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Boydancermom

How important is distance in making a decision for a residential pre-p

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Boydancermom

We are looking into residential pre-pros for our son (14) for next year. We are looking at 3 options:

 

1) A residential School of the Arts 4.5 hours driving distance. 4 hours of dancing a day and fairly rigorous academics in a classroom setting. A mix of serious and not so serious dancers but they do have a fairly good placement rate into companies, especially regional ones and had a Lausanne finalist this year.

 

2) Two top tier residential conservatories that are both 10 hours driving distance - great placement rates into top tier companies. (online learning, 6 hours of dancing a day)

 

3) Two top tier residential programs affiliated with companies that are 2.5 to 3 hour plane ride away. (6+ hours of dancing a day and online learning).

 

Does distance matter? I'm not looking forward to our son being away - but don't want this to get in the way of his training.

 

I'm looking from thoughts and experiences from those who have gone down this road.

 

Thanks.

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julisha

DD is a freshman attending a school as you described in #1. It is 7.5 hours away from our home driving but an 1.5 hour plane ride. It's pretty easy to get there quickly. In the decision to go residential , we were only considering this one residential school option and distance was not really a factor. Academics and hours dancing were bigger factors for us. But I suppose it would also depend on your child's independence (does he need to come home regularly?) AND what do you need (do you need him to come home regularly?). DD's suite mate lives 2 hours from school and practically goes home every weekend. So I think it depends on the child. Good luck! :flowers:

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Mdballetmom

We are having a similar conversation in our house right now, Boydancermom. While distance from home is a factor, it is pretty far down on our list. And really, our only concern would be the added expense of more travel. Much more important factors to us (in no specific order) are 1) academics, 2) training and 3) general atmosphere.

Academics are important to us. My child is a social learner. Does that mean that online learning would not work? No. But it does mean that she enjoys the classroom experience and would prefer it. Challenging classes and choices are also important.

 

The training has to be truly excellent. That is, after all, why we are doing this. Does the school have the permanent faculty? Do they know their students? Is there continuity? Performance opportunities? Class size? Facilities? Some of these things may be more important to you than others.

 

Atmosphere. This is critical. Is this a place your child will be happy for the next few years? Is it collegial? Is it cut-throat competitive or is it nurturing? What is there retention rate? How do they interact with your child? How do they interact with parents? Have you talked to other parents?

 

Have you visited all the schools in question? A visit can be so illuminating for you and your son. Spending a day shadowing can be wonderful. Were the students welcoming? Did it seem clique-ish?

I'm sure that I have not brought up anything you haven't already thought of, but just typing it helped clarify things in my mind! :)

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Boydancermom

Juli and MD - thanks for bringing up things to consider in this very important decision - very much appreciated!!!

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emidrew

I would just like to add that making a choice for this year doesn't lock you in for life.

 

If he needs the closer option for a year or two, take it. If you go with something further away and it doesn't work, move the following year.

 

I know the ideal is to choose a school that will work until he graduates, but his needs and desires are changing as a natural part of his growth. Focus on what is best for right now and deal with next year when it arrives.

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CeliB

Distance was bottom of our list as is obvious when you know DS has tracvelled from East Sussex (UK) to Washington DC. But I do wish I'd known flight costs from UK to USA would go from 4-600 dollars, to 1000-1200 dollars in only 3 years- I might have tried to save a bit more as I went....

 

Top of the list was the training method that suited DS. The rest we pretty much crossed our fingers and hoped for the best. I honestly thought the academics would go out the window (DS isn't the most engaged academically anyway), and as far as social/atmosphere we let him go on a complete exploratory - 'well if you dont like it you can easily come home' basis.

 

It makes us sound quite disorganised now I look back, but we had NEVER thought of a ballet career for DS up until about 6 months previously, and given his love of the Vaganova training there weren't a massive number of options for vocational school. So we just held our breath and took a leap of faith.

 

Have not regretted one second and all our expectations have been exceeded. We are lucky that DS seems well suited to being away from home (we are clearly so horrible ha ha!)- he likes to be independant and is very grounded. It wouldn't suit our other son one iota....

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Clutterbug

Hello Boydancermom, I have a different perspective but just thought it might be helpful. I have a DD but also have sons and I feel that personality and age is more significant than gender when making decisions.

