Viterbo VS Syracuse

I am planning out what schools I can audition for at Chicago Unifieds, and with the schools on my list (I’m hoping to get in 2 auditions each day, I want to get in as many auditions as possible but I’d rather not do any more than that) I have 1 audition “spot” left to fill. Syracuse and Viterbo are the two schools from my list (that I’ve had to trim down quite a bit due to problems with travel) that I’ve narrowed it down to but honestly I have no idea which I would prefer. Could anyone please reply with anything you know about either program/your opinion on which I should audition for, like their acceptance rates/difficulty to get in and their evaluations and stuff? Thanks!

My D was accepted at Syracuse, and though she ended up choosing NYU, it was a close call- I would be happy to share the things she liked about the program during the process

Those 2 schools are extremely different. One is a large university (approx 21,000 plus students). The other is a much smaller (approx. 2500 students) Catholic liberal arts school. Do you have a preference for the size school you wish to attend? Statistics will show Syracuse is the harder place to be admitted, although both are competitive for admission. Syracuse probably has a stronger MT reputation, although Viterbo provides good training too. I would look at the curriculum for each and see if one course of study appeals more to you than the other. My impression was that Syracuse was more acting based while Viterbo I would consider more music based - but you get training in all disciplines at both. And this was just our impression. Syracuse offers some interesting programs like the Tepper semester in NYC. I’m not sure what Viterbo offers that may be similar. D did not audition for Viterbo so we did not research it much. There are some great Viterbo representatives on CC that could perhaps chime in to tell you more about it. If I am remembering correctly, I believe Syracuse is a more difficult academic admit than Viterbo although I think Viterbo has fairly strong academics also. I’m not sure how generous either are with scholarships although I think Viterbo might be more generous depending on the student.

Our D did audition for Syracuse in Chicago. We unfortunately did not have a good audition experience with them and crossed them off D’s list the moment she left her audition. (honestly I think she crossed them off her list a few minutes into their introductions prior to her audition!) She just did not click with them at all. But not every school is right for every person. This was just her personal experience. She does have a friend who attends Syracuse in the MT program and seems to like it. SU has a strong track record of producing working alums in the business. It just wasn’t right for our D.
If you are really trying to decide between these two schools, I think you should make a pros and cons list for each school and see which one has more plusses for you. Think about things like size, location, curriculum, performance opportunities, special programs (like Tepper semester), campus life, cost, etc… A lot of times when you you do this exercise the answer between 2 schools becomes much more clear.

That is so funny @vvnstar, and illustrates an important point- Syracuse was one of D’s favorite auditions. We did it in Chicago too (Jan 2014), and felt Ralph Zito and everyone there went out of their way to make everyone feel comfortable. On the other hand, D was ready to dump Ithaca (the next day) before she even went in the room. Who knows if there is different energy different days, or if various speeches/sessions rub different people different ways. It really is all about fit!

@toowonderful We were a year ahead of you (2013) and attended their last audition in Chicago on the last day. It definitely was not a positive experience for us and for many others. I know they got a lot of feedback in that regard. So I’m glad to hear 2014 was a better experience. It is undoubtedly a good school and good program for some. It just wasn’t a good experience or fit for our D.

Ithaca was the last day for us, bad weather was rolling in (what a shock) and schools were clearly trying to get out of town. Maybe the lesson is- don’t schedule for the last day!

I’m a current Viterbo student (sophomore MT/arts admin double major). It’s my opinion that you don’t need to choose between auditioning for Viterbo and Syracuse! If auditions are being run the same way this cycle as they have been in previous years, Viterbo will not have a dance call at Unifieds, which means that you don’t need to schedule a big block of time for Viterbo during your day. The audition will run you about 15-20 minutes, depending on the length of your post-audition interview with the faculty. I’d recommend that you get in touch with Rick Walters (our head of acting and the director of recruitment for the department) and Sue Hauser (administrative assistant in charge of scheduling all auditions) as soon as you firm up your Syracuse audition time to ensure that our faculty will be able to see you either before or after your Syracuse audition.

Both Viterbo and Syracuse are going to be fairly selective, both in terms of grades and in terms of admission to the musical theatre program. The department aims for about 5 men and 5 women in each class, but it can vary–I believe there are 7 women and 3 men in the incoming freshman class this fall. Every year, there are a few people who audition for Musical Theatre who are redirected into Acting, one of the other majors in our department (Arts Admin, Theatre Ed, Design/Tech, Stage Management), our BA in Theatre Studies, or they are recommended to the Vocal Performance program in our music department (which is separate from the Department of Theatre and Music Theatre). The faculty will ask you about your goals in your interview, and will evaluate you holistically to try and find the best program for you. Of course, you are allowed to ask that you only be considered for certain programs–I knew I would only accept an offer for MT, so that’s what I did.

I think vvnstar’s advice about considering what kind of campus environment you’d like to be in is a point well-taken. La Crosse is a beautiful college town right on the Mississippi, and we do share the town with UW-La Crosse, so there’s lots to do and lots of people to meet, but the campus environment certainly is different than Syracuse’s.

I think that in the past, vvnstar may have been correct that the Viterbo MT curriculum was more music-focused, but we’ve had some curriculum restructuring over the past few years that definitely puts acting first (though not at the expense of music or dance). I can elaborate further, if you’d like. There have been some exciting hires in the department over the past few years (Matthew Scott Campbell is our new head of MT, Shane Rhoades is our new head of dance), and they’re definitely putting this program on the map in the Midwest, I think. All of our graduating seniors this year (MT’15) are currently working in major regional markets.

Personally, I love the opportunity to be in a smaller campus in a smaller department, as I’m getting the opportunity not just to grow as a musical theatre performer, but as a well-rounded theatre artist: I get the opportunity to assistant direct, to dramaturg, to mount student productions, to create devised work…there’s a real entrepreneurial spirit, here, and the faculty are so incredibly supportive of all of us forging our own paths.

I hope you get to audition for both schools! One of my dearest friends is a rising senior MT at Syracuse, and he’s loved his time there. You really can’t go wrong with picking either. If you have any more questions about Viterbo, I can certainly answer them for you.

This year, Viterbo was accepting walk-ins everyday; Syracuse wasn’t at all. I wouldn’t count on that (maybe it’ll be different this year at Viterbo), but I just thought I’d throw that out there… If a program is a priority, I would’nt add additional stress by hoping for a walk-in. However, D had a couple programs that almost made her list or that she developed more interest in as time went on that she had on a “walk-in” list, and she was able to do walk-ins.

Btw - Syracuse is not an official “unifieds” school (or at least they were not in 2014), so they are not in the Palmer House. In scheduling you would want to leave time for travel (it was a 10 min walk D’s year)

With regard to academics:

Syracuse is the #58 rated National University by US News (a relatively prestigious position). It is regarded as Very Difficult for academic admission by more than 50% of freshmen were in the top 10% of their high school class and scored over 1230 on the SAT I or over 26 on the ACT; about 60% or fewer of all applicants accepted.

Viterbo is the #109 rated Regional University in the Midwest by US News. It is regarded as Moderately Difficult for academic admission by more than 75% of freshmen were in the top 50% of their high school class and scored over 1010 on the SAT I or over 18 on the ACT; about 85% or fewer of all applicants accepted.

Bynh on