The Process: Our Year-Plus Long Odyssey Getting into a Musical Theatre Program

<p>Decision Season - The Month of April</p>

<p>Day 43, Sunday, March 31 - Kaitlin from Texas State emails asking if he’s committed to any program yet. He responds that no, Texas State is still the top of his list, and she in-turn responds that when kids start making decisions in the next couple of weeks maybe a spot will open up for him. That was encouraging.</p>

<p>Day 46, Wednesday, April 2 - his acting coach heard back from someone she knows at UofO and he is still in the running. Not sure if he’s on a waitlist or they are just slow/deliberate in handing out invitations, but it’s…wait for it…encouraging. </p>

<p>Day 48, Friday, April 4 - my second favorite MT’er (from GA) announced today he is going to Texas State. Good for him and the TSU program. Nonetheless, that was discouraging for us.</p>

<p>Day 53, Wednesday, April 9 - UofO emailed him saying he’s still on hold. I guess that’s their version of a waitlist since we know that some kids have been offered and accepted. Encouraging, yes, but still not an offer. I had son send a reply email emphasizing why he liked UofO and why they should like him. He’s fatigued of the whole process, thus this was a hard email for him to write. </p>

<p>Day 58, Monday, April 14 - urban legend has it that Texas State has received a confirmation from all their offers except one - a girl. Good for the TSU program. Nonetheless, that was very discouraging for us. </p>

<p>Had a very grim discussion with son when we shared this with him, and started discussing the offers we actually had. Ithaca’s price tag is looming large, and we’re starting to question why we would travel out-of-state to Ball State when in-state BFA program costs $50K less. No one went to bed happy this night.</p>

<p>Day 59, Tuesday, April 15 - urban legend was wrong - Texas State has received confirmations from all their offers except TWO, according to the email Kaitlin sent my son this afternoon. She confirmed that if one of them bolts, he gets the phone call. Someone shoot me now and put me out of my misery. </p>

<p>I have to tip my hat to Kaitlin. Her show closes tonight after nine performances, and I wonder if she’s been to bed before midnight in the last two weeks. I really respect how she took the time to write an email to my son which does not deliver any good news.</p>

<p>Day 60, Wednesday, April 16 - one of the two remaining girls commits to TSU. Can’t catch a break w/ these guys. </p>

<p>Day 61, Thursday, April 17 - last night’s info was premature/wrong. Michigan has shown up w/ “big money” and this girl is still deciding. </p>

<p>Day 62, Friday, April 18 - earlier in the week UofO offered to a kid that looks just like my son. Another boy commits to UofO today. Not holding out much hope there anymore. </p>

<p>Day 63, Saturday, April 19 - not much left to do. Nothing to learn/gleen from CC, and when it comes to TSU here’s what happens next: a) my friends will email me when/if the two girls commit to TSU, or b) my son will call me to say Kaitlin has called him with an offer. Maybe I should clean out the garage today or rearrange my sock drawer.</p>

<p>Day 65, Monday, April 21 - the day began with a form email from Kaitlin informing son he was not accepted into the program. Very puzzling given that the two girls are still not committed to TSU - that we know of. Just goes to show you that everything you think you can piece together via the Internet still doesn’t give you a full view as to what is really going on. Even more puzzling was the wording of the email I dare say could have been the same for kids who didn’t pass the pre-screen. We were left wondering this morning if we did something wrong.</p>

<p>Reached out to UofO asking for an update to his status. Later that night son got a more personal email saying all their slots were taken but Mr. Christman did have nice things to say to my son and wished him the best of luck. </p>

<p>Final tally is 7 - 5 - 5 but eventually no schools pulling him off their wait list. I know we should be thrilled with these results, but we are not. </p>

<p>Day 66, Tuesday, April 22 - one of the two girls that had yet to accept to TSU committed to Michigan today. While I’m noting it here, we don’t dare to think that maybe… Kaitlin does send an email to my son saying essentially sorry for the form email yesterday, but she didn’t have time yesterday to write a personal email and she felt turning son loose sooner vs. later was in his best interest. Disappointing but we get it.</p>

