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How soon is too soon to start preparing?

squirksquirk 22 replies3 threads Junior Member
edited June 1 in Musical Theater Major
My D is starting high school this fall (though whether "live" or "virtual" is still up in the air). She will not be my first child to go to college, but she will be my first one looking to pursue a BFA in MT.

Her high school is a creative arts conservatory in which she will spend her mornings in a general academic curriculum, and her afternoons in a MT curriculum.

Although I know things can change over the next four years, right now, she feels like she really is "locked" into MT. Of course, she has set her sights on the "big" MT schools - Tisch, Carnegie, U of Mich., U of Cincy. Obviously, super-competitive schools that will be hard to get into.

She's always been a hard worker, with great grades and lots of voice/dance/acting extracurriculars, so she has the talent and the work ethic. But I want her to understand that those schools mean she will be a much smaller fish in a much bigger pond when applying, and she needs to continue keeping her foot on the pedal in order to make those dreams happen.

But then I don't want to be one of those weird hyper-obsessive parents who place undue anxiety and stress on my kid by planning too much, too early.

So, for those that have gone through this, how soon is too soon to start preparing for big goals like this? When *do* you start, and what do you start with?

Thank you!
edited June 1
59 replies
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Replies to: How soon is too soon to start preparing?

  • squirksquirk 22 replies3 threads Junior Member
    edited May 31
    Great thoughts. Thank you.

    She's been taking ballet, acting and voice training for many years, so this isn't a flash-in-the-pan idea for her. She could have a complete change of heart in a few years, but I suspect this MT thing is going to stick.

    My concern might say more about me than anything else. I idly went to the Tisch web site this weekend, just poking around for poking around's sake, and fell down the rabbit hole of scores of YouTube videos and blogs discussing "How I got into Tisch/CMU/U of Mich.".

    It's a bit overwhelming, and even though it is a long ways off, I feel like when the time actually comes to take action, it'll feel like it happened all of a sudden, y'know?
    edited May 31
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  • yellahammayellahamma 153 replies0 threads Junior Member
    @squirk. I think everyone’s path is different. D bought her first NYU sweatshirt in the 7th grade. She went to a public high school and participated in multiple sports, not theatre. Her training, and experience, started at a young age and continued through high school albeit outside the walls of her school. Since she had her sight set on NYU, a school that considers academics as 50% of the admissions decision, she engaged in a rigorous academic path through high school while demonstrating her passion for drama. Good luck to your D!
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  • squirksquirk 22 replies3 threads Junior Member
    edited May 31
    yellahamma wrote: »
    @squirk. I think everyone’s path is different. D bought her first NYU sweatshirt in the 7th grade. She went to a public high school and participated in multiple sports, not theatre. Her training, and experience, started at a young age and continued through high school albeit outside the walls of her school. Since she had her sight set on NYU, a school that considers academics as 50% of the admissions decision, she engaged in a rigorous academic path through high school while demonstrating her passion for drama. Good luck to your D!

    Thanks. Yes, every path will be different, but I am guessing there are commonalities shared among all of them.

    Did your D get into Tisch?
    edited May 31
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  • yellahammayellahamma 153 replies0 threads Junior Member
    @squirk She did.
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  • Ashland115Ashland115 9 replies0 threads New Member
    My D is also a rising HS sophomore who wants to pursue MT. She is spending her time right now working hard on her voice and dance lessons, participating in acting workshops, and working on her piano, guitar and music theory. It is also very important, I think, for younger pre-MT kids to work hard on their academics. Quite a few of the MT programs require excellent GPAs and test scores.
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  • squirksquirk 22 replies3 threads Junior Member
    yellahamma wrote: »
    @squirk She did.

    That's awesome. Congratulations.
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  • rickle1rickle1 2599 replies21 threads Senior Member
    @Ashland115 Although I think it's important for everyone to work hard on their academics, most of the well known MT programs do not require the same level of academic performance as traditional colleges including their own non MT programs. There are some outliers like NYU, Syracuse, Michigan, etc. I'm sure the acting programs at Yale and Northwestern are hard academic admits. But most of the rest, including many "top" programs are more interested in talent and potential.

    The academics certainly help in terms of scholarships which make it much easier to make these dreams happen.

    Regarding preparing for the future, like others have said just focus on the training for now. See who she becomes. She may get exposed to a whole new world in the next few years. For mom and dad, you would be well served to enjoy this time, the performances, etc. But nothing wrong with learning what is involved and planning for the cost of auditioning, coaching (if you go that route), summer theater camps, etc.
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  • TexasMTDadTexasMTDad 336 replies0 threads Member
    I would just make sure that when you do apply, you also apply to other schools than those. Michigan, Carnegie Mellon, and Cincinnati are basically lottery schools. You can have all the talent in the world and still not get in. Tisch takes many more people, so a bit easier to get into... but take a look around this board and you will see that there are a bunch of really good schools that aren't the top-3.
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  • squirksquirk 22 replies3 threads Junior Member
    TexasMTDad wrote: »
    I would just make sure that when you do apply, you also apply to other schools than those. Michigan, Carnegie Mellon, and Cincinnati are basically lottery schools. You can have all the talent in the world and still not get in. Tisch takes many more people, so a bit easier to get into... but take a look around this board and you will see that there are a bunch of really good schools that aren't the top-3.

    Oh, yes. When the time comes to submit her Common App, we won’t be putting all our eggs into those four baskets. We’ll have our mid-tier and safety choices in the mix, too.

    And as you said, I want her to understand that even if she does her best, even if she does everything “right,” she still may not get into any of her top choices. And that happens to a lot of applicants every single year.

