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BWW Blog: The Importance of College Community

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For me, choosing to do a BA in theatre rather than a BFA was the right option. While I grew up always loving musical theatre, I wasn't sure what I wanted to do. I loved acting, but I wanted to direct and write as well. Now, I am entering my senior year at Barnard College, where I will be completing my theatre degree with a thesis in playwriting.

When I set out to look at college theatre programs, I had a very specific view of what I wanted. I knew I wanted to be in a city, but also have a campus, and also be able to explore different paths in theatre instead of being locked into one craft. I also wanted the option of small classes, and wanted to be on the east coast. This list was a tall order for anyone helping me in my college search. With all of these specifics, Barnard College was really the only option that fit everything on the list. I fell in love with the school and made it my mission to get admitted.

I have loved my classes in the theatre program at Barnard, and have learned a great deal from my professors. However, I think the biggest learning experience for me has been outside the classroom, in student-run theatre. Barnard College is an undergraduate women's college of Columbia University, so our clubs are run with Columbia's students as well. In the first week of my freshman year, I auditioned for almost every student theatre group on campus, praying that someone might cast me. I ended up doing a show with the Columbia Musical Theatre Society, a club that I am now on the board of. Here, I found a huge, thriving community. While CMTS was committed to putting on professional musical theatre, we were also part of a larger performing arts community with other theatre groups on campus. Together, we call ourselves the Columbia University Performing Arts League (pretentious, I know).

Our first big event for CUPAL was 'color wars', an event where the different theatre groups compete against one another in field games. I remember sitting on the floor of the gymnasium, meeting new people, looking around and knowing for the first time that I really belonged on this campus.

From this moment and others like it, I've found that no matter where you go to school, or whether or not you get into your 'dream program', happiness and creative fulfillment are found in the people you surround yourself with. Yes, I liked my classes and my professors, but what I liked more than anything was the massive community I was a part of. Even as a freshman I was celebrated for the skills that I had, and the hard work I was willing to put in. Through this community I have constantly been pushed by my peers to grow creatively.

It is getting involved with organizations like this that will turn a good college experience into a great one. Surrounding myself with people who believed in the same things as me, in the power of art to change people, was the best decision I could have ever made as a freshman. Even though I was at a school that checked off all the boxes on my list, I didn't feel complete until I had found my place in this community of theatre makers.

BWW Blog: The Importance of College Community


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