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Question about scholarships

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Age is very key here and, theyalldance, your son is right on the cusp on when it starts coming into play. DS auditioned for one of the big 3 letter schools this year for the first time. He will be 18 shortly and their upper age is 18. He got very positive feedback from the auditioners in person and a very encouraging rejection letter, if there is such a thing, afterwards. At this point in the game, it comes down to if he is what they are looking for from a company perspective. While DS may have chops to become a professional dancer, Big 3 letter wants them younger and before they are fully "cooked". DS didn't look at it as a diss of any kind, he just wasn't what they were looking for. There are potentially a number of other companies he would be a better fit for. Same for your son. Look for companies that fit his body type and training style. Just because big names pass doesn't mean he couldn't find a fantastic fit with a smaller company who appreciates his skills. Big 3 letter names aren't the only game in town and certainly not a litmus as to if you will make it as a professional or not.

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This is my son's first year doing auditions other than home studio, which I guess is a tier-two program, if there's such a name. Anyway he's done quite a hodgepodge of auditions, with none of the "big 3 letter" schools - we have a family conflict this summer and some of the larger programs are out of the question because of that.

 

He's had several acceptances and two scholarship offers: One from home studio for half tuition, and one from out of town that was generous (full tuition plus partial board).

 

His preferred program is apparently pretty popular but I don't see that they have more than the usual number of boys in years past. What I'm trying to say is it's not one of the top programs for male dancers as far as I can tell. We thanked the director of his preferred program, and emailed a few questions, which the director answered quickly and in a very friendly and personable manner, which prompted me to mention that my son had a couple more auditions to go and has some scholarship offers to consider.

 

There was no mention of a scholarship from his preferred program. He has one more in-person audition to go and is submitting a video for another, which is taking late video submissions.

 

My questions to my fellow parents here are:

 

Was it out of line for me to mention the scholarship offers to the director of my son's preferred program? They did not offer him a scholarship, but since his (older, taller, more experienced friend) did receive a full ride, I'm wondering if this program is really interested in my son.

 

Secondly, as it appears to be getting later in the acceptance process, is there a chance that programs may have scholarship money to re-distribute from young men that went elsewhere? I know two or three boys who have full scholarships from several programs, and I wonder if as the boys make their decisions, if some scholarship funds become available for others.

 

I'm sorry if all this talk of money is gauche. It really does make a difference for us, though, and I don't have anyone else to ask.

 

 

(edited to correct grammar)

Edited by solnishko

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Solnisko,

 

I don't think you were out of line to mention that he has scholarships.

 

Your best bet is to wait until you have all the offers on the table - and then approach his preferred program and be honest with them: our son's first choice is your program but $$ is a factor (if it is) - so he may have to go to a less favored program. Don't say this if $$ isn't a factor in your decision.

 

Some say to go with programs that offer the most $$ (and therefore have more interest in your son - there was an article last year in Pointe Magazine) but there are many factors that go into the scholarship offers so it's not always the case. (e.g. age comes into play). How old is your son?

 

Hopefully the answer will be clearer when you get all the results on the table. The fact that you only auditioned to a small number of SI's given your summer schedule limitations, I wouldn't read too much into anything.

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Hello and thanks for your response. He is a very small, very late-blooming 14 year old, turning 15 by summer.

 

All told he has/will have auditioned for seven. And we'll be sending videos to any that will accept them late. Some programs are extending deadlines due to the missed auditions this winter (weather related).

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Hi solnisko. We personally have not done that before but, at our son's request, we have always been extremely hands off the entire audition process. We obviously help him decide where to audition and attend along with his teachers, but since he was 9 he has always registered, checked in, and wrote his thank yous by himself. Last year when he was 13 he also requested that we start just dropping him off and picking him up from the auditions instead of going in with him : )

 

What our son does do is mention if he has chosen to attend another SI in part due to a better scholarship offer (if applicable) in his thank yous to those SIs he is turning down. I suppose if a program is really interested in him they could "counter-offer" if they wanted to.

 

This might not be a popular opinion but I feel a bit differently about the whole scholarship thing. I think there is a difference between merit scholarships and financial aid. I don't feel qualified or entitled to question a school's assessment of whether my son should receive a merit scholarship. They know what they are looking for and what their criteria for offering scholarships are, I don't. I also think that my son works incredibly hard toward his dream of being a professional ballet dancer and SI auditions are a nice way for him to gauge how he is doing compared to other dancers his age across the country; being awarded a merit scholarship is one very tangible way of determining how certain programs view him compared to his peers. I think it would be unfair to my son to cheapen the definition of a merit scholarship by calling to "request" one. I don't ever want my son to question the value of a scholarship by wondering if mom had anything to do with it.

