'Best Practices': Current Practices

<p>I posted this question on The Arts thread. My S is debating whether to apply to the Acting program at U of A (I know, this is the MT thread). Let me preface my comments and questions by saying that I am a Prof (non-theatre) and that I find the discussion about UA’s cutting practices - not the fact that they cut, but ‘how’ (it seems apparent that the communication between students cut and faculty was not effective) and ‘when’ - disconcerting. As a prof., I am stunned by the fact that those retained cannot write, while those cut are far more eloquent. But that’s beside the point. Perhaps there is no correlation.</p>

<p>So here I sit, just having discussed with my S whether he should apply to UA. He does mind cutting. As a fencer and ex-football player, he understands that there are winners and losers. Some are benched and some exiled from the team. I guess competition builds character and all that good stuff, though I fear that the UA theatre Dept. represses the obvious; that their core business is education, given the talent recruited and selected. </p>

<p>That said, we are curious as to whether the cutting practices were better managed in the spring of ‘07’ (and for the upcoming Spring). I would love to hear from UA faculty, staff, or students. I hesitated before posting this note, as I fully disclose my identity in my username, hence I also disclose my son’s identity, should he apply. Nevertheless, we both share a suspicion of organizational practices; their unstated interests and motives, as well as their objectives and aspirations. Again, I would like to hear from someone, and I think that many would be served by a public (not private) response. Sorry for being so direct. Air transportation to Las Vegas and Tuscon is not cheap. Thanks, Brian</p>

<p>Brian, I know I can't be of help as to anecdotal information from this past school year's cuts at UArizona. I will just comment that since your son (and I think you too) DO mind cutting, it seems like picking a school that does cut isn't a good match up, when there are schools out there that either don't cut or not in this fashion. If someone is comfortable with a cut system, no problem. But if you aren't, I think you would be getting into such a situation at UArizona. No matter what happened in this last school year (if someone comes and posts it), the experiences and philosophy from the previous year were shared here on CC and so unless the school made a radical change in policy and procedure, the situation is pretty clear from the previous discussions where current and past students posted as did faculty reps from the program. It is certainly worth hearing what happened last year but do realize that the policy and philosophy and procedures are what they are and your son has to decide if that would be OK for him. Without even giving my own opinion of this practice, I'd be hesitant in your son's case as you have stated HE DOES mind cutting. If that is the case, it makes sense to seek programs that do not cut. I know my kid did not want cuts and so "cut" programs from a list of options that did have cut policies. Again, for those comforable with the philosophy and process of a cut program, it's fine. But if you aren't, it seems like you are taking a chance on "fit."</p>

<p>sooziet; that was a typo. I meant to say 'does not', but before I noted the error, I could not 'edit' my comment. I need to give-in and get bifocals.</p>

<p>Brian....Oh....that does change it a bit!!
(I need bifocals too.....)</p>

<p>I am curious soozievt, or anyone else. Is Arizona on the list of a good number of students' holiday wish-list? Is it a national program. Obviously, CC represents only a fraction of those that apply to acting/MT programs, and there are many more readers than writers on CC, but has the supposed 'bad press' had a negative impact on Arizona's selection ratio. CC activity suggests that students are looking elsewhere, though 'CC activity' is not an accurate predictor. Only Arizona can answer this question, but I would love to know, as UA is one of the nicer U's in the country; its Theatre program has had an excellent reputation, and its a very nice campus. I wish that they would reach out a bit more to the east coast by auditioning over here. Then again, they probably get a sufficient number of applications from kids on the west coast and southwest.</p>

<p>I really can't say, Brian. I have some clients applying for straight theater and none have UArizona on their list. Actually, none of my MT clients have it on their list either. These kids are from both sides of the country. Last year, my niece applied to schools for acting, from Alaska. She asked me about UArizona but once she learned of the cuts, it came off her list. It is true that some in the East may not apply since it is far to go for auditions and also they are not at Unifieds in the East. CC doesn't nearly represent all who are out there interested in BFA programs. However, here on CC, as you observed, there was much discussion a year or two ago about some practices at UArizona and so I am sure some of that weighs in on those considering the program. Those discussions, including those of faculty from the school also influenced my own thinking and whether or not to recommend the school to others (which is part of what I do in my job). So far, you haven't gotten any responses of those from this last cycle and I hope you do but UArizona hasn't had much traffic on CC's MT forum in a while. But my feeling is that there is plenty to read from the previous year or two and I can't imagine that the policies changed all that much since then and so consider what you read here and contact those at the school directly with very specific questions if you have them.</p>

