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"Top Tier"

VoiceTeacherVoiceTeacher 304 replies25 threadsRegistered User Member
Questions about "Tiers" are popping up again. I think these conversations can be dangerous because they assume that certain schools are universally better than others. But with all majors, there is no singular institution that is universally better than all others because no two people are the same. One person's top tier may be a complete turn-off to others. There are doctor's who want to be famous surgeons so they go to Harvard, there are others who want to be a hometown hero for kids in a low-income community who go to an in-state university. And of course everything in-between. I know MT students who are scared off from Carnegie Mellon, Elon, and University of Michigan because of the strenuous academics outside of MT. I've also met students who are turned off from conservatories due to the lack of academic rigor outside of musical theatre.

I think everyone would be better off if we started discussing the level of competitiveness. CCM, UMich, and CMU are HIGHLY competitive schools, seeing over 1,000 applicants each. I could probably list 20 schools that are highly competitive, meaning 750+ applicants (for 24 students +/- 6). Then there are probably 25 very competitive schools that see 500-750 applicants. Then there are probably 50+ competitive schools that see 200-500 applicants, another 50 or so low competition schools that see up to 200 applicants, and a large handful of " no-audition" programs that will take anyone who is admitted to the university. Some of these programs are BFAs, where the degree is housed in the theatre department. Some are BMs that are housed in the music program. Others are BAs that might be housed in dance, theatre, or music. Each of these types has unique attributes that are right for some people and wrong for others. Some might have multiple classes in film, while others provide more songwriting opportunities. Some might be best known for acting while another for voice and another for acting. Focusing on tiers could make you miss out on the perfect fit. I believe you are more likely to succeed if you focus on finding the right type of program and then seeking out the most competitive schools within that definition along with around 10 schools in divided among the other levels of competitiveness.

The Top 10 lists are a great place to start when trying to figure out how competitive a school is. If a school is on one of those lists, it probably has 500+ applicants (or will after it makes the list). Start there and then branch out into programs not on the lists. If you dig around enough you will find many programs that are just as appealing but for some reason slightly less well-known. The reason they are less-known may be the location, the notoriety of the university as a whole, or because the program is less than 10 years old. But it does not always mean the education is dramatically different. In some cases it will be, but in others, it will not.

Unfortunately, the process of researching all of this is exhausting for everyone, because every family is looking for something different. The wider you cast the net, the more likely you are to succeed with getting into a place the student will grow. Good luck!

~ VT
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Replies to: "Top Tier"

  • stagedoormamastagedoormama 795 replies9 threadsRegistered User Member
    Preach. Thanks VoiceTeacher for your always wise words.
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  • All4FSUAll4FSU 313 replies18 threadsRegistered User Member
    Agree 100%
    There are many programs that are excellent at what they do, well known or not, They key is to find where you personally can thrive.
    Michele
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  • NYYFanNowMTdadNYYFanNowMTdad 213 replies1 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    @VoiceTeacher thank you as always for the very informative post. I think many of us would love to know which schools get 1000+, which ones get 750+, 500+ etc for applicants/ auditions.....is there a way to easily find that data? if we call the schools are most willing to freely provide those data points? have seen some posts on CC from past years on this topic, but they do seem not only dated but somewhat anecdotal on the applicant pool. THANKS AGAIN!
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  • CaMom13CaMom13 1855 replies12 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Thank you @VoiceTeacher, as always. The parent who started the discussion asking about second tier schools realized she had mis-stated her enquiry in the title but as you know they can't be edited. What she was looking for was the schools where "everyone" wasn't already applying.

    From what I have read over the years here I think most parents would be thrilled to find a "hidden gem" that was absolutely the right fit for their child. Maybe some parents and students are driven by prestige or name value of an MT program but I think far more of them are just trying to figure things out! I agree with @NYYFanNowMTdad that some published stats on number of auditions by school would be super helpful in helping prospectives choose their "wide net" within the list of possible good fits.
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  • StarWarsDadStarWarsDad 24 replies0 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    I think the sheer number of kids entering the MT world has grown exponentially over the years. So even those schools who used to see less than 500 students now see well over that number.

    I think everyone totally agrees with the "Wide net" theory CaMom13 preaches. Yes you should apply to the "Big" names, but also realize they are basically a lottery pick, but also understand the non "Big" name schools are becoming a lottery pick. When we walked into this process we only knew the name schools, but as the process rolled along it became refreshing and abundantly clear that there were so many amazing programs out there. It's hard to not get stuck on the name of the school, but the most important thing is how your son/daughter feels about the program once they are accepted.

    As far as the number of applicants each school sees, I would also love to see those stats, most of the numbers we see on this board are based on speculation or from an individual school divulging those numbers at the pre audition meetings.
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  • CaMom13CaMom13 1855 replies12 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited August 23
    I would just like to state for accuracy that I don't preach casting a wide net because I don't know enough to preach, lol. I've just heard from many people here who went through the process that it pays off. My own kid refused to apply anywhere outside the major metropolitan areas and only auditioned at 6 schools, all of which are well-known and we honestly had no idea which ones were competitive for admissions or not .... Do as I say not as my kid did? :D
    edited August 23
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  • StarWarsDadStarWarsDad 24 replies0 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    My bad on the preach portion in my post.

    I think each "Wide Net" should be as wide as within comfort of each family. It can be daunting to try and research each program as well as logistics involved in each application.


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