Congratulations! Love Montclair!
I shouldn’t be posting on the Final Decisions board because my S is so not decided yet! But this is where the recent chatter seems to be… At the start of this week we had a top 5 - NYU Steinhardt, Ball State, Catholic U, Belmont, Illinois Wesleyan. I think as of today we are down to a top 3 - he is eliminating NYU (due to $, that one is a heartbreaker) and Ball State (fit/vibe just wasn’t right for him from our visit but seems like a great program). And, he was released from Dream School’s waitlist, so no, there’s not a chance for him, he won’t get the fairy tale ending. But honestly it is good to have closure there at least and to be able to move forward and make a decision. Soooo that leaves IWU, Belmont, Catholic. We’ve looked at curriculums of the 3, made pros and cons lists, and just. can’t. decide! Here’s his impressions:
IWU - feels so personal, lots of individual attention, close knit community, feels like a family. Nurturing. He clicked with them so much starting with the audition/interview! But, so much smaller than his high school, small feeling stage/theater/performance spaces, farthest from home at a 12 hour drive and no direct flights.
Belmont - campus and facilities are mind blowing amazing, great quality program and success rates after graduation, many casting/performance opportunities each year, not as sure about social/campus life. Nashville seems like an amazing city. Farther from home but the 9.5 hour drive is manageable in a day, and there are plenty of direct flights and and the Nashville airport is so close and convenient to campus.
Catholic - closest to home (less than an hour), good combination of a green, pretty campus but still in/accessible to the city (metro station on campus), great connections to DC theater scene. It is one of the only schools where he wasn’t able to see inside any buildings during our visit, which I think is mentally/emotionally holding him back.
Don’t know much about Catholic or IWU, but I live in Nashville and can give you a little info about Belmont. We know a lot of kids who attend there, both for MT and other majors. Nashville is an amazing city and Belmont’s campus is in the thick of it…walking distance or a quick Uber to so many restaurants, music venues and other activities. Vanderbilt is right down the road too, so the Belmont area almost has a college town feel, but with all of the amenities of a big city nearby. The kids at Belmont have a slew of opportunities, from recording for MTI (the licensing company records their sample tracks out of Nashville), to working with our equity theatre, Studio Tenn. Everyone I know raves about Nancy Allen as the department head. Their shows are top notch, and I have heard the kids from Belmont do extremely well at SETC auditions. IMO, Belmont is one of the Top 5 MT programs in the Southeast. I don’t think your S will have any regrets if he chooses Belmont!
The guy that played “Lafayette/Jefferson” in Chicago’s Hamilton and then on the National Tour went to Belmont. We noticed that when we went up to see it a few years ago in Chicago. The campus is beautiful and I hear nothing but good things from students who go there! I tried to get my daughter to apply, but she resisted for some reason. Kids!
Hello! We had to choose between Belmont and Catholic as well and she is headed to Belmont. We are in the Northern Va area and I’m guessing you are as well. If you want to send me a message, I’d be happy to chat! Don’t know I can shine a light on anything you haven’t already thought of but I’d be happy to talk it out.
Woo Hoo!! Congrats! We live outside of Nashville as well!! Everything Bogeyw said is absolutely true!!! Belmont is still on our list!!
This is such a great story! Congratulations to your girl. I love how there are times we as parents “just know” and time proves us right.
Hopefully you saw my reply yesterday regarding social life at Belmont. I thought I responded when you first tagged me, but I was doing it on my phone so apparently it didn’t actually post.