 

I also think it's important for my son to understand that the ballet world can be very difficult and he needs to learn early on that things aren't always going to go they way he wants and they might not always be fair. Part of that means he needs to deal with casting decisions; I see SI acceptances and scholarships as casting decisions. Just as I wouldn't call the artistic director of the company at my son's academy to ask if my son could have a "bigger" part, I also wouldn't call someone to ask if my son could have a bigger scholarship. Similarly he needs to learn to respect an AD's casting decision, even if he doesn't agree with it, understanding that ADs have the experience to know more than he does. It's the same with SI decisions. When he was 12 he didn't get into his 1st choice - the Holy Grail of SIs, but we were shocked when at another audition we were pulled aside and he was offered full tuition and housing on the spot. He is now training full time at that school and it is his PERFECT fit. The next summer he DID get accepted to the Holy Grail (without scholarship), but then he had no interested in attending - he had found his home somewhere else. Had we not followed the school who was telling him they were interested and, instead tried to force our way into someplace that wasn't interested, he would never have found the place he belongs.

 

Yes, I understand that absolutely people need those scholarships financially. We do too. But to me, that means my son HAS to consider those SIs for which he has received a scholarship. It doesn't mean I call a SI to "request" a merit scholarship - by definition if I call to request a merit scholarship, it is no longer a merit scholarship. That's what financial aid or the financial based scholarships that require proof of financial need are for. Yes, we have had to request financial aid. My husband was laid off 3 days before my son received a SI acceptance when he was 10 but the financial aid package wasn't large enough so my son stayed at his home studio's SI - he didn't die.

 

I recognize a lot of people feel very differently about this and understand that they feel they want to do everything possible to ensure their dancer has the best possible opportunities for quality training and exposure to companies. My concern is that I want to make sure my son has earned them. If he isn't cut out for this business professionally I would like him to have an idea BERORE he is suddenly shocked that he isn't able to find a job. If I were to keep trying to force his way into programs that didn't enthusiastically want him, how would we ever know whether he is actually competitive enough to get a job?? I can't call a company AD and ask them to offer him an apprenticeship!!!!

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Hi, Solnishko,

 

My two cents are, that, if you have already dropped a hint at your son's preferred s.i. program, then you've probably done what you can or should do. The next step, after committing to the program, might be to ask for financial aid. But I have to confess that, like finallyfk, I am a parent who has never bargained with an s.i.

 

My ds typically uses audition results to gauge the interest and fit of a program, and he picks the program based on those positives, but also on the quality of the training. I think scholarships are, at a basic level, a sign that a program would like to work with your ds. However--and this is a big however for us--measuring scholarship offers can become pretty subjective. It's not scientific. The past two years, after results have come in, my ds and I have found ourselves with apples, oranges, and bananas rather than some clear ranking of opportunities. And we have found ourselves relying much more on careful research to determine which programs might be the best fit and opportunity for a particular summer.

 

Still, I do think the scholarship your ds received is probably a sign of interest, and that program deserves a close look. It may be the best fit, as finallyfk has explained, and that program may indeed be recruiting your son. But if your research suggests that it's not the best fit, then maybe call other programs to talk about financial aid. In short, I think you should do the research before you do any negotiating, if that makes sense. Don't let the scholarships alone serve as your research.

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mln and finallykf --

 

All very thoughtful and sound advice! I thank you for your perspectives and am grateful for more experienced parents who can help me see all sides.

We have found ourselves with apples, oranges and bananas in terms of scholarship offers, scheduling, program "fit" and so much more!

 

Finallykf, you are so fortunate to have a son who is mature enough to do all of that on his own. We'll get there someday soon, I hope.

 

Thanks again for all of your insights. So valuable to us. Enjoy your weekend!

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I have to say I agree with finallykf. We have also allowed DS to pretty much decide where to audition and where to accept a place. I also am somewhat of the opinion that SI scholarships are a helpful indicator of his likelihood of getting gainful employment, though I appreciate this may sound rather brutal. I do agree that there is value in ballet training even if he had never had a chance at a career but we would certainly not invest as much of our own money and time, or countenance the loss of him to our family from a young age (he trained abroad from age 14) if we hadn't thought he had a pretty good chance of getting a job at the end of it.

 

In the end I'm not sure all his choices were correct - but then hindsight is always 20 20 isn't it? We tried to advise but we knew less than he did!

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My DK just got a partial scholarship for the summer program at our home school and we are over the moon (we meaning me, my DK and my pocketbook). He is newer to dance, so it's really nice for him to know they believe in him enough to over this to him. He's really very chuffed about it. His sister, who has been training for years did not get one, but she understands that boys get them way more than girls.

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My DS heard at the SI he went to that scholarships were only given to people who went to live auditions and not if you auditioned by video. Has anyone had this experience? My DS got accepted to the SI he applied to but wasn't offered a scholarship. I know not everyone is offered a scholarship.

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There is not one blanket answer to your question. Each program has differing ideas on the subject. If I viewed a wonderfully talented dancer with a perfect body on a dvd auditon, I would recommend a scholarship. The combination comes about less than one would think.

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We only sent video auditions as my DS lived outside the US and sometimes he was offered scholarships and sometimes not

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Not to worry. My son got no scholarships when he was 12, academic scholarship at 13 (applied to multiple schools and only one scholarship offer), and full scholarship offers to SAB, San Francisco, Houston...for the past two years (he is 16 now). I can't say I know of anyone getting a scholarship at 12 to a major program, not that they don't happen, but I've never seen it myself.

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