School Applications: Reaching Out

Hello, I’m an International student applying to several boarding schools for the 2022-2023 school year. I am extremely interested in the performing arts (mainly theater).

I noticed that some candidates are reaching out to faculty members like coaches. Would it be desirable for me to contact directors/faculty members in the performing arts programs? Thank you

Yes…and it would be wise to let them know specifically what you are interests are, what questions you have about their programs and if appropriate your experience on the stage or with theater tech .

Thanks for the advice! How can I find information on the teachers’ emails?

Also, at which level is it seen as “good” to contact the directors?

That would depend on the school. I know that at my child’s BS the theater faculty email addresses are easily found in the arts->theatre section.

When you are at the point of having something worth asking, that is not easily determined from the school website, and is beyond the scope of the AO’s knowledge.

In fact, I would contact the AO first with questions. While I understand that you want to impress upon the schools that you are applying to that you would be a fantastic addition to their student body, and that you are enthusiastic about the performing arts, unless you are applying to a school that is exclusively devoted to the performing arts, the faculty will have little weight in admissions decisions.

If you schedule a campus tour, make sure that they know your interests when you schedule it.

Caveat: make sure their theatre program is a good match for someone like you. Theatre programs can be VERY personality driven.

When I was in prep school, the head of the Drama Dept. had a near cult like following. However, those who didn’t fit into her cult were frozen out. A former classmate bitterly bemoaned that his single parent mom had made great sacrifices to afford him the opportunity to attend this prep school, only to not be able to benefit from the drama program, because he didn’t have that right “something”. He is listed among the school’s “Notable Alumni” in Wikipedia as an “actor, singer-songwriter” - he succeeded, after being ignored by the prep school’s drama dept.

Depends upon why you want to contact them.

My first reaction is to discourage prospective applicants from contacting teachers directly. The better approach is to ask the admissions dept. to recommend contacts for you.


I don’t think you should reach out with the expectation that it’ll improve your admissions odds, but you should reach out if you’d like to know more about the program at each school. Things like:

How much experience do you need? What is offered for coursework and how many productions are there? Do you need to be enrolled in classes to audition for productions? What kinds of productions and how are they selected? Time commitment? Is there an arts block for rehearsals or does it run at the same time as sports?

Schools vary on these. This is a great way to both show interest and figure out which program is best for you.

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Don’t reach out to performing arts faculty unless you know for sure that the school specifically recruits for that.

The reason many students contact coaches is because many boarding schools recruit athletes, much in the same way colleges do. It is rare for a boarding school to ‘recruit’ non athlete students. Sending emails to non-recruiting faculty will probably not help, and may even hurt.

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