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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Factors in Making the Decision Once Accepted


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Ok, so now what? It is narrowed down to 3. Last week it was just one for sure. Then came another campus visit, which went well so that made 2 - and a great placement from the last audition which made it back up to 3.


I am not going to mention the programs by name, that is not BT4D policy. One is a very ballet focus. One is "balanced" ballet modern. One is modern focused BUT students can take just as much ballet. All programs have notable dance faculty in ballet (and other dance genres) and all rank high nationally. Facilities range from good to fantastic. Tuition ranges from almost affordable to "which bank can I rob?"


DD has this emotional thing whereby she gets a feel for the campus, as in, can I see myself here, is this MY SCHOOL? She went that way with choice of high school (private) and it served her well. My concern, however, is also for which ballet or dance program is right for her. Is the "my school" feeling more important than the ballet program? Is it equal?


How to decide when you've got only good choices???? (And yes, I know dd is fortunate to be in this position; she knows it as well.)

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I was just discussing this phenomenon with another Ballet Talk mom yesterday! We were commenting on the dramatic mind shifts that occur during this really difficult period in a teen's life. I don't think it is something that happens just with dancers trying to choose the right school, it is also prevalent among non-dancers who are faced with really good choices for colleges and are unsure which way to go. Some offer wonderful scholarships, others offer great campuses, facilities, notable credentials in their major and so on and it is all rather bewildering.


The teens seem to be swayed by the campus visit and who they meet there. They are swayed by their friends who offer what they mean as helpful, but is often mis-information. They are swayed by their teachers (be it academic or in ballet) and it is no wonder that they are quite unsure about which path will take them where they want to go!


For some of our kids, the choices are even more confounded by offers from ballet companies thrown into the mix of college scholarships. It is wonderful that they have an array of choices, but it is also quite bewildering and it leaves us parents unsure about how to advise them as well.


What I think is really important is that the teens be given some time to try to sort things out by themselves. It is impossible to insulate them from all the well-meaning advice they get, but as much as possible, I think they need some time to mull things over on their own. Pros and cons lists always have helped my dancer, whether it was for an SI or now for decisions about post-grad life.


I do think that what 'feels' right in this situation is often the best way to go. College is not just about getting a good education. You have already commented that this is possible at all your daughter's options. It is also about the total experience. She will live and work and play in this environment. She needs to believe that she can do all of those things well at the school she chooses.


Something that I think is important to throw into the mix is that choosing a college now does not have to be a four year sentence. If it doesn't work out for whatever reason, transferring is always an option. For those weighing college vs. dance company, it does not have to be an 'either or' proposition. There is nothing wrong with going to college for a year or two and then auditioning again for companies or the reverse of dancing for awhile and then choosing college. I think it is really daunting to 17/18 year olds to have to make choices that they believe will be unalterable or that exclude other options. So, as we talk about the choices at our house, we are trying to look to next year and 3 years later and then 10 years later and how many of the choices she has now can still fit into those long term goals. None of these choices exclude her long term goals. It is just a matter of which avenues she will choose (and in what order) to achieve those goals.


Good luck with the decisions. You are not alone in this time of great uncertainty in households all over the country - with dancers and non-dancers alike! :)

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First and foremost, I think whoever pays the bills gets to have input on what is affordable and acceptable.


After that ... I put a lot of stock in the kid's feelings about a place. Terrific training isn't worth a hill of beans if the kid is unhappy (because they won't be getting much OUT of the training).


We pretty much gave our kiddo free rein to decide, knowing she has an excellent head on her shoulders. She did make lists of pros and cons, and that helped -- but visiting the campuses really made a big impression, especially when she was able to visit during "Prospie Weekend" or whatever the campus in question called it. She did pick the school that was SO right for her, and we, her parents, been delighted at the smooth transition she has made.


That said ... career training was not in the mix for us. I don't know how I'd factor that in. Part of me thinks that if your DD is aiming for a career, she needs to continue with the best training possible (if she can distinguish a difference among the programs) or go for the one with the best track record (measured in proportion of entering students who get jobs). The other part says that it's all such a crap shoot, a little edge here or there might not make that much difference, as in the end statistics say she's not likely to get a job anyway (cold hard truth, I know, sorry for the bluntness).


In the end, you probably know the answer to your own question. How you respond to the answers posted here will tell you a great deal, if you listen to yourself.


And congrats to you and your DD on having three fine choices! Those are the nice kinds to have.

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I am aware that having a pro career is a crap shoot. In my dd's case, she does not expect to ever dance professionally. That said, she is super picky about training on the college level.


