If you’re prepping for a college arts program, or have had the joy of receiving that acceptance letter, the recent scandal about bribery in college admissions probably struck a chord. How could something as manipulative and deceitful as this be so widespread? How can I be sure that when I’m applying to colleges I have a fair shot? Who can I trust in all of this?
We at Acceptd work directly in the college admissions industry, and we want to make our stance clear: we believe that every student–and every artist in particular–should have equal opportunity to follow their dreams. And an important part of that is having access to resources and support throughout their journey. That’s where we come in.
Every artist belongs somewhere, and we want to make sure they are able to discover their perfect fit. If they have to use cheating, bribery, and high-stakes manipulation to be considered for acceptance into a school or program, it probably isn’t the right fit. That’s another aspect of this whole scandal that’s really devastating: students ended up in an institution their parent had to bribe their way in to, when they might’ve been able to thrive and flourish in a different program naturally.
We understand that college admissions is high-stakes. Every day we come to work and help tens of thousands of students search, find, and apply to arts programs so they can achieve their dreams. Some have been preparing for years to showcase their talent to schools, others are just learning what it takes to follow their passion. That’s exactly why we remain committed to partnering with arts programs and coaches in the higher education space that uphold fair and ethical admissions practices.
To solidify our commitment, we’ve turned to two of our dedicated partners for their response. The first, from Chelsea Diehl at My College Audition, provides commentary from the angle of a college coach in the arts. She helps aspiring artists prepare for the competitive college audition process. The next, from Patrick Zylka, Assistant Dean for Admission, Financial Aid and Graduate Services at the Bienen School of Music at Northwestern University, provides perspective from someone deeply entrenched in the college admissions process who is passionate about higher education.
Our ultimate hope is that if you’re preparing for your next step in applying and auditioning for college, you aren’t discouraged by the recent scandal. We at Acceptd still have a lot of faith in the college admissions process, but even more faith that each student and artist who wants to pursue higher education has a place to do so.
This week’s news about the admissions scandal felt like a sucker punch to the gut. It is especially unsettling to learn that people who already have every advantage in this world at their fingertips would still decide to stoop to this level, and in the process undermine hardworking and deserving kids that are playing by the rules to achieve their dreams.
The component to this scandal that troubled me most of all is the lack of faith these parents had that their children would find a program that fits them (like all of you wonderful artists) based on their inherent gifts, talents and who they are as a human being. Putting aside the pain and embarrassment that these kids will now have to endure as a result of this scandal, whether they were aware of the scheme or not, their futures have been forever tainted and altered because their parents decided to take this egregious step on their behalf. Imagine arriving to your first ballet class at a top tier, supremely rigorous Musical Theatre program and not knowing what an arabesque is? Sitting in a high-level math course (because you “scored” extremely high in that section on the SATs) and not understanding one term or concept being thrown your way? This may be the reality for these students. Instead of celebrating where they are in their journey to their dream career, they are going to feel less than. Feel like they have to continually prove their worth. Be afraid to take risks and try new things for fear of judgment. It’s one thing to feel challenged, it’s another to feel less than and inferior.
Isn’t that the whole point of college? To take where you are today and nurture, mold and identify the parts of you that need work to be better for tomorrow? College is just the starting point, friends. Not the end game.
But what does that mean for the kids who play by the rules? Who work tirelessly day in and day out to be the best artist, student and human they possibly can be in an honest way? What it means is this: you are going to rightfully earn your spot in a college program meant for YOU. You are going to KNOW that you have been admitted to your program because of the honest, hard work that YOU put in. The temptation to do whatever it takes to get into your “dream” program or your child’s dream program can be overwhelming, I hear you. But I encourage you, instead of looking for shortcuts, take the long way home. Improve your skills, use your resources, mentors and teachers to make a “you” that you are proud to showcase. When you do this, you’ll ultimately find the program that deserves you and that works for you.
And when you do find that special program that deserves you, you are going to care. You are going to care so deeply about your program and all that it has to offer because you know what it took to gain this coveted spot. You are going to get to class on time, soak in all that your professors give you and remain thankful for an opportunity that not everyone is lucky enough to have. You won’t ever take for granted the gift of being able to study what you love. You can’t buy gratitude.
If you can take anything away from this, try to turn the anger you have into sympathy for these students. Remind yourself that rejections make you stronger. Remind yourself that you are exactly where you need to be. Remind yourself that hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.
And if you are one of the brave ones, the honest, hardworking, humble ones – remind yourself most of all to give yourself a pat on the back and your parents a hug. You both deserve it.
It’s hard to imagine how you could possibly manage to squeeze any more classes into your otherwise already crammed BFA/BA schedule. However, if you are able to find the time or are considering a minor, there are a multitude of classes being offered at your college that could directly benefit your career (maybe without you even knowing it!) These courses will most likely not be written into your schedule, so I encourage you to investigate your options and set your own unique course!
For starters, if I could go back in time I would most definitely take a Web Design/Graphic Design class. If you haven’t already figured it out – our world is totally digital! Knowing how to write your own HTML, design a business card or create beautiful graphics for a website are extremely valuable skills. Working for a theatre company that needs a website re-haul? Being able to offer a hand could mean more cash in your pocket to see that Off-Broadway show you’ve been dying to buy tickets for. If you are heading to the University of Cincinnati try to get a seat in one of their Design, Art, Architecture and Planning classes.
Pulling up to your dorm for your freshman year can be one of the most exhilarating (and most nerve-wracking) times of your entire life. For many students, this is their first time away from home for an extended period of time and the first time they are surrounded by completely new faces.
It’s important to set the stage (no pun intended!) for your next four years by establishing a rhythm for success in the first few weeks of your freshman year. Read more
Interviewer: “So, tell me about yourself!”
Has this happened to you? Have you been asked the hardest question known to man? For some reason, answering this simple question sometimes proves to be the most difficult. How exactly can you sum up everything about yourself in one teeny tiny answer?
Before you head to campuses to scope out potential colleges and go on interviews (don’t forget to brush up on our blog post: 4 Great Questions for your College Tour Guide) be sure to come up with what we like to call your 30 Second Story. Whether you are a musician, actress or visual artist – you are ultimately your own business. You are the CEO of your own brand – so you better be able to describe it!
A 30 Second Story is a chance to reveal a bit about yourself and your passions in a concise and compelling manner. Here are some keys points you should be sure to hit: