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Treefrog

When to Start the College Decision Process?

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ddm3

If your dancer is applying for college dance programs, some actually require that a variation or two be presented at the time of the audition. So, this is one more thing you might need to prepare.

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dnznqueen

when i was in hs, i didn't even think about college stuff until my junior (actually towards the end) year. i had my list and was preparing my essays when i decided that i wanted to pursue dance professionally and not go to school. i'm glad i didn't spend the time or money going and auditioning, making visits and videos because for me it would have been a waste. i think if you know that dance is not something you want to pursue professionally, then having plans set early is great. but, if it's something that you want to consider, and let's be honest, something that is an actual possibility, then holding off for a bit is probably in your best interest. i can't tell you how many people i know who decided to hold off and then not have any job prospects or school prospects- it's heartbreaking and frustrating. so, if you hold off for a bit, just make sure you have other options- how many people's lives actually go according to plan anyway?

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vagansmom

While I agree that dancers seeking colleges for dance should be having conversations with their parents early on, going into junior year, I want to offer up a gentle caution. Remember that kids change a lot from sophomore to senior year. Heck, they change a lot from beginning of senior year to end of senior year. College programs change too.

 

In sophomore year of high school, many dancers are still at the "If I can't dance at ABT, then I don't want to dance anywhere" (well, a bit of an exaggeration, maybe, but you know what I mean) stage of life. By beginning of senior year, they have a great handle on the reality of their own situation. That changes things. So, school visits a year or more before were seen through a different prism - your child's brain was at a younger developmental stage, and her impressions were colored by that younger brain. S/he might have entirely different impressions over the late junior-into-senior year's visits.

 

Also, college dance programs change fairly quickly, probably not the more established ones, but many of the smaller ones. Faculties change. Dance dept. heads change. So even though you may be doing your homework early, you might be using the wrong book!

 

I agree that it's wise to get those audition tapes done early, but caution that you might have to do them again! Dance ability often improves dramatically over a 6 month time; your dancer will want the very best example of her work, and it may just be senior year Nutcracker that shows her off the best.

 

I'm wondering if doing so many visits early, then having to go back for second visits (before acceptances have been received), doing audition tapes early, then having to remake them due to better technique, etc., is creating MORE rather than LESS work in the end. Some kids even change their essays drastically from summer to say, November, of senior year because, again, their maturity level has changed.

 

I don't think there's any way to make the process easy - it's just plain going to be a hard process -but I do wonder if there's a lot of repeat work going on that ultimately makes the process harder, and far more dragged out, than it needs to be.

 

The following is perhaps a little off-topic, but interesting anyhow to anyone who's currently or about to do the college application process. It's from a recent NY Times article:

 

The incident is one example of the largely subterranean practice of double depositing — when high school seniors and their parents try to get around the May 1 deadline for accepting admission offers. At most colleges, double depositing is against the rules. Many admissions officials say they believe the practice is growing. And they say it is unfair.

 

 

Admissions Officials Lament...

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kathryn56

Vagansmom, those are excellent words of caution. I often hear seniors say "I thought I hated X " but really like it the senior year. Trying to schedule everything IS hard and sometimes just not doable, especially with school attendance policies - sometimes teachers have no discretion in enfocing those rules.- and don't forget trying to schedule SAT and SATIIs around practices! We ended up with this big audition trip scheduled between semesters senior year - the earliest auditions for her favorite school. It was supposed to include school visits, SI auditions, a visit to Grandma and end with an audition for a company that was happpenning here at home. The day of the trip she was supposed to take SATIIs, then she and her dada were leaving. Well, that was the blizzard weekend and we kept getting calls about cancellled flights. The airport here told us there was one more flight scheduled to leave if we could get there in time for it. DD got pulled out of SATII after the second one (luckily, she already had scores, this was to improve them) and they ran for the airport. They took off, but the plane was grounded in DC, not NYC!!! THis was inauguration weekend so there were no hotel rooms. THey decided to take Amtrak (which was running) to NYC, then found a hotel they could walk to from the train station. Eventually, they got to grandmas and she made the important auditions - could not get to some others, but they were "maybes" anyway. And everything ended up well. Hopefully, the weather will be more cooperative to those travelling this year!