When DD was 14 we had to make some big decisions in regards to ballet training. For us the focus was on DD finishing her high school education whilst still continuing training. In spite of DD being very academic, organised and disciplined she struggled with the subject that she studied on-line for one year. Our experience helped us make the decision that DD should only continue with her academics in a classroom setting. For her last two years she was fortunate to be in a program that combined 20-22 hours of dance a week with regular high school. She completed her education with excellent results and a place at her first choice University.

DD is now at pre-pro school the other side of the world from where she grew up (22+ hours flight), she was just 17 (post high school) when she moved. Although distance does matter, the huge adjustment is your DC moving and living away from home. I'm not sure anything truly prepares you. We are fortunate to have family close (1 hour flight away, but a different country) to DD which makes it easier to cope for all of us.

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learningdance

This is all very helpful to me as we are weighing the options. I seem to feel very strongly about not being farther than driving distance away but perhaps I might rethink this?

 

A limiting factor for us is cost, as many of these programs run 45K, which is unthinkable to our family. We could never invest close to 1/2 million dollars in ballet training over 4 years.

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Momof3darlings

Every family will answer this question differently based on their circumstances. While not residency, I think back to DD's audition season prior to becoming a professional dancer as a workable example to answer this question.

 

In looking, we were faced with the reality that she might be an airflight away from home and whether or not we could afford that 3 times a year plus the "just in case" of emergencies without taking away from the home family experiences. We are a family who uses credit cards for emergencies and the occasional major purchase only. So we determined that her coming home for 3-4 holidays a year would not constitute an emergency in real life. It was a desire and a huge want. She was faced with having a younger sister she was VERY close to who was 6-7 years old at the time. She wanted to be able to occasionally come home to celebrate her birthday or special events in her life and it was determined that meant she either needed to be in cities with budget air flights (many less cities were on those lists then) OR she needed to be in a half day's drive away from home. Now sure, if a handful of specific companies had come calling we would have done what we could to make things happen. But if they didn't then looking at companies that fit her profile of decently close by, paid positions, cheaper airfare did help us with decision making as offers came in.

 

I see this as no different than researching and looking at distance issues related to researching residencies. This decision must be made within your own personal truths and desires. Does this mean you settle for a sub-par residency because it's close by? Of course not! It simply gives you the information you need to help keep a closer one on the table as you look at everything else. And it gives you the opportunity to determine if distance is a problem for you and your lifestyle.

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learningdance

Exactly Momof3! Yes, keep a close one under consideration, but don't trade out sub par training. And don't be naive about your own family budget. If considering a flight away training place then that actually becomes part of the cost. How many times do you want to see her and how much will each trip likely cost?

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Blanche

For us, it came down to the "gut feeling" decision versus the "on paper" decision, though ultimately finances over distance came into play as well.

 

DD had two drivable, yet expensive options, but neither one seemed to be just the right fit, even though on paper, one of them looked like the very best choice--it had it all--great training, opportunities for performance and competitions, academics, career support for seniors, a very nice residence.

 

The third option was a half day travel by air (factoring in driving to the airport, flying, and then driving to her), where academics would need to be provided by us, and there is no formal residence (housing is via host family or in an apartment). However, this place was where she felt "at home." Ironically, even with all of these components, it was the less expensive option by far (fortunately, the flight is a budget route!). Although there have been the challenges for her of living away from home, the training she has received has been absolutely fantastic, and she has said over and over that it was the right decision for her.

 

Just our two cents!

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Boydancermom

All great advice! I didn't realize that you all had responded until now. Celi - I think you win the distance prize - so glad that everything has worked out! I think we are going to take a look at Kirov (I think there is an audition at the end of this month) - it's an 8 hours drive from us (vs. 4.5 hours for another option that he has already been accepted at [...]) and it looks like a great place! I like the idea of him taking a class to see if the instruction "style" feels right - not to mention the general vibe of the campus.

 

And I will definitely start looking at discount flight options from our city - hadn't even thought about that - but I'm sure that makes a big difference.

 

Thanks all! Love this board.

Edited by GTLS Designs

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lovemydancers

Just one thing to keep in mind about discount flight options: fares today may not be representative of fares when you need them. Spring Break weeks, Thanksgiving week, weeks in December, back-to-school and end of school year, etc. are all priced exponentially higher than "regular" times.

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