Artsy Guy, Less than Thrilling Grades and Scores


My son is a very artsy guy who loves Music, Theater, and anything creative. He plans to study the Arts in college (and hopefully major in something practical like Education so he can get a steady job). His stats are not awful, but not great either - he’s got about a 3.3 gpa and scored a 21 on the ACT. (If he re-took the ACT he could probably improve that score a bit.)

Given this resume, we are looking at state schools here in Arizona. Northern Arizona University has offered him a very generous merit scholarship of $5000/year, making our total expense (tuition, room & board, and fees) affordable for our family. We make too much to get need-based aid, but we don’t make enough money to pay for an expensive college education (and we don’t want to saddle him with student loan debt), so the budget and the total price tag are extremely important here. (As an aside, our whole family loves Flagstaff and we spend a lot of time there, so we feel the school is also a good fit for our son socially/emotionally.)

I’m all in for NAU, and we have technically accepted their offer (though we haven’t paid the deposit yet), but now my son’s Theater teacher is telling him that he may be able to audition at some colleges and get a Theater scholarship. I suppose that would be ok if it worked out to a similar price or less, but this is sounding like a long shot to me. Additionally, my son has not been in a traditional, rigorous, four-year high school Drama program, but just in a variety of small classes at alternative schools and charter schools over the years. He does have some natural talent as an actor, but he definitely doesn’t have a long and impressive resume in Drama/Theater or any experience auditioning in a competitive setting.

Is the Theater teacher right? Am I overlooking some opportunities for him to audition and get a Theater scholarship? Or are these extremely competitive and hard to come by, as I’m imagining? She recommended auditioning at the University of Arizona, but I am not seeing anything about auditioning for Theater scholarships on their website. Alternatively, are there other schools (even out of state schools) that I should be looking at, where this scenario might actually work?

Any advice is welcome!

There is a whole forum just for theater/drama admissions:

But frankly, unless the theater teacher has given specific details on college A and university B and is willing to personally get your kid through audition processes, my advice would be to just ignore the teacher’s suggestion information and be happy your kid has a decent affordable admission in the bag. My kid had teachers who said similar stuff about theater tech/design when she was a senior, but none of them had any specific details. She graduated from a solid state U, worked for four years, and now is in a full funded MFA program for stage lighting. If your kid wants to continue in theater, and continues to grow as a performer, he can do plenty coming from NAU.

Wishing you all the best!

@happymomof1 Thanks for your reply! You are confirming my suspicion that this is probably not a realistic scenario. After all, if schools were giving lots of merit money to every Arts kid who had some talent, it would be almost every one of them, since most of them seem to be somewhat gifted in their areas! Thanks for the link to the drama admissions forum, I will check it out! And yes I feel very grateful that we have a good offer from a school we both like! He can study Drama at NAU or anywhere, and the price is right!

There is some money out there, but I have to say it’s late in the season to start with theater auditions. Many schools have already reviewed prescreens and have scheduled auditions. I’m not saying it’s impossible, but it won’t be easy. He’ll have to prepare monologues and prescreens - it’s quite a process. Your learning curve at this point would be huge. I hate being Debbie Downer, but if you want to start this journey, you need to start right this minute.