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Ballet Talk for Dancers

A and B Plans: College & Company together


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Very good points gogators!

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I have NO idea how the heck we'll manage college visits with a schedule which has her dancing seven days a week or what colleges to even consider for that purpose if she really intends to try to do college part time to begin with.


spazcyn--I'm going to say this and it applies more to your DDs Senior year than anything else. But there is a point at which the seperation of what is best for the training student and what is best for the budding college student/professional dancer will become apparent. I've heard wonderful stories about schools/performing companies understanding that the student's life after pre-pro school are what's important during the Senior year. And then again, I've heard horror stories about dancer's Seniors years being a nightmare. It is a tough balance because if they are auditioning alot, they truly could be gone a few days every week Jan-April. I suggest you create a forum where it's calm choices that matter. Sure the dancer needs to be at every class they are available for, but does it really matter at that point if they are cast as leads or demi-soloists in the pre-pro school or is what's more important the fact that they need to have their plan in place for next year. There is a balance there to be had and it's easier to find in some schools than others. Now if your school brings in the best of the best ADs then you will make a different choice about being there all the time and being available for every top role than someone who is at a school in podunk whose spring performance is just for the parents.


I remember that DD lost her lead role in a special performance Senior year because she was gone too much to rehearse it and it was one where it had to be rehearse with everyone there. While she was disappointed that it was taken away from her, the bigger picture was that in 6 months she would no longer be dancing there anyway and was it worth giving up that role to make sure she could attend every company audition and college audition that she could? You betcha! The dancer they replaced her with ended up getting injured so DD ended up dancing the lead role anyway, but looking back on it, the choice the school director made was the right choice originally and while disappointed, to give up the next year because she wanted that role would have been the wrong choice for DD.


This tidbit will become clear at a specific time and place for you. But I will say, that as a parent and I can also speak for my DD, it was a crazy time I wouldn't wish on anyone but everyone will go through it.

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Just a thought here- she probably shouldn't be dancing 7 days a week with her personality....


I've seen waaaaay too many kids get burned out that way. Balance is the key to everything and 7 days a week is an injury waiting to happen. Then her career choices may become more limited.

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It WILL be very important to make the extra effort to do on-campus college visits. There really is something very intangible that one gets by actually visiting the campus. Even if that visit takes place during a vacation. So, take advantage of fall breaks, spring breaks, summer breaks and schedule a number of visits during those times. Start now---don't wait until Senior year.


I have a current senior (non-dd) now. She started visiting colleges when she was in the eighth grade and now has a pretty good sense of what she wants in a campus, location, size, etc. Even now, there are a couple colleges that she's just learned about that she'd like to go visit, but we simply don't have the time to do those. They'll have to come later if her early decision choice doesn't work out.

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Spazcyn, I really must second what Clara 76 said, as well as the parents encouraging taking the time to do the college process too.


My first concern though, is that if your dancer is dancing 7 days a week, that is too much. That is, as Clara said, an injury waiting to happen. It could also be burn out waiting to happen. I speak from experience in terms of the Type A personality dancer who danced too much and, as a young teacher wanted to teach too much!


A wise Drama and Dance Department Chairman, at a University where I was teaching in my first full-time position after my performing years, sat me down one day when I was requesting more hours for the dancers and saying I would teach them. He said "If I let you do everything you want to do here, you will be burned out well before 40." He did not allow me to do everything I wanted, thankfully, and I am still happily devoted to teaching waaaaay beyond 40! :wink: That desire to do everything and do it now is still there, but I have finally learned that I can't do that anymore. Not that I don't still try, though! :yes:

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All the posters have had very sage advice thus far.


I will only add: please don't underestimate how duanting the applications are for College, ditto the audition process for companies. I live in Canada where the route to post-secondary is still relatively sane, but I read posts here about the college application process in the US, and I can honestly say I have boundless admiration for every single one of you who has gone through it with your child (dancer or not). Quite literally it is almost more than I can imagine that someone would be able to dance intensively, and apply to both colleges and companies concurrently.


When my older daughter was in her senior year in high school, she did dance 7 days per week for a good chunk of the year, in addition to commuting from our suburb into the city alone to school and back each day (over an hour each way). When it came time to make a University decision, we were only able to visit one campus due to her dance schedule. I think she was happy with the decision she made, but she didn't really give some of the other universities as much consideration as perhaps she should have.


She also decided, quite literally at the last minute, to forgo an audition for a university dance program. By doing this she left behind something that she had been working towards for a number of years. She missed dance very much, but as far as I know has never regretted her decision. She is now doing post-graduate work and seems very happy. I guess my point is that you just never know! Parenthood is full of surprises!!


