Author Topic: College advice  (Read 5918 times)

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Hermie

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College advice
« on: Aug 12, 2006, 06:25 pm »
I am now a senior in high school and now have that wonderful task of choosing where to go to college. I was wondering what kind of degrees each of you think are the best to go into theatre.

I was also thinking about going to a community college, and then transferring to an arts school, or another 4 year college. Also, I live in the Midwest, so perhaps if you know of good places to go near here that would be great, but I am not opposed to going out of the Midwest.

I am just a bit lost in what I need to look for, and would love for some advice, and what you did to help you be successful.

Thanks
~Kristina~ ;D
Act well your part; there all the honor lies.  ~Alexander Pope

JenniferEver

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Re: College advice
« Reply #1 on: Aug 13, 2006, 10:23 am »
There's definitely not one and only one answer to this question. I'm sure everyone is going to answer it differently. My "day job" is in college prep, so I answer these questions day in and day out. I think you need to find a school environment that works for you and makes you happpy and allows you to explore things you want to explore. I can't tell you how many students go to a school because it's the "best" in this or the best in that, or someone reccommended it and they're just not happy there, so that's #1 in my book, finding an environment that makes you happy. Do you want to be at a big university with a lot of resources, but you have 100 people in your classes, or do you want the feel of a smaller college, where your professors really know who you are..there's everything in between, but these are the questions you need to ask.

I went the liberal arts route. I wasn't 100% sure what I wanted to do, and I wanted a well-rounded experience, so I went for a BA in Theatre from a Liberal Arts college. Actually, I didn't know I would be majoring in theatre until I actually got there. If you know you want to be an SM and you're 100% sure and you want a hands on and less hteoretical approach, then you may want to look into a BFA program. For me, I'm glad I went for the BA and not the BFA because I really learned a lot from the broad range of courses I was able to study in liberal arts topics. I also went to a school where I did get a LOT of hdnas on experiences even though I was a BA candidate, not a BFA candidate and I plan to go for the MFA, so all of that had an effect on the decision. I think that's a really big decision that is going to affect what schools you apply for. ALso watch for some things, in the larger theatre dept at my college for example, the BFA candidates were guaranteed performance/working time in their craft, but the BA candidates could go four years without ever acting in a show, or SMing a show, or directing a show, whatever their focus was. So you need to ask those questions.
I really don't know much about schools in the midwest, but I think you ay want to consider proximity to professional theatre. I live in NY and I went to school in NY, so going to broadway shows was always a part of my life and my curriculum. I think a good part of any study of theatre is to see shows being done. It doesn't have to be Broadway, but you might want to check out the local theatre scene near whatever school you choose. How far will you have to drive or take a train to see theatre? What is the quality like? I think that can be a factor too. It'll also be a factor in whether or not you can secure internships with established companies if you so choose.

Best of luck!

KC_SM_0807

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Re: College advice
« Reply #2 on: Aug 13, 2006, 11:11 am »
It's always hard to pick a school...especially when you're going into Theatre.  You can choose to go to a Liberal Arts School or a Conservatory, and there are a variety of options that you can take.  I also chose the Liberal Arts route.  I did this because I didn't want to go to a conservatory and miss out on all the other aspects of college life.  I'm also a double major in Theatre and Spanish, so I am able to enjoy Theatre and also major in something else that I am interested in and can fall back on.

 Another aspect of looking at schools is looking at what surrounds the school.  For example, the school I chose does not have an amazing theatre program.  However, there are over a dozen theatre companies in this town, all of them well known and wonderful to work for.  I have Stage Managed shows at my school, and am now Stage Managing the season for a company downtown.  If you feel like you may want to branch out and explore other companies and meet even more people, then look at what the city has to offer, not just the school.  If you decide that you want to go to a conservatory or a topnotch theatre school, be prepared to dedicate a lot of time to that. 

A lot of it also has to do with whether you want a BA in Theatre, or a BFA in Theatre/Stage Management.  I also chose the BA because I wanted to explore all aspects of theatre, from acting to scenic, costume and lighting design, etc.  I personally felt that it would make me a better Stage Manager if I knew more about all aspects of theatre, not just Stage Management.  The choice is yours.  Talk to students at different schools and ask them specific questions about the program and outside of the program.  Best of Luck in whatever choice you make!
"Perhaps, therefore, Stage Managers not only need to be calm and meticulous professionals who know their craft, but masochists who feel pride in rising above impossible odds."

nmno

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Re: College advice
« Reply #3 on: Aug 13, 2006, 02:04 pm »
I also went the BA route and was happy to have the more "well rounded education".  If you decide to start at a JC and transfer, you are likely committing yourself to a BA or forfeiting the credits you received at the JC, since BFA programs are 4 years (you MIGHT be able to tranfer foreign language credit or something like that - you should check at your prospective schools).

