I often get asked what a parent’s role should be during this chaotic, stressful process. You want to help prepare your child, but don’t want to stress them out or push them away. How can you best prep them without getting consistent eye rolls? What should YOU be doing during college auditions? What do you say if they are rejected from a top school? I’ve got some advice for those loving parents out there that just want to help make their children’s dreams come true:
They Have to Want It
First and foremost, I can’t stress this enough: this process needs to be run by them (with parent’s help along the way.) In my years of college audition prep, the most successful students in this process are the ones who are making their own phone calls, scheduling their own auditions and truly helping pave the way for their future. If they want to have a career in this, they need to realize now that they are their own business. They need to do their own marketing and be their own biggest salesperson. Encourage them to do the work and if they need help, you are, of course, ready and willing to lend a hand.
Help Set Deadlines
If you are tired of nagging your superstar to finish her college applications, I suggest sitting down with your calendar and helping her set some goals. Put some dates on the calendar of when realistically essays should be completed, a date for when all apps should be in and the final date of when all auditions should be scheduled. And then: step away! You’d be amazed at how well performers work with a deadline in mind. Check in with them on each appointed date and make sure the tasks have been completed.
Dealing with Rejection
Sometimes this can be harder on the parent than the student! It’s hard to watch your child get a “no” from a dream school. However, the stronger you can be for them, the better. Remind them it’s not where they are meant to be (who wants to be at a school that isn’t the right fit, anyway?) and the schools that do say “yes” truly want them! And that should feel amazing. They all can’t say yes, because if they did, how could you possibly make a decision? This career path is filled with rejection, so the sooner you can help them to brush it off and move on, the better they will be in the long run.
Greg Kunesh, the former chairman of the Musical Theatre program at the University of Oklahoma, recently mentioned in an interview for us, that he “recruited not just students, but families.” I think this piece of advice is immeasurable for every parent going through this process. I don’t think most parents realize the role they play during college auditions. If you scan a waiting room during auditions, this is what you’ll find: students chatting nervously with fellow auditioners, students pacing around the room with earbuds in trying to calm their nerves, current students of the program bustling around answering questions, parents quietly reading on their kindles and then a group of parents huddled together chatting loudly about their kids. The last group of parents can sometimes give off a negative vibe. First off, it’s intimidating for students to hear parents gush about their kid’s accomplishments right before walking into the audition room. Second, it’s distracting – not just for the students, but the people running the auditions as well! Ultimately, it can reflect negatively on your child without you even realizing it. I suggest that you make this audition about them: let them do their work without distractions and wait off quietly in the wings. They’ll thank you for it later, I promise.
Savor the Time
Even though your winter months will be eaten up with traveling to auditions, I encourage you to enjoy this time with your son or daughter. This is a unique experience that most people don’t get to undergo (lucky them you’re thinking, right?!) that requires lots of one on one time with your child. These road trips are a great chance to create new, lasting memories. Even if you feel completely bogged down by the stress of it all – remember to add in some fun excursions to your itinerary. After all, every kid deserves ice cream after finishing a college audition.
I salute you, parents! Thank you for letting your kids follow their dreams!