Jump to content
Ballet Talk for Dancers to close ×
Ballet Talk for Dancers

Expensive of college vs. salary


Recommended Posts

DD is a high school senior and is still ironing out her plans for next year. She is planning on focusing on contemporary ballet. We have been researching schools for a while and did some visits this spring and summer. My question is, based on the economy, does it make sense to go to a more well known expensive school? We have some programs here in state that have BFAs in Dance. They are not that well known, but are much more in our budget. Plus, I would think she would have a better chance at scholarships.


A second question is who to listen to in terms of what school is good and what is not. We visited a very prestigious classical program this summer and met with the department head. He knew and we knew it wasn't going to be a good fit for DD, since it is so classical. He was graious enough to spend an hour with us talking about what schools are good. He asked why DD wasn't staying in Oregon. He said one of our schools was a solid contemporary program. DD's dance teachers haven't felt that it was. Who would have a better thumb on the pulse of what is good in a school, the head of such a good program or someone local who might hear more about the work. The school is a couple of hours away and DD's teacher admits he hasn't seen a lot of their work. A second teacher also said it was just mediocre, which leads back to question #1, whether mediocre is good enough in this economy. Any input? Thanks!

Link to comment
  • Administrators

Mediocre is never good enough. For anything, but most especially if one has any hope whatsoever of performing professionally. I have no idea who to trust in this situation, therefore, I would trust no one. I would go, visit, watch, or even better take class, and then make decisions.

Link to comment

Labgranny- I don't have any specifics but we went through the college selection recently, so in terms of finances. DD is at a private school which on paper looks significantly higher than we are paying, with academic and talent scholarships and need based grants we are paying pretty much the same as we would if she was staying in the dorms at our local public (with a solid dance program). So don't avoid private schools because of the price initially because it may be very similar. we found out=of-state publics, except UMKC to be absolutely prohibitive.


As for who to listen too. I really don't know. DD auditioned for a variety of programs that very rapidly removed several schools and made others seem much more promising. She knew the styles that would fit her best and which programs would be challenging and push her.

Link to comment

All I can do is sigh and nod my head in agreement. This is my predicament as the parent of a dancer who also struggles with the college search. Many of the modern/contemporary programs we have looked at seem to be lacking in the area of ballet (both in the level of difficulty she is used to and in the offering of classes) and the ballet programs are often too focused on the classical aspect for her liking. Being a dancer who appreciates both hardcore ballet technique and contemporary movement I often wonder if she will find a program where she will be satisfied. I know that she will probably audition at a handful of schools and walk away liking maybe one or two (neither of which will probably be affordable).


ITA with calamitous on out of state publics. The OOS tuition rates at most are extremely prohibitive. UMKC I have not checked on but SUNY Purchase is a well known program (albeit on the opposite coast for you) with a small OOS tuition price. It was not a match for my DD but your DD may find it interesting.

Link to comment

I wonder if, in a case like this, a dancer might consider auditioning for a contemporary company and take classes at a local community college while dancing professionally?

Link to comment

She has considered going the company route instead. I am just not sure if she is ready skill wise. Most company bios I have seen show that their dancers went to college. She is doing an intensive with a local company right now, so I am going to talk to the director about just what thye are looking for in terms of training.

Link to comment

Our recent experience with out-of-state public universities, is that most, if not all, offer automatic academic scholarships based on standardized test scores and HS GPA-if your dancer is a good student. This can knock a considerable amount off the top of what is (I agree) a costly tuition bill. DD was offered anywhere from $5000/yr-9,000/yr-renewable for four years-from publics when she was admitted. To our great surprise (and pleasure) she ended being offered a full-tuition (academic) scholarship to the out-of state public she chose to attend. This was awarded after she had accepted her admission offer, and was not why she chose to attend there. We didn't think she was going to receive anything. It was late May when they informed her. She was then offered a modest ballet merit scholarship after the placement class last week. So, you never know, how things can work out.

