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Needing Advice, Help!

mattbarbeemattbarbee 3 replies1 threadsRegistered User New Member
Hey there! HS Junior here from North Carolina. I’ve been looking around at schools and there are a few that I’ve really identified with and enjoyed visiting (Northwestern, Columbia, NYU) but the issue is that I’ve spent my entire HS years focused on academics. Although I’ve been heavily involved in my school’s theatre program since my freshman year (including two lead roles thus far), my experience doesn’t reach beyond that, as I only recently seriously considered choosing Theatre as a college major. I certainly have solid academic stats to be competitive in the admissions process for the schools i’m interested in (4.0 Unweighted, 4.6 Weighted, 32 ACT, 200+ service hours, leadership positions in other extracurricular activities, summers spent in academic/growth environments, strong relationships with those writing my recommendations).

However, now that I want to major in theater (preferably a BFA), I feel like I’m too late and that I’ve wasted my chance. Now I worry I’ll become estranged from what I believe to be the only thing I truly care about, and never be taken seriously enough to pursue it in the future.

The other issue is that I feel barred from even auditioning at any schools because even if I’m accepted, I wouldn’t be able to afford tuition. This is why I’m aiming for schools such as NU and Columbia academically, as they have the financial aid that I would need to be able to attend the school without putting excessive stress on my family. Altogether, I think I have let the chance to pursue my dream slip between my fingers at only 17.

What do I do? Harsh answers welcome, I understand I’ve dug myself a hole.
16 replies
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Replies to: Needing Advice, Help!

  • astute12astute12 673 replies9 threadsRegistered User Member
    edited July 17
    Go to a school with a really strong theatre program --Northwestern, for example, or Columbia. Get a theatre degree and THEN get an MFA at an acting school like Yale, CalArts, Juilliard, etc. Your dream can be followed! Lots of really talented actors and theatre peeps go a BA route and then if they want to, get an MFA. Look at other schools with highly rated BA theatre programs such as Vassar, Skidmore, USC (they have a BA Theatre as well as their BFA program). You are not in a hole! You can also audition for a few BFA programs and see what happens -- you are gonna do fine! Brake a leg!
    edited July 17
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  • astute12astute12 673 replies9 threadsRegistered User Member
    Muhlenburg, Fordham, Brandeis, and Brown as well.
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  • astute12astute12 673 replies9 threadsRegistered User Member
    Are you a rising Junior? If so, you do have time to prepare for auditions and some theatre programs do offer financial aid. My daughter did her BFA at CalArts, but she wanted to attend a conservatory acting program since 10th grade. There are lots of schools where you can do both theatre and traditional academics. Keep your options open.
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  • mattbarbeemattbarbee 3 replies1 threadsRegistered User New Member
    I’m a rising senior, so essentially already in the process of applying to schools.
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  • mattbarbeemattbarbee 3 replies1 threadsRegistered User New Member
    Doing theater as an MFA is definitely a possibility I hadn’t thought about... That’s very comforting! Do you happen to know what an audition/application process for that is like? Would I need to do my undergrad in theatre? The concern is that NU only accepts 100 into their theater major, and considering my weak resume and their lack of an auditions process for the major, I don’t think I would be able to major in theatre for undergrad, instead only minoring or taking a few side courses.
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  • xavierdogxavierdog 10 replies1 threadsRegistered User New Member
    My daughter will be attending Tisch in the fall. Most of her theatre experience was high school and she didn't even do a show her senior year (focused on auditions). She participated in a one summer theatre musical, but not as the lead and it was a local, youth production. It may not be too late if you're strong in academics.
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  • astute12astute12 673 replies9 threadsRegistered User Member
    edited July 18
    As long as you prepare solid monologues and participate in theatre during your undergrad years, you would apply for MFA programs in the usual way. You do not have to major in theatre as an undergrad, but participating in campus plays/theatre clubs/taking a few theatre classes would help.

    The MFA auditions are pretty much identical to the BFA auditions.

    Ultimately for both the BFA and MFA what happens in the audition room is what gets you accepted.
    edited July 18
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  • astute12astute12 673 replies9 threadsRegistered User Member
    You might consider sending an email to MTCA (Musical Theatre College Auditions.) They are a company that helps students prepare for Musical Theatre and Straight Theatre auditions -- we used them for our daughter when she applied, but they can give you honest advice. You can search for them online and they will do a consult via skype.
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  • CaMom13CaMom13 1866 replies12 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited July 18
    @mattbarbee - there have been many threads covering "who" finds success in Theatre and honestly, successful actors come from all over, have varying high school backgrounds, get different college educations. You haven't thrown away your shot. ;) That said, the BFA application process is complicated and requires a lot of coordination. You're not behind exactly but many actors have been preparing for this for a while so getting up to speed with prescreens and auditions will take substantial focus and effort.

    A few notes:
    Some smaller private schools may give you better aid than NU or Columbia.

