Having a passion for the performing arts is fantastic, but when looking at a school, it’s important to consider your interests outside of theatre as well. Are you an avid chess player? Find a school that has a chess team. Do you find yourself dividing your time between the sports field and the theatre? Make sure to find a school that allows you to have time for both (or really, a major that allows you to have time for both). Do your parents want you to continue to pursue your interest in mathematics? Investigate the opportunity for either being able to get a minor in an outside interest or at least the availability to take classes outside your major.
Being able to pursue all areas that interest you can help inform you as a performer. On the negative side, spreading yourself too thin can weaken your abilities inside the classroom and theatre. Decide what things in your life you simply can’t live without. If being on a sports team is a huge part of who you are, don’t deny yourself that experience in college. Find a school that encourages you to join the lacrosse team but also works with your schedule to allow you to participate in mainstage productions. You can perhaps balance the two by going the BA route and only auditioning for shows in the off-season. Once you evaluate what you need in order to be a well-rounded and happy individual, eliminate the programs that don’t offer options to facilitate your needs and outside interests.
It may be impossible to find a school that offers everything you are committed to and excited to have in a college experience. If that’s the case, it’s important to look at what is offered in the community, town, or city that your school is located in. If you regularly attend church on Sunday, make sure to find a school that either has a strong religious background or is set in a community where a church is easily accessible. If you enjoy bike riding but the school doesn’t have a cycling club, investigate if there is one in the surrounding towns. If rock climbing or surfing is a large part of what defines you, there’s no shame in focusing your search in an area in the mountains or near a beach.
Many schools have strong ties with the surrounding regional theatres in their community. These regional theatres are often a student’s first chance to perform professionally. Also, some schools have strict restrictions on whether you are allowed to perform off campus throughout the school year. If building your resume with outside theatre credentials during school is important to you, find a program that has a connection with a certain theatre. Perhaps even more important, going to a school in an area with thriving theatre (especially places you may not immediately think of, such as Cincinnati, Houston, Seattle, or San Diego) gives you the opportunity to see compelling and challenging theatre year-round and at a deeply discounted student price. This can be one of your greatest learning opportunities.
Students often push to the side their outside interests when auditioning for college programs. However, we strongly encourage you to truly find a perfect fit for you as a performer and as a human. You want to be happy for your four years on campus!
Interesting People make Interesting Actors!
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