Link to comment

We were in your same boat a little over a year ago. One way we evaluated college programs was to research the types of dance careers that graduates had chosen. It requires quite a lot of work on Google, but you can get a feel for which programs are performance-based and which are more geared toward future teachers, therapists, choreographers, etc. Also, by looking at dancer bios in the types of companies your DD is interested in, you can see the college programs from which her potential future companies tend to hire.


Our decision (after much heartfelt deliberation) was to send our DD to the most respected program to which she was accepted, which ended up being a private school out of state. She auditioned at mostly top-tier ballet programs, but there were a few that were kind of in the next group down from the top; strong programs but they didn't seem to have as many dancers getting performance jobs and weren't as well known nationally. One of these was an in-state program where she would have started in the conservatory as a sophomore, with state scholarship money. However, we decided that as a family, we had invested so much time, energy and money in dance already, that it only made sense to let her pursue the best program she could enter. Our view was that we could spend less money on a state school, but if she could not get a job in her chosen field after graduating from the school, then it would be money, time and energy wasted. And time is of the essence when our children are already choosing a college over a company.


It is still quite a sacrifice, but between scholarships, a grant, loans, my DD working, her loans and retirement funds, she was able to attend the school best able to prepare her for a ballet career. (And then she changed her mind about ballet and is struggling with an injury so isn't dancing much. But that is another story altogether.)


Some of the private schools have more leeway to consider extenuating circumstances before they award their financial aid. Once you apply, it behooves you to call and talk to them. We did not have much luck with the public out-of-state schools that she tried.

Link to comment

I will just add my voice to the choir that says to apply regardless of listed cost of the college. My son's top school choice, a private university, didn't offer him as much financial aid money as one of the others that accepted him. We called the office and his file was put on the list of files to be reviewed at a meeting that's always held to consider such requests for more money. Had we not made the request, we would never have known that colleges do that! The school came back to us with another financial aid offer, better than the first but still not affordable enough for us. We stated that, and then they immediately came back (within a few hours) with a really great offer that we could afford. So that's where he went to school.

Link to comment

Agree so much about not letting cost be a determining factor in choosing which colleges to apply/audition for. I remember being at one of those overwhelming college fairs with dd and hubbie last year. As she was picking up literature, he was perusing the tuition and fees. At one table, the admissions person saw him blanch, and said, "Don't worry -- no one pays the full charges." Well, I'm not sure that's a true picture -- there's got to be someone paying sticker price, but it is true that there can be guaranteed awards for good academic stats, as well as talent scholarships (which tend to be smaller amounts, but still, it's money!). Don't overlook scholarship competitions done by the school or elsewhere. And know things can change -- one school, that d declined, sent her a letter this summer, offering additional talent dollars (irony? The letter arrived the day she got back from her orientation at a different school she chose and is now attending). We looked at fit first, strength of program...and figured we'd wait to see what the damages were after/if accepted to these super-selective programs.


Now, the $$ amount that becomes "too much" for each family will be different, and for these kids that want to be starving artists, I would not advocate a ton of college debt -- then you are working just to pay your loan off, and may not have the time to really pursue your career. But...I have a nephew who is bilingual, got his elementary ed. degree...and could not find a teaching job for 3 years. Another relative w/a Masters from Case Western (and a genius kid!) has had trouble finding long-term work in the technology field he's trained for, a friend's son just landed a position in a law office (with full lawyer credentials) after a few years of searching (and with 3 little kids of his own). So I think there is little security in any field right now (less so for performing artists, but isn't that the way the world has always been?) We decided to let our kid follow her passion to college...we'll see how that all comes out in the end...but for now, with the help of scholarships and many crossed fingers, that's the way it went at this end.

Link to comment

DD (and I) just did the round of college applications and auditions last year. One thing I learned at a financial session for parents is that you should fill out the FAFSA, no matter whether you think you will qualify for federal aid money or not. The presenter at this particular (private) college gave this example to show why: "Let's say our cost is $40,000. You fill out the FAFSA and it says your expected contribution is $20,000. That means that at our school, you could be eligible for $20,000 in financial aid." She did go on to say that at that school, financial aid was partly scholarship-based, meaning that the better students would receive higher offers of aid.


