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Things I'd do Differently if Going Through this Process Again


Replies to: Things I'd do Differently if Going Through this Process Again

  • annelisesmomannelisesmom Registered User Posts: 223 Junior Member
    There are SO many things we would have done differently. My D did not go to a performing arts high school nor do we have a strong or inclusive community theater network here. My D discovered her passion for theater as a freshman in high school so we came very late to the game and has only done high school theater. She attended a few summer theater camps - not the elite ones mentioned often on here - including an audition "bootcamp," but we had no idea she'd be up against kids that have been working with private audition coaches and the like. And unfortunately, we didn't discover CC until mid-audition season.
    But thank goodness we did (!) as we were previously unaware of the walk-in opportunities at Unifieds - which ended up producing some great acceptances for her. Given that we were so uninformed and naïve, I guess we were really lucky that she received any acceptances at all.
  • MsdchickMsdchick Registered User Posts: 30 Junior Member
    Definitely think interview prep is just as important as monologue prep! Would have D focus on this aspect to a greater degree if we could do it all over again for sure. I think certain schools also want to see a level of maturity which can only be conveyed in an interview. I would have three questions ready for each school at minimum that are specific to their program.
  • compadvcompadv Registered User Posts: 106 Junior Member
    @characteractress Congrats on NYU..enjoy the Big Apple! I also agree on only one safety and going by fit and not reputation.
  • annelisesmomannelisesmom Registered User Posts: 223 Junior Member
    edited April 2014
    I guess I would disagree a bit on the "only one safety" idea. It really depends on what you're considering as safeties, right? My advise would be to thoroughly vet those schools relied on as safeties and ask yourself if you would actually want to attend if things don't go as planned. If you can honestly answer yes, then include them - maybe a couple. If not, you guys are right, it's a waste of time and effort.
    And I concur on not getting caught up on reputation and thereby excluding schools with outstanding, competitive programs because they are not the Hollywood Reporter list or whatnot. It's really, truly about fit for your kid.
  • Times3Times3 Registered User Posts: 1,373 Senior Member
    edited April 2014
    The safeties--assuming you mean non-auditioned academic safeties--were one place I insisted on having a cushion. They're easy, inexpensive applications, and my son had three that were all either EA or rolling admissions. That was also the one place I did NOT insist on visits in advance; if it had come down to the safeties, he would've visited in spring, so I wanted him to have options. Because it was no big deal to apply to them, it seemed to make sense to have at least two! :) But yes, as you say, it was also important that they were schools that, at least based on what you could learn without visiting, he would consider attending. (bad sentence but hopefully it made sense.)
  • MsMommyMsMommy Registered User Posts: 271 Junior Member
    edited April 2014
    Short answer...start researching earlier so that I would have found CC (and all of you) earlier.

    Long answer...it's complicated.

    First, I don't want anyone to think I'm not thrilled with my son's acceptances, his theatre teacher or his guidance counselor. That's not the point, and I'm sure EVERYONE involved did his/her best with the info we had available at the time.

    This may work best as the story of how things DID happen.

    My son has been saying for several years that he wants to be an actor and that his drama teacher/director at his HS told him that BFA, then MFA was the only way to go. We researched "top" schools and two Spring Breaks ago, my H started taking my S to visit schools...first on West coast, last year, East coast.

    We questioned the BFA only route, but I would say our FIRST mistake was not meeting with his theatre teacher immediately to discuss that particular concern. We did meet to ask him, "Does S have what it takes?", and didn't come away much more confident that he did. I think the final word was something like, "I'm sure he would probably get into a program somewhere...he works hard and he's an adequate actor....he should try for a BFA program."

    We tend to let our kids do everything they possibly can by and for themselves, so other than taking our S to visit schools, we wanted to allow the journey to be his. It seems they have a "tradition" in his theatre dept. at school that the director "chooses your monologues". SECOND mistake was accepting this as "the way it is done". We waited and waited for son's monologues to be chosen for him. Then he didn't want to tell us what they were until he had them memorized. In the meantime, I was beginning to panic and research and found CC, you theatre/drama parents and the recommendation to read, "I Got In", by Mary Anna Dennard. It was only about a month before his first audition date that he finally did his monologues for us. YIKES. Problem number THREE! They contained profanity. And I'm not a prude, but IMO, this was unacceptable profanity. They were not contrasting in that the "tone" of both his comedic and dramatic were quite similar (frustrated, angry). Luckily, I had the research to back me up that this was NOT GOOD. Unluckily, my S chose this time to dig in his heels and become the stubborn child I had not seen since he was in his terrible twos. He absolutely refused to change his monologues. He insisted he loved them and they were chosen especially "for him" and that he was NOT going to change them...even though I was madly researching and purchasing plays and communicating privately with an amazing person I met on CC who took much personal time to give me guidance, copy and email monologues, etc. We had another meeting with teacher at this point who defended his monologue choices, but admitted that he had never even had a student apply to most of the schools at which S was applying (meaning highly selective BFA programs).

