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Ballet Talk for Dancers

College Visits


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The other day, I was flipping through my old 2001-2002 copy of Dance Magazine's College Guide and re-discovered that there is a big, 2-page spread of "Questions to ask Colleges and Universities." It is an excellent resource. A few of their questions that jumped out at me for the purposes of this thread are as follows:


- How many dance majors/minors are there in the department?

- What is the student/teacher ratio? [Me: Also ask about classroom s/t ratio.]

- Are there any summer dance programs in the vicinity?

- How many guest artists does the program bring to the school?

- What are the opportunities to view dance in the area?

- How selective is the dance program? How many apply and how many are accepted?


The guide is packed with other feature articles such as "Dance Education: Can I Make a Living?," "There's More Than Waitressing" (an article about supplementing a dancer's income), and "Choreograph Your Career." Perhaps these articles have been replaced or revised in subsequent editions, but they all address many of the same topics that come up here on Ballet Talk. As such, it is a reference book that every family of a college-bound dancer should own.

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  • 1 year later...

Hello! I am a junior in high school who is looking for a college with a strong dance program. I'll will be embarking on a several college visits this year. I plan to tour the campuses, see the studios, watch dance classes, and talk to current students to learn more about the programs. However, I'm not sure exactly what I should ask when I speak with the school counselors. I'm wondering if someone who has experience in this area could give me an idea of what these conversations usually consist of. I know I should ask about the classes offered, the types of majors, etc., but past that I'm not sure what dance program-related questions I should ask. :bash: Also, what else should I do on campus to get a feel for the college besides just tour it? I would really appreciate it if someone who has been through this could tell me about their experiences!


Thank you so much!


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dancingbookworm, I have merged your topic with an already existing one! :) Take a moment to see what suggestions we have collected from past experiences and hopefully, folks will continue to add . . . . .

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I would ask about the turn over regarding instructors. If there are instructors changing schools/retiring, who is going to replace them? If there is an expected turn over in the administration/chairman of the department, who will the replacement be? I would ask what those changes would mean to the students. I would ask how much of decisions on where the dancer is placed, is the responsibility of the chairman versus the instructors. I would ask point blank what the style/technique is emphasized. I would ask if a student who had not studied or did not care for that technique could excell in the program. I would ask if casting would reflect the students ability or style. I would be concerned about a school that can give no concrete plans about the next year.

I would also be cautious about talking to students about their experiences, likes and dislikes. Dancers would be very hesitant to give an honest opinion to a stranger when their grades/casting could be at stake. My inclination would be that you would get only positive comments! :)

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Funny that this topic came up, just his morning I found my old “college folder” from high school where I stashed all of this information. In addition to the above, here are some of the other questions I asked and the criteria I used when choosing my current program:


-How many students are in the program? How big are class sizes typically? Is there a men’s program?

- Company placement upon graduation; with what companies and in what positions.

-There is no such thing as 100% job placement; what do those who either do not find a job or decide not to pursue a professional ballet career do after graduation?

- What graduate schools and in what fields of study are students admitted if a professional ballet career is not chosen?

- Are students able to take academic classes in other fields?

- How feasible is it to double major or minor in other fields?

- How rigorous are the university’s academic classes?

- How are dance classes graded?

- What do the degree requirements entail specifically? Some schools require dance related academics, others require teaching courses, choreography, other dance forms etc.

- What do the students typically do during the summer?

- How accommodating is the faculty if students need to take days off during the semester for auditions/ outside performance opportunities?

- How are students housed? Do they typically live with other dance majors?

- Are students encouraged to take contracts at any point and then still have the option of returning to finish their degrees after dancing professionally?

- $$$ College is expensive (understatement of the year). How common are scholarships? How much money in loans do students typically take out?


I could go on but I think this covers the basis. Definitely take advantage of all of the information here on Ballet Talk and get into contact with current students in the schools you are interested in. Also I believe some universities even offer student hosts which allow prospective students to stay in the dorms with their host, attend academic classes with them and observe dance classes and rehearsals. This will give you a good feel for the program and the schools atmosphere. Best of luck!

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