The Right Questions

College visits can feel totally overwhelming. You’re seeing one unfamiliar campus after another, trying to imagine what it would be like to actually go to school there—and you don’t have a ton of time to take it all in.

Need help getting organized? Dance Spirit spoke to Ashley Garcia, the undergraduate advisor for dance at California State University, Long Beach, to find out what should be on every smart dancer’s list of questions to ensure a productive college visit.

(Photo by Russel Du Parcq/Thinkstock)

How many studios do you have?

Ask about the facilities. You’ll definitely want to see where dance classes are held, but you should also check out any other dance-related areas. Does the school have a Pilates studio? What about a lounge where you can do homework instead of trucking between the dance building and the library? “Make sure you ask which studios are available for student use,” Garcia says. It may be that student choreographers are relegated to the smallest, dingiest studios.

How many times can I perform each year?

Ask if there are seniority restrictions on casting—for example, sometimes only

juniors and seniors get to dance in certain pieces. Is there a chance that you could go four years and never be cast in anything? Also, keep in mind that while the campus tour will probably highlight the major performing arts center, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll set foot on its stage as a student. “Always ask where student performances are typically held,” Garcia says.

Can I specialize in both dance and something else?

Now’s the time to talk about the graduation requirements for a BFA versus a BA—especially if you want to minor or double-major. It might surprise you how different they are from one school to the next. It’s also a great time to learn about dance program concentrations you might not have considered. “At CSLB, we offer a dance science option in addition to our BA and BFA,” Garcia says.

How can I prepare for the audition?

Most college auditions include ballet and modern, and some include improvisation. Depending on the school, you might be asked to perform a prepared solo, or to do a one-on-one interview with an admissions counselor. Find out what to expect now, so you’re not surprised during the audition.

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