<p>Day 67, Wednesday, April 23 - Son tells Kaitlin that he is considering a gap year and what advice could she give him on what he needs to work on. Kaitlin very kindly responds with encouragement to go to Ithaca and how to ask for more money. A few days later Paul Christman responds to a similar email my son sent him saying son was both academically and artistically ready to go to school. Neither of them gave him any artistic critiques, which I get. Why would they paint themselves in a corner that way?</p>

<p>Day 68, Thursday, April 24 - Find out that yesterday Kaitlin made an offer to another boy. Really? REALLY?! What happened to “…top of the waitlist…” and “…will call you immediately if a slot opens up…”? Urban legend has it that the boy who got the offer thought he was out of the running. So after 51 days of this flirtation, she ultimately decides to skip her waitlist. That’s when deep disappointment turns to anger. Kaitlin sent a couple of “…I feel really bad…” emails, but we never received an explanation of what happened. Her program, her prerogative. </p>

<p>The Decision</p>

<p>After we returned from out East Coast trip, I shared with son the following four-year cost figures:</p>

<p>In-State - $71K
Texas State - $100K
Ball State - $121K
OU - $144K
Montclair State - $175K
Pace - $189K
Indiana - $196K
Ithaca - $211K</p>

<p>I obtained my raw data from the Common Data Set for the current academic year. Here’s what I did to come up with a four-year total cost of college figure:</p>

<p>4% rate of tuition inflation
3% rate of everything-else inflation
0% rate of inflation on merit scholarships
Talent scholarships would stair-step down to half in the last year
discarded the school’s travel estimate, used my own
son would need the equivalent of five R/T tickets per academic year
four other R/T tickets per academic year for family
four hotel nights per academic year
discarded the school’s “other” cost est., used my own
monthly spending money of $400 (if near big city) to $300 (if in college town)</p>

<p>Regarding the five airline tickets, I’m further assuming Thanksgiving travel costs 2x, thus he would only be taking four R/T flights. Oh, and that flight home on the Saturday before Christmas isn’t cheap either.</p>

<p>I know the figures above and my methodology might be high, but I’d rather have money left over than airline tickets carried on a credit card.</p>

<p>Speaking of money, we estimate that we spent approximately $16K during this audition season. Headshots, Moonifieds, Unifieds, On-campus auditions x3, follow-up campus visits x4, etc., etc. Don’t forget that son largely traveled free on Southwest due to points and the companion pass, so add another $2.5K to the figure above if you’re keeping score at home.</p>

<p>Told my son that I did not want money to be a deciding factor, but all things being equal from his artistic standpoint I wanted money to be a consideration. Here’s the list he came up with of schools he could/wanted to go to:</p>

<p>1) Texas State
PROS: Kaitlin and Jim are very engaging
price tag was very good
[everything below is just gibberish]
students were welcoming and enthusiastic
master classes, visiting professionals
campus/San Marcos was nice
new PAC was added
October - April generally nice</p>

<p>CONS: Lack of alumni network
Graduation rate of the school
Central Texas / Austin are popular on the music front, but it’s not like San Marcos is a 45 train ride into Manhattan</p>

<p>2a) Oklahoma
PROS: Shawn Churchman was very engaging
the show wife/son saw was fantastic
price tag was good
students were welcoming (the soft recruiting they had an existing student do via Facebook was a nice touch)
academic standing of school (better than I thought before I did my research)
campus was nice and not as overwhelming as you would expect a big, state university
no foreign travel, but hopeful something will be installed soon with London’s West End</p>

<p>CONS: Norman, OK (apologies to the good people of central Oklahoma)
son couldn’t care less about Sooner football</p>

<p>2b) Ithaca
PROS: kids and instructors he was exposed to were very good
little doubt this school/program would have son best prepared
prospects of studying overseas for semester
program’s reputation for its students getting work
NY five hours away
master classes, visiting professionals
vibrant campus community (1/2 of students from out-of-state)
campus/town was nice</p>

<p>CONS: price tag
price tag
price tag
time/expense to get to Ithaca
November - March will be cold</p>

<p>3a) Local state BFA program</p>

<p>PROS: price tag was great
MT’ers get work</p>

<p>CONS: little/no connection with faculty
kids he already knows there have either left or simply gutting it out
see Ball St. below</p>

