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BWW Blog: The Untold Tips to Survive the College Audition Process

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I am fond of my college audition experience because nearly every weekend of January and February was spent in doing what I loved most.

BWW Blog: The Untold Tips to Survive the College Audition Process

Two years ago, I was a high school senior frantically revising my Common App essay, finalizing and polishing my college audition package, and compiling all of the prescreen requirements into my spreadsheet that slowly turned into hieroglyphics with each new entry. As the only senior in my high school to embark on this process, my non-theatre circle was left shocked, confused, and perplexed by the idea of prescreens, auditioning, and the crazy low odds of getting into any program for musical theatre.

Looking back, I am fond of my college audition experience because nearly every weekend of January and February was spent in doing what I loved most. While the college audition process is a whole different level of chaos, here is what helped me turn what seemed like a daunting senior year into one of the best rollercoasters of my life.

1. Rethink "The Top 10 List"

I am sure we all did that Google search: "best colleges for musical theatre". Upon re-Googling that search, my first result was Onstage Blog's post on their top 30 colleges for musical theatre. While this Google search is a great jumping off point for building your list, it's important to remember that there is only a top musical theatre program for you. This audition process is not a competition to see how many college acceptances you will get. In the end, you can only commit to one. Establish what you want in a training program and jump off from there. Do you want a conservatory or university setting? What do you want in a curriculum? These questions, and many more, are imperative to making your list custom to your own expectations and objectives in an education.

2. Be Prepared to Talk About Yourself

Yes, you have your responses to why you want to be an actor and why you want to be at [insert college] ready to go, but when a college auditor asks what your favorite book is, or what you would be if you weren't in theatre, or to tell a joke, you're left trying to grab any answer out of thin air. While having your college material prepared is key, so should your ability to talk about yourself beyond the confines of singing, acting, and dancing.

3. Be In Contact With Your High School

The level of contact might be different pending on your high school. My school had a stringent attendance policy that made attending Chicago Unifieds nearly impossible without failing a quarter of my senior year, but after explaining the importance of college auditions to my teachers and guidance counselor, they were willing to work with me on due dates and alternate

test dates. Our college application process is much more challenging than just visiting the school our summer going into senior year and pressing "submit" on the Common App. While my teachers never fully understood why I was in Chicago for an entire week in February, their openness to working with me on due dates made all the difference in the precarious balancing act that is focussing on college auditions, while also maintaining a strong academic standing.

4. Managing the Unsolicited Advice

In early fall of my senior year, I went to the dentist and she asked me about my college applications. I kindly informed her I planned on majoring in musical theatre. She quickly told me that I should only look into schools in New York City, especially NYADA (yes, the fictional school from Glee). She then proceeded to tell me how much she loved this new musical about "church boys going to Africa" and how that show had some great songs to sing. While I am sure this kind woman was only trying to help, it only amplified my stress about the looming Elon prescreen deadline in a few days.

From that day on, whenever I ran into a stranger who asked about my college applications, I said I wanted to be a biology major and listed some random colleges I heard that my non-theatre friends were applying to. While unconventional, if you want to avoid unwarranted advice on your college audition from your dentist, I recommend choosing another random major as a pseudonym.

5. Keep Yourself Busy

I remember colleges informing auditionees that we would hear from them in "mid-March". Thankfully, dance competition season occupied my mind right after college auditions. While I still frantically refreshed my email at every chance I had, keeping myself occupied while the decisions came flooding in is something I highly recommend. Treating myself to Ben & Jerrys from time to time was a great gift, but if I had not focussed my energy into competition season, March would have been quite a depressing month.

6. Be Kind

Everyone is watching at every moment, not just during your time in the room, or during your turn in the dance call. Being kind to others should be a given, but being kind to yourself can sometimes be forgotten, especially after a not-so-great audition. Trust yourself and your abilities. Even though the odds are not in our favor, that spot in the program might as well be yours.

While there is a plethora of advice to share, here a few gems that might not be touted as frequently as the others. Below are some other resources to help with your college auditions. Best of luck with your college endeavors.

Actors Aesthetic
Playbill's College Theatre Auditions Q&A


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From This Author Student Blogger: Shaun Collins