For the Parents: Preparing for College Audition Season
Well, it’s time to face the facts: your child has decided to pursue their dream and audition for college! With this decision comes a tremendous amount of trepidation and anxiety in the planning and preparing for both the student and parent. You may have had a child already apply and attend college for a different major, but believe me when I say this is unlike the process you have previously experienced.
While this most certainly needs to be a journey that your talented child spearheads, I wanted to offer some suggestions on ways you can help (without causing tension or stress.) This summer is the perfect time to get organized and excited for a crazy journey ahead.
First things first: you need to have a frank conversation about finances. This should happen before you finalize a school list. What are you willing to spend yearly on a college education? Are you willing to let your child attend a school that requires a flight to get to? Before they get their heart set on a school that has a tuition of upwards of $70,000 a year – it’s important to set limits. I think people can fall into the trap of “well, we can audition and see what scholarships you get and go from there” for every school on their list. It’s okay to have a few programs that might be just out of reach financially (but feasible if aid comes through), but you need to make sure you have options that will absolutely work as well with no financial aid. And if they get into their dream school but the money isn’t there, they need to know that it isn’t doable.
While you are chatting about finances, be sure to let them know what you are willing to spend on the actual audition circuit. Applying to schools, sending in pre-screens, booking hotels, traveling, food – you get the idea – really adds up. If you know you’ll be limited to schools that attend Unified Auditions, be sure to let your child know that on-campus auditions might not be a possibility. This conversation can be very helpful in solidifying a college list.
Know that what they think they want right now might change. They may have said all along that they want to go to a conservatory program within a city, only to fall in love with an audition and their auditors at a liberal arts school in the middle of nowhere. I would encourage them to have a semi-varied list so they can discover what they really want throughout the audition process. Help them to keep an open mind and be receptive to their school choices – after all, they are the ones that have to attend for four years!
Encourage them to send their own emails and be their own advocate. I can tell you, the kids that are the most successful in this process are the ones who take it upon themselves to do most of the corresponding with the schools and with coaches/advisors/etc. The earlier they can grasp that they are their own business, the better! There also comes a sense of pride when college audition season wraps up and they can say they truly navigated and tackled their own process (with your help, of course!) Gaining this maturity and confidence is attractive in the audition room – so, don’t do their work for them!
And most of all, be supportive and do your best to make this journey fun. There will be rejections and possibly tears, so the stronger you can be, the better! Don’t let them wallow in pity and certainly don’t wallow yourself! If they can see that you are disappointed in an audition decision, it will only make them feel worse. Remind them to brush it off and that bigger and better things await.
Big breaths, parents!