There is also nothing that says you HAVE to be a theatre major to do theatre.  I somedays wish I'd majored in Psychology.  A degree is English, History, foreign language, communications -all would be useful...  Just major in what you like, learn to learn, grow as a person...  You won't get this same kind of opportunity again so take advantage of it.  You can still get theatre/stage management experience (and it's the experience that's important) but if you are thinking of majoring in something else, ask about the opportunities for non-majors to participate...  (Also, if you go for a BA ask what is restricted to just BFA's)  You may not get main stage stuff, but maybe they have smaller theatres that you could work in.  Ask what classes non-majors on non-BFA can/can't take.  If you find that a lot of the classes you'd like to take are restricted you'll either a) have to rethink your degree or b) rethink your school.

I specificially chose to go to a school that had a lot of strong colleges so if I changed my mind, I wouldn't find myself stuck at a school specializing in something I was no longer interested in (good thing, since I ended up changing my major from life sciences to theatre).

TechGal

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Re: College advice
« Reply #4 on: Aug 14, 2006, 10:08 am »
Like everyone else has said there is no "right way" but I'll tell you what I'm planning to do and maybe you'll be able to glean some ideas.   I am going to be a college freshman this fall majoring in arts administration with an emphasis in theater. I chose this degree because it combines a minor in business and a minor in theater into one degree.  I wanted the business component of the degree because 1) I have some interest in that side of the theater world, 2) It would make me more well rounded and (hopefully) employable in the "rest of the world" should that ever be necessary, and 3) the way I see it, the business skills I'll be learning can do nothing but help me as a stage manager.  I am also probably going to minor in Spanish and hope to study abroad for a semester.

As far as colleges go, the school I chose, Bellarmine University, is small and their theater program is tiny.  Because the theater dept. is so small though, I can pretty much do anything I want.  If I want to act, direct, or design lights they'll let me.  So I should be able dapple a little bit in everything and gain lot of experience. Also, the school is located in a city with a big theater community- Louisville, KY (Actors Theater of Louisville is located there among other things). Similar to what KC did, I'm planning on working at theaters outside of school to make sure that I stay current. 

Your idea to do a couple years a community college is not bad.  I was home schooled but took 18 hours of college classes my senior year (9 each semester) to both ease the transition from home to college and knock out some the basic gen ed requirements. If you go that rout, it would allow you to take all the general classes your first two years and then just concentrate on theater classes when you got to university. Thus you'd not be stuck taking a chemistry class at the same time as a stage managing one.  Make sure however, that all your credits will transfer!!!   

I don't know what kind of theaters there are in your area or what kind of program your high school  has but I'd definitely encourage you to get as much experience as possible without over booking yourself.  Like I said, I was home schooled so I didn't have any high school shows to work on.  But, I've spent the last five years going community and university work which has allowed me to build up a decent resume for someone of my age.  If you do go to a community college for a while chances are they won't have any kind of theater program.  If that is the case, see if you can get plugged into a theater somewhere in your community so that you can keep gaining experience.  Good luck in your search!   

loebtmc

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Re: College advice
« Reply #5 on: Aug 14, 2006, 03:03 pm »
FWIW, this has been discussed at length over a couple of threads not too long ago in the Studends and Novice Stage Managers folder - you might want to give it a read since many things were mentioned at great length about majors and colleges and spare time (LOL) and so forth

good luck, and enjoy the reading!

acottrell

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Re: College advice
« Reply #6 on: Aug 14, 2006, 07:45 pm »
It seems in all these threads there's a whole lot of people that push a BA degree, so I'm gonna throw in my 2 cents as to why I chose (and love) my Conservatory program with a BFA degree. I'm about to be a sophomore at Webster University, btw.

