Advice on BFA acting programs

I’m a junior beginning the college admissions adventure and I really need some help narrowing down which schools to apply to (it’s pretty overwhelming at the moment).

A bit about me: I am a girl and I go to a public performing arts high school in a big city on the East Coast. I took the January SAT and scored a 2190. I have a 3.85 unweighted GPA, and will have taken 3 AP’s (all that are available at my school) by the time I graduate.

In terms of acting experience, I take three hours of acting, movement and voice classes every day at school. We only do one full-length play senior year, but we have had various performances (Shakespeare scenes, musical theatre scenes, sophomore monologue night). We worked on playwriting this fall, and my scene was chosen to be rehearsed and performed by the junior ensemble. Outside of school, I’ve had lead roles in many community theater shows. Freshman year, I had a supporting role at a professional theater. This fall, I had the opportunity to play a lead role at a regional equity theater.

After spending months scouring the CC forums, I’ve come up with this list of schools. I know most of them are like, super reaches, but I really really want to be in a conservatory program. My mom has given me a maximum of ten schools, so I think I need to start eliminating…

Boston University
University of Connecticut
SUNY Purchase
Carnegie Mellon

What’s the max number of auditioned schools you can feasibly apply to? Are there any BFA schools that give academic scholarships? Is it really bad to have so many “reaches”?

Sorry for this super long post. Thanks so much!

It looks like a pretty good list to me. You do have some lottery schools on here, but also some are pretty doable (U Conn, Towson). Schools that are not as rigorous academically will give you better academic aid in general (though not always, my S goes to one that doesn’t). Pace is known for being pretty generous with academic aid, not sure about others. Vassar is all need-based aid, I believe, and that may be true of others on the list (maybe CMU unless they really, really want you, in which case, you are going to do okay regardless of where you go).

My D got nice merit aide from Muhlenberg. Boston and NYU were not generous with aide . Minn/Guthrie is an excellent value- even if you have to pay sticker price it is 1/2 of some of the others on your list

It’s great you are getting your list together and thinking ahead. My D goes to UNCSA. They offered her only a very small merit aid package. Having said that, UNCSA is half the cost of CMU or Julliard, so we were able to make it work. She loves UNCSA and is overjoyed with the training.

The only other thing I would add is that these reach schools are so much harder to get into than you think they will be be. I thought I knew this at the time, but Unified and auditioning is daunting and discouraging for all, no matter their credentials. So, I would just make sure you have a good safety on your list, that you can love. And then shoot for the stars too!

Pace gives large merit (academic) scholarships and small talent awards. But room and board are pricey being in NYC. Other schools that I know give good scholarships (either from my daughter or others we know of) include Webster, Minnesota, University of the Arts, Southern Methodist, Roosevelt, Marymount and New School. I have read that Missouri and Texas State give in state tuition for out of state BFA students. I think Coastal Carolina givens a large tuition break for out of state students based on academic credentials, too. Good luck!

Thanks so much everyone! So, at school they encourage everyone to apply to pretty much an equal amount of LAC’s and conservatory programs. Is this a good idea? If all the BFA schools are so competitive, shouldn’t you apply to a lot more to maximize your chances of getting in? How many super competitive BFA’s do people usually apply to?

I don’t know anyone who applied to less than 10 schools. The average we’ve seen has been 15 to 20. The most I heard was 27.

If you have a good LAC (safety) that you can see yourself at then you can reduce that number significantly.

D had 3 safeties (BAs at LACs) 2 academic reaches (Ivy-esque) and 7 BFAs. We spent a LOT of time on the list. I wanted to make sure that all of the schools were places she would like. It seems impossible to me that a person could be genuinely interested in 20+ schools

I have no idea how they made that list. I met the mom at an audition. Lovely mom, lovely girl. But they were traveling all over auditioning to these schools. I can’t imagine the expense of it.

My daughter eliminated any school that didn’t have the program she wanted. To be honest, she didn’t really have a safety. She was accepted to some after nationals - but not any that she really wanted to go to. However, I felt that as long as she followed through with one of those acceptances from nationals and actually applied to make it “official” - then she had a place to go, even if she didn’t get in anyplace else. So, she only applied to audition based BFA’s. Some of the schools will allow you to attend and do a BA in something (theater or other) if you don’t get into their BFA. This was also a back up plan for my daughter after early acceptances into a university in general (BA track), while she waited to audition for their BFA. However, be sure it is a school you like. Many BFA programs are at places kids may not apply to without the specific acting or MT program. 8-10 is the number of schools recommended to us. 7 auditions were more than doable over 3-4 days in/around unifieds. Any others my daughter applied to and auditioned for were either from nationals/state thespian auditions or a local audition.

@4gsmom We met a number of “around 20 schools” people on the audition circuit (seemed to be more prevalent 2 years ago when my S was a BFA candidate; my D is an acting candidate and overall, her fellow auditionees seem to be in the 10-14 range). I’m not sure how one would manage 20+ and keep them all straight. I agree with the advice here - a few well-chosen safety schools can reduce the list substantially. My D has 2 BA safeties on her list, got into both before any BFA decisions had come, and said “yeah - but I REALLY don’t want to go to EITHER of those schools.” SO - be sure to choose your safeties well - at least well enough to picture yourself attending!

Both my kids did 13-14 schools of which 10 were audition schools. That was the most we could manage. I wouldn’t really recommend less though. Especially if money is a big factor for you. My daughter for example got accepted into a couple great schools that we couldn’t afford in the end. You have to clear 3 hurdles: academics, talent and money.

We know of a couple families who did more than 30 schools. :open_mouth: Which of course required attending 2 or 3 different Unified locations and auditioning on campuses. Intense!

I only auditioned for 6 schools because of money limiting how many application/audition fees I could do. So far, I’ve gotten into one - waiting to hear back from 2 more!

We were one of the crazy families who did around 20. My S did Ny and Chicago unifieds and two on campus auditions and callbacks. It is a beast in the application process but manageable if you are pursuing acting. I do not know how people do that many as MT kids. I don’t have regrets about it but every person has to choose their own path in this process.

How good of a program is Temple??? Please help-daughter is seriously considering it. Thanks

@pursuethdream, you might want to start a new thread for your question. That will probably get you more responses. I don’t know the answer to your question, but I am sure that someone does.