<p>3b) Ball State
PROS: kids and instructors very friendly, enthusiastic
good reputation in the coaching world
price tag was good
liked the Honors College
not hard to travel to - direct flight, then 1.5 hour drive</p>

<p>CONS: Muncie, IN (sorry to the good people of Central Indiana)
suitcase college
alumni network</p>

<p>This list was comprised a couple of days after our return from our spring break tour of the East Coast at the very end of March. Given that both Texas State and UofO both had him on their waitlists, all we had to do now was, well…wait.</p>

<p>In mid-April we decided to take a different tack. It was time to start making some decisions. While were a couple of weeks from being done, we need to start embracing what we have vs. what we want - for real this time. Wife and I started getting cold feet on Ithaca’s price tag. Yes, we know it is better than Ball State, but is it really $85K better? While we’re on the subject of comparative analysis, is Ball State really $50K better than our in-state BFA option? Son begrudgingly admitted probably not. So we really didn’t take that different tack and continued to wait to see if UofO or TSU would save us from a tough decision. </p>

<p>After TSU and UofO said thanks, but no thanks, for the most part it was up to us as parents to decide if we were going to pony-up the bucks for Ithaca or not. We did ask Ithaca for more money, but our FAFSA indicates that we can afford it so I’m not expecting much sympathy/money. The blunt truth is we CAN pay for Ithaca, but do we WANT to pay for Ithaca?</p>

<p>Closing Remarks</p>

<p>Before I come to our final lessons learned, I sincerely hope you have:</p>

<p>A) Drawn your own conclusions about what you would emulate and do differently, and
B) Enlightenment has brought you more comfort than burden.</p>

<p>Even if what you learned is in the form of, “I’m not doing what they did!”, then sobeit. </p>

<p>Be aware (vs. beware) of mission creep. What started out as, “I would be very happy to get into any of these programs” turned into “I really don’t want to go THERE!” In the end we called it him recognizing what is a right fit. We also called it him being a school snob. All during this past 15 months when someone said it was about fit, I took that as code for “we didn’t get into the school we really wanted, but this other one will do.” They were right, and I was wrong. My apologies. </p>

<p>What we have learned is we - father, mother, son - are the ones best situated to figure out what is the best course of action and how to best spend our money whether that be $75K, $125K, or $250K. Each of us had to jump in and take ownership rather than deferring to a coach.</p>

<p>Recognize that coaches can’t see into the future and that their interests are not perfectly aligned with yours. Moo said in our very first Skype meeting, “You are not good enough to get into Texas State” yet our son made it that school’s waitlist. His vocal coach said, “You are good enough for the top programs in the country” which I consider her correct with the Ithaca and Indiana offers; however, he received “no’s” from all the other top programs.</p>

<p>The more prestigious (i.e., expensive) programs emphasize two things when talking with parents: a) a degree from their highly-regarded university is something the kids will have with them for life, and b) a place in their alumni network. There’s the Ithaca Mafia, then the Indiana Mafia, etc. Michigan doesn’t call theirs the Michigan Mafia, for I guess they are above that; however, don’t worry, Mr. Wagner will be happy to tell you - as he should - about where all his former students are performing. </p>

<p>Up through Unifieds in Chicago both my wife and I thought that any extra money we pay will be more for branding than better training. Don’t get me wrong, a brand has a value, but we were not predisposed to spend extra money to get the same degree. However, in some situations the extra money would have gone to a school/program that was a better fit. Everyone needs to keep an open mind and respect The Process. </p>

<p>On the plane ride home from the final campus visits I thought I knew what order the schools were in, but taking a step back from The Process for a couple of weeks had us rethinking a couple of things. A week prior to signing day I was telling friends and family we were taking a gap year. Everyone needs to keep an open mind and respect The Process.</p>

<p>This process is highly competitive and crazy. Guess what? This profession is highly competitive and crazy. I’m glad we have been through what we have over the last fifteen months, for I think it is a very effective way to vet resolve which is something the whole family will need as our son pursues his dream. [Cue the closing credits!]</p>

<p>Ferris Bueller asks, “You’re still here?”</p>

<p>I had this ending already written that was going to be a 4th wall-breaking, Ferris Bueller-styled, “You’re still here? Haven’t I bored you enough? Well the happy ending is Kaitlin called today…” As you have already read it didn’t happen that way.</p>