Programs Applied to: Baldwin Wallace, Boston Conservatory at Berklee, CAP21/Molloy, Carnegie Mellon, CCM, Coastal Carolina, Columbia College Chicago (non-audition BA), Elon, Florida State, Hartt School, Indiana, Manhattan School of Music, Missouri State, Montclair State, Otterbein, Pace, Penn State, Point Park, Roosevelt, Shenandoah, Syracuse, Texas Christian, Texas State, Arizona, Miami, Michigan, UNCSA, Oklahoma, U Arts, Webster
Prescreens Passed/Waived Due to Moonifieds: Baldwin Wallace, BoCo, CAP21, CCM, Coastal Carolina, Elon, Florida State, Hartt, Indiana, MSM, Missouri State, Montclair, Otterbein, Pace, Penn State, Point Park, Roosevelt, ShenCo, Syracuse (redirect to Acting), TCU, TSU, Arizona, Miami, Michigan, Oklahoma, U Arts, Webster
Accepted to: BoCo, CAP21, Florida State, Hartt, Missouri State (BFA Dance), Otterbein, TCU, UArts
Withdrew: Syracuse, Columbia College, Roosevelt, Manhattan School of Music
Not accepted to: Baldwin Wallace, Carnegie, CCM, MIssouri State MT (after initial WL), Montclair, Penn State, Point Park, ShenCo, Michigan, Texas State (after initial WL), UNCSA, Webster
Wait-listed: Coastal Carolina, Elon, Indiana, Pace, Arizona, Oklahoma (all released)
Coach: DCCAP, Dave Clemmons; MTCA ala carte for monologue and acting through song; College Audition Coach a la carte for Moonifieds
Summer Programs: TPAP Blueprint, Florida State MTI, ArtsBridge (Virtual)
Background: Daughter started dancing in pre-school and danced competitively through fifth grade. The dance studio she attended until third grade always had at least one eye on MT (the owner’s daughter was a Rockette and performed in Broadway productions of Cats and The Producers). Every other year the school would put on an MT focused Revue. She was cast as the lead in Peter Pan in her last year there and never looked back. Received first formal voice training from a Manhattan-based voice coach over Skype (the only game in town back then…how quaint) for that show, thanks to the owner’s daughter’s time on Broadway. He still is her “finisher” for any audition material.
In sixth grade, we decided to start her online education, not to “go pro” but to give her the flexibility to be in a variety of shows and give added focus to her training. Got her first paycheck for a show at a professional opera in the children’s choir and was cast in youth ensembles in musicals at regional professional theaters. Filled gaps with “pay for play” opportunities. Attended MT school affiliated with a regional theater, where we first met Dave Clemmons (he was Director of the school for a few years).
High school remained online, so no high school shows or choir competitions. Free time split between training, performing and occasional volunteer work. Went to TPAP before her sophomore year at Dave’s recommendation. She came back feeling she could hold her own with her peers at the intensive. Repeated this experience at Florida State and Artsbridge.
We were able to observe the CAP auditions her junior year and used that as a jumping off point for her own college audition prep. Had her list of colleges set and started choosing and working on material by January. When COVID hit, we decided to hedge our choice to go with the CAP auditions (they were slow to announce what schools would be attending) to also speak with Moo as daughter could attend Moonifieds without using Moo as a coach. Received validation of her college list from Moo and her team. Added some ala carte services from MTCA to finish off her prep team. Ultimately chose Moonifieds over CAP auditions (see know your child below for details on that).
Started in earnest in August on applications and refining her audition material. All prescreen submissions (including for Moonified schools) in by mid-October. All academic applications submitted by each school’s EA deadline. Received feedback in October in a set of mock auditions hosted by MTCA.
Before any in person auditions or prescreens, we got an early taste of the good news/bad news train we just boarded. On the positive side, a program director at one of the schools participating in Moonifieds reached out to daughter directly to tell her how impressed they were with her recorded prescreen. It was all but an offer to go to this school, which is pretty high up on the selectivity scale. Dave Clemmons said he has never seen this program director do this. After that refreshing start, she received a quick no on her prescreen to Carnegie Mellon. Ouch. Let the roller coaster begin. A redirect from Syracuse to Acting was a headscratcher that was an appropriate middle ground to end the month. She declined an audition there when they would not consider her for MT.
Moonifieds in November went off without any technical issues and only resulted in one disappointing result in December when Baldwin Wallace let us know she did not pass her prescreen. With the yin and yang that seemed to occur throughout this process, she received her first artistic acceptance from UArts right on the heels of the BW news. She will be getting a BFA. Releases her safety – Columbia College. All live auditions scheduled for January and February. Took a short holiday break.
