USC BFA Stage and Screen vs CalArts BFA Acting; Apples to Apples? Apples to Oranges? Apples to ...

My D was accepted to both, and now we are in decision mode…

She wants to work professionally in film, with a strong theatre background. Luckily, because of my GI Bill, finances are the same either way.

This is obviously a great problem to have but I’m sort of curious what the group thinks…Thoughts?

@MayorOrden wow, your D has amazing choices and a very tough decision! If it is at all possible, she needs to visit the schools because they are drastically different. As for training, you are more along the apples to apples line. Actually USC, UCLA, and CalArts share some of the same faculty.
If your D prefers a large, university setting with all the bells and whistles, she may prefer USC. If she wants to laser focus her art and stretch herself to the maximum capacity in a true conservatory setting then CalArts may he a better match. Both program’s have top film schools, but USC seems to be at the very, very top. I do think that students from outside of USC can audition for their film projects. USC is in the gritty heart of LA and CalArts is up in the well manicured suburbs(but close enough to enjoy LA).

I have a freshman at CalArts and am happy to answer any questions. Good luck with your incredible options for your D!

One more thing! Have your D look very closely at the curriculum at each program. They are probably similar in the sense that most courses are “Pre-loaded” but look at the GE classes and the electives too!

I appreciate the feedback, that’s really helpful information. We actually got her up to Valencia to shadow some of the classes for a day over spring break, and that’s when they offered her a spot. After that, it was a series of rejections and waitlists until USC said yes. Bottom line is that she is in NC right now, and won’t be able to visit the campus before she makes her decision. We actually live in SoCal, so I fully understand the geographical disparity part of it too. She was all-in on CalArts until USC offered (she was really smitten with CalArts during the audition process, and USC was much more technical)…it would be stupid not to sit back and think on it.

Boy, it sure is a good problem to have… Anything else you can think of?

A family member of mine went to USC in film production some years ago. USC is very, very networked into Hollywood. Family member just kind of casually got an internship on a Coppola film one summer. Chances of working with a someday-famous director are high. CalArts’, meanwhile, is animation central.

USC’s BFA is heavy-duty–they warn you that there will be no double-majoring and little time to do anything else. CalArts is also all in on pursuing arts, but I get the sense it’s a little more relaxed in attitude.

I agree with the film info above. And, seems like there is very good voice over-acting at both schools, but CalArts may have the edge there with the type of animation program they have. CalArts is a school for students that are very self driven. The students that succeed there are giving 200% all of the time. I know that this is especially true for the actors. The campus functions 24/7 and I know that some nights after working run crew my S heads to his rehearsal space to work more and this goes very late into the night. I would not say that one school is more heavy duty than another as they are both extremely demanding. They say at CalArts if the student just does the requirements, they will only reap about 20% of what the program offers. So the really motivated kids seem to do well in this environment and this is what it takes in the business.
At the end of the day, it is about fit for the individual. Both schools are amazing and there is not a right or wrong answer, but there may be a right or wrong fit.

Wow - awesome to awesome! :). Congratulations to your D! Both programs are great fits for very different performers. Does your D want a traditional University experience or a more of a small intense Conservatory experience? I would give the edge to USC for a totally undecided student simply because the alumni network is so huge. But I can totally see her making the decision the other way if the big sporty U environment isn’t where she wants to spend her college years.

First of all - amazing acceptances! My D is a film actor. She has a theatre background, but switched to film acting as a young teen. Her dream school was USC but it wasn’t an option financially so she didn’t apply/audition. She fell in love with Pace FTVC, but was an alternate last year and never accepted. She ended up choosing a BFA Acting program, but is not happy because she is studying stage acting. It’s a great program, but not what she wants to be doing. Bottom line - look at the curriculum if she thinks she’d be happy on either campus. I’ve seen a lot of people say they printed out the curriculum for schools they were considering, but hiding the names, and doing a blind comparison to see which they preferred.

Congrats on the great acceptances!!! I know nothing about either one of those schools, but would offer advice regarding the Post 9/11 GI Bill. Do both schools offer the yellow ribbon to an unlimited amount of students to bridge the gap on tuition? Which school’s dorms are more expensive? You will have to pay for housing up front as BAH does not start paying you until October 1st at the earliest. (We learned this the hard way).

Thanks everyone, I think we are zeroing in on a decision based on what my D has said she wants out of the curriculum. I asked her to develop her personal philosophy and goals first, and then look at each school which seems to be guiding her well at this point.

As for the GI Bill, yeah, they have the yellow ribbon guaranteed at both schools which is what makes this possible. And the expense of the dorms is roughly the same at both. I’m tracking the gap too, so we are likely to have to grab a loan for the first 6 months or so. After it kicks in though, the BAH for SoCal is redonkulous so that is going to help quite a bit, perhaps even covering her final year.

While doing some research for my S, I came across this thread. We will also use GI Bill/Yellow Ribbon, and he’s very interested in USC. I was wondering, MayorOrden, where your D ended up? Thanks.

Anyone hear back about auditions from USC yet?