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A Genuine Question- How Do You Know If You’re “Good Enough” To Make a Drama Program?

retromercuryretromercury 5 replies3 threads New Member
Hello there! Current high school junior here. I fear this question may come off as frivolous or a joke, but it’s genuine- I’ve always wondered, how do you know if you’re “good enough” for a college theater program? I know not all are auditions based, but for example’s sake here, let’s say it’s an audition based BFA.
It’s not as concrete as other programs- you know, auditions based as opposed to academics focused (although I wish it was more academics based, that’s a concrete thing I’m pretty good at!) But being that talent and potential are subjective qualities rather than a test score, how do you know if you’re “good enough”?

I’ve been doing shows since I was ten- school shows, community shows, shows at camp every summer. I’m an officer in my drama club, I’ve had leads, I’ve had small roles, I’ve been in the middle. (It’s musicals mainly, but my concentration in college would be just acting, not MT) I guess I’m confused on knowing what exactly the people you’re performing for are looking for. So many other kids have done the same thing- some get in, some don’t. What makes the 3.5% accepted into Ithaca the best and brightest, for example? Is it accolades, competitions won during high school? Is it a beautiful audition? Dedication and passion? Diligent studying of the theory and craft? And how do you tell if you are at the level these schools require?

I’m going to cast a wide net, but it would be nice to understand how to tell if you, well, frankly, have a shot at these things. You can study for academics which makes it more concrete, but studying performance is a bit harder. (That being said, Stanislavsky is where it’s at! Been reading those bad boys for a while. Good stuff, but mad complex.)
Thank you in advance for listening. I just joined here yesterday so this is all quite new but so far it’s been wonderful!
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Replies to: A Genuine Question- How Do You Know If You’re “Good Enough” To Make a Drama Program?

  • frontrowmamafrontrowmama 235 replies2 threads Junior Member
    Welcome to CC!! Your question is a great starting place and from the above composition, you certainly seem to be on track as a great BFA candidate. There are many, many BFA programs. You should give a lot of thought about what it means to "cast a broad net". That is, look for schools in the location that works for you, programs that offer a curriculum that appeals to you, look at the faculty, look at what the alumni are doing after graduation and if there is a support network that is developed. Ask yourself if you want to be in a BFA program within a big university or a smaller school? Or, do you see yourself immersed into a true conservatory setting? These are big questions and there are a lot of programs to consider. In our search a few years back, we really found that all of the BFA programs are pretty solid. Some are the tried and true programs, but there are many newer and/or hidden gem programs and that is not a bad thing either. As for your applications, start writing this summer! Write about why you want to take this path, what your "moment" you knew this was your calling, what you see yourself offering this field, your dreams and creative vision. This will help with the actual applications! If at all possible, get some help from a coach or possibly a teacher or director to help you choose monologues that help showcase your very best ability. Get critiques and feedback on your monologues! Schools will be casting an ensemble and that can look very different at each school, so it is impossible to say that a "beautiful audition" will be a sure thing if the program already has a lot of your "type" of students. Let your own authenticity shine and don't be afraid to take a risk if you get a redirection. And remember, most of the applicants are students just like you! Sure, some schools have transfer applicants or even older applicants, but most are HS students, so don't let that get in your head because once you start your BFA program everyone is sort of starting over on the journey anyway! Best of luck and break a leg!!
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  • NYDreammomNYDreammom 402 replies0 threads Member
    @retromercury I wouldn’t worry too much, if at all, if you are “good enough” because every program is different and wants a diverse class based on whatever factors. Obviously talent. Rather focus on what program will be a good fit for your goals and aspirations and focus on researching that. Best of luck!
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  • ctaylors6ctaylors6 24 replies3 threads Junior Member
    I agree with posts above. I especially believe that the college program that's a good fit for you is what you should be focusing on. Lots of students want to do a mix of things within theater. Different schools are better fits for different students. When you audition and complete applications, what you are like and want will come through to at least some degree. Hopefully the schools are picking the kids they think will be good fits for their programs. Yes, they can get 100 great singers, but maybe they want people who are awesome dancers or want to be creators/writers etc.