January auditions went off without a hitch and another big BFA acceptance from BoCo, but even that came with its own drama (see Don’t Read Into Anything below for details). Allowed her to lighten her audition load by cancelling dates with MSM and Roosevelt (No trips back to my hometown…bummer). Also informed UArts that she would not be accepting its offer.
Hartt comes back with a yes the day before her final audition on February 11. The waiting starts.
March comes in like a lion with acceptances from Otterbein, FSU, CAP21, TCU and MSU Dance (which feels like a way for the school to bring in strong MT dancers through the back door). No’s and waitlists come in throughout the month, giving her a path forward in April to gather more information on each accepted school.
Visits in April to all schools she had not seen before. Mainly campus tours but she was able to meet with directors of each program except TCU as its COVID rules prohibited any interaction between its personnel and anyone outside the university. Long before the visits she had a clear favorite, but she used the trips to stress test her initial instincts.
All schools but one released after she returns from last trip. Over the phone for any who offered her; emails for waitlisted schools.
Boston Conservatory at Berklee. She hit it off with Laura Marie Duncan in the audition and was about ready to kill the rest of her audition schedule when she got the good news in January. Each of her accepted schools showed her that they really wanted her in their own way, but BoCo really showed it. Talent scholarship, personal contact from Laura Marie from offer through acceptance. Issues brought up by students/parents there now are pretty evident to anyone interested in going there so not much of a surprise when we heard about them. While the school can’t offer the traditional college experience like some of her other choices, having the city of Boston as your “campus” is an excellent consolation.
I will not be coming back to this forum providing sage advice to newcomers. This is not because I do not want to pay it forward (I will…see below) nor do I want to devalue the contributions of those that came before me.
I used this site to gain insight by reading through threads from the past three or so audition cycles. During this past cycle, I tended to contribute (and consume) information for the use only in this cycle. Mainly when information (waitlist and audition decisions primarily) about schools my daughter applied to came available. I realize this is not the only way to use this board, but with this use in mind, I will give my thoughts below on what I have learned through this process so someone who consumes the information like I did can use it as a reference going into their journey. This has a practical side to it as well; Daughter has two younger siblings who will not be going down this path that need my full focus as both have special needs.
Finally, if we have learned anything about MT auditioning these past few years, it is that a whole lot of what worked in the past doesn’t necessarily translate to future years. My thoughts on how to set up a virtual audition room may have very little impact if schools go back to in person auditions next year, just like advice on how to pick up walk-in auditions at Unifieds had for this year’s crop of applicants. Therefore, my thoughts will focus on aspects of the application/audition process that transcend the mechanics of how the process works/will work.
So here we go. If I were new to this process, here are the big things I would want to know:
Know (and listen to) your child – This can be broken down into two categories: talent and personality. On the talent side, get assessments from objective professionals (i.e. with nothing to gain/lose by sharing their opinion) about your kid’s strengths and weaknesses. We all know the politics and sometimes economics that go into casting pay for play and school shows. Even regional theaters’ casting for professional shows can tend to play favorites in casting youth ensembles. If you can afford it, send your child to a summer intensive that pulls its talent beyond your region. They will get a sense where they stand talent wise in these settings.
For personality, start with how to approach helping in the application/audition process. D needs, at times, additional prodding to get through administrative tasks. Just creating a spreadsheet or timeline and pointing her to it would not suffice. A question or two on the status of certain things helped keep the stress levels down by avoiding too many fire drills. The other example came from listening to her. After observing the CAP consortium auditions in 2019, she really felt performing in front of a large group of panelists, and the adrenaline that goes with it, would fit best her strengths as a performer. Enter COVID. She attends a handful of master classes in the Spring of 2020 and the stress of performing in front of a lot of panelists – that she cannot see but knows are there – impacts her performances. We quickly pivot to using Moonifieds for her mass (but individual) audition format. If she had not let us know about her concerns, or we had not listened, we would have allowed a stressor to remain in stressful enough endeavor.