I am completely, 100% sure that stage management is what I want to do with the rest of my life. I love theater, and I love the fact that I get to be completely immersed in it everyday. I love the fact that I don't have to waste my time taking gen ed classes. Yes, I realize that as a stage manager all kinds of non-stage-managerial experiences can be beneficial to you, but seriously, when are calculus or chemistry going to help me run a rehearsal or call a show? In a BFA program, I'm taking a whole heck of a lot of theater classes, and will graduate college without taking any math or science at all. Do I sometimes wish I had room in my schedule to dabble in other subjects? Sure. But in the long run, I'm glad that I'm devoting the bulk of my time to classes that will actually help me be a better SM in the real world.

BA/BFA argument aside, one great thing about Webster is that it has an ongoing working relationship with the Repertory Theatre of Saint Louis, a great regional theater that's situated right on our campus. We share all the same spaces (performance spaces, shops, etc), many of our faculty members are employees of the Rep, we students have the opportunity to work on Rep shows.... it's a great resource to be able to tap into. Next semester, as a sophomore, I'll be a PA on their production of The Pillowman. I love the fact that I'm still early on in my college career and already gaining professional experience that I can learn from, not to mention help build my resume.

I will say that if you aren't positive that this is what you want to do, or if you want to have a lot of free time, you'll want to look elsewhere, cause Webster's intense.... but if you really want to dive in headfirst, it's a great place to look into.

Anyway, I could go on and on about Webster (and will, if anyone wants to PM me), but I'll wrap it up for now. Good luck in your college search!

nmno

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NPR: what's your major
« Reply #7 on: Aug 17, 2006, 04:23 am »
Program on NPR's Talk of the Nation on Wednesday about picking a college major: "What's your major, and does it matter? Mick Jagger majored in economics. So did Paul Newman. Thurgood Marshall studied dentistry. And Brooke Shields? French literature. Guests talk about choosing a college major and what that has to do with the rest of your life."
Seemed fitting for our conversation.  Link:http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5658177


fuzzy_7

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Re: College advice
« Reply #8 on: Sep 10, 2006, 06:40 pm »
I am currently going the BA route at the University of Central Arkansas, and I love it. So few schools offer BFA's in Stage Management or Technical Theatre. I always suggest that students look into schools that are accredited by the National Association of Schools of Theatre (NAST) and that participate in the Kennedy Center/American College Theatre Festival (KC/ACTF).

If you don't mind me askiing, what state are you in?
Derek A. Fuzzell

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Re: College advice
« Reply #9 on: Sep 10, 2006, 08:31 pm »
2 reccomendations:

BA route- University of Alabama at Birmingham in Birmingham, Alabama (where I've been on staff over the pat 7 years)

BFA route- Wrigth State University in Dayton, Ohio (where I went to school for the 6 years previous to that!)

Aerial

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Re: College advice
« Reply #10 on: Sep 10, 2006, 10:36 pm »
My degree seems to be somewhat uncommon...I went to a state university, with a moderately strong theatre department, that grants a BFA, not a BA.  This seems to be an exception to how people list the difference between the degrees.  I had to take a number of general education credits, in additions to general theatre credits, then had a large number of credits focused on stage management (including related stuff in other departments like managment, and business/crisis communication).  I found it to be a great experience, because though I went into college knowing for sure that I wanted to stage manage, I wasn't ready to give up the other areas that I'd liked to dally in. 

MatthewShiner

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Re: College advice
« Reply #11 on: Sep 10, 2006, 11:01 pm »
Ariel, what program did you go to?

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Anything posted here as in my own personal opinion, and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of my employer - whomever they be at a given moment in time.

Aerial

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Re: College advice
« Reply #12 on: Sep 11, 2006, 12:15 am »
I went to the University of Rhode Island.  A medium sized program, state school.  The theatre department offered BFA degrees in acting, directing, technical theatre, and stage management.

Tigerrr

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Re: College advice
« Reply #13 on: Sep 11, 2006, 12:14 pm »
I kinda did both.  I'm about thisclose to getting a BA in Economics, but I dropped out because I HATED it.  Took a year off, then took the BFA.  Loved the conservatory program, but this was after I'd already almost completed my liberal arts degree.  (overeducated much?)

But I was heavily involved in community theatre thooughout my BA, so I got hands on experience before even going to school for stage managerment.  By the time I started the BFA, I'd SM'ed close to two dozen shows, and acted in more than a dozen more.  I probably could have skipped the BFA entirely, but I'm very glad I did it.  Right place and right time for me.  That's the most important thing, I think.

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