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vagansmom

LOL, perhaps that should be the first bit of advice: Don't travel in winter to certain states! That sounds like a nightmare :D. I'm glad it all worked out in the end.

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ddm3

I was not suggesting that one should do their audition tapes early. Maybe someone else did? I believe that working on variations can begin earlier than later. Some of the colleges, such as SUNY Purchase require you to perform a variation at the audition, not by tape. Taped performance footage should be as current as possible to show the dancer in the best possible light. This also applies to videotapes that are submitted to companies.

 

My dd had every intent of dancing right out of high school, but felt that a college dance program would be a good back up plan to have. I am glad she was prepared for this, although I believe much of the work could have been started earlier. Some of her friends did not prepare for the possibility of going to college and were not able to find a job in this market.

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Momof3darlings

I think this is one of those situations where you have to do what feels right. But at a minimum research when you're ready, visit as soon as you're ready, realize that they may and do change their minds just like the job market changes, and find a solution that fits in best with your lifestyle, pocketbook and interest in the moment.

 

I think we may have several different mindsets about how the process works for them. For example, I never considered a 2nd visit on top of an auditon visit as vagansmom has eluded to. I was under the assumption that most people visited and then their audition visit was their 2nd visit. (For us, the audition visit was in most cases the 1st visit and an extended one). We also have to remember that some of our members here have lots of help from their home school with the process and others are left to the devises of crafty parents. For some, having a Plan B underprocess at the same time Plan A is being sought is too much stress. For others, they won't even think about having two plans and sometimes that works out (in today's market, I'd be careful). We are all different in our approach, stress level meter and acceptance level. One is not better than the other. One is not to be looked down on. But the finding of the information is so that you can find what works for you!

 

I think, all in all, the key is to talk to as many people as you can (including this site) and find as many scenarios as you can. (or if you so choose, let DK do the "finding out") Then put those together into what will work for you and your family. One person's stress is another's walk in the park. One person's three visits to one school is another's entire college search. Do what works for you, but just don't expect that your other child's journey that did not include dance either as a professional or as a college student will be the same journey. It will not be, unless you are one who is in the right place at the right time with many blessings.

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dancemaven

As always, Momof3darlings, you provide a nice, concise summary. The value of this thread is NOT that it gives a "one size fits all" answer to the question, but rather it provides the reasoning behind several different approaches to the same question. As in 'all roads lead to Rome' just with different scenery, so does the "college decision process". Based upon the suggestions, solutions, and experiences shared here, one should be able to evaluate the different approaches and figure which one best suit their or their DKs needs, temperament, and personality.

 

Happy searching!

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vagansmom

MO3D, just to clear things up, I never discussed nor alluded to an audition visit whatsoever in discussing second visits. Just talking generalities about visiting schools too early - not specifying nor excluding audition visits.

 

I agree wholeheartedly with you that everyone's path is different, and no one path is the correct one, which is why I brought up the possibility of NOT feeling like you have to do so much earlier. It seems to run counter to the prevailing opinion of recent posts on this thread; I wanted to make sure people don't feel like they're doing something wrong if they DON'T start so early, and to mention some possible pitfalls of doing it early.

 

No absolutes in this process. None in life. :blink:

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Pierrette

I'm confused about the hesitancy to state flat-out that the college dance program search process should start no later than 9th grade. How can a dancer ever be able to make their own more select list of which programs to apply to if they've never visited any dance programs in action? That's like saying young dancers can target companies they want to audition for without ever seeing their shows and simply basing their decisions on written reviews or others' say-so. Potentially college-bound dancers need to start seeing at least some glimpses of what college dancing is like in order to even start thinking about what factors in a program are most important to them.