<p>My wife could continue to work full time and we could pay for Ithaca. Sounds simple enough, but with a twelve year old daughter hitting her adolescent years it’s not simple enough. Also, would we be parentally-obligated to spend an extra $85K on her education just because we spent it on her big brother? Asked son, “Just assume you distant great Aunt Betty, whom you’ve never met, died and left you $100K. So going to Ithaca is not a stretch financially. Want to do this?” His answer was a long thought out…no. </p>

<p>Three days later his mother asked him the same question and reassured him we could afford Ithaca. He knew - like kids know sometimes - that his mother was the one most worried about cost. Later than night when we were having a bonfire of all the paper that had accumulated during this process he announced his decision.</p>

<p>He’s taking a gap year.</p>

<p>Okaaaaay. It was his money that he was going to need to earn, and it was his time he was going to use to get better, sobeit. </p>

<p>Talked with Dave Clemmons and he said that if son didn’t LOVE it at Ithaca, then Dave could make him better, stronger, faster (Old School reference to The Six Million Dollar Man). Put on 20 lbs. of muscle, take dance classes, maybe switch voice coaches, we can definitely do better on material. Five months to pre-screen tapings, nine months to February auditions. </p>

<p>When Dave gave us a quote for his rates, I wasn’t shocked or blown out of the water. But it hit me that my gap year plan I wrote about in February wasn’t going to work. This was going to be another $15K - $20K expedition. Sure, son would get a job at Forever 21 to help defray those costs, but by what, $5K? </p>

<p>Yes if he got into UofO it would be worth it. But who in their right mind goes into an audition season aiming for one and only one school? As an FYI I’d written off Texas State. Not bitter, but I can’t make decisions based on someone who’s that unpredictable. Any other school he got into was going to be a different version but same price tag of Ithaca. That’s when it hit me that we’re done. He got (Ithaca) what he set out for when this process began. It might not have been exactly what he wanted (TSU), but calling Ithaca a fall-back is a luxury that few kids have. </p>

<p>Two nights before what I call Signing Day (May 1), I had my own version of "Let me introduce you to Jesus” meeting. I explained my logic why I thought a gap year was not the way to go. The night before signing day I had the full-on version of “Come to Jesus” talk saying, “I am not paying for a gap year, and you can’t either. It’s in-state BFA vs. Ithaca. We can talk about this all night if necessary, but I am the parent and you will need to defer to my good judgement.”</p>

<p>One of the key points of this discussion is he mistakened not being excited about Ithaca as not being a fit with Ithaca. Maybe my mistake too, for I know what I wrote back in February about turning the plane around if Kaitlin called. Nonetheless we pushed back hard saying you are a very good fit for Ithaca, let us count the ways. While Ithaca doesn’t fawn over the auditioners like Kaitlin did, one of our key arguments was Ithaca is excited about you as demonstrated by their actions not just their words. An offer in the first day that offers went out. A scholarship that was based on academic merit, but we later found out was pushed for by the MT program. </p>

<p>His acting coach even sent him an email that night quoting our son’s own words about how he thought Ithaca was a good fit. Nothing like having your own words used against, oops, help convince you which path to take. </p>

<p>Son reluctantly put down his housing deposit the next morning, May 1. Later that morning he was wearing the Ithaca sweat pants I had bought him. Don’t worry, we found a productive use for the Texas State shirt I had bought which didn’t involve fire.</p>

<p>I don’t think I’ve ever been as excited or scared in my life. I hope your journey is more on the exciting, less on the scary, and you get a full-ride offer from your top choice before Christmas. But we all know Santa isn’t real, so saddle up for a long ride.</p>

<p>Total tasks completed - exactly 500, and I am not making that up.</p>

<p>Wish it were possible to “Like” a whole thread. :slight_smile:
Thanks so much for sharing.</p>

<p>Wow! Thanks for this…super informative and totally intimidating. Congrats on the offers and surviving.</p>

<p>Wow, just wow. Thanks so much for sharing. I feel completely unprepared for the upcoming year, but I’m beginning to think no one ever really is. Many congratulations on all that went right.</p>