    Not to discourage; just a gentle reality check. Not getting into Tisch doesn’t mean she can’t get into a great program and find a great career in MT. Plenty of successful working actors who graduated from other, less well-known MT schools.
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  • squirksquirk 22 replies3 threads Junior Member
    edited June 1
    rickle1 wrote: »
    I only mention this to tell your kids not to focus on dream schools. There are so many great programs that will provide excellent training and preparation for a performance career. And there are so many avenues to pursue a career in the arts.

    As I've said on other threads, "Forget the dream school, follow the dream!"

    Easier said than done for a 14-y.o., right?

    Yes, that is one of the reasons for my original post. She's all dead-set on Tisch right now, and I *want* her to aim high, but still stay cognizant that the school is really just a means to an end.

    Plenty of Tisch grads who aren't working, and plenty of non-Tisch grads who are currently headlining on Broadway, right?

    Do I have the straight talk with her now and risk bursting the balloon or giving the impression that I don't have faith and confidence in her? Or just let this surge of excitement propel her forward for the time being, and save the reality check for later?

    I know the answer will depend on the child. But one of the nice things about these message boards is that you can often distill some core truths out of all the disparate opinions you receive.
    edited June 1
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  • TexasMTDadTexasMTDad 336 replies0 threads Member
    I will also point out that Tisch is among the very highest in cost and among the lowest in financial assistance. So know that your daughter's dream is probably $60-70K per year. Most graduates don't make enough money to pay back those types of loans.
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  • squirksquirk 22 replies3 threads Junior Member
    edited June 1
    TexasMTDad wrote: »
    I will also point out that Tisch is among the very highest in cost and among the lowest in financial assistance. So know that your daughter's dream is probably $60-70K per year. Most graduates don't make enough money to pay back those types of loans.

    Thanks. Good point.
    edited June 1
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  • BoogieMaBoogieMa 73 replies1 threads Junior Member
    It really depends on your child and her temperament/personality. For our family, it really helped when a coach gave us the "no dream school" talk. You have the benefit of time....as you see shows, look up the performers and see where they were trained. This helped to open my D's eyes to all the wonderful paths to a career. For some kids, having a dream school is very motivating but it's also good to consider how well they handle disappointment. It's a tiny taste of the future in this business, and a good lesson in learning how to manage rejection. I believe that a good fit, and what you make of what resources you have, is the way to success. Some great advice I received was that my D should "drive the bus" and my job was to provide navigation support and pay for gas/food. :) Best of luck to you and your D!
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  • squirksquirk 22 replies3 threads Junior Member
    BoogieMa wrote: »
    You have the benefit of time....as you see shows, look up the performers and see where they were trained. This helped to open my D's eyes to all the wonderful paths to a career.

    That's a really great idea. Many of the shows she's currently in love with have leads that did not go to any of the Big Five MT programs.
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  • Ashland115Ashland115 9 replies0 threads New Member
    @EmsDad Lots of great information and advice - thanks so much! This will be a great starting point for us this summer!

    @rickle1 Unless an MT kid is planning to go the conservatory route rather than the university route, academics are very important. First of all, academic acceptance to an excellent school will be an awesome backup plan in case the MT program of her dreams does not happen. Second, many schools allow you to piggyback academic and artistic scholarships. MT programs are extremely expensive! Third, the tough academic work (GPA, rigorous schedule, test scores) has to be done during the first three years of high school. You can't take four AP classes in senior year (like my non-MT senior son did this year) when you have so many auditions, etc. Furthermore, some kids change their minds about what they want to do. My D is only a rising sophomore - way too early to back off on the academics!

    @squirk My D and I have already discussed the possibility of not even applying to schools like NYU or BoCo. Very expensive, both in tuition and in living expenses, and very little financial aid.
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  • squirksquirk 22 replies3 threads Junior Member
    edited June 2
    @Ashland115 - at the risk of sounding like I am trying to humblebrag, we are blessed and fortunate enough where the expense, while considerable, is not necessarily a deal-breaker for us.

    I'm not saying I can drop a check to fund the "Stephen & Diana Quirk Student Cultural Center," but $80k is not insurmountable *IF* it's the best place for D to be.

    But you raise an interesting point - one that has been on my mind for a while:

    If Tisch is $80k (for 2020) and, say, U of Cincy is $35k - is Tisch really $45k "better" than Cincy?

    That's a subjective question, of course, with no one "right" answer. But even after factoring out the premium placed on Tisch's physical location, it's still a question worth thinking about further......
    edited June 2
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  • jupdancemomjupdancemom 77 replies0 threads Junior Member
    @squirk regarding "the talk", I know at 14 yo my own D would not have listened to me if I tried to tell her that. I've got 3 daughters and my experience has been that I can say something 5,000 times and then a favorite teacher or other adult (sometime even another parent) will say it and it's the best idea she's ever heard (SIGH!!!!) The good news is right around the time you have to really start the college process, it does get a little better and they start to realize maybe we do kind of know what we're talking about LOL. My advice is, at this point, just let her have the dream of NYU. As she goes through high school, summer programs, etc and starts talking to college counselors, coaches, teachers, other students, she'll probably come to her own conclusion that she should have other options. You can always revisit the idea in a few years; for now, let that motivate her! My MT daughter is extremely persistent and independent (her first full sentence was "I do it myself!") so I usually mention something once and then keep my mouth shut and eventually someone else "in the biz" or another adult she really respects says what I already suggested and then when she tells me that's what she's going to do because so and so suggested it, I just say "oh, great idea" and everyone wins. Another strategy that works well is that I do research online and then text or email her articles. I never say another word about it unless she brings it up, but I know she reads them because I'll sometimes overhear her tell another parent or student about it. Of course, maybe you're lucky and your D is more compliant like my other 2! :-) Good luck!!
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