senior Member
    MomCares... thanks for posting "YouTube Cons,Cautions and Kudos" ... I was trying to remember what the thread was called to post myself. :-)
  • do-what-u-luvdo-what-u-luv Registered User Posts: 285 Junior Member
    Another great question that one MT program director told my daughter to ask of current students, including the ones in his program: What do you not like about the program?

    This was very effective and, while it never revealed any "deal breaker" problems, it was more revealing than asking what they like best about their program. We found that the latter often garnered responses, from both faculty and students, that the best thing about their program is that it is "unique because of xyz". After hearing "Our program is 'unique because of xyz' " at 3-4 schools, we knew that it wasn't "unique" (even if they didn't ;))
  • stagedoor22stagedoor22 Registered User Posts: 132 Junior Member
    I think seeing shows is an excellent way to see production value and talent. Just know what you are seeing. Are you seeing a program (i.e. the SOT) sponsored production or a "club" (student run) production? Ask if you are seeing a student directed and whether that student is in a Directing degree program. Ask about the history of the club or program that is sponsoring the event. Is it a mainstage? Is it cast through the program primarily using students in the SOT programs or is it completely open casting? You'll find wide variations across schools. And different values for each of them across schools. The student directed productions at Northwestern are amazing because there is so much tradition and history involved..they're a big deal. The student director you see at Penn State may just be an MFA Musical Theatre Directing student. It'll be a good show because the show is a degree requirement and sponsored by the MT department. You may see a student directed at another school that is wholly "organic" - someone decides they want to put on a show and they do it - low budget, creative, quite possibly very good, maybe cast with their friends. Just know what you're seeing and put it in context of what you're looking for and the school/programs they're in. Each variation has value in helping you understand what performance opportunities exist and the value of them at each school.
  • MomCaresMomCares Registered User Posts: 3,146 Senior Member
    The student directed productions at Northwestern are amazing because there is so much tradition and history involved..they're a big deal.

    Even at a school like Northwestern, with over 60 student-produced shows every year, shows range from very casual and under-produced experiments to the largest student-produced musical in the country and everything in between. Even the mainstage productions have a wide range of goals, risk and funding.

    I would just caution that comparing programs based on productions you see on campus may give misleading information about the type or quality of training students get.

    In my opinion college is a great time to take risks (i.e. sometimes fail) and a department that always produces amazing work may be doing far too little of that for kids to really learn how to create great theatre.
  • kjgckjgc College Rep Posts: 428 Member
    MomCares speaks the truth. Why a school is producing a show is more important than the ultimate production. We are (all schools) here to educate, not produce. That said, most schools work very hard at production values. But what you see at any given time may have different learning outcomes than what you see at another time. Many schools have different "series." A lab series, mainstage series, etc. Just a caution. Not a rule.
  • MTCoachMTCoach Registered User Posts: 112 Junior Member
    Going back a ways to respond to zebrarunner- don't be shy about contacting a school to set up appointments with faculty members, even with a child so early in their process. I believe that you will find most programs are open to your having the most informative experience possible, and certainly that would involve actually seeing. The worst you could be told is that you can get all you need from a department tour.

    On another note, when you contact folks in the department, you might try looking for someone who is from or went to school/grad school in the state in which you reside. It has absolutely no bearing on anything at all, but it IS typically an instant conversation starter once (and if) they're able to meet with you. Just a thought! :)
  • LIJRBFreakLIJRBFreak Registered User Posts: 7 New Member
    Another big thing that I asked at the colleges I visited is whether or not they have a cut system and what it is. From what I understand, the better schools cut people as they go along. It sounds awful to me. Some schools can cut you at the end of your Sophomore year and then you have to get a different degree! Something to consider.
  • zebrarunnerzebrarunner Registered User Posts: 226 Junior Member
    MTCoach, thanks so much for your reply. I did contact a couple of schools at the end of last week, and they were very responsive and helpful even though my S is still just a sophomore. There are so many schools he wants to see, and even starting now I don't think we will be able to visit them all before he has to decide where to apply since he is so busy (like the kids of everyone else on this board!), and I just wanted to get a sense of what kinds of school to focus on (big/small/medium, urban/suburban/middle of nowhere, BA/BFA, conservatory/university, etc.) There are so many factors to consider! I appreciate your insights.
  • shaun0203shaun0203 Registered User Posts: 360 Member
    zebrarunner - Do not stress over getting to all the schools on your list before applying. I agree with your intention to try to see a sampling of types of schools/programs to determine what really matters to you and your S if it is financially feasible. The cost to prepare for and attend auditions is extremely high, so most people should seriously consider the value in all those early visits. Remember, as your S matures, what is important now may be less so when he graduates. As his grades and test scores progress, some options may open or close. Also remember that you will need to audition in person at a good number of these programs so will see the school and learn about the program at that time. The odds of getting in to any one program is so small, is it really worth the time and money to visit the school in advance of auditions and admittance? All this is very different than a student who is applying academically to schools. My older D was looking for a program in International Relations, and we visited all the schools in advance. Different ball game.

    I like broadway95's advice to make a meeting with the theater department the focus of all visits. It was important for us to also take the campus-wide tour to get a feel for the school at large.

    For all schools you visit, take notes afterwards of your impressions and that of your S. Otherwise you are left with that one memory that stood out and forget the other important details.

    Have fun!
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