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A and B Plans: College & Company together


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To add another scenario to this discussion:

My DD is in a position to easily graduate from HS next year, her junior year. She would like to do just that and start to audition for trainee/apprentice positions. If she is not offered anything then she would like to use what would have been her senior year of HS to step up her ballet training, maybe take some vocational courses in cosmetology, and work to save for expenses when and if she should be fortunate enough to find a trainee/apprentice position. Her father and I are...okaaayyy with this. My daughter expresses no remorse in her desire to leave school early or any sentimentality about missing out on her senior year.


My biggest concern in this whole scenario is that my DD is a late birthday girl. Her birthday is in late September and therefore she will not be 17 until the September following her graduation next year and won't be 18 until a year after that. I know that most second companies start kids in the summer but I am wondering will her age be of concern when she goes to audition? Do companies have age minimums that might preclude them from hiring my daughter at 16 or even 17? The bonus of her potentially getting out there so young is that she can stay on my health insurance until she is 19 without having to be a full time student. I appreciate anyone who wants to chime in on this.

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  • Momof3darlings


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Hi, MBF -


Most companies have restrictions for their trainee and/or apprentice programs. Some require that the dancer be a high school graduate. Some have age requirements for auditions. Most state these requirements right on their websites. If not, you can call to make sure before you spend the money and time to audition. You also have to consider your dd's living arrangement. At her age, she will have to live with a roommate old enough to sign an apartment lease or you will have to live with her. My friend's daughter was a trainee at 16, but she lived with her mom. Also, her social environment can be difficult if she is one of the youngest trainees. My friend's dd experienced this as most of the other trainees in her company were in their late teens and early twenties. Also think about her transportation to and from the studio. Sometimes, the company studios are far away from the residential areas. These are all things to consider when she's making a list of possible companies to audition for when she's ready. You might find out that a year or two of intensive training in a pre-professional or post-grad program will serve your daughter just as well as a trainee or apprentice position. Hope this helps. :)

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"To add another scenario to this discussion:

My DD is in a position to easily graduate from HS next year, her junior year. She would like to do just that and start to audition for trainee/apprentice positions."



Hi MBF. Could you share how your dd is able to be in this scenario with her high school credits? This is an option that we have considered, as it seems it allow that year to see how things go. I just went through the college process twice, with two years (that seemed like 6 months) in between with my non-dancing children and I am all too aware that half of the senior year is spent getting those applications out. The year flies by in a blink.

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Marigold: We live in New York State, let me first say that. In case you are from out of NYS I should let you know that part of the NYS diploma requirements are passing standardized tests (called Regents exams) given in a number of subjects (you also have to take the classes ofc) as well as credits in non-Regents tested subjects. While the majority of students do not start fulfilling these requirements until high school some are able to start in 8th grade due to honors standing. As such, DD was able to fulfill 2 of her math and science requirements a year earlier than most. Because of that, this year will be her last 'mandatory' year of math and science as well as Spanish. To graduate next year she will only have to double up on English and Social Science courses. I am going to talk to her GC about doing this as online college courses over next summer to gain the credits. It is possible to do as I know of students in other, larger districts who have done this but our rural district tends to not want to be flexible. The last several years though, DD's high school has averaged about 5 students per year who graduate early (including 2009's valedictorian).


Since my D is not college bound and when/if she does go I don't expect she will try for an uber-selective university I have not pushed her into AP Bio or AP Calculus (but then my oldest who is in college for music only took AP in subjects she was interested in too). HS DD still takes Honors English and will probably take AP US History bc it is a Regents subject and if you have to take it why not do the AP anyway.


As far as sending DD to a pre-pro or post grad after graduation it is certainly a great idea. I am just not sure if we can swing the cost of that plus then subsidize a couple or more years of trainee/apprentice. Any ideas on that would be great. Even Harid and VSA which have free tuition are quite a steep price for room and board. This is definitely an area where I need guidance and am seriously stressed.

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marigold, both my kids were in a position that they could have graduated after 6 semesters of high school, IF they had wanted to. The dancer did; the non-dancer ultimately chose not to. The reason they were in that position was because several of their middle school courses (algebra I and geometry and some foreign language courses) were transferable to their high school transcript. The only required course for graduation missing by the end of their junior years was the fourth year of English (AP English Literature for them).


