What to expect when you’re expecting (to study the arts in college)

Published August 29th, 2014

The fall of your senior year in high school can be a busy time, especially if you’re planning to go to college, especially especially if you’re planning to study the arts. Music, theatre, dance, and visual arts programs often have a more rigorous application process and can be much more competitive than general admissions to the university. But when you want to study the arts, choosing the right program can be a huge part of getting your career off on the right foot, so you want to get everything right.

Because we work with thousands of individual college performing and visual arts programs, we want to call out some of the basics that you should expect when you want to study the arts in college.

Don’t forget to apply to the actual college, not just the program.

This might seem obvious, but it definitely happens. Most arts programs have their own specific application in addition to the college applications. It might include a prescreen recording, digital portfolio, references, and an in-person interview or audition.

Take advantage of visit days.

Visit days can be hugely helpful for anyone applying to college, but even more so when you plan to study the arts. One thing that almost every artist, aspiring and professional, agrees on is that the arts offer a real sense of community. You should expect to taking quite a few college visits as you figure out which arts program will create that sense of community for you to thrive and move forward in your career.

Make a schedule of deadlines.

Organization is key to a successful college application season for the arts because there are SO MANY DEADLINES. For each individual program, you have the deadline of the actual university as well as the deadline to the arts program. As you decide on the programs you want to apply to, start writing down both deadlines so that you can stay organized later in the season. Things can start to get crazy in November/December, so staying on top of your game is going to give you a big advantage and allow you more time to focus on your applications.

Prepare (and prepare and prepare)

No matter how competitive the college arts program is, you should always make sure you’re prepared. Read all the requirements for your application to the arts program and follow them exactly. You don’t want to get your application disqualified for something insignificant. When you’re studying the arts in college, you want to make sure your application reflects your talents. Preparing your application, preparing your portfolio, and preparing for your audition/interview will help make that happen.

As you begin your college search for the arts, remember that the more organized and focused you are, the better the process will be. Use these four tips to get your search off on the right foot. And remember: when you choose to study the arts in college, you’re making an extremely brave and passionate choice, and we want to help you as much as we can along the way.

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