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Looking for advice on moving forward with dancing--college programs?

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Hello there!

I am 17 years old and entering my senior year of high school, and have been doing quite a bit of college research lately. I have been doing ballet for 14 years now, along with other styles mixed in (mainly jazz, contemporary, modern), and I know that I am meant to dance because I can hardly go a week without it. However, a few years ago I had struggled immensely with my mental health, largely due to the toxicity of the ballet industry, and ever since then, I have been questioning my desire to pursue ballet professionally. I also am confident that I want to go to college once I graduate high school, and it is important to me to have that college student experience. I would really like to double major in dance and likely marine biology/biology/zoology; I know this is a bit ambitious, but I know that I do not want to have to choose between a dance degree and another academic degree. I'm feeling very overwhelmed as I try to find colleges that have really good dance programs that also fit my other desires (large school, affordable). I certainly want to be challenged, but I am unsure of what schools have the 'best' dance programs; I want to leave the possibility of going professional after graduating college open, so it would be important to me that I go to a school with a well-renowned dance program. I know for a fact that I want to pursue ballet in college, but I also may want to pursue other styles such as contemporary, jazz, and modern, though I am not quite as familiar or experienced in these styles.

I am seeking guidance on how to go about further researching potential colleges, and would deeply appreciate any college suggestions. 

Thank you! :)

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Have you looked through the forum "Colleges/Universities with ballet programs..."?  The colleges are listed alphabetically.  There's varying information for each school depending on if/how many Ballet Talk members have visited, auditioned, or attended the university. 

We try not to give recommendations on which universities are "the best" because each person's "best" is different depending on their own personal skills, goals, preferences, etc.  I would recommend you read through some of the individual threads on universities you might be interested in already and/or universities that fit your general search parameters (location, size, etc).  If you have questions you can ask on the individual university threads. 

You might also want to peruse the "Higher Education General Discussion" forum for threads that talk about college searches, applications, auditions, etc.  There's lots of information from people who have been through this whole process over the past years.  Best of luck in you search!

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  • 2 weeks later...

Kendall - I commend you on doing the research and being practical while pursuing your passion in life. Once senior year hits you will need to hit the ground running on submitting applications and following up on those. I would cast a wide net and keep a spreadsheet and have a parent help if possible. One thing to know about double majoring is that a BFA takes up so much time that it may be a little harder (but not impossible) to double major and still finish in 4 years without doing summers.

You could potentially be dance/pre-health with the biology and make sure you meet prerequisites for grad school during undergrad - say you could try to meet the preqreqs to become a Genetics Counselor, P.A., accelerated nursing degree or pre-med, pre-vet, pre-Master's or PhD, Master's in Nutrition -- but mainly do the dance degree. If you have a B.A. in dance and B.A. in biology the core requirements may be similar and it is easier to hit all the requirements. If you have AP/IB credits that may reduce your core requirement for the Bachelor of Arts.

Dance will feed your soul and keep you happy and fit during college and you know you want to keep it in your life at least for the next 4 years after high school. When you visit and audition for a dance program, you get a feel for the college and whether they have what you want and whether it would be a good fit. Try to audition/visit 2-3 places that are your top choices. I know you will love one of them.

One strategy is to apply to 2 "reach" academic schools, maybe 6-7 middle of the road ones including at least a couple public/in-state schools that will be easier to pay for and a couple "safety" schools (meaning you know your GPA, dance skills, test scores will be above their medians). Categories are: the top academic schools - Columbia, Barnard, Duke, Wake Forest, Wash U would be places you could dance your guts out (and they don't require a separate dance audition) but they only accept 10 or less % of applicants academically. Many in the next tier of selectivity may have a 30-70% acceptance rate and finally some schools may accept 80% of applicants and still offer as much dance and biology.

Look at the actual courses they offer including levels of ballet, jazz, who teach the classes (do they have performance/choreography experience?). You can look on Youtube and search whether they share any videos of the classes or performances. 


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“Dancing through college and beyond” went online last year and I highly recommend it for college seniors.  It appears it will remain online.  Although my graduated dd is attending a college that was not at DTCB, it was  an extremely helpful and cost effective way to find out about dozens of different college dance programs - and she was given partial scholarships to a couple of places.  There were a few sessions for parents, and for students information sessions with many colleges (where dd was able to ask questions directly of admissions officers, and learned so much more than she could find out on websites).  The program is available to all high school dancers, but only seniors are allowed to the audition (which last year were standardized to one recording/submission for all the colleges to view, not sure what will be the case this year).

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