DD finished her junior/senior year via an on-line high school program while attending a release-time pre-professional ballet program out-of-state. She simply doubled up on her AP English classes, talking both AP English Language and AP English Literature that year. She then attended a post-graduate pre-professional training program during what would have been her senior year of high school and had applied to colleges in the same manner as if she were a senior in high school. Surprising to me, she did elect to begin a BFA dance program that next Fall. So for school purposes, she wasn't 'behind'.


Non-dd, having seen her sister graduate high school in three years, looked into doing so also. There would have been hoops to jump through to get that one AP English class on-line approved, but the guidance office's advice was to check with the colleges she was interested in as to how that three year graduation might impact her admissions. I thought it couldn't hurt and might even be a 'brownie point'. She was interested in elite-level colleges. So, we asked several and got all the same answers: Graduating in three years would not give any 'brownie points' and although the Admissions folks all said it would not count against her per se, it would put her at a disadvantage in the pool of applicants. They emphasized that the four-year grads would have that much more opportunities to develop and display 'leadership skills' (something all college admissions at that level list as important :)), develop maturity (would not have been an issue with this kid), and generally, life experiences and opportunities. They all strongly urged (no matter what the child's academic resume was) that she take the opportunity presented by the fourth year of high school and take classes that interested her, participate in extracurriculars that perhaps she hadn't previously had time for, and generally absorb all the opportunities that she had time for that she might have dismissed or foregone by virtue of striving to get all her graduation requirements condensed into three years. The state colleges/universities didn't care one way or another.


At first non-dd was not convinced she could stand to stay in high school four full years. She has always taken a very challenging course load and maintained a rigorous club sport training schedule (5 hours per day). But, here she is in her senior year of high school and she is absolutely loving it! She's never had so much fun! (Well, minus the stress of praying she'll get into to her first choice--and according to her ONLY choice--school ED). She is still taking all AP courses, but she absolutely loves all of her teachers and has enjoyed the friends she slowly made in this huge high school over the four years.


If your DD is convinced that dance is the be-all-and-end all and she is very talented, perhaps it makes sense to hurry it all along. But, I would suggest you all consider the real need for hurrying life. When I was so anxious for some milestone or specific time period to come, my mom used to say to me "Be careful! You are wishing your life away." And, you know what, she was absolutely right. Encourage your DD to consider that life unfolds all in due time for a reason. Enjoy it as it unfolds. The time that passes can never be regained and there is value, lesson, joy, and just plain contentment in enjoying each day as it comes. Don't overlook what is in front of you.


That said, DD does not regret her path or decisions---but then, too, she doesn't really know what she missed. Non-dd has absolutely no regrets about slowing down her revved 'get to college' motor and has learned quite a bit both academically and socially as a result.

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dancemaven said something really pretty important regarding her daughter and that is "she doesn't regret her decision but, there again she doesn't know what she missed." Any dancer who gets a company job will leave behind all the 'fun' aspects of getting a university education. The one advantage a child staying at home and training locally has, is experiencing HS. Socially and therefor emotionally and in general in the maturation process I think this is a plus. So, my thoughts on graduating early is all about this aspect the whole thing. Our children, if they get company jobs leave behind the carefree life of children and teens, even young adults long before many if not most American's. Life gets really serious, really soon for even trainees. On the academic front a mother and teacher once said to me of those who graduate early, there are many ways to graduate from HS and this is so true. There are the kids who do the easiest of classes in order just to get out and there are those who do IB and AP. I think skimping on HS is dangerous academically, these kids all need plan 'B'. I really feel that for the ballet kid who actually gets a job they need to enjoy being young for as long as they can. Once they are in a company even as an entry level dancer they are in a very adult world.

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I definitely agree with you both dancemaven and pasdetrois, about wishing life away. This is my biggest concern with DD's plan.


