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Starting college late


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I am looking at going to school as a dance major and will be 21 in November.

I was concerned that I would be too old to apply for a lot of scholarships or even the dance programs themselves at this age, considering I've had spotty training with a lot of breaks due to some emotional and mental health issues.

Well another teacher at the studio I teach preschool classes at told me that she went to major in dance long after she reached my age. My boss tells me I still have a very fair chance.

Has anyone else started college late and what were your experiences with it? Did it make things more difficult?

I feel like school would be a better choice for me first as I have minimal company experience (7 months in a student company) and my ultimate goal is to teach, but I would like to dance as a professional for a few years while I may still be able.

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After 8 years of earning her living dancing professionally, my 26 year old daughter has just started college full-time. It's not only possible, g/z, it happens frequently. Former dancers are well known at colleges for their ability to discipline themselves in their academic studies. They make terrific students.

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Ginnia, the last sentence of your post tells me that you're thinking of enrolling in a college dance program in hopes of preparing to perform professionally. And the bit about "minimal company experience" suggests that you're wondering whether a college dance program could make up for the fact that you did not receive your ballet training at a company-sponsored school, because you'd like to join a professional company - possibly a ballet company - as opposed to getting work at theme parks and cruise ships. I'm sorry to say, but you won't be able to make up for your "spotty training" and be able to perform with a professional dance company.


But that's not to say that you shouldn't look into attending a college dance program. A college dance program can prepare you for a wide variety of careers. First off, a college degree is useful in providing the educational foundation for higher-paying jobs. But since you have such a strong interest in dance, including teaching and dance nutrition, I think it makes a lot of sense to use that interest in shaping your career path.


The choices you'll have in terms of which college you can attend will have more to do with your finances. It's not your age that will get in the way of dance scholarships, but - again - your spotty training. And since you're living at home, my guess is that it would be hard for you to afford housing expenses at a school that is further away. So you should definitely explore whatever options are close by, even if it means starting at your local community college. I work in a community college and I know that we've had dance students transfer to other 4-year college dance programs.


My daughter graduated with her BFA in dance and has been dancing professionally for cruise ships and theme parks. Actually, her first contract was with a contemporary ballet company, which paid $100 per week plus (out-of-town) housing. You can't live off of that. I would hope you make more than $100 per week teaching. Teaching is a much steadier job than living contract-by-contract as a performer. I'd also like to add that my daughter has been dancing for a solid 20 years, including training at selective dance programs. She's 24, now, and I don't think you could realistically catch up to her level in order to compete for the same jobs, especially given your financial circumstances.

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Great reply, Pierette! I apologize, Ginniathezinnia (LOVE that name, btw), I think I completely misread your post.

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  • 7 months later...

I realize now that I didn't clarify, I wanted to go to college as a dance major- and noticed that a lot of college dance programs require auditions which also have an age requirement.

I understand now that my chances of finding a job within a dance company are very slim, I still have great potential but my technique just isn't there yet.

I feel like if I gave it a few more years of training I could get back to that level, however by then I might be too old.


Either way, I have realized since writing this post that there are many ways I can influence the dance world and that I don't have to become the principal at ABT in order to leave a good legacy, which is what I've really been most concerned with.


I'd still like to go to college as a dance major but this last year I got so busy with work there was no time for school.

So, at twenty one, do I still have time to work on my technique, for these college program/scholarship auditions?


And by the way, thanks Vagansmom!

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While not a Dance major (I majored in History) but took a few ballet classes as electives, I had a few classmates that were in their mid-20s. Check around-you might be surprised.

College is such a good choice. It took me several years to return to academics after high school and I enjoyed it so much! I miss it now...

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"There are many ways I can influence the dance world and that I don't have to become the principal at ABT in order to leave a good legacy, which is what I've really been most concerned with": I love this sentence! I have written it down to give to my DS. Sometimes I forget that there are many ways to achieve a goal and that even if he doesn't become a principal somewhere or even continue after college, that he has left a legacy wherever he has been. He may not have been the best dancer, but he was always there on time, worked hard, was reliable, personable and was/is a true gentleman. He has a moral compass that is unusual in this day and age and that may be his best legacy yet.

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My daughter who is 25 and has been dancing professionally since she was 18, has decided to go to college. She starts this summer.

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