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Ballet Talk for Dancers

College Deferrals: A disservice to others?


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DD will be defering her college acceptance.


Okay...not attempting to derail...but a thought. Many posters here suggest auditioning for college as a backup if a company offer doesn't come, then deferring to maybe yes/maybe no to actual college attendance in the future if the contract is not renewed, etc.


Thinking of those dancers whose first choice is college (and I'm talking about the more competitive college dance majors), is it a similar disservice to them to audition and have a space in a very limited class "just to see" when college is more of a last resort? I have a close friend whose dd went through crowded college auditions this year (she did not do any company auditions, college is the right choice for her right now for many reasons). The auditioning students were told that this year there were record numbers of dancers auditioning for limited slots. So...is a "last resort...if I have to" dancer potentially taking a spot from another dancer who really desires the college dance option? I know colleges sometimes accept a higher number of dancers than they expect to accept, but let's say that 500 dancers (I AM MAKING THESE NUMBERS UP!) audition for a school that will offer 20 BFA spots. They accept 30, hoping to yield those 20. (And some schools found that many more students did accept than in previous years, skewing the next freshman class into higher competitiveness in admissions, because they would have to accept fewer to keep the classes "high touch" and the performance opportunities real...). Say a dancer was about #40 on that list -- not accepted, not wait-listed, just plain out rejected. Even if only a dozen dancers (for whatever reason) accept from their pool of admitted and waitlisted students, I've never heard of a college calling a student they've already rejected and said, "Hey, we changed our minds. Come on in." They just have a smaller class of 20XX, and adjust their admit numbers accordingly for the next year.


Then there's the costs to consider -- are the families of the "just in case" college kids really considering how much college costs? Fully prepared to pay anywhere in the range of $18000-50000 per year (depending on school...) for more training, especially for a dancer who, at 18 or so, isn't really in the college mindset? (Even BFA programs have some hefty academic requirements.) Would money be better spent in one of the "grad" programs or continuing on in a pre-pro while auditioning in subsequent cycles?


I don't know. Wish we all had a crystal ball to see where our kids will end up, which is the best path to get there, and how to not barge into someone else's way.


Ms. Leigh said it well about SIs -- they are inclusive. Companies are more about excluding through audition (simply because of limited openings and many qualified dancers). What about college?

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I don't have a clear answer for you, msd, but my gut-reaction is that those 'deferring' dance majors have not skewed the admission figures for others. By and large, I would say there are very, very few actual deferrals that take place---across the board, but definitely at any one program in any one given year. For one reason, the college does not have to grant the deferral. Some will grant the deferral, but at the loss of scholarship money or the student will have to re-audition for scholarship money at the time of matriculation.


The reasons I don't think a potential deferral skews the admission rates are because 1) few actually defer in any one program in any one year; and 2) the programs already plan on 'yield rates' and I would be willing to bet that potential deferrals are part of that 'yield rate' figure.


Conversely, IF a high school grad who wishes a professional career and intends to obtain a college degree at some point puts all her eggs in one basket and goes the company route ONLY, without auditioning for college programs, in the event that she does not receive an offer that she/family can accept, then she's up the proverbial creek without a paddle. She MUST continue training at a high level in order to maintain her options to audition when the next audition season comes around----a year later. The only option at that point (if she has foregone the college audition season) is to enroll in a post-grad program----assuming she can find one that fits her/family budget and her training needs. Yes, it is less expensive than a college program, BUT it is not helping her advance on the college degree, either. A college program takes care of training and the degree simultaneously.


These are all options that have to be weighed and sorted through. There is nothing easy about it. Any of the three involves a significant leap of faith and has risks. But, depending on the academic penchant, the college program might be a better fit as Plan B.


And as we all know (or should know) Plan A (straight to company route) is very tenuous and can't be considered a guaranteed pay-off.


But we have lots of threads weighing and evaluating the various options. You were just wondering if the 'college deferral' dancer perhaps impacted a 'college first' dancer's opportunities for admissions. I'm thinking not.

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My dd deferred from a very competitive university as an intended neuroscience major. She requested a gap year from the Dean with her intention to continuing her training, hopefully as a trainee. It was graciously granted.

DD has trained intensively for 30 hours a week in a non nurturing residence school for the past 2 years and it was a real challenge to live in the daily drama as well as tribulations. She wanted an opportunity to see if another company/school would be the same which would be indicative of a stressful situation which long term would not be something she would want to pursue. Hence, the college deferment in a pursuit of a BS. This is her journey and it is important she is at peace with all her decision making. This buys her some time, and to experience training in possibly a more healthy environment.

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I think it's carrying altruism a bit far, to not audition for college programs because one would rather be hired by a ballet company and plans to defer acceptance if hired, with the idea that the college will reject another dancer rather than place that dancer on the wait list, depriving that dancer the opportunity to be called from the wait list in the event a job offer comes and attendance is deferred. Colleges know what they're doing, and they put lots of kids on waiting list. There are many college programs, and most applicants are accepted to more than one; dance programs, especially those who seek company ready dancers, know that some of those dancers will go to companies, some will choose other colleges, and plan their wait lists accordingly. I don't think a high school senior should be expected to second guess the process to try to better the odds for someone who just misses the cut for the wait list of a particular college dance program.

