What happens when you put your heart and soul into preparing for college auditions and then end up with a pile of rejections? Everyone told you how talented you were and that every school would be lucky to have you – so, what do you do now?
I understand that you feel very defeated right now. It’s normal to feel let down and a little lost. One thing is for sure: this process is confusing and often times, very unfair. You have to remind yourself that you are talented and obviously quite driven to have pursued this in the first place, so all is not lost.
However, now you have some thinking to do. If you got rejected from every school or ended up with acceptances you weren’t completely excited about, there are a few things I suggest doing (and not doing):
You may have heard someone mention the phrase “Gap Year” somewhere along the way and never really considered it. Gap years can be a truly fantastic idea if you approach them the right way. This would mean you take a year away from school and reapply and audition for programs this coming fall. In order to have a productive gap year, here are some suggestions on how to fill your year:
Take as many acting, singing, dancing classes as possible. Use this time to strengthen your weak areas and force yourself to truly push yourself. Treat it like a job: make a schedule for yourself and show up each day. Use this extra time to get prepared for college auditions. Pick your material early, perform it for trusted audiences for feedback and get organized.
Perform. Audition, audition, audition! If you can add some credits to your resume, fantastic. If you can fall on your face and learn from a few bad auditions, fantastic. Get some real world experience and you are bound to have grown come next college audition season.
Get a job. Seriously. Put yourself to work to help pay for the second round of college auditions and save some money for college. Those audition fees, applications fees and everything in between add up.
Make a realistic college list. I end up meeting a lot of students who went through the college audition process alone the first time and are speechless when left with only rejections. I then learn their college list was extremely unrealistic. Even if you are Sutton Foster, you need to have Match and Safety schools on your list. Only applying to the top ten programs is a very poor idea considering the acceptance rates to some of these performing arts programs have harder odds than getting into Harvard. You need to make a balanced list filled with varying programs to yield positive results. You can certainly do this on your own by doing some research (start with our blog post here) but I would also suggest chatting with someone to make sure your talent/academics are aligning with your curated list. You can chat with a drama teacher who is in the know (make sure they really have a grasp of the college audition process!), a coach (most have a small minimum of lessons you need to take without completely breaking the bank) or utilize our service, BestFit (a small, one time fee.) A college audition coach will watch your audition videos, take a look at your college list and give you suggestions of other schools to look into if your list is unrealistic. If you’d like more help, you can then choose to have a Skype consultation.
Have an option? Investigate it.
If you did get a yes from one school, but you aren’t sure about it, take some time to truly research it. If a school made it on your list in the first place, hopefully there is a reason why you picked it! If you can afford to head to the school for a visit, ask the performing arts head if you can set up a meeting or shadow a student for the day. If you can’t make a visit, watch showcase videos, chat with other accepted students and alumni to gather as much info as possible. Don’t write off a school because it wasn’t audition based or one of the “top” programs – this school could be everything you are hoping for. You don’t need to go to a certain school to make it in this industry…I promise.
Do not go to a school you were accepted to academically and hope to re-audition when there.
I can’t stress this enough – do not do that! First off, most schools really look down on this. It’s extremely (read: extremely) difficult to audition within your own school and be accepted. Most class sizes are set and most people do not leave their program. Likewise, trying to transfer into another performing arts school is more difficult than entering as a freshman. Also, you run the risk of your credits not transferring and therefore, you have potentially wasted a year. If you decide to transfer from a program because it’s not a good fit, sure, that’s one thing – but do not enter a school where you have no connection to the performing arts department if that is the goal you want to pursue. Trust me when I say it’s hard to watch other people heading to their acting class for the day when you are on your way to one of your gen-eds.
So, while I know this wasn’t the outcome you envisioned, you do have options. Do some soul searching over the next few weeks and figure out what the best path for you is. There is no correct way or set path to make a successful career in the arts.