All the best,



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These are all great posts. I just want to add what we have learned from our own experience. What gogators mentioned about completing testing as a high school senior is very important. My daughter was able to apply to college four years after graduating from high school using the test scores from her senior year SAT's, SAT II's, and AP exams. She did attend college part-time for one semester one year after high school. This had its advantages and disadvantages. She was able to pick up health insurance through the college as a part-time student while she danced full-time at CPYB. She was also able to transfer all her credits to the college she attends now. The negative was that when she applied to college this year as a full-time student, she was considered a transfer. Therefore, she was not able to be considered for several scholarships that are only given to incoming freshman. As transfer students, they will find that at many colleges the scholarship opportunities are greatly diminished.


It's hard to look ahead and realize that auditions for companies and colleges are more important in that senior year than parts in shows. Sometimes, your dk will get lucky and receive an acceptance early enough that they want to pursue so that they can still participate in spring show rehearsals. Sometimes, it takes longer. You just have to go with the flow and see where their mind is at the time. You will find many twists and turns that you never thought of, and it's so important to be supportive and not put your own expectations of what they should be doing on them. You can mention audition dates, but don't be surprised if they don't follow through or decide to go a different way. Keep reminding yourself that it's their life to plan.

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And I wholeheartedly suggest you use the Zazzle link above to design and order a shirt for your DK, that says "No, I don't know what I"m doing yet, but as soon as I do know, I will shout it to the rooftops". While they may appear to be keeping it together, you will see them come unglued just a little each time a well meaning person asks that question because it is such a "hurry up and wait in fear" sort of time period. I opened my mouth to say that to a friend's daughter who was a Senior and auditioning/applying a couple of years after DD, caught myself and turned around to run and wash my mouth out with soap. :wink:

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Great advice here... Gogagtors and I spent much time PM each other through BT4D as our DK's were applying to the same colleges. As you know, Spaczyn, my DS did high school, a college class a semester, had some leads, took full ballet schedule, applied to college and auditioned his Senior year. This is not for the faint of heart! and it is VERY expensive. and, as said before, one has to keep the bigger picture in mind...


Faced with the same tight academic and ballet schedule we did the college tour route in the summer between summer intensives and between intensives and the start of the academic year.


DS also thought about applying to every collge surrounding a "big name college" and we quickly dissuaded him of that approach! :wink:


As advised above, he did the PSATs, SATs, SAT II, teacher recommendations, and did the Common Application in August before Senior year started. If he had to visit colleges during the school year, we made sure it was not during exam time with the college he was doing the course at and not during rehearsal time for the ballet.


We dropped any notion of taking a Sunday ballet class, as this was essay writing time.


We drew up elaborate schedules for company auditions for the January - March company audition season.


We did the head shots in June after Junior year, and the audition DVD during the Christmas break (used the DVD for company auditions and for the Arts Supplement for colleges, NOTE: DS did not want to consider majoring or minoring in dance at college).


DS always kept the AD informed as to which weekends e would be away for company auditions. Yes, it meant that he might not get the lead.

and he didn't, but he kept his eye of the goal - where he needed to be after high school.


We decided to treat the college application process - a FALL effort, and the Ballet audition process - a WINTER/early SPRING effort as two separate entities since he was not going to college to dance.


Things got dicey in the Spring when he was either waiting to hear from companies, had some offers, and was hearing for colleges. Hard conversations took place. Some of those conversations involved very nice college scholarships and his health insurance. We were adamant that if he was turning down very nice scholarships, then he needed to get paid for dancing or stay at his current school another year and take college courses on a part-time basis and live at home. For us it was simply not an option to accept a non-regular pay trainee or apprentice position, even if that meant turning down a "big name" company.


In the end he decided to accept the ballet offer which offered limited health insurance and more opportunities to dance. We did not have the finances to pay for part-time (meaning 1 or 2 classes) at one of the local colleges in the city where he now resides. He was able to defer his college acceptance and scholarship for 1 year, and his 2nd choice college contacted him and said they would hold his acceptance (no mention of the status of his scholarships there) for 2 years. If he does return to full-time study before he is 25 years old, our insurance will take him back on.


Currently he is learning how to live on his own. Don't discount how much effort that is. It is more demanding than negotiating college living. In college all your resources are there for you to take advantage of, and you have already paid for those services. He is trying to find a part-time job to supplement his income from the company. he is focusing on one thing at a time, and, if he does well with negotiating ballet and a part-time job, he may add a college class into the mix. The caveat is that he may not enroll full-time in order not to jeopardize his deferred enrollment status.


Calendars, spreadsheets, maps and BT4D were our greatest tools last year. Stock up on sleep now!!!

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Someone mentioned college scholarships as a freshman applicant vs transfer student applicant. I should mention that when we inquired about the scholarships that were offered to my dd when she was considering a deferral, the colleges said they would hold the scholarship for her during the deferral and offer it to her when she would enter as a freshman student.


However, as her parents, we would have to go through the financial aid application process again if she decides to go to college after the deferral. But this is fair game since the college would want to know our latest financial situation before deciding on any financial aid offers.

