BWW Blog: Why I Love Studying Drama at a Liberal Arts College
My college search was complicated. On the one hand, I knew I wanted to study theater and vocal performance in an academically rigorous setting. On the other, I wasn't sure what school size or degree type would be the best fit. BFA program? Large research university? Conservatory? Liberal arts? Ivy League? I couldn't decide, so I applied to one or two schools from each category.
In the end, my decision-making process was conveniently streamlined by the fact that I received a lot of rejections and only a few acceptances. The BFAs and Big 10 schools and Princeton ruled themselves off my list. After much deliberation and many pros and cons lists, I made a choice from my final contenders: Vassar College, a beautiful school in the Hudson Valley with a student body of just under 2,500. The liberal arts route had won.
As it turns out, I ended up in just the right place; I'm in my second semester at Vassar and I love it. Here's why.
1. I'm a firm believer that being an interesting, multifaceted person is crucial to being a good actor and artist. Fortunately, the liberal arts philosophy of a broad, interdisciplinary education (as opposed to a rigid degree program) makes it practically impossible to become a one dimensional acting machine. This semester, I'm venturing into new academic territory with classes in the psychology and film departments. They nicely complement my theater coursework and are lovely reminders that a theater-centric lens is not the only way to view the world. I'm even pondering a double major in film and drama, a path I hadn't considered as a high schooler. (Side note: if you're curious about my schedule and classes this semester, check out my previous BWW blog, A Day in My Life as a Vassar Drama Student!)
2. One of my concerns as a prospective student was that Vassar's small student body would mean limited opportunities for performance and theater making. Now that I'm here, I realize that there is no shortage of things to do! This semester alone, there are five Drama Department productions, over eight student theater shows, and a variety of cabarets and special events. I'm definitely not able to be involved in everything-let alone explore all the comedy, a cappella, and student film opportunities-which is a wonderful problem to have.
3. Perhaps my favorite thing about Vassar is the fact that I regularly interact with students and professors from a variety of disciplines. As much as I love bonding with fellow drama majors over our shared obsession with A Little Night Music, I also really value the conversations I have with friends who are interested in topics like philosophy, education, and economics. My life and work are enriched by the relationships I've built with people who teach me new things and challenge my perspective.
I don't have the personal experience to tell you why pursuing a theater education at a small undergraduate college is better than doing so at a big conservatory, or vice versa; however, I am able to assure you that, so far, choosing to study drama at Vassar has been one of the best decisions of my life.