The great poet, William Butler Yeats said, “Education is not the filling of a pail but the lighting of a fire.” I doubt that he was thinking specifically of the performing arts but he could have just as easily have said, “Educating your theater craft…” As decisions loom in the forefront of every high school senior’s thought right now, Yeats statement is a very important one to consider. Remember, a fire can go out as easily as it starts unless it is properly fueled and fanned.
Selecting your college training experience is a very individual occurrence and you can’t begin thinking about it too early in your high school years. As much as you might want to go off to college with your best friend, this isn’t the time for the “buddy system.” There is a world of difference from one theater, dance, music or film department to another. Philosophy, methodology and pedagogy will differ from school to school, department to department and you will want to find what fits you the best. You can begin by a little self-testing. What stimulates you and nourishes your creative instincts? What type of coaching and directing brings out your best work? What inspires you?
You are living in a very fortunate age. Technology has made it very easy to take virtual college tours. College Portrait and U-CAN offer you the opportunity to find critical information on schools and faculty and dorm living. Transparency has become the name of the game and colleges and universities are making more and more information public so that students and parents can make better informed decisions. You can find information on student/faculty ratios, financial aid and other metrics that are important to your four years on campus and your growth and well-being as an emerging adult. This information is intended to give you a far greater insight into schools than the US News and World Report Annual College Rankings.
However, with all of this, there is still a missing ingredient for you. “Seeing…and being Seen” is the piece that US Performing Arts wants to help put together for you. It’s a unique college tour in that it gives you the opportunity to work with the college faculty you will encounter when you enroll…and it gives them the opportunity to get to know you. It’s your chance to discover the philosophy of the department and work under the tutelage of their methodology. It’s designed so that you can visit several schools in one summer or stay at one campus, make the trip in the latter part of your high school years or start early honing your craft. In the end you should know what school(s) flame your passion and if you’ve caught their attention they should be mentoring you towards enrollment. You should feel comfortable “trying on” as many schools as you can so that when decision day arrives you feel confident you have made the correct choice.
College is an investment in your future. It is not just a financial investment, but an investment in your craft and your life. No one makes an important investment with proper due diligence. Start your search early and don’t be afraid to investigate.