A Love Letter to High School Juniors on College Auditions
It’s an exciting time of year! School is almost out for the summer, and college application periods are coming up quickly (or at least that’s the nagging you hear from your parents). I wanted to share my tips to getting the most from your upcoming college musical theatre program auditions. I auditioned for quite a few BFA, BM, and BA programs a bit ago, helped my sister prepare for her Musical Theatre program auditions not too much later, and then I auditioned for MFA and MM programs just last year! These auditions and interviews were VERY successful for my sister and me, and I hope my tips can help you feel confident and prepared for this exciting time in your life!
Firstly, know your budget. While this might seem a bit strange to start with, it is very important. As someone who has student debt, you want to be able to minimize this as much as possible. If your parents are helping pay for college, bless them and kiss them daily, and also be considerate of their hard earned money. While, yes, scholarships are available and if a college wants you desperately they can work to find financial aid for you, keep the price in mind.
Secondly, rethink your list. Be realistic, you don’t have to audition for every program out there! Write down a list of the top 5 qualities your ultimate college MUST HAVE and 5 more qualities of your DREAM SCHOOL. Take this list and find 6 or 7 schools that fit most of these qualities. I see students who audition for 10+ schools and that is not only expensive (those applications cost a lot!) and time consuming (you probably have to miss class for at least some of the auditions) but also very stressful (with auditioning, waiting for results, and deciding). Talk to teachers, mentors, parents, and those who know you as a performer to make sure the schools on your list are a mix of realistic choices (it is okay to take Juilliard off the list, no one will think any less of you), long shot choices (I recommend only 1 or 2 of these) and at least one back-up school. Save yourself by narrowing your pool of schools and only auditioning for the ones where you feel yourself really fitting in.
Side note: I always recommend that students visit the schools they are interested in before auditioning. I can’t tell you how many schools I dropped from my list because I didn’t get the right “vibe” on my visit. Just because it looks good on paper doesn’t mean it’s the right fit for you!
Thirdly, let’s talk about the audition room. BE YOURSELF. Easier said than done, right? But I can’t stress it enough. College professors and auditors want to see how you would fit into their program, not how your character would. Pick songs that are reflective of two different sides of your personality (not necessarily happy and sad) and a monologue that is somewhat age appropriate. It is hard for someone behind the table to gauge who you are as a person (an awesome 17-year-old!) if you are playing a 40-year-old Mama Rose. You want them to fall in love with who you are and show them the unique qualities and quirks you can bring into a program.
When audition season comes around, be prepared. I can’t stress this enough. Meet with teachers, coaches, etc. to pick your materials, work through them and make sure they represent you and your talent as much as possible. There are amazing programs like MTCA (Musical Theatre College Auditions) that are formed specifically to help you be successful in your auditions. This one, in particular, comes highly recommended by my professors! Ultimately, though, your success is dependent on your own work and effort.
Also, remember that applying to college takes a lot of planning. Here is my recommended timeline:
Summer: finish those college essays (yes, listen to your parents’ annoying advice!)
August/September: apply to the universities (most programs require admittance into the university before auditioning) and start upping technique classes in dance, singing, acting, etc. if possible
October/November: schedule your auditions, make a list of each audition’s requirements and gather the materials
December/January: work diligently on the materials (crafting good acting choices, vocal styling, and improving dance technique) and in terms of health, making sure you are working out in a way that makes you feel confident about your body come audition day
February/March: this is usually AUDITION SEASON! You are prepared, now just BE YOU!
April/May: make the decision!
Lastly, don’t be afraid to take your time in making this important decision. I felt a sense of belonging at the school I ultimately became a part of that was helpful in my decision making. This doesn’t happen for everyone, but be open to those vibes playing a role in your choice. Also, if money is an obstacle in attending your ultimate dream school, explore your options! Call the program or the Financial Aid Office to ask if more scholarships or work-study might be able to offset some of your expenses.
I know you are probably feeling “excited and scared,” but I hope these tips give you confidence in your plans for the upcoming months.
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