Back in the fall, when you applied to your dream dance programs, May 1—aka College Decision Day—felt very far away. But now it's almost here, which means it's time to decide where to dance for the next four years! To help you narrow things down, DS asked Molly Newman (Idyllwild Arts Academy's director of college counseling) and Denayia Miniex (currently a freshman in the Ailey/Fordham BFA Program) for advice on making the right choice for your dance career.
Visit the Campus
If you haven't set foot on a college's grounds, now's the time. "Seeing the facilities, meeting some faculty, and trying to see yourself there can be very helpful," Newman says. "One student I advised had her heart set on a program. When she went to audition, she found the studios depressing and unappealing, and realized she couldn't enroll there." Miniex agrees that even if you've already been on campus to audition, one more day or overnight visit can add detail to your initial impressions, helping you get a better picture of what life is like at that school.
Denayia Miniex (Cory Jones, courtesy Miniex)
Talk to Someone
If you can't make it to campus, the next best thing is to talk to a current student. "Schools are good about setting you up with current students so you can ask questions about their experience in the dance program, social life, and other opportunities on campus," Newman says. Talking it out with a parent (Miniex and her mom debated until "I was confident in my decision"), guardian, or dance teacher who knows you well can also guide you.
Like it or not, financial realities can affect which dance department you choose to join—not to mention the debt you'll face after graduation. "Looking at schools' financial aid offers and comparing program costs is helpful," Newman says. It's even possible to negotiate a more favorable financial aid package if, say, your heart is with College A but College B's financial aid offer was more generous. (Make sure to follow the school's stated procedures and work with your college counselor, so as not to appear unprofessional.)
Think for Yourself
"Pure name recognition is not a good reason to choose or not choose a school," says Newman. "It's harder to find a place that's really right for you if you cling to preconceived notions about where you 'should' be." "You should make the decision with your head and your heart," Miniex says.
College, like dance, is what you make of it. Keep an open mind, do your research, and remember that ultimately, you're the one with the power to make your college experience a success.
A version of this story appeared in the April 2019 issue of Dance Spirit with the title "Stuck in the Middle with Schools."