    My H enlisted the help of a friend who is a professional videographer to film S's prescreen video and when they arrived at HS blackbox to film, realized that S and teacher had no idea what the time limits were, and my H had to argue with them to get them to adjust the monologue to fit the limits (I mean, they were 2 minutes over) while kind professional friend waited for over an hour for them to get their stuff together. So even though I had worked with S to make a spreadsheet detailing each audition and what was required, he and teacher had decided they did not really need to adhere to these guidelines. This is about the time where I totally freaked out...it seemed like a TRAIN WRECK was bound to happen, and I didn't quite know how to prevent it.

    In a stroke of brilliance (if I do say so myself), I hired (for a very modest $ amount) my yoga instructor who is an aspiring local actress who works closely with a local casting director and I asked her to help my son prepare for auditions. Amazingly, my S agreed to meet with her and actually liked her and took direction from her. It may not have hurt that she is a gorgeous, young actress. She worked with him several times, and although she was not able to get him to switch monologues, she managed to get him to work them many different ways, with many crazy adjustments, etc. He also agreed to practice a modified (sans profanity) version in case it seemed the prudent way to perform it at a certain audition (can you say Jesuit?) A week before auditions, we (my yoga teacher, my H, me and my younger S) did mock auditions with him...he had to pretend to audition for each of his 13 schools, do additional monologues (until his repertoire was exhausted), do adjustments, sing, dance, and answer interview questions. We responded in a myriad of different ways...sometimes basically ignoring him, sometimes grilling him relentlessly. And a few days later we made him do it all again. He did this grudgingly, still insisting that his teacher was giving him all the instruction necessary. But I was beginning to be able to breathe again. It seemed he just might really, finally be prepared for auditions.

    I'm not going to second-guess any of the rest of it...his list of schools, how we scheduled auditions, or the fact that he needed to miss almost two weeks of school to fit all of his auditions in. It was what it was. And he has an amazing list of acceptances from which to choose. But I do believe with all my heart that if I had researched sooner and managed to understand what he needed (on top of what was being provided at school), he might have even been able to gain acceptance to a few of his high reach programs.

    End result...he is THRILLED! Maybe nothing I did made any difference. But I am happy that I found CC and I'm happy that S2 thinks he wants to go into Engineering. So I won't be going anywhere...this is where the knowledge is and I'll feel much more confident and prepared as S2 begins this journey...which begins about...NOW!

    Oh, and definitely set up an email acct. for all college correspondence to which both student and parents have access. It was really difficult not knowing what was going on at first...until S got into the habit of checking his emails.

    Thank you to everyone here who helped me through this process. Your knowledge and camaraderie has been invaluable and unparalleled. And good luck to everyone beginning this journey. There is a wealth of knowledge on this thread. I hope it makes for smooth sailing.
  • annelisesmomannelisesmom Registered User Posts: 223 Junior Member
    I think I would have stocked up on valium.
  • MsMommyMsMommy Registered User Posts: 271 Junior Member
    Hahahah, annelisesmom! Hindsight is 20/20. I may still need some to get me through the "decision process"...but after that we're home free, right?
  • Jkellynh17Jkellynh17 Registered User Posts: 2,013 Senior Member
    Oh no there's plenty of drama to come, @MsMommy. It'll just be long distance and you won't hear about until the last possible minute and it will be much, much harder to do anything about it. (ahem, also having a rough day, sorry...)
  • smalltownpensmalltownpen Registered User Posts: 22 New Member
    If I could do it over again, I would have applied to more match schools. I spent too much on applications to Ivies and other top-tiers, fully aware my chances of acceptance were slim.

    I'm so lucky that I got accepted into a few great places; if I hadn't I would have had to attend a school which I /didn't/ want to go to, my only safety.
  • MsMommyMsMommy Registered User Posts: 271 Junior Member
    Valium for jkellynh17 also, please. My mom always says, "The problems don't ever go away...they just get "different and more complex". Sorry you're having a rough day. And no doubt my son will be "waiting until the last possible minute". No. Doubt.
  • NJTheatreMOMNJTheatreMOM Registered User Posts: 3,673 Senior Member
    That's an extraordinary story, MsMommy. Thanks for sharing it.
  • 2019theatremom2019theatremom Registered User Posts: 251 Junior Member
    Wow, MsMommy, there is no doubt in my mind that your intervention made all the difference in success now versus a reality check after unsuccessful auditions. Sounds like there wasn't a strong recipe for success at the start. Your S is lucky to have a mom like you to watch his back. It's hard to balance doing the work for them and simply managing the pieces that kids this age just don't have the capacity (or need) to really keep on top of.
  • MsMommyMsMommy Registered User Posts: 271 Junior Member
    I guess the short version of the long version is that in the midst of choosing schools, filling out applications, writing essays, filming prescreens and scheduling auditions, don't forget that for the auditioned programs, the MOST important thing is choice of and practice of monologues. Period. You have maybe ten minutes in that room with the auditors. That is what will count. And if you can relax and let your personality shine through while performing your monologue and answering/asking questions...that's a powerful audition. That is my opinion...after the dust has settled.
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