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Some colleges will hold the scholarships along with the deferral; others will not. That will have to be a case-by-case, school-by-school discussion.

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I've moved this to Cross Talk so that some of our dancers who are not parents can discuss with you what their paths were to achieve both college and dance.

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Thank you Momof3!


This has been the seemingly never ending road for me! I apologize now for the length of this post. :blushing:


When I was a senior in high school my father could not fathom me not going to a four year University. But with college applications due in the fall and company auditions not happening until the spring, scheduling became quite difficult. My father, God bless him, used his project management skills (and software) and created a spreadsheet of each step of each goal. It was color coordinated with items in "red" being critical events. When complete the entire project printed out and taped together was larger than our very large dining room table. It gives me a headache just thinking about it!


For me, at the time, it was not a manageable system. Traineeships were still in their infancy, as mine was simply called an "Unpaid Apprenticeship". Also, I simply did not have the knowledge that most of you on this board have about auditioning for companies.


At some point my mother, God bless her as well, pointed out that almost every city has a community college and that you can apply for the following semester in a minimal amount of time. The agreement became: They would help financially support me as I tried to become a professional dancer as long as I still, at least part time, pursued a college degree.


For my family, Community College was really a lifesaver. It took me several years and several states to find a ballet company where I have found a home. CC gave me the flexibility I needed to keep chipping away at my degree and it has been so much more affordable financially.


As one member mentioned in this forum earlier, we did run across the Health Insurance problem. In order to still be covered on my parents' plan until I was 21 or 22, I had to be a full-time student. Somehow I managed to maintain that for a couple of years (not summer semesters). CC schedules really vary, but I was lucky enough to find some classes that met only one day a week, but for 3 hours. I crammed them into nights, or weekends. I would try to keep them balanced by having one or two difficult or likely to be more homework heavy classes paired with "easier" classes. I would take Western Civ. and Art History with a basic computer class and career planning. The computer classes had very little if any homework, but still had valuable information.


Honestly, there were a couple of years that I took off of school around the time I got married. At that time I basically had a two year degree, minus a science class, and was looking at what my best options were for a University. This is where I got lucky. My ballet company recently started a partnership with a local private university. That partnership involved the university giving the dancers a handful of certificated learning credits for learning achieved through our dance careers. It was an unbelievable bonus and an opportunity that could not be passed up.


However, because of all of my CC work I had done while pursuing my dream job I was able to transfer somewhere around 70 credits from three community colleges in three different states as well as credit for several AP exams I had taken in high school. It was so rewarding to see how slowly chipping away at a degree was finally adding up!


All of us involved in this program have come in with a completely different situation. For some, it was their first college experience, for others like myself it was going to be the final push.


Our advisers through the University have been invaluable in helping us find the best options for completing our degrees. One option has been portfolio work which I've been told a number of universities do. Portfolio work can be tedious, but can allow you to essentially ask for college credit for "experiential learning", or learning you achieved through another activity outside of the college setting. A number of our cohort have used this process to fill elective credit hours in things such as "Choreography" and "Pedagogy" for our dancers that do these activities on the side.


Another option given to us were CLEP exams. I have not taken one yet but for me it will certainly be useful. My first college class after high school was "College Algebra" I wanted to get it done while it was still fresh in my memory. It was my only class that did not transfer. :3dnod: The last thing I want to do is sit through an entire semester of it, AGAIN. I'd rather study for the CLEP exam, spend the $75 or so and get the 3 credit hours.


By no means am I suggesting using these short-cuts to bypass an education. But nothing is worse than sitting through a semester of a class where you are not actually learning anything.


Anyway, I don't know if any of that was actually useful. Everyone finds their own road and I'm finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. Through our program we take 6-7 credits a semester which is honestly all I can handle during the dancing season. If all continues to go according to plan I will finish my degree in Fall 2010 :bouncing: with a number of years still left in my dance career (God willing!)


If anyone is interested in specifics feel free to PM me. Good luck! :thumbsup:

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Like gogators dd my dd also went through the college application process during senior year of high school. She was a trainee at the time dancing a full time schedule. Needless to say it was a stressful year for all of us. However, we are now so glad we pressed dd to do it that way. It seemed important to use all the resources available to her through both her academic school and ballet school at the time. Her college of choice has given her a two year deferral. Despite her reluctance to add to the heavy load she carried her senior year, dd is glad she has an option to fall back on now. She has not been in a position to take any college courses part time though.

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You also might want to consider taking online classes to earn college credits. Almost every university offers a range of classes online, including classes that are in or related to the arts (dance appreciation, art history, business classes). Although an online class gives more flexibility, it is worth pointing out that online classes usually take up more time than a traditional face-to-face format and the student needs to be self-motivated to keep up with the schedule.

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