Are summer programs necessary?

I was accepted into a summer program at one of my dream schools last year (as a rising junior), but it obviously was cancelled due to the pandemic.

I don’t think I will be participating in a summer program this year either because my family is just not in a position to spend thousands of dollars for an online format. (I understand online formats can be valuable and work well, too, it’s just my family’s decision.)

I’m bummed because last year I was so excited to experience the life of a BFA student over the summer and learn and get prepared for auditions, but now, it seems I will never attend a summer program.

Are summer programs necessary to be properly prepared for college auditions? Do summer programs give you a boost in applications at all?

Curious which program it was that you got into last year. My daughter is in the application process for summer programs now, as a rising junior.

No, summer programs do not give you a boost, nor do many of them even help you get prepared for auditions. Some are very focused on putting on a show or a showcase, so some students have found that a summer program before senior year takes away from audition prep. Some do focus on audition prep and that’s great, but do not think that not doing one will put you behind. My daughter did one before junior year and she loved it, glad she did it, and then the one she was supposed to do last year cancelled and she opted not to do one online. I think you’ll be fine prepping on your own, reading plays, finding monologues you like, taking some voice and dance classes locally if that’s possible and if not, do a few online. You won’t get the experience of what it’s like to go away, and I’m sorry you’re missing out on that because it is a fun experience for high schoolers, but it will not hurt you in the audition process.

Summer programs can give training and feedback you may not get from your local instructors. You can certainly get both of these from other avenues that are much more cost effective. My daughter has participated in three summer programs; two in person and the last one virtual. The one thing summer programs provide that that you can’t get locally unless you are in a highly concentrated performing arts community is a validation that you/your child “belongs” with a focused group of very talented peers. This can do wonders for confidence going into college auditions.


Summer programs are good for training, depending on the program. And there are some schools that will have you skip the prescreens if you did their summer program. But ultimately they don’t necessarily guarantee an acceptance.

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I also think the programs are particularly useful for boys. Even though we are in a concentrated theater community, there are so few boys that is hard to get a feel for the talent level of a boy. Like if you always get secondary lead, does that mean you are pretty darn awesome and a 9 on a scale of 1-10, or does it mean, you rank about 2 on a scale of 1-10 but the other 3 boys who auditioned were 1’s? So I think summer programs really provide a good barometer for boys for where they fit.

But I have heard universally, going to one particular school’s summer program does nothing to help you get in.

I think that the summer program is necessary because it is too long a break to do nothing anything. :wink: Only in this way do we root our knowledge very well.

If you are asking whether they are necessary to ensure you will gain admittance into an MT program, the answer is no. Every family’s financial situation is different. Summer programs vary. The one my son attended back in 2016 in San Francisco had representatives from universities across the country. A two-week intensive that focused on all three areas of MT, the audition process, song selection and monologue coaching. It helps, but certainly is not necessary. There are plenty of students auditioning who do not attend a summer program.