 

I didn't see the thread that spawned this one, and my DD didn't attend a pre-professional school with in-house college counselors that are well-versed in dance programs, so perhaps I missed the emphasis of this thread. But given our own situation, where my daughter had no mentors to guide her along the pre-professional path, I had to assume the role of a Montessori-like "dance counselor," in which I did my best to expose my daughter to the widest array of the dance world as possible and then let her decide which directions to take along the way at each point. So, in addition to taking her to professional performances of ballet, modern, jazz and musical theater, signing her up for various classes when she requested them, plus sending her off to SIs starting at 12, I included some visits to college dance programs once we started traveling to take her to SI auditions in 9th grade. Keep in mind, we're in the midwest and none of these colleges are in driving distance from us, so in order to save both time and money in the long run, I needed to plan ahead.

 

Having visited four NYC college programs in 9th and 10th grade, my daughter was then able to formulate her own questions about what she was looking for when she did Point Park University's SI after 10th grade. One of her teachers, there, on hearing what my daughter was looking for, recommended the University of Arizona. This turned out to be excellent advice. But given the nature of the setting where the advice was given - in a rather brief chat after class one day with a guest teacher who barely knew my daughter - the quality of the advice was due to the fact that my daughter had already "done her homework." I was disposed to be against the idea of sending her so far away for school, but my daughter was able to speak from experience why this program was worth checking out.

 

So my daughter was poised to take advantage of UA's "pre-audition" opportunity for high school juniors. I took her out to Arizona the spring of her junior year, where my DD took ballet, modern and jazz classes with the students as her "pre-audition," and she fell in love with the program. And by then, she had more college programs with which to compare it to. So it was much easier for me to come to terms to the fact that this program was the best match for her.

 

In my opinion, it's never too early to expose your DKs to college dance programs. Go see their shows, observe classes, walk around campuses and talk to students. That way by 11th grade, the dancers can narrow their search as to where to audition and/or ask to take classes with the students.

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Robin G

My dd was too busy to be too interested in college dance programs before her junior year. She did come from a top ballet school in the northeast within a large dance community. There was helpful guidance from experienced teachers and dancers ahead of her. Seeing which SI's she got into and teacher feedback also helped guide her. True, it is lucky having such support. By the time she made her list it was more focused.

We have a friend obsessed with her college guides, visiting campus' already. The kid is not yet in high school. This seems really too early to me. I have a special needs kid entering high school, so I do think of her strengths now, but in the next couple of years she will find her niche, and we will help guide her.

Everyone does their planning their own way,and still you hope you make the right choices. :)

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Taradriver

Word of caution: someone memtioned audition tapes for college. With few exceptions, we've found that US colleges won't accept a tape unless you live outside the US. The solo, if required, is performed at the audition. Not all dance programs require a solo.

 

DD is officially a senior as of this coming Friday. Pass me the adult bevvie tray . . .

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visiting mom

It is certainly sensible, if time and money allow, to have the DK get the maximum exposure to what is available. Two caveats however, if my DD had started looking in 9th grade, she would have spent all her time looking at ballet schools. It was not until sophomore and junior year that she soared in jazz and modern, changing her focus in her search. Second, she had a fairly severe back injury this year, which caused her to have poor audition performances. Consequently she did not have a shot at any of the top programs even though all her teachers, and faculty at one top program, felt she would be admitted. Planning ahead is important, but we cannot assure the future that way.

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Garyecht

I’d like to introduce a little contrariness into the topic based both on what I’ve read and having had my kids graduate from college long ago. Quite frankly, I think the big “to do” about where kids go to college is a reflection of parental aspiration rather than a truly serious life issue.

 

Yes, one can argue if one aspires to Harvard it is best to start at birth and throughout childhood by providing good educational experiences, encouraging the right study habits, and all of those things that make someone a thinking human being. But then most people don’t go to Harvard.

