Does the College Decision Define You?


The purpose of college auditions and applications is to help a college performing arts program decide if they should admit you. This arduous process involves letters of recommendation, transcripts and essays in addition to your audition material that can include songs, monologues, dance and interview preparation. All this is designed for one purpose and one purpose only, and that is to get the colleges' decision as to whether you have been accepted, rejected, deferred or wait listed. Preferable, accepted. And when you are in the throws of this process during senior year, it seems to be the most important thing in your life. However, when it comes to other parts of your life, a college decision does not determine how well you will succeed.

Plenty of successful Broadway, and film and television performers never even went to college. Others may have been political science majors, not performing arts majors. Some may have dropped out of college all together. Others may have come to the world of performing quite by accident. So the college decision, although it may seem the most momentous thing in the world to you right now, is not an accurate gage of how successful you will ultimately be in your chosen field.

I often tell parents to take a poll of their peers as to how many are actually working in the field where they got their undergraduate degree. Most often, the majority is not, unless they are doctors or lawyers. So whether you are getting a BA, BM or BFA degree, who knows where you might ultimately land? You may be the next Sutton Foster. You may end up running a successful theatre company. You may go into commercial real estate. No one knows what your future may bring and college is only one step. More importantly the college decision is only one decision in a long string of decisions that will lead to your future. So don't let it define you.

Most of the college reps I have spoken to in the last 5 years report a surge in the applicant pool for acting and musical theatre programs. University of Michigan reported an increase of approximately 20% in a single year. The University Of Cincinnati Conservatory Of Music reported a 25% increase this year and had to add an additional audition date. Carnegie Mellon had to do the same thing last year. Most colleges are receiving more applications than ever before, so they can't say yes to every qualified student. They simply cannot accept all the students they would like, because their departments are small and can only train a limited number of students. Auditors are turning down hundreds of highly skilled auditionees each year. Often the rejection has nothing to do with anything you can control. Even though it feels like a personal rejection, it has nothing to do with you personally. It may be that there are already students currently in the department that are similar to your type. It may be that they need taller girls, or more red heads, or guys who can play a musical instrument.

Although an acceptance to an uber selective college acting or musical theatre program can be an affirmation of your talent (and what actor doesn't want that?) If you put it in perspective, it is just one person's opinion of your skill set. The subjective nature of the audition process often leaves us scratching our heads. And even an acceptance to a highly selective program does not insure success in the professional world.

What I want you to remember is this: those fans, family, friends and followers you have now will still be there for you no matter what your college decisions are. I truly do believe you will end up in the right place. Your college experience is only one in a long string of experiences that will help to mold the person you ultimately become. And your tribe will still love you for who you are, regardless of the college decision outcome.

Remember that you love this. So go do what you love.
Be joyous. Be brave. Be yourself.