So, echoing what others have said, don't let anticipated cost keep your child from applying, and it helps if your child is an excellent student. :devil:

Link to comment

Twinklemom, while it is true that the $20,000 of EFC means that a student could be eligible for $20,000 in financial aid there are many schools that include in the "aid" package federal student loans and parent loans. When my oldest DD (4.0 student, 97th percentile SAT's) was looking at schools we were so happy to get those letters that showed us that the school was meeting her entire need only to look closer and find that the bulk of it at the private schools was student and parent loans to the tune of over $25K per year (NYU). I guess it is buyer beware on a lot of these packages.

Link to comment

I agree that much of the aid can be in the form of loans. But the private schools did offer my DD way more in the way of academic scholarships and even grants. Some of her friends also got work study. (The private schools were also interested in receiving individual letters from parents detailing expenses not on the FAFSA, like private tuition, hardship circumstances, etc.) What we found out was that it really varied by the university. There is a listing of the average type of aid and the amount of aid per student that a school typically offers. That helps somewhat when you are debating where they should apply. I can't remember the websites that we used to look it up. But I do think there is a link on the FAFSA website to look up the average aid package per school.


Somewhere - perhaps a site like College Confidential - listed the average indebtedness of students when they graduated from each particular school. The problem with that was we discovered that the students are offered the small loans, and the large loans in the parents' names. So these figures might be understating "family" indebtedness.


If you check out the individual college threads, I think there is some discussion of the amount of aid offered at some of the schools. I know my DD and her friends were offered very good academic scholarships at Butler. Not much at CCM - University of Cincinnati. And while SMU is more expensive than the other schools, her scholarship offer was actually a little less.


So my advice would be to find out as much as possible about each college's typical financial aid package before you spend the money on auditions and travel. But then be aware that each school can have a vastly different financial aid offer. And we were lucky to have a state school with a relatively good dance program that we could use as a backup if enough aid did not come through. That was comforting during the process, though as Victoria Leigh stated, mediocre is just not good enough. Jobs in performing arts are just so difficult to find that you might need the edge from a top-notch program.

Link to comment

Thank You to all who have provided perspective on this topic. The information on BTFD is always spot on, and my family has spent hours researching topics of interest over the past year. DD is a high school senior who is now making decisions on colleges to visit/apply. We are a bit behind in visits as DD wasn't sure if she wanted to major in business and dance. DD is a very good student but with very average SAT/ACT scores. She carries a difficult course load with many AP classes and has a very good GPA. We live in an area that has great business schools, but a school that will allow her to be a dual major is harder to come by.


DD#1 would probably be labeled more of a "commercial" dancer as she does not have the years of classical ballet training DD#2 has ( many many years of training, just not all in classical ballet). This past summer, DD #1 attended a classical ballet summer intensive, so she could start working on perfecting her technique and prepare for college auditions. Right before her SI, DD won an audition workshop given by a NYC dance casting agent/director, who now wants to represent her. We did check out the agency, and they represent many choreographers and dancers in both LA and NYC, so I believe it is a legitimate offer.


Now DD has some choices to make...Is it better for DD to go to school locally, and be available for auditions local to NYC? The original plan was to have DD apply to colleges out of state, as those programs have great dance training, offer the dual major, and DD would audition in the summer (s). The agency knows college is in the picture and would be willing to let her audition/work May-August. I get the feeling the agency would like to have her audition year-round, but I doubt the local schools would be happy if DD was missing classes/rehearsals because of auditions, and I am concerned the agency won't think DD is fully committed. A third option is for DD to audition full-time , but college has been in the picture for so long, it's hard to abandon that mindset.


We have many decisions to make in a short amount of time, and the offer from the agency came very unexpectedly. Any insight/ advice is much appreciated ...


Moderators, feel free to re-post if this isn't the correct thread...

Link to comment

Would she consider accepting at the college of her choice, but deferring for a year to see how the audition process with the agency works? By next year, she'll understand way more about the agency's successes on her behalf than she does now.


I'm a huge believer in college deferment and what's even better, most of the colleges are too. They see a more focused and mature individual after that year pursuing some passion.

Link to comment

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
  • Create New...