<p>I would like to point out to UA that two individuals who also interact with lots of potential applicants sent me a private note saying that they too are curious as to what the response to my question is. I posted over here, hoping that someone from UA would respond (in this public square). I know that the admissions people in my organization chime in when the questions are as direct as mine; hence my temperment, which tilts toward hyperbole. While I view CC as a resource to inform our decisions, I also view it as a 'consumer advocacy' tool. It is a shame that we do not confront more directly universities/colleges, a powerful institutional form that is often less reflexive (of the fact that it is a managed organization with interests and motives) than it assumes. While tons of books are written about business ethics, few are written about the ethics of the practices of the academy.</p>

<p>Thanks for your input soozievt</p>

<p>I don't think you can rely on officials from colleges to read and post on CC at this time of year, or ever really. Most members on CC are parents and students. What I think you CAN do and CAN fairly expect, is to contact the college reps directly and ask questions and get responses. This really is not the place to expect college reps to frequent and to post. Perhaps if someone tips off someone at UArizona, they might visit, but you can't assume they are reading and posting here or on various other message boards on the internet. I would be more direct if I wanted answers from the college. I would use CC to get information from those who attend, have children who attend, those who have applied, etc.</p>

<p>Thanks soozievt. Prof. H asked a similar question recently, and nobody has responded.</p>

<p>I have taught Acting and Musical Theatre at the University of Arizona for ten years. We have 12 Musical theatre seniors in the class of 2008 who will graduate in May. No one in their class was ever “cut” from the program. We selected 12 high school seniors in the spring of 2004 to attend our program and all 12 will graduate.</p>

<p>We have also not made any cuts in the present sophomore class. The discussion about cuts from our program on this website originated with the current Junior class. We did make several cuts in that class based on acting skills, grades and vocal improvement. This was a rare to dismiss more than one or two students from one class. If you are interested in auditioning for our program I hope you will look at our program beyond the remarks made on this website. </p>

<p>We have a Showcase each year where we invite agents and casting directors from New York and Los Angeles to come to our campus and give feedback to our graduating seniors. We had our Showcase on January 19, 2008 and the following is one casting directors remarks about our program:
“You have a group of really talented students and I'm excited to see where their careers lead them in entertainment. The U of A program is very impressive compared to a lot of other BFA programs I've seen. You seem to have a well-rounded program of study, and I was especially happy to see that your students have the opportunity to learn about "real world"
situations like auditioning, finding representation and how to handle
their money. It’s amazing to me that every program doesn't offer those
services to their students. Your graduates have an advantage over other
people entering the film/tv/theater world.”</p>

<p>The most prestigious casting company in New York sent a representative and she also said our program was equal to any other program. She invited our students to submit to any audition they cast and they would be given consideration because they attended the University of Arizona.</p>

<p>Many of our students were asked to sign with agents the day of the Showcase and others were offered auditions for agencies when they move to New York. </p>

<p>We are a professional training program and our students plan to make Musical Theatre their career. We ask them to come to the University of Arizona and begin their career's the first day of the freshman year. It is a difficult program. You are in a production every semester and have demanding schedule of classes. If you want to work hard and share your passion with a group of your peers and faculty that love Musical Theatre then you should look into our program.</p>

<p>mbagwell- I recently auditioned for UA Tucson's MT program, and am still waiting to here back whether I got in or not (when I check my application status at the College of Fine Arts online admissions portal, I get a message stating "application reviewed: admitted"- but I'm not sure whether that means I have been accepted into the BFA Musical Theatre or Acting program, or if I just got into the College of Fine Arts as an "Undecided" major or a BA or something). UA is absolutely my first choice of training programs, and I have done a lot of research with regards to what sets your institution apart from all of the others. One obvious stand-out is the "cut" system, which has been discussed at some length here and in other posts. I was just wondering, does the cut system change from year to year (as it seems to be very different now that all 12 admitted freshmen are graduating, from 2006 when 10 freshmen were cut)? Is it on a case-by-case basis, depending on how many "dedicated and talented" students a particular class is deemed to have, or has the faculty recently changed some official "rules", or...?</p>

<p>Any information you can provide would be appreciated!</p>

<p>You should be receiving a letter from the School of Theatre Arts this week. We sent out the letters Friday afternoon. The notice from the College of Fine Arts is not an acceptance or rejection of the Acting and Musical Theatre auditions. Look for a letter from the School of Theatre Arts.
As far as "cutting" goes, each year is different. I would say that on average maybe two to three people in Musical Theatre do not advance. This can be due to several things: grades, focus in class, integreity, work ethic, comprehension of the techniue in acting, msuical theatre, voice and movement and talent.</p>

<p>I also wanted to inform you that we NEVER cut 10 people from one class. We take in about 10 to 12 acting majors and 12 to 15 musical theatre majors. Why would we cut 10 from a class that size? The person that started this thread was very upset because she was not advanced, but the statements she made were not correct. We did cut more from her class than usually, but we had never cut that many before or have not since. Her class was an exception.</p>

<p>If you, or anyone, wants to find out about how we make our decisions on advancement, please contact the faculty or present students. You can find our emails online at The</a> University of Arizona, Tucson Arizona. Any faculty member will respond or put you in touch with a current student.</p>

