Do a search . . . but I have cut and past a response I did for this in the past . . .
I agree with connections being a choice to consider for you education, but you are looking at choosing an undergrad education, and at your age, I think there are other consideration to think about. But, take my advice with a grain of salt – talk to as many people as you can handle getting advice from.
Here are my thoughts.
1) Pick a school where you can get a well-rounded undergrad education, where you feel you are going to be challenged personally as well as academically. Some of the best lessons you will learn in college have very little to do with what happens in the classroom. You are going to end up learning a lot about yourself. You career goals may change, you may change – so don’t pick a school entirely based upon what career choice you think you want at 16, 17 or 18. That may change drastically. I think if you are interested in becoming a stage manager, then by all means, pick a school with a theater department – but it should have other programs you may find yourself interested in.
2) Pick a school where you can get personal attention, and not be just a number. You are the consumer when choosing a school. Make a list of what you want, and see how that school can deliver. It shouldn’t be too small that it doesn’t have the resources you need, but shouldn’t be too big that you are just another number. Don’t compromise on what maybe the second biggest purchase in your life. Don’t hurry. Do you research.
3) All things being equal, don’t pick an undergrad school with too many grad departments that could take opportunities away from undergrads. Or, make sure they allow undergrads to have equal opportunities.
4) All things being equal, pick an undergrad school that is close to where you think you want to work or live. You will NEVER be able to live as cheap as you will as a student – so why not start making working connections. If you can go to school in Virginia versus going to school in Chicago . . . one of these are going to offer you more opportunities to make personal connections with working professionals that you can parlay into success. Yes, professors may be able to introduce you to someone, but what about the chance to actually work and show off your talents in person? Plus, you may find opportunities in between school assignments to dip you toes into the theater world. You will see theater in the town, and begin to network form day one in that city.
5) Pick a school that you can afford without going too far in debt. The number one piece of advice I can give you for a success in theater is to live a debt free life. You don’t want have to be a slave to student loan debt.
6) Pick a school you feel comfortable in. You will be there for a bit.
7) Don’t be afraid to change majors, change career choices, change schools. As you grow older, learn about yourself, you may develop new interests, new goals, new life needs. I talk a lot about having a u-turn plan in place. What happens if two years down the line, four years down the line, ten years down the line you figure out this career choice is not for you. In this day and age it’s not uncommon for people to have multiple careers in their lifetime. Make sure you have the skill set that will allow you to live the life you want. Stage management is a very hard career, a difficult job and a complicated lifestyle – talk to my husband about some of the challenges, as he sees me packing up for 6+ months away from home.
Be open to the change that comes to you. That sort of flexibility is important as a stage manager, but more important in life.
9) Remember, even if you continue in this course as a stage manager, you can succeed in that regardless of your major, your undergrad school choice, or if you go to grad school or not. (I can make the argument that having an MFA hurt my career for awhile . . . )
10) Connections are indeed important to get a job, but what is vastly more important is how you are able to handle the job once you get it – being a well-rounded human being is more important sometimes. A connection gets you an interview, but a career is based upon your proven track record of how you execute the jobs you get. (And connections you get from school are really only helpful the first three years outside of school, you will have to rely on the connections you get from jobs later on.)
11) Stay true to who you are, who you are becoming and who you want to be.
When I was picking undergrad schools, I was looking for a pysch program that would prep me from divinity school. And now, 25 years later, I am a pretty successful stage manager. I am a completely different person then I was when I was 16 or 17 when I started looking for schools. Knowing everything I know about myself, would I have chose a different school? Hard to say, part of the reason I am who I am today is because of the choices I made then. Two marriages, one kid (who is in college now), a hundred or so productions later, six moves, three career choices later . . . I am the sum of vast experience more then what undergrad school I went to.
Good luck on your choice, if Millikin. Have fun. Play safe.
And remember, people are always going to play the School ABC is better then School XYZ. Remember, that as many people who are saying ABC is best, will also given you ten reasons that School ABC is not a good school. I disagree that connections are better then the education your receive, but other stage managers will flat out say that without those connections . . . then it doesn't matter what education you received. Confused yet? Welcome to the biz.
Also, there is no need to consider a grad program at this point . . . since you aren't sure where you skillset will be lacking upon graduating undergrad . . . so it would be hard to pick a graduate program until you know what your list of needs will be . . .
Post Merge: March 20, 2013, 05:12:37 am
Also, make sure you are educated about where a BFA can lead you academically . . . versus a BA.
And will a BFA give your the wide berth of education you want? Or are you reading for the specialization this early?