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Ballet Talk for Dancers

When to Start the College Decision Process?

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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.


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

I'd like to add to Jacki's comeback by reminding folks like Garyecht and Treefrog that the subtitle of this forum (Higher Education General Discussion) is, "For the discussion and questions about college and university ballet programs." It's one thing to start a thread that broadly asks, "What college decisions got made?" and then discover that some DK's have decided to not pursue dance majors in college. That's great, we applaud their decisions and it's always fascinating to know all the directions that young dancers pursue. However, given the overall mission of this board - "the very serious study of ballet" - I think it is as inappropriate to advise parents to "cool their jets" when it comes to guiding their child's higher education IN dance as it would be to say that parents are making a "big 'to do'" by seeking the best ballet training for their 9 year olds.


I was very careful to keep using the term "college dance programs" in my post, so having the example of Harvard tossed back for the sake of making a contrary straw-man argument is inappropriate, in my opinion. Although Harvard got listed in the forum for "Colleges and Universities wtih Ballet Programs," it was quickly established that dance is only an extracurricular there. And last I checked, I didn't see Brown or Vassar on our list. So I wish this group could agree that this thread has devolved into discussing apples and oranges when it comes to guiding college-bound dancers. Some, it turns out, are going to regular colleges and possibly dancing on the side. Others might be pursuing dance majors or minors, but the academic program of the college is the student's primary focus as they already see themselves as pre-something else. For those students, I can see some rationale in putting off the college search process until junior year. But for DK's who are like my daughter, who wish to dance professionally yet who don't have ideal ballet bodies, the search for the right college DANCE PROGRAM is the SAME as the search for the right SI for the company-bound dancers - ESPECIALLY IF YOU DON'T LIVE IN AN AREA WITH A COMPANY-AFFILIATED SCHOOL. Hence, the search (making a list, as pal said she was doing) is best started in 9th grade.


Perhaps if the list in the "Colleges and Universities" forum were organized differently, then the general discussions on higher education would be more focused. But with a list that has everything from Butler to University of Virginia listed, it seems that we're not taking the list as seriously as we do our SI lists. In my opinion, if a college doesn't offer so much as a dance major (besides the fact of whether they have a ballet focus), then I think the entry needs to be bumped to some kind of sub-listing.

Edited by Pierrette

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What I would like for us all to do is to remember where we are. This is a ballet focused board. The posters here asking the question "when do we start the college decision process?" are asking with ballet focus or at least dance focus behind the question. Whether that focus is with a professional position in mind after that college degree, a teaching position or just to say they danced their way through college at a level they have becomed accustomed to. Again, the intent of the question is from a dance perspective and more specifically a ballet perspective. There may be much "to do" about nothing. But personally, I'd rather spend my time researching how to make good decisions in my child rearing than on the next car that I'll buy or the next computer or camera. I can buy a new camera for a couple hundred dollars and a month or two search. Our children's life experiences and focus are priceless and deserving of the time and question.


For further clarity, it might be helpful if those posting replies who have "been there, done that" would include in the early part of their post how their child being referenced in that post used dance or meant for dance to be used in their college years. There seems to be some generalizations being made about people's posts without knowing from "whence they come" so to speak. I believe this would help. It is very hard to equate someone who wants a medical degree but wants good dance at their school in the same boat searchwise(for the sake of answering this question) as someone who wants a dance degree with a little college on the side so that they can still have hopes of dancing post college. I believe vagansmom to be correct in that most dancers will stay in the original college of choice unless they choose to walk away from dance. But even if they did not, should the search be less because they might change their minds? I would say no.


The thread is overall a good one. I do not want to see it sliced down into college specific. The original question is one that can be answered in the thread we are in now. But with the victorian manners we so often speak about here and no other way! And the question at hand is "when to start the college decision process?"

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My daughter started seriously looking at schools as a dance major during the summer following her freshman year, but mainly by way of research. She did not generate her "colleges I would go to and still dance but not as a major" list until junior year, when her love of history solidified. The beginning of senior year the "state school I would go to and be pre-law but never dance at" was thrown in. She opted for none of the above and was reluctant about the search process, but did feel she could have happily gone to any of her choices under the right circumstances. The only problem with looking early (but it could happen later too) is falling madly in love with one school. The more info, though, I would have to say, the better.

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If any of you have dancers who graduated in three years, I'd be interested in how you structured this "search" process. To our surprise, DD marched in to the counselor's office in 8th grade and worked with them to come up with a 3-year plan for high school, and then presented it to us to sign off on. She is definitely driven and puts a lot of pressure on herself to achieve in every area. So far, so good -- she has excelled with a very difficult schedule her first year of high school. However, I think she's bitten off a lot and I hesitate to add more complexity just yet. But suddenly she is 1/3 done...

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Since your daughter is on track to actually graduate in three years from high school, the college search process shouldn't be any different. Just treat her final year as her senior year.


My daughter crammed most of her high school curriculum into three years, minus two, one-semester classes, and she did a modified college application process her "junior" (3rd) year. She applied to UArts as an early admission student - meaning starting college without her diploma and completing those last two classes during her first semester as a freshman. But she also applied to a regular college dance program that didn't offer early admission (University of Michigan), for which she would have had had to attend summer classes at the local community college in order to get her diploma before matriculating at the college. (This planning was done very carefully, in that the two classes - an English elective and Western Civ - were ones that we knew could be done at either UArts or the community college.)


The University of Michigan didn't care that my daughter was just a third-year high school student. What was more important was that she had already completed 17.5 credits at the time of her application and would have the minimum course requirements completed. Then, as with all students, any acceptance would be contingent on successful completion of high school. In my daughter's case, that wouldn't be in June but theoretically in August. That close timing requires individualized coordination between the high school (which would be issuing the final transcript in August) and college administrators, but given the nature of UofM's School of Music, where all students must audition, the admissions process is more individualized anyway. That should be the case as well with most of the other college dance programs your DD would be considering. You'd need to work closely with the admissions office, as it's quite likely that you'd need to adapt the application form.


Meanwhile, my DD also "pre-auditioned" for the Univ. of Arizona her junior year, so she set off to UArts knowing that she had a good chance of transferring to UA after one year if she wanted to (since she was "pre-accepted"). She had already visited the other two colleges she later applied to as well as fall-back options besides UA. One was Point Park, which she got to know by attending their SI, and the other was Marymount Manhattan, which we visited during one of her spring breaks in high school.


I really commend your DD's counselor for supporting her in this plan. My DD's counselor was opposed to her early graduation and threw up fabricated roadblocks any way he could. I had to go above his head to the assistant principal to get the help we needed. Now I'd like to show that counselor my DD's 4.0 transcript for this past semester wtih 26 credits. Needless to say, my DD is also driven, which she doesn't get from me, so it's always so scary to see her bite off so much. But she really is thriving in college - both academically and dance-wise.


On a side note, I really hope your DD's plan doesn't include AP classes. Except in the case of the highly gifted student, I do think that 3 years of high school + AP classes + pre-professional dance training IS biting off too much. On the other hand, if one's DK is not aspiring to eventually dance professionally, then it doesn't make as much sense to rush through high school.

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