A little more background, DD is in the top 10% of her class. Honors student, just got her progress reports and it was all 100's. Excellent athlete, the coaches for soccer and volleyball are begging her to join the teams (they are the PE teachers as well). Ofc we all know that is not a possibility. Ok, so I am on a tangent. Back to what is at hand, DD is popular but finds most kids her age lack focus. She does not enjoy school at all and assures me that even if a dance career should not work out that college is not for her. I know this could change down the road but she is adamant. The most she will consider is vocational school for cosmetology. An intelligent girl, she does come by the grades easily but only maintains bc her father and I insist. I actually think she would flourish in a college atmosphere. However, she is tiring of the environment at both school and her home studios. The teaching is still top notch but even the girls who say they want a career in ballet are more worried about grandstanding in class than improving their technique. If the teacher scolds them for doing 5 bad pirouettes instead of doing 2-3 good ones these kids rarely listen and continue to try to just out do each other. This seriously bothers DD as she believes in quality over quantity. After spending the summer away with more focused dancers and in a stricter class atmosphere she is having a hard time being back at home. Ofc, this is the one who at 3 years old would roll her eyes at the kids who acted up in baby ballet all while standing with rapt attention in first position. I should have known then I was in trouble!


I am her mother and therefore not an unbiased judge of her talent. I do know that both her teachers have said she has what it takes to have a career and while DD is no prodigy there have been several outsiders (choreographers, guest pros, a college ballet professor, and teachers at her SI) who apparently also feel this way. LOL, I keep sending her places thinking she will just blend and be average but that has yet to happen. She has a lot working against her, she is petite with only average feet but what they do see apparently is impressive to them. I could give specifics but I am already coming close to outing our identities and also DD and I don't believe in bragging as a rule.


I am comfortable in her decision I suppose as I know she has thought this out. What I am not comfortable with is our family's ability to financially support this venture. At least for college there are scholarships, financial aid (yes we qualify) and loans (which I doubt she will ever be in a position to pay back on her own). I devour what info I can find on BT4D and spend way too much time on here and appreciate the very well written postings I have read.


Oh gosh, where am I going with all of this? IDK but it is nice to put my neurosis on virtual paper at least. I have every confidence in DD's tenacity, talent, and maturity. It is mom and dad that I worry about most!!! Time to go take a Xanax or bake a pie or something. DD is in the other room begging for cupcakes too.

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Ah yes... no matter which direction a dd may decide to turn, there is something being turned away from. And this planning business - I liked jmh4's quote from Mother Theresa. Doesn't a parent feel so responsible, though, to make the path as clear as possible? But the more we learn, the more complex it becomes.


I have one who wants to go to college, whether it be full-time with a dance minor, part-time slowly, while in a company, or deferred for a year, so as to dance with a company ( should this be an option) ... This one wants to have her second career be in the design field, a profession which takes many studio hours while in college. She is a freshman in a high school program now that allows her to take a lot of fine arts, so as to develop a portfolio, and takes the other academic classes online with the same program, so that due dates are flexible if she has rehearsal crunches, which are many times a year. Her classes are two years above grade level and honors and her plan is to keep high grades on her transcript. The idea of finishing early with credits seems like it would allow for auditioning and applying, or polishing skills with more training. It just seems like another option to consider.


There is no question that the format of the school allows her to feel less high pressure and, therefore, less rushed. For her to try to get all four years done in three in a traditional highschool would allow no time for fun, no question. We'll see what she wants to do as high school moves along. Rather than rushing through, I would like to consider that option as just shifting a format to make what you love to do go more smoothly. :) The same as a parent pushing a child to take ballet versus letting them be their own motivator. But then, there are more experienced posters who know how grueling a dance career actually is, once it begins. :shrug: : :unsure: Guess this could be getting off-topic. It's great to read everyone's helpful and experienced posts! This thread is one to come back to.

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MBF, it sounds as though, at least in the ballet studio we have the same daughter. The sorting of the chaff from the grain so to say, even among the most talented of a class can really be seen when the mid teens approach. Just because you can doesn't mean you should or even want to. I think that's what happens with talented and even gifted dancers in many studios. Even dancers who have been invited to national level programs can decide it isn't the right path for them. I've seen a couple turn down such spots and stop dancing. Bright/talents teens really have a lot on their plate when it comes to choosing a path. Even in strong company schools and trainee programs there are varying levels of commitment. The truly driven dancers v. the one who is there to dance and thinks they are driven. Companies are not immune to this either. It really never goes away.


As far as not liking school, many a teen finds they out grow their class mates, especially those with a foot in the adult world which is what serious dancer have, a foot in a very adult world. As HS progresses, the opportunity to serve the school, being a student body officer, even be Homecoming Queen may sound silly or trivial to a company directed dancer, but, I now listen to girls who trivialized such, even when they were Homecoming Royalty and now, in their 20's look back and are so much more honest about feelings at the time. They may love ballet but it's a wonderful thing to be young.


