Now that I’ve posted about my semester, I want to spend a little time talking about the whole college audition process. I’m not sure how many potential incoming freshman will read this, but I have a few important things to pass on.
1. Bigger Isn’t Always Better. In high school, I had heard the advantages of going to small schools versus going to a big name, but I was so dead-set on getting into the best schools in the country that I completely ignored everything. I applied to six schools, five of which were some of the biggest names in the country, and then Fredonia as cheaper alternative. Of the six, I was accepted into the BFA Musical Theatre programs at Fredonia and at one of the big schools. Fredonia had a smaller class size, but the other had the name. I, of course, was in denial. I waited until the last day before I begrudgingly called and said I couldn’t afford to be $200,000 in debt after four years. I spent the entire summer expecting to hate going to a state school, and even considered transferring after a semester.
I was wrong. I have had opportunities at this school that I couldn’t have dreamed of if there were 50 other students in my class. I get personal attention from every teacher I have ever had, where their only goal is to help me be the best me that I can be. No cookie-cutter typing. They care about each student as a person, not as an investment to give the school a good name. When you see a Fredonia actor out in the world, you will know it – not because they have a certain style to their acting, or a specific technique that separates them from the crowd. You will know they are a Fredonia actor because they are true to themselves. I have seen two graduating classes leave and head out into the real world, and they each have such a strong sense of who they are as an individual. That is what I should have wanted while picking a college.
2. It’s Not What You Do, But How You Do It. While auditioning, I thought it was so important to pick the hardest songs, forcing out the most challenging that I could handle. After all, if they knew what I was capable of, they’d have to accept me!
When picking audition material, think about what you do well. Don’t think about doing the hardest thing, but the thing that sets you apart. I know so many singers who have such a beautiful tone that they could just sing an easy ballad and the world would be at their feet. Why sacrifice a beautiful tone for a few high notes? The same applies to acting. How do you speak in regular conversation? Auditioners are sitting there for hours listening to audition after audition. They do not want to hear you yell at them for 60 seconds. They also don’t want to watch you cry for 60 seconds. Find something that showcases who you are as a person: relatable, relaxed, and real. Let them like you as a person! Then they will want to fight for you.
This goes without saying: They want you to succeed. They aren’t evil. So relax!
3. You Get What You Put In. Once you are accepted into your college, devote yourself to your studies. Collegiate theatre programs are not pass/fail. Once you leave, no one will care about your degree, be it BFA Musical Theatre, BFA Acting, or BA Theatre. They will only care about your audition. So spend your time getting feedback from professors, monologue hunting, auditioning everywhere, searching for opportunities everywhere, and continuously striving to be better. The more you put in, the more you will get out of it, regardless of which program you are in or where.
4. Make Your Class Your Family. Freshman year is difficult. Befriending your classmates early on is imperative. You will be stuck with them your entire college career, and if you don’t form a good relationship with them right off the bat, it could be a rough four years. Treat them with respect, and value them for what they can teach you. Every single person in the class comes from a different background and has different strengths. There was one person in my class whom I didn’t care for their acting during our freshman year, probably because it was so different from what I was used to. Two years later, I cannot keep my eyes off of them while they are on stage, because I have learned so much about acting just from appreciating where they came from.
As a matter of fact, I have learned something invaluable from each person in my class. Whether they know it or not, they are making me better just by allowing me to be a part of their journey. I am just as invested in their journey as I am in my own, and when they succeed, when they get hired or cast, or when they make a breakthrough, I am so proud of them because they are like famiy. They can also be your most supportive friends, because they are going through what you are going through. My class and I are always practicing for each other and helping each other for auditions, for juries, and for auditions.
If you don’t believe me, think about it this way: Your class is your very first step to networking yourself in this field. You never know when one of your classmates might help you land a job or give you an opportunity. If you can’t treat them like family, treat them like colleagues.
Now that I am nearing 1,000 words for just this one blog post, I should probably start wrapping it up. If you have any questions about auditioning or colleges, feel free to contact me. Yikes! Now on to the massive pile of work that I still have to do over this Thanksgiving Break.