Start early, but not for everything – Freshman year: Train, train train; Set up a Hilton Honors account and start accumulating points on it (Palmer House remains a Hilton property and will host future Unified auditions, if they are revived post-COVID). Do the same for airline miles. Even without in person auditions, they help with travel to campuses your child is accepted to; Visit one (and ONLY one) example of each program type, especially if it is part of some other travel (summer intensive, vacation, business trip). Don’t go out of your way to do this and definitely do so with as little emotion as possible. Dream schools should only exist after your kid is offered artistically to one.
Sophomore year: repeat freshman year prep; observe the audition cycle of the two classes ahead of you. Read this site, Facebook, and talk with any MT friends a year or two ahead of your child. Do this in real time as much as you can as it can prepare you for the ebb and flow of this crazy process. A lot gets lost if asked about these things in hindsight.
Junior year: pick an audition coach if it makes sense in your situation. At a minimum, line up voice and monologue resources to help with selecting the correct material for your child. Start working on that material. Research schools and build a balanced list to apply to.
Senior year: start applications as early as possible to get them out of the way and, in some cases, open the door to schedule an audition slot; If you have been working on material in your Junior year, consider getting prescreen videos out to/scheduling auditions for schools as early as possible (October 1 is a good goal for prescreens; November auditions where possible). This can help scheduling in the busy January/February window as well as get some important feedback on your material. Possible artistic offers early in the process can relieve the stress later on. Early rejections can indicate issues with material and can allow your child to apply to additional schools.
Divide and conquer; Stay in your lane – Daughter and wife were glad to allow me to handle the logistical side of things. I have no ability to choose an outfit or set up a ring light. Enough said.
Prioritize your senior year, at the beginning of the year – If you want your child to maximize his/her/their senior year experience with choir, musical(s), play(s), debate team, etc. I think you have two choices: Gap year or lighten your kid’s coursework in (at least) half by loading up on HS classes in their first three (or four if they can take some HS classes in 8th grade). Your kid will try to convince you he/she/they can handle it all, but something will have to give, especially if schools go back to in person auditions. No need to take all senior year activities off the table, but you do not want to be in the position of having to choose between an audition and an activity your kid could have to back out of. Pick wisely.
Filter out the noise – If you have done a good job of creating an appropriate, balanced school list (adjusted to early news if necessary), what others in the process do, and the results that come from their efforts, do not mean anything in your kid’s journey and should be treated that way. If you or your kid tries to control what you can’t in this process, you are only adding stress (the natural byproduct of controlling things you can never control) to an already stressful process.
Don’t read into anything – until there is something to read – This bit of advice is best given with an example. Kids who applied during the early window at BoCo were told the school’s decision (yes or no; maybe deferral I can’t recall) would be communicated by the end of January. A week or ten days before this due date the school inadvertently sends out an invite to an accepted students zoom meeting BEFORE sending out decision emails. D does not get an invite and. is. stressed. Wife is stressed. I tell them to wait for actual news before jumping off the proverbial cliff. Few days go by and still nothing. On January 28, daughter gets an email from Laura Marie Duncan welcoming her to the program, apologizing for sending her the Zoom invite early, and asking her to call if she has any questions. Daughter calls and tells Laura Marie she never received the initial email. Not in spam, not anywhere. After some digging, it turns out BoCo’s email delivery system had flagged daughter’s account as opting out of receiving mass emails from the school.
I wish anyone who goes through this process in the future the best of luck. It has always been hard and will always remain so. The deeply personalized nature of an MT education coupled with a large (and growing) pool of high schoolers interested in it means the odds at any individual school are never in your favor. There are not enough “up and coming” programs to ever make up for the demand. But by casting a wide enough net into a pool of schools matched to your child’s talent will in the vast majority of cases provide him/her/them the chance to get excellent training in MT. Where they take that training is more important than where they receive it anyway.
Welcome to the BoCo Fam! Great story and insight - enjoyed following your journey. It’s true, Boston is one big campus. Please feel free to PM me if you have any granular questions.
Very happy that your daughter has found her place @MTDad2025! Great insights by you too! Thanks for sharing.
I am so excited for your daughter (and your family)! I’ve always appreciated your willingness to assist and sage advice along the way. Thank you for your contributions to the Class of 2025! What a journey!
And s huge congratulations to your daughter on finding her place!