No matter what you DD does regarding HS, she has to realize that even really beautiful dancers are not guaranteed a career. It's our job as parents to help them see the reality of the world.

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When DD started HS the intention was she would finish in 3 years. The school was VERY resistant but for two and a half year we just quietly plugged along. When it cam to scheduling her classes junior year she was not allowed to double up in the English which effectively ended the graduating early. DD is now a senior and only has that required English credit, but she is now enrolled in college dual credit program and enjoying the taste of college and the freedon of it. Since she had so few required courses she is able to dance more and is working to make money for next year.


For so many years she was so busy and rushed that slowing down a little her senior year I think is a good thing. DD has also changed her goals and career plans probably 3 times a year for each year of high school, to the point that this time next year I am not sure what she will be doing.

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Time to go take a Xanax or bake a pie or something. DD is in the other room begging for cupcakes too.


Well, how about baking a Xanax pie?? I'll chip in with my double vodka martini with the Xanax swizzle stick, and we can BOTH de-stress!

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I know that your tongues are in your collective cheeks about the tranquilizers and maybe I am in some sort of pathological state of denial :wink: but.....


I really think as long as these dk's keep up their academics (in whatever mode best suits their individual situations) and are also in good professional ballet training, they will have the ability to make the best decision for them. The best case scenario is that a dk ends up with both a desired contract to dance and acceptance to the college of their choice. Colleges recognize that a year between high school and college are many times a priceless way for a future student to develop, follow or fine tune interests and a year of maturity is a good thing. Princeton for example, requires that a percentage of their incoming freshman take a deferral year. A dk then could try out being a professional dancer and if they don't like it, then the college is already set. If they like the life of a professional dancer, then they can have a conversation with the university about short-term and long-term goals and go from there. If a dk has kept up with academics and applied to colleges then if the contract doesn't materialize, then the college option is open to him/her. The worst case scenario IMHO is that neither the contract nor college admission happens, then what? Yes, there's another year of training that could happen but as I see it, then the same process happens again and college would probably also be a part of that same process, just in case....... Reading these posts, it seems like all of those dks in this thread are in good shape. Of course, my tranquilizer of choice is a nice glass of wine! :D

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As parents we like to control things or at least to put them in a tidy package. The Senior year for a dancer cannot be controlled, nor can it be put in a tidy package. There will be many, many things that cannot be made clear until the dust settles. The easiest road to take is one where you do what you can do to pave many paths and then work so that each proposed path has a possible positive ending. Notice I said "possible positive ending" and not simply "positive ending". That difference is key.


A graduating dancer brings to the table many wonderful attributes. Hopefully the attributes match the goal so that the goal is achieveable. All you can do is prepare them to take all the different roads that their attributes are ripe for and then wait for the toll booth to open....or not. Our parental control button won't like that, but the sooner we realize this is the first step in losing "control" over our children and turning over that control at least partially to something or someone else, the better off we are.


The dancers will be stressed out enough, they need us as a calm front to help them weather the storm themselves. We can do that by helping them plot out ahead of time how much auditioning we can manage, how many schools we can manage for them to apply to, and what a sound Plan A, B and maybe C is to match their hopes and dreams. For some dancers it is as cut and dry as "if I don't get a contract then I will go to college". For others, it becomes "if I don't get a contract I want to train more and try again because I'm not ready to give it up yet". With every possible scenario in between. Some will make it through the audition season with jobs, others will make it through without. Still others will determine in the middle of the audition season that even if they get a job, they don't like having their life dictated by someone elses approval factor anymore so what was supposed to be this big career is the beginning of the end anyway.


In the case of the original poster, it is a choice of planning for a pro career and a college career simutaneously that is the question. And then again, which the dancer truly wants to come first. With the remaining question how to get the other attained as well. Not the either or. The Plan A is to dance and attend college simutaneously.

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Swanchat, are by you pouring a cabernet, or perhaps, pinot noir? Mom of three...you're scaring me!! That dust isn't settling around here any time soon.


Yet, very good advice for all. I think we all agree by now, there are really no tidy packages.


Hence the wine. And it's not even the weekend.

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