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It's a good question, msd, and one that I worried about when my daughter was in the process of deferring. At the time, the admissions officer at the school she was accepted to told me that they like it when students defer because when they DO attend, they're more mature. Also, I read an articleat that time that discussed the deferring student. It said that since colleges look for the best candidates for their programs, they don't mind when a student defers. That student's academic report (including SAT or ACT) is still included in the annual statistics for that school. Colleges want to attract benefactors as well as students. When they can show the highest academic/sports caliber, they make their school more attractive. We've all seen the comments inside those glossy marketing brochures: "83% of students are from the top 15% of their high school class," etc. Those stats include the students who accept, then defer.


I find very troubling the other kind of deferral - where a college asks a student to start college life at another school so the original college can see if the student's academic record is "up to muster." To me, that's a borderline unethical way for a college to recruit from other colleges. It's hard for the colleges where students attend for only one year before moving on to the school that had originally deferred them.They just don't draw enough students in as sophomores to make up for the losses. Apparently, more and more colleges are requesting that one-year college record before accepting certain students. I think it's awful.

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My DS is in the process of asking for a deferral. He auditioned for companies and schools and summer intensives at the same time and was not accepted into any companies, accepted into many SI's, and accepted into several outstanding dance programs. The first difficult decision was which SI to say "yes" to. Then he decided on a college. Even after saying "yes" to the college, he was hoping to be asked to stay on at his SI.


Then out of the blue, one of the companies called in the middle of June and offered him a contract. So, now it is "no" to the SI company (if they even ask), and a request for a deferral from the college. It was not his intent to use college as a backup plan...it was THE plan if the dream part of his life didn't fall into place. However, given the summer decisions of SI's asking dancers to stay on as 2nd Co dancers/trainees, and late decisions by ballet companies seeking to fill their ranks, how can anyone blame the dancers for seeking ANY way to continue their training next fall?


When he was auditioning at the college he eventually chose, I asked the director how many dancers left for professional companies during their college years. Her reply? "We find that most dancers make their decisions the summer before their freshman year. If they choose college at that point, they tend to stay for all four years." It appears that they are well aware of the dilemmas our DKs face!

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I'll take a different view in that I see this differently:


Many posters here suggest auditioning for college as a backup if a company offer doesn't come, then deferring to maybe yes/maybe no to actual college attendance in the future if the contract is not renewed, etc.


In general, we as a nation encourage college for everyone who can make it happen. That encouragement never goes away whether you go for a job such as dance right out of high school, trade school, family or even partial completion of a college degree. So if one makes another choice right after high school, the "go to college" quotient is a goal (or spoken voice) year after year because of how we are programmed.


This makes the "just in case" quotient completely different in that the reality is that an individual will likely to go college, the question is just when and if they will complete the process up through graduation. Certainly there are people who do not go to college, but in our society, they are still encouraged to do so after trade programs, working at McDonald's, raising a family,etc. So while college may be a Plan B for many dancer , I would more equate that choice to the same thing one might do if they wanted to attend Harvard as a 1st choice of a college. That person would not apply to Harvard (or similar) and Harvard only since at the local state school where they apply as a safety net, they might know another out of contention. They would apply to several other colleges to bank on a strong acceptance someplace just in case Harvard didn't accept them. Would we say to them don't apply to Yale because you've applied to Harvard (as a senior) because you might knock someone out of Yale? Colleges accept far more than will come but also have options such as off campus housing when a freshman class takes all the freshman housing early. It just simply works differently than company auditions do.


With that stated, the flip side of the issue is the unknown of company auditions. I'll use my situation as an example, the choice was auditon for both college and companies because there was no desire to simply "be" for a year. The dream was given one year (senior year) to begin becoming clearer. So at the end of senior year, there were two choices and only two choices: college or company. Post grad might be an option for some, it just wasn't for us. I would have been willing to pay for college but would not have been willing to pay for a true post grad training program. Pay was DD's desire, so her choice was get a paying job (even if pay by performance) or go to college. We mirrored that in terms of where the type of money Post grad programs today are charging by saying if the only option was to pay for further training then college should become 1st choice. In other words: we will support one year of this dream as a goal, if it doesn't work out after that then as far as we're concerned, that dream is over. In those cases, college is not some sour grapes sort of 2nd choice, it's the same sort of decision making one would do if they wanted to attend Yale but Yale didn't accept them.


Is this different from an earlier conversation we had that some of the mentioned comments came from about auditioning for company contracts when the parents/dancers were doing it to "just see" as juniors? I say yes! I say that because of how college acceptances go and because of how we as parents also value the high school diploma prior to our child leaving home. In the case of the earlier discussion on company auditions as a junior, in order to equate it to college acceptances one would have to be able to audition/apply for those colleges as a Junior "just to see" and in reality, one can't do that as far as I know. In addition, if someone is number 40 in a college grouping of which 30 are offered spots, the college has in fact made a decision that does not include that student at this time. The student who is allowed to defer was in that top 30 and accepted so they weren't taking "someone else's space", they had a space of their own. The deferral process is not as simple as the dance department saying it's okay. It's a case of the dance department, and the academic acceptance folks AND the projected major folks agreeing that deferring is possible. And sometimes also financial aid/scholarship committees.


The college audition/application process is much different than what happens in company auditions.

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