@mtdad2025 congrats on a great outcome. truly sorry to hear you wont come back, maybe with some time away you will change your mind? in the end, its truly all about the kids…people can always benefit from many views. Happy your daughter landed in a great place & had many options, best of luck to her!!
PS fwiw I think your advice here is excellent
I decided to post our experience because maybe it will give some hope to those out there whose kids were later to this theatre adventure…
Applied to (she applied to a lot of programs since she was very well aware that she had much less experience than others. For most of the programs listed, she applied to both MT and acting programs): AMDA, Ball State, Baylor, BOCO, Boston University, Carnegie Mellon, Coastal Carolina, Elon, Emerson, Hartt, Ithaca, James Madison, Long Island University, Loyola University of New Orleans, Marymount Manhattan, Millikin, Molly/CAP21, N Carolina School of the Arts, Negraska Wesleyan, Tisch, Ohio Northern, Otterbein, Point Park, Roosevelt, Shenandoah, Southern Illinois, Southern Methodist, Texas Christian, University of Michigan, UNC Greensboro
She participated in International Thespian Festival and got a few early offers/encouragement to apply. Some schools (AMDA, Point Park, Nebraska and Loyola) she decided to officially apply to and others she ended up not applying to. This was a nice way thought to at least know she would have options.
She also participated in Moonifieds so saying which schools she passed prescreens for is a little more challenging since some you didn’t need to pass in order to audition at Moonifieds. The prescreens she did NOT pass though were: BOCO, Carneigie Mellon, Elon MT (she passed Elon acting), Emerson MT, Michigan, UNCG MT (she passed UNCG acting).
Accepted to: AMDA, Baylor, JMU (acting), LIU, Loyola of New Orleans, Nebraska Wesleyan, Point Park (acting and theatre arts)
Waitlisted: Emerson (T&P), Marymount Manhattan, Molloy, Southern Illinois - decided to withdraw from all waitlists when she made her decision
Coaching - Mary Anna Dennard (Moo). For us, coaching was so important. Being late to this, we really had no idea what to expect in this audition process. I didn’t even learn about this forum until halfway through the process - we were really naive and coaching definitely helped.
Summer - Two summers at Stagedoor Manor
My daughter enjoyed singing in elementary school and participated in school choirs. In 6th grade she started working with a private voice coach. Continued with school choir through middle school and early high school and then the school acapella group in high school.
Auditioned for the school play in 7th grade and really loved it. By 9th grade, theatre was emerging as a passion and by 10th grade, she started saying that she would like to try to go to college and study theatre. Participated in every school production, took all the acting/directing/playwriting classes offered through her school but was not involved in community theatre (could never find the time to do both). We were fortunate that her school has a very strong theatre department so she was able to get a lot of experience in school.
Luckily, her school offered dance as a PE credit starting in 10th grade so she was able to take dance in school 10-12th grade. Summer before 12th grade she took some private lessons over zoom in anticipation of auditions.
We were pleasantly surprised that she ended up with a handful of MT and/or acting choices. When this process first started and we learned how competitive it was, we weren’t sure if she would have any choices at all! She was very excited about all of her options, but when it came down to it, location was a main factor for her. Although we live in the southwest, all of her family is back east and she really wanted to get back east (and really was hoping to end up in Boston or New York). Over spring break, we decided to visit what had emerged as her top 3 - Point Park (acting), LIU (MT) and Molloy (waitlist). She honestly loved something about all three of those programs, but absolutely fell in love with LIU. She loved the campus, the proximity to NYC. We were fortunate to meet several students who were so enthusiastic about the program. She loved that many of the mainstage productions are directed by outside professional directors and loved how active the student run theatre is with opportunities for writing and directing. When she got home, she had a zoom session with David Hugo to get last minute questions answered and that sealed the deal.
Final Decision - LIU Post MT
CONGRATULATIONS!! Wishing her the best and thanks for sharing!
Congratulations to your daughter!
Congratulations! My D has 2 friends at LIU Post and both absolutely LOVE it.
congrats, we are not far from LIU post, the LIRR commute into NYC is safe & easy, best of luck