Good point about the training being less effective if the dk's unhappy.


Doesn't make this any easier. Have been beating the bushes for financial aid, too.


DD has said she wants to talk with her favorite teacher and I have said ok, but am encouraging the pro and con lists BEFORE she has her little talk. I am thinking maybe we can just put the name of each school on a slip of paper and have her draw one of them out of a bag . . .

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DD has said she wants to talk with her favorite teacher and I have said ok, but am encouraging the pro and con lists BEFORE she has her little talk. I am thinking maybe we can just put the name of each school on a slip of paper and have her draw one of them out of a bag . . .


This method can work surprisingly well. Have your daughter draw a name out of a bag. If she's excited that she drew a particular name, that's valuable information. If she's a bit disappointed that she drew a particular name, that is also valuable information.


When confronted with a bag of choices, it's interesting to note which name we hope to pull out! :)

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Taradriver, we were in exactly the same boat. What we went with was almost exactly along the lines of Balletboosters advice . . . where she could see herself best learning, playing, dancing. Where she choose wasn't initially her first choice which underlines the importance of the college visit!! I also emphasized that no choice was irreversible, transfer was always an option. The decision to not further pursue company apprenticeships was hers alone as she really wants to go to college, THEN dance professionally. Hopefully.

You can always do what we did which was NOT to think about it for awhile, then revisit the pros/cons/emotions. Good luck!

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That Balletbooster gives great words of wisdom. I also feel that there's usually a place where your dancer feels she fits best. If she didn't like the audition ballet class even at the best program-that's a sign of a bad fit! As the wise Balletbooster says-you're not stuck forever if you make the wrong choice. That said, best of luck in that tough decision.

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Thanks, everyone. This would not be such a pressing issue if it wasn't for one of the schools wanting a gigantic housing deposit by the end of March. The deposit is refundable except for $50 but it really is a huge amount.


Reminding DD that she could always transfer if she was unhappy was met with stony silence.


She's on Senior Retreat for the next 3 days and hopefully that will restore some of her serenity and help her to make the best decision.

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Not to throw a wrench into the works (and this may not be received well by your D), but she should also consider how she'd feel about attending the school if she DIDN'T dance there or major in dance.


The reason I say it is because my D, like yours, was very picky about college ballet training even though she didn't want to dance professionally. She chose her school because she had a full academic scholarship AND it has an excellent performing arts program. She's now only minoring in dance, and may take very little dance as a senior.


She's pretty happy with the school overall, but I think that's got more to do with getting comfortable there, making friends etc. For her major, there were a couple of other schools that were clearly a better choice in retrospect but didn't offer the ballet that had been important to her earlier on.


It IS tough and while sure, you can transfer, it's not an easy thing to do because you become invested emotionally in a life at your school.


I feel for you both right now....a very tough choice ahead. But thank God, she has some!

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Thanks, bluebirdmom!


Yes, the non-dance aspects of each school are being considered and I, too, urge those parents reading this thread to consider them, for lots of reasons. Majors change an average of THREE times during college, no matter what the school, so I have been told by an admissions person. We are carefully looking at those "other" interests as we evaluate the schools. And, since all have programs that include her "other" interests, it still isn't easy.


Other factors such as campus life, etc., also are in the mix. This being said, it remains a very difficult decision.

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Vita-Luna - you are lucky!


My dd has a number one that she also "knew" and has known for a long time, but she also likes the other 2 programs and they have other advantages. Her number 1 is a private school that costs big $$$. Number 2 is a state school and we qualify as in-state, which costs roughly the same as her parochial high school, so it is already in the budget. #3 is a public university but we would be out of state tuition, still it isn't as pricey as the private school. DD not only dances, she can do the math and she's having a hard time justifying the costs.


Wish those durned financial aid packages would arrive!

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  • 3 weeks later...

The financial aid packages are in and it isn't getting any better. How is everyone else doing? DD is having one heck of a time with this.

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After much dicussion, my DD has made her college choice. The school she chose was actually her first choice as far as the campus atmosphere, dance program, and that she would be getting a BA rather than a BFA that all the other schools, which were conservatory programs were offering. Her only negative was that it is 8 hrs. away. After the last financial aid package came in, she made her decision. The other college she was considering is a conservatory program, and $$$. We feel that with the BA, and a minor in Arts Admin., she has more to fall back on in the future. We had to weigh the costs, as we have another in college. We questioned whether getting out of college with mega debt and a BFA in dance was worth the risk. So, we will adjust to the long distance, and look forward to her next four years of new experiences and opportunities.

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