 

I read in Newsweek a few weeks ago about the current phenomenon of kids moving from college to college. If my recollection is correct, that is now the norm.

 

My kids went to college in the late 80s-early 90s. One went to three schools before graduating. The other went to two schools before graduating. Neither graduated with the major they began with. Neither is employed in an area directly related to his or her college major.

 

As my son has kept his three best high school friends in his adult life, I know how they fared. Of the four, one went to a public school, three to private schools. Two of the four graduated from schools other than where they went as freshmen. No one graduated with a major that they declared as freshmen. All were good students in college I might add (three went to graduate school). Only one is employed in a field with any relation to his undergraduate major.

 

Based on my experience, I would argue that where you start is really rather unimportant in looking back.

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vagansmom

Hi Garyecht, I agree with you on every point but one: what you describe is very real for the general population. However, based on anecdotal info (much like yours) most serious ballet dancers I know who decided to major in dance in college, with rare exception, generally stuck with their original plans.

 

I think that what you describe is true for people who don't have a lifelong overriding passion that's guided them along every step of the way up to college. For that population (within the ballet world), if they find or think they can't, or decide they have no desire to, get into a ballet company at that juncture, a college dance program is often the right decision. They may add a minor, or switch their dance from a major to a minor, but they tend to stick it out, and at the same school. There aren't as many school choices when one is searching out a dance major, so maybe that's why there isn't as much switching of schools.

 

My son, a Brown graduate, who, upon entering Brown, knew he wanted to be in some technical field but not sure which one, switched from engineering after his first year, briefly dabbled in neuroscience the next year, left school for nearly two years, came back and decided on a double major of computer science and economics. His was, I think, a fairly typical progression through college, and alll along the way, he was encouraged by his professors to explore different fields while. Somehow, I can't imagine that being true of dance professors because they know their population is as committed to dance as the air they breathe.

 

Re audition tapes: my daughter was required to send them in to nearly every dance dept. (Northwestern was an exception to this) she was interested in, but then she also had to audition in person at most of them. This is three year old information though, and she knew she was not interested in majoring in dance at most of these schools. She wanted a minor in dance should she attend college, with a major in neuroscience.

 

Duke, I remember, with just a minor degree program in dance, seemed to require the least (no audition), and they were also the ones, next to Northwestern, who didn't seem to actively seek out dance students. Based on the praise one of our posters heaps onto Duke, perhaps that has changed? It certainly ought to.

Tisch required the most, but they also offered her the smallest financial aid package. They have a really high price tag!

 

Muhlenburg gave my daughter a $5,000 dance scholarship based solely on her audition tape (she never auditioned in person with them) and letters of recommendation from a couple of her ballet teachers. Their dance dept. head, a ballet teacher, eagerly sought out daughter and spent much time with her when she visited. At that time, they were seeking to expand their dance program, and the head of the dept. was committed to strengthening the ballet program. They had gorgeous dance studios, were about to have their own Pilates studio (they'd been sharing it with the sports dept up to that time), and had a dance PT on staff fulltime. Based on all of this, daughter had decided that, if she were to attend Muhlenberg (whose overall friendly environment of faculty members interested in the WHOLE person, not just the academic person, impressed her immeasurably) she'd double major in dance and neuroscience.

 

But in her case, none of that was to be after all. :cool2: She did accept at Muhlenberg because they offered her a nearly complete 4 year package of scholarships and grants as long as she maintained a certain average. Daughter proceeded to defer, and ended up dancing professionally. As of two days ago, this her third year out of high school, she started college :wink:. Well, after a fashion :whistling:...she's taking two courses over the next 6 weeks while she's (mostly) on hiatus from dance. I don't think she'll ever do a traditional college experience, with dorm living, etc., now. She's been living on her own for too long and enjoys her independence. Her current plan is to take courses whenever she's on hiatus, and during her company's dance season, she'll take courses online and through distance learning programs. It looks like she's figured out a system that will work for her.

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