<p>I really do think you have to have lived “the process” to have any concept … and even then it is impossible to understand. For me, one of the most interesting aspects of reading the acceptances and decisions threads has been the HUGE variations: accepted at x but not at y. Your story put all of that in FASCINATING detail. Very best of luck to your son at Ithaca- I really hope he loves it.</p>

<p>Love loved this! I was on the edge of my seat wondering what would happen next lol!</p>

<p>I so hope he is happy!!! PLEASE update us, or at least me via a PM, how his first semester goes! </p>

<p>This was simply amazing. I read it from start to finish - your sense of humor made it a very fun read! I’ve been lurking on CC for several months as we prepare for our daughter’s senior year and had not planned to “register” yet, but I just had to so I could comment. Thank you for taking the time to share your journey with us. I’m sure I will refer back to your many helpful insights in the weeks and months to come.</p>

<p>This is terrific! You describe the roller coaster ride in great detail, the highs, the lows, I felt I was right back in the middle of it.</p>

<p>What an awesome rendering of “our” stories. Your/your S’s “process” was so exactly the same - and different- as/from ours/our S’s. Everyone’s"process" varies in the details, but the gut-wrenching ups and downs are shared by all who dare to travel this path. And it’s only the beginning. Good luck to all.</p>

<p>This is fantastic… And my D also lived the TSU “fall in love, priority hold, wait list forever, ultimately rejected.” Very glad we did that audition at Unifieds. Can’t imagine how much more she would have fallen in love on campus. Upcoming parents… His posts are real life. Our experience closely mirrored his. Love the " wore the Ithaca sweatpants the next day" line. That falling in love with TSU messes with your kid! Ours quickly fell in love with her program AFTER making her deposits (BW) and can’t wait to move in next week… And has already amassed a sizable BW wardrobe since May 1st. </p>

<p>Thanks for sharing the good, the bad and the ugly. Respect The Process… He’s not kidding!</p>

<p>Wonderful, scary, exhilarating, crushing, you have it all there MyPennyX2! Thank you for your detailed story, but most of all, thank you for your honesty. The process was like childbirth, I forgot the pain and focused on the outcome :slight_smile: </p>

<p>Thank you for sharing your story!! That was by far the most entertaining, helpful, and informative post I have ever read here on CC. </p>

<p>We went through this process 2 seasons ago, and your words took me right back. I could really feel the excitement, the disappointment, the hope, the maybes, the final rejections, the decision, the relief… You captured it all. I don’t know if it is ever possible to understand the intense amount of activity and emotion this process entails, but your posts are the best account I’ve read. What a gift to those getting ready to experience college audition mayhem for the first time. Thank you for sharing.</p>

<p>MyPennyX2 should be the first CC member to be promoted to senior members status on the basis of 27 posts. Fairly sure he has earned it on characters alone. :slight_smile: </p>

<p>All I can say is WOW. My daughter only applied to three BFA programs (plus two non-audition safeties) and that was stressful! Kudos to you, your wife and your son! </p>

<p>Fabulous! And perfect and as others have said mirrors what we have gone through including TSU! I imagine we crossed paths with your son at least once between Moonifieds and the TSU audition! Thank you for sharing. Yup, folks, this is REAL!</p>

<p>MyPennyX2 - just outstanding!!! As many others have stated, your S’s (and your) journey/Process closely tracks ours (my D and mine) in that she auditioned for 12 schools - including the missteps, rabbit holes, second-guessing, hand-wringing, disappointment, Baileys/wine, confusion, frustration, elation, joy and relief.<br>
My D actually attended the TXMTW the same summer as your S did, so they probably know each other. :)</p>

<p>My D didn’t end up where we thought she would but she’s absolutely certain of her choice (even while Mom continues to “what if”) and has been ready to move across the country to her new “home away from home” since graduation day in June. Even before signing day, or giving me an indication of what her final decision would be, she was wearing her sweatshirt from the final choice school on the airplane. I should have known then.
Thank you for taking the time to chronicle your Process. It was cathartic for me to read and realize that I wasn’t as crazy as I thought I was and our journey was not so unusual. LOL. I hope that parents and other MT/Acting kids on here read and absorb what you’ve shared. Congratulations on surviving the Process!</p>