    I think one thing that helped my D in a more tangible way was to apply to summer programs. I don't know if you've done that or if it's too late now, but going through the process of recording videos, writing essays, and completing applications for national summer intensives really helped prepare her for the college audition process as a senior. Seeing where you can get in for the summer intensives is definitely not a perfect barometer of college acceptances but it can be helpful feedback, even if it's just that you need to pick different material or consult a little with a coach. Attending a summer intensive with people from all over the country (or even from out of the country) really helped her feel more realistic and confident.
    Good luck!
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  • MomMimiMomMimi 89 replies0 threads Junior Member
    @retromercury I really loved your thoughtful question and agree with a lot of the answers you’ve already received. A couple of other thoughts: for the top BFA programs, the prescreen and the audition (and sometimes callback weekend) seem to be just about EVERYTHING in terms of admissions, once you get over the basic academic hurdle for the particular school in question. I think resume and essays and stated interest are all helpful around the edges, but it is the audition that matters most. Choice of monologue is important - choose some that are age-appropriate and really show of YOUR talents to the best ability - and work as hard as you can to polish and polish the monologues until you can feel them deeply. To that end, I really agree with @ctaylors6 that a summer intensive can be really helpful. My son found his monologues and did a lot of work on them during his intensive, and got great feedback that helped him figure out a realistic target list of schools. If that’s not a possibility, just getting a few coaching sessions (there are recommendations in these boards, and many of the coaches do skype sessions so there is no need to travel) can provide really helpful input.

    It honestly is a hard process and it’s great that you are putting a lot of thought into it now. Good luck!
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  • CaMom13CaMom13 2213 replies14 threads Senior Member
    @retromercury - a group of parents from the class of 2024 had a frank discussion about this topic last year and we agreed on the following - it's really helpful to get some objective feedback before you apply to schools, not to say "good enough" but to give you perspective. For many students the first objective feedback they get IS college admissions and that can be pretty brutal if where they think they are doesn't match up to their audition results. So where do you get objective feedback on your acting? Auditioning for programs outside your school is one potential avenue. Finding a really honest coach might be another. Participating in Thespian festivals or competitions or summer programs where there is a wider mix of performers from all over are great ways to get yourself out there. You don't need to get prizes or to win accolades - you just need to make sure you're able to swim in the larger pond and be prepared for the level of competition that exists for admission to many programs.
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  • GyokorenGyokoren 48 replies5 threads Junior Member
    Don't worry about being "good enough." The truth is, very few are. Most of the kids that get in just showed the faculty members at the audition a spark of something they think they can work with along with a personality they believe they will enjoy teaching for the next four years. As has already been said, beyond that and past any relevant academic threshold, it's all about picking a diverse ensemble which is something over which you have zero control. Make that liberating. Not daunting.

    You are enough. Don't even try to be "good." Just pick appropriate pieces that resonate, bring what you can to them at this point in your journey, and let the chips fall where they may. Anything past that is something we in the real world call "actor mind taffy." It won't serve you.
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  • meohmyohmeohmyoh 37 replies12 threads Junior Member
    @retromercury You will be fine. Make a balanced list and you'll find your place. And remember there are a lot of excellent programs out there that take more than 3%.
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  • retromercuryretromercury 5 replies3 threads New Member
    Wow, thank you guys so much. The support here really touched my heart!
    Summer intensives do sound ideal! I’m not sure if they could fit into the financial picture, but I do know that my school just started a troop for the International Thespian Society, which I’ve heard can help in getting some experience. We’ve logged our hours, and I have a pretty good ranking. I’ll have to look into it a bit more, but it is indeed tech week and you know how that works! Busy times. That being said, I am on extensive monologue hunts- the librarians must think I have a big audition coming up every day for the past 3 years with the amount of them I sign out😂It’s really great to hear feedback and genuine answers on a concern I’ve had for a very long time, and I thank all of you for your responses. Wishing you and your families luck on this journey.
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  • rickle1rickle1 2417 replies21 threads Senior Member
    @CaMom13 Like the idea of Thespian competitions, camps, etc. Definitely helps to get perspective far broader than your natural audience. D did BTP a few yrs ago and was blown away by the talent (intimidated actually). She was young 8th / 9th grade so hadn't refined anything yet. Last summer she went to a college audition camp that had kids from all over. It was both eye opening and confidence building as she said the kids were all amazing but she felt she "belonged in the room". She's been much more confident at auditions since then. She uses that to remind herself about her uniqueness (you all are!) when she feels low (which happens a lot in this arena.)
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  • GogglesonGoggleson 25 replies2 threads Junior Member
    @retromercury there's lots of great advice here and you sound like you are on the right track already in terms of your smart move to start looking at options this early! Only thing I'd add is that a couple of consulting sessions with any of the audition coaches commonly mentioned on these pages could be well worthwhile. For a lot less than the cost of a summer intensive program, you could get some honest feedback, some monologue options and a college list customized to you, and as others have noted, that could all be done via Skype if you are not located near any of the big cities. (And no, I'm not a coach but just think they can be really helpful). Also, don't forget that your academic abilities could come in real handy when it comes to scholarships at some schools, so keep up the work when it comes to GPA and SAT or ACT scores and that may well pay off! Good luck. :-)
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