    Your in-state options are pretty great. If you haven't checked out UNC and UNCSA, do so.

    The BFA arts workload is pretty startling for people who come from academic-only schools. Ask yourself if you really want to study in an arts program in college or you want a college education that will give you a chance at becoming a working actor?

    Find some good academic "back up" options - places you can afford and can grow from. Your career won't be defined by what happens in the next year unless you let it be.
    edited July 18
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  • KatMTKatMT 4136 replies70 threadsCollege Rep Senior Member
    edited July 19
    @mattbarbee It is never too late to pursue Theatre, and even if it could be, that would not be when you are 17 :-).

    Try balancing your application list with different types of schools and see where you are admitted. A lot can also change over the course of the year, so having acceptances from different types of schools will hopefully give you a full range of options come April.

    Ex.
    In-state schools (choose a few that have programs you like, and at least one that does not require an audition):
    UNCSA (requires audition)
    UNC Greensboro (BFA requires an audition)
    UNC Chapel Hill
    UNC Willmington (audition required to start as Theatre major freshman year)
    UNC Charlotte
    UNC Ashville
    I am not as familiar with the NC State schools.
    Look to see if you would qualify for academic merit aid at any of your in-state schools.

    Schools with strong Theatre and Academics that do not require an audition:
    Columbia/Barnard
    Vassar
    Skidmore
    Muhlenberg
    Williams
    Northwestern
    Wesleyan
    Brandeis
    Etc. Etc. Etc... There are many others... if you give more details of what you are looking for overall in a college environment CC users may be able to offer more ideas.

    Schools that do require an audition (a range of schools with varying selectivity, and kinds of programs):
    Fordham
    Syracuse
    Penn State
    Michigan
    JMU
    Coastal Carolina
    Ball State
    CCM
    SUNY Purchase
    Etc. Etc. Etc. There are MANY... if you go to the Musical Theatre forum there is a big list of schools posting... while MT specific, many of those schools also offer a Theatre major, so could be a place to start.
    Take the time to look at the differences in terms of the amount of time spent in major course work vs. more academic course work outside of the major... depending on what you are looking for, done schools will be a better fit than others.

    Run the Net Price Calculator on each school's website, to get a sense of whether or not it could be affordable for your family.

    If you can afford a little coaching (or at least list planning) with something like MTCA (mentioned above), MCA (My College Audition), etc... they may be able to help you more quickly put together a balanced list of schools, because they know the schools so well.

    You also can post more specifics here of what you are looking for, and CC posters can suggest schools for you to look at that may meet your criteria.
    edited July 19
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  • mattbarbeemattbarbee 3 replies1 threadsRegistered User New Member
    It’s been a minute since checking this thread, but thank you to everyone who gave such great advice! I feel much more at ease, and I’ll certainly fight very hard throughout my undergrad to stay involved in theatre and hopefully earn a MFA later on!
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  • BFAbffBFAbff 29 replies0 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    It's true that not all MFA programs require your undergrad degree to be theatre. Some are looking for graduate students with diverse life experience, some want you right out of undergrad, some want you after you've had significant professional work. This kind of research is all part of finding the program that is the best fit for you, so it's great that you're thinking about this now!
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  • sugarpiehoneybunchsugarpiehoneybunch 11 replies0 threadsRegistered User New Member
    edited July 25
    Another thing to consider--you may get better academic based aid in a BA theatre performance program, because it's more academically oriented than a BFA program. My son didn't even start acting until his freshman year of high school--he's way behind his classmates in years of experience, but he has a great deal of natural ability and he's a super hard worker. We were all very worried about our/his ability to handle really expensive tuition/student debt (we qualify for zero need based aid), so he decided to follow the scholarships (academic and talent) for college and is happy with his choice to attend in-state at a BA theatre performance program at a respectable state university affiliated with a professional regional theatre, that has a highly competitive audition/application process. On top of his course work , doing shows and student films constantly throughout the academic year, and earning EMC points, he's also doing summer stock to continue to diversify his resume, professional connections, and experience. The great thing about summer stock is that he's finding that he absolutely can hold his own as an actor with kids from expensive, more prestigious schools. His plan is to graduate, use the connections he develops, work a lot of regional theatre starting out, and do his best to work enough to pay the bills. After a few years, if things are happening for him, great. If not, he'll audition at that point for a more prestigious MFA program that has a respected student showcase. If things don't work out after THAT, he's qualified to teach and direct on a university level. There are many many roads to a successful career in theatre. The goal is to consistently work and pay the bills.
    edited July 25
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  • PublisherPublisher 7972 replies82 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Two lead roles, a 4.00 UW GPA & a 32 ACT is impressive.

    You have received great advice in this thread & you have presented yourself well. I think that you will be successful.
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  • CaMom13CaMom13 1866 replies12 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    We need a LOVE button just for @Gyokoren's posts. Always super helpful.
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