BWW Blog: College Theatre Survival Guide - Transfers Edition
Congratulations! After months of countless auditions, Unifeds, interviews, callbacks, portfolio reviews and the dreaded waiting (and inevitable acceptance and denial) period you have final found a collegiate theatrical home...only to find out that it's not actually your home. Now, you're left debating whether or not starting the entire process all over again is really worth the risk of coming out empty-handed in the end.
I've been there. I know the feeling and it's not fun. I come from a town where packing up your entire life and moving away to pursue a career in the entertainment industry isn't exactly perceived as the norm, or as an "intelligent life decision," (a direct quote from one of my high school teachers) by any means. So, the idea that I could potentially be proving them to be right, and my dreams to be wrong, was enough pressure to make anyone have second thoughts. But trust me when I say making the decision to embark on the transfer process was the most daunting, yet rewarding, experience of my life. And I promise, it will be for you too.
I'm a current Theatre Arts transfer student at Marymount Manhattan College with a concentration in their playwriting program. When I chose to leave my close-to-home school in Denver and head 2,000 miles across the country, I went into the process blind. I had no idea what to expect or how to even begin to approach the transfer application and re-audition procedures. Which is why I want to write this guide for the fellow future transplants out there. Here is some of my best advice for before, during, and after making the choice to transfer.
Do not neglect your current institution! Whether you're at a community college or in a private BA/BFA program, your faculty advisors and mentors are one of your most crucial connections into finding a new home. They want to see you succeed whether it be under their institution or not. I can promise you are not the first (and will not be the last) student they help with transferring. Their letters of recommendation and course advisement will help you to be on your best possible foot during this transition.
Plan transfer credits accordingly! I like to joke and say being a transfer student is just a very expensive way of saying I'm indecisive. And while that can be true, it doesn't have to be! I was fortunate to have come from a university which ran on a quarter/trimester system so during my final quarter I was able to take only classes I knew would transfer to my new college. I understand not many are as lucky as I was in the respect, however, generally you will know if you are heavily considering transferring by your first term at your current school. Take this knowledge and go into your second semester registration with the mindset of enrolling in curriculum (math, science, and other gen-ed's) that will be universal credits.
Whether in the re-audition process or your first few days at your new school take hold with you the idea that you basically have the opportunity to start your first year all over again! Anything you say "I wish I would've done (blank) differently" to, do it differently! You've already been through this whole college thing once. Use that knowledge to your advantage and take off running!
Don't forget why you came! You took this risk for a reason. Never lose touch of that driving factor because it will be your key source of motivation for the following years to come.
It will be hard. Socially and academically. Especially if you're moving from a non intensive to an intensive program (as I did) your workload will double with seemingly no warning. Don't allow this pressure to get the best of you - they wouldn't have accepted you if they didn't believe you could be successful. Same goes for the social aspect. Many people have solid friend groups from their years prior - don't let this intimidate you. As someone who has had difficulty making friends for most of my life, I dreaded this aspect. But, I quickly realized when you're in the place you are meant to be, friends come at no cost. Especially when you start off by connecting with other transfer students. They equally understand your fears and excitements better than anyone else at the school will. Find your community.
However, my most imperative piece of advice, is to understand it is okay to change your mind. Many people absolutely adore their first university/program and that is wonderful! But many also do not. After all, you never know what you're truly getting into until after you're there. Do not let anyone make you feel bad or behind for deciding to transfer. There is no such thing as "the right way" to your education or your career. Everyone's journey is unique and should be prided as such. The time or path you take to get to where you want to go is no one's business but your own.
Believe in your craft and believe in yourself. Cliché as it sounds it's your root. No matter where you are or how many turns you take the two things that will always remain constant are you and your art. No one and no school can every take that away from you. Hold it close.
This next year is going to be insane. Enjoy the ride - the highs and the lows. Hold on tight but don't be afraid to let go of your past. This is just part of your journey. Have fun with it and break a leg.