<p>I hope people are not judging any school on the threads they read at CC. Remember, you are just hearing one person's opinion and your future career choices should be based on facts and personal research.</p>

<p>mbagwell, I must admit that I'm hesitant to enter this discussion about U of A's cuts again but I feel that it might be enlightening to those who were not here for the long discussion in 2006. You said in post #13 that you never cut 10 from one class but in the 2006 discussion you DID acknowledge that 10 were cut from that freshman class. Why the discrepancy?</p>

<p>Isn't it too late to be applying for colleges for Fall 2008?</p>

<p>Ms. Bagwell, </p>

<p>I very much appreciate your taking time to visit and post on this site. I would agree that prospective students should not rely simply on this site or on one or two people's experiences in assessing a program. They should get information directly from the source, as well as garner perspectives from many current students and alum, and not just one. However, YOU are a direct source and since questions are being raised here, you CAN set the record straight since many who visit this site are trying to obtain as much information as they can about these programs. </p>

<p>I know that U of Arizona is a fine program. I have to admit that after reading the discussion in 2006 about your cut policies and process, I have been reluctant to suggest this program to prospective students, even if the program itself is very good training (my own daughter was in a professional production with a fairly recent graduate of your program who is quite talented indeed). I have a niece who at first considered your program but once she heard about this policy, took the school off her list and is now attending another BFA in Acting program.</p>

<p>Like AlwaysAMom, I am confused because you are now saying you would never cut 10 students from one class. However, back in May of 2006, you posted:</p>

THis year we took 4 transfer students and 5 BA students into the sophomore class and the other 11 students were from the BFA freshman class. We did not advance 10 students from the freshman class.


<p>From my understanding, therefore, 10 freshmen BFA students were cut from the BFA program that year (even if that number was not typical of some other years). Is that right? I don't wish to rehash the entire discussion, although I disagree with this policy myself and what gives me pause is that transfer students and BA students were taken into the program over current BFA students whom you had accepted into the BFA program. It seems to me that if you want to do it this way, that it may make sense to have a process like a few schools have where everyone enters as a BA student and then after the first year, they must audition into the BFA track. But these 10 students who were accepted into the BFA track were passed over for transfer students and BA students and not told until May. I know my own kid would not have wanted to apply to a program with such a policy. In any case, can you explain the discrepancy between the "never cut 10 from one BFA class" with the statement from May 2006 where you said you did indeed cut 10 from that year's freshman BFA class? Moreover, if you feel you would not want to cut ten, has something changed at UArizona since that year in how you operate the program and this process? It seems hard to imagine that you really had one very bad class who all went through the same admissions process as all the other classes. Has some philosophy or procedures been changed along the way?</p>

<p>Not to pile on, but rumor was circulating at Unified auditions that every female freshman MT major was cut from last year's class. This may have been strictly rumor, pulled out of thin air, or it may have mistakenly referred back to the year being discussed above. However, whether true or not, you probably should be aware that this rumor and perception exists, and have the chance to deny or clarify.</p>

<p>^^^That's even more reason to set the record straight because if such rumors abound, be it on CC or at Unifieds, it can hurt a program if not accurate. So, we have faculty here who hopefully will clarify here to this very captive audience as this is a major resource on the web about MT programs. </p>

<p>I also am curious if the administrators of the program ever get concerned about the talent pool of prospective students whom they may or may not attract. For instance, my daughter is good friends with very talented theater and musical theater youth from around the country and not a single one of these peers applied to UArizona and they all ended up at well known BFA programs. None of the students whom I advise have applied to UArizona since I read the cut discussion here (I had one client apply prior to this situation, however). There is a significant segment of the talent pool (and I venture to say the high end of the talent pool) who are not applying to UArizona and I am wondering if this policy is hurting the pool of applicants the program may attract.</p>

<p>I looked back at that post and I saw that you are correct we did not advance 10 freshman. That was from acting majors and MT majors, not 10 from Musical Theatre. If you look back you will also see that year was special becasue of former students returning, which is rare, and many talented BA students auditioning. Since then the average number of students not advanced is zero to three. </p>

<p>With the feedback and national recognition we are receiving from the New York casting directors and agents, the University of Arizona is now among the top Musical Theatre schools in the country according to the response from our Showcase. We had 7 students get agents. Many were offerred jobs from producers and artistic directors in atendence. All were told to contact agents when they arrive in New York. </p>

<p>If you study our curriculum, you will see we offer an excellent program. Also study the professional background of our faculty compared to other schools. We have many students playing roles on Broadway and national tours. One of our alums just got a lead in the new Broadway show SHREK.</p>

<p>I am putting the "cut" policy at our school to rest. The year in question was an exception not the norm.</p>

<p>Please read my recent post I wrote today.</p>