Student Blog: A Brief Guide to College Auditions

How to survive college auditions from a high school senior

By: Apr. 28, 2024
Student Blog: A Brief Guide to College Auditions
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The college application process is overwhelming for any student applying, but even more overwhelming for those pursuing a musical theater or theater degree. Most college performing arts programs require an audition on top of the general application for the school. The audition and application process can be difficult to navigate. I have come up with my top tips for students interested in auditioning for college theater programs as someone who recently finished up the audition process!

The best thing you can do for yourself when beginning the audition and application process is to be prepared and timely. You will have to fill out a general application for each college you choose to audition at. The current recommended amount of schools to apply to for musical theater students is fifteen to twenty schools. This is not achievable or necessary for all applicants. However, if you do choose to apply to that many schools, you will want to get started on your general applications as soon as possible. Many schools will not let you submit your prescreen audition, a self-tape that acts as the first round of auditions until your general application to the school is done. I recommend starting your general applications early so you can work at a comfortable pace and not cram to get your applications done right before the deadline. 

The prescreen audition is a big part of the college audition process. Although not every school requires a prescreen audition, it is a very common practice. The prescreen requirements for each school can vary slightly, however, most schools will ask for two songs, at least one monologue, and a dance video. There is also another video that is sometimes required called the “wildcard” submission. A wildcard video is anything you want it to be to show off who you are as a person and as a performer. For my wildcard, I did a tour of my bedroom! Thanks to the College Musical Theater Common Prescreen Criteria created by Paper Mill Playhouse, many college prescreen requirements should align. However, no school is required to follow these common prescreen guidelines, so always double-check the directions before submitting your prescreens. 

My biggest advice for choosing material for prescreens or any college audition is to pick material you love and genuinely enjoy performing. You will never be able to guess what the professors at each college want to see, so the best thing you can do is be yourself. It is always obvious when someone loves the material they are performing and it brings their audition to another level. If you love the material you prepare, it will shine through in your performance. Additionally, don’t wait to start picking your material for your college auditions. The earlier you begin preparing your pieces, the easier filming your prescreens will be. 

Once you reach the step of in-person auditions, my general advice remains the same--BE YOURSELF. Professors want to see actors with personality and who are not afraid to be their genuine selves. Again, don’t try to pretend to be who you think the professors want to see because it is impossible to tell. Going in as your confident, true self is the best thing you can do.

The college audition process will be different for everyone. The most important thing to know is that there is no “right” way to go through college auditions. During this process, people will be throwing advice at you from every angle and it can get very stressful. Remember that everyone will have a different opinion on how you should approach this process, but the most important opinion to listen to is your own. Do what makes you feel the most comfortable and prepared, and what is physically and financially possible for you and your family. I wish the best of luck to any student going into the college audition process