Dazed and Confused…

I’ve been told that market research shows that the top three questions from prospective students are the following:

  1. Does X have my major/the program I want/the degree I want?
  2. Is X the right fit for me?
  3. Is X affordable?

If you dig a bit deeper into these questions, they are great for beginning to define where you want to go to school next year, and then to narrow down your list to where you will actually submit applications. Ultimately, the answers you find will also help you decide where to go after receiving offers of admission – because you will be able to answer “Yes!” to all three questions for the right school.

So, let’s start with question #1 – what schools have the major/program/degree that I want?

This is like that wonderful question that everyone hates getting – you know, “where do you see yourself in five years? Ten years?” It’s not a bad question, because once you have some sort of concept, you can then map out what it will take to get there.

So, get out a pen and paper, and start writing.

Do I want to play in an orchestra?

Do I want to be with a ballet company?

Do I want to be in musical theater?

Do I want to be in a professional string quartet?

Do I want to be a soloist?

Do I want to be a teacher?

Do I want to choreograph?

When you start exploring these ideas, it can become easier (though not that easy) to think about the type of education and experience that will get you there.

For example:

  1. Juilliard is a conservatory, and therefore does not offer double majors/double degrees with any academic programs. Students who are interested in pursuing both artistic and academic study will most likely be able to do so in a university setting.
  2. Juilliard offers programs in acting, dance and classical voice, but does not have a musical theater program. It is also important to know that due to the intensity of these programs, they do not intersect in any way. A student who really is in love with musical theater and wants to equally develop acting, voice and dancing skills may want to look at the many wonderful musical theater programs around the country.
  3. Dancers should refer to the previous blog on researching dance programs – lots of great info!

How do you research Juilliard? Poke around our website – we have a great Virtual Tour, the Juilliard Journal provides great insight into the artistic and student life here, you can look at who our faculty are (look for the “Faculty” link in the Division you are interested in), read the audition requirements, and of course, if you can – visit!

More research tips coming in the next blog….

So You Think You Can Dance – Part I

So you think you want to be a dance major in college. Great! What’s the first step? RESEARCH! Spend some time on the internet looking for college dance programs that meet what you are looking for. Then, go visit as many of the schools that you plan to apply for as you possibly can. What you invest in researching prospective schools will be well worth it, especially if it prevents you from having to transfer to another school because you are unhappy with the school or program you originally chose.

Before you begin your search, be aware of the following:

- TYPES OF PROGRAMS: Every college dance program has a different focus. Some focus on ballet only, some let you choose from a few different areas of concentration (ballet, modern, jazz, etc.), some offer a teaching track, or a choreography track, or even a technology track (i.e. dance on film). There are a ton of great programs out there, and it’s up to you to do your homework to find out which one(s) have what you want! Juilliard’s program has a dual focus on ballet and modern dance, and all students must study both forms. Juilliard also offers opportunities to hone your choreography skills. So if you are looking for a performance-based program in ballet and modern dance, and you might be interested in choreography as well, then you might want to consider applying to Juilliard! However, if you are only interested in hip-hop, or if you want to become a dance teacher right after college, or if you have never taken ballet before, then you will want to look at other programs. You can read more about Juilliard’s Dance Division here.

- TYPES OF DEGREES: Generally speaking, a Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree in dance consists of about 50% dance course work and 50% academic credits in math, science, liberal arts, etc. over 4 years. A Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) degree will skew more towards dance coursework, and a BFA earned at a conservatory will be even more dance-heavy. Some schools offer a Bachelor of Science (BS) degree because their dance courses are offered through the kinesiology or physical education departments, or because they have a strong focus on new technology in dance. BA and BS degrees generally allow more flexibility for double majors or minors, whereas BFA degrees are more focused and make it more difficult to complete coursework towards another major or minor. Every school is different in what it requires to earn the degree, so be sure to look for the dance major curriculum on the school’s Web site. For the record, Juilliard offers a BFA and the curriculum can be found here.

It’s also worth mentioning that some schools offer dance courses, but not an actual degree in dance. Dance as a major is relatively new (at least as compared to something like an English major), and many schools list their dance courses under other departmental headings – such as theater, kinesiology, physical education, or even music. You may have to dig a little to discover whether a school actually offers a dance major, and if so, under which department it falls.

Ok, I’ll be back in a few weeks with some more “food for thought” with regards to audition processes and other factors to consider during your search for your perfect college program. You’ve got a whole summer ahead of you; get busy researching!

Summer 2009 – A special series

It’s amazing that we’ve gotten through another admissions season here at Juilliard – and a particularly tough one at that! With two application deadlines, and two audition periods, it was definitely double the work! Let’s hope the New York Philharmonic never goes on tour in March ever again….

Now, onward to next year.

I am going to begin our summer series of blogs with a brief explanation of what I have to look forward to next year myself. Very brief, actually – two words:

Kindergarten applications.

You may laugh. You may say – how can this in any way be relevant to an admissions blog for The Juilliard School? Trust me – applying to kindergarten in New York City is just like applying to colleges! For example – I’ve already started the process of researching schools, and my daughter has another year before she’ll start school. So, just like I advise families that the application process (or at least, thinking about it) should start in the junior year, here I am, one year out, starting my own process.

I attended a session last night on how to apply to public kindergartens – it’s an astonishingly complex process that really does require at the very least a two-hour information session on how it all works (though I’m still pretty baffled, and the wonderful woman who ran the session reassured all of us (not!) by saying that everything could change again next year – apparently the Department of Education (DOE) likes to shake things up on a regular basis).

It was interesting to me to be on the other side – usually I’m the one running the information session! But my biggest “aha” moment was when the presenter started talking about Hunter College Elementary School – a public school on the Upper East Side that is run by the City University of New York system, rather than the DOE. It’s a school for “gifted” children (is this starting to sound familiar?), and has its own application process, separate from the general public school process.

After the rather dire statement that only kids in the 98th percentile and above on an IQ test are considered for admission, the presenter related that last year there were over 2,000 applications for the Hunter kindergarten, 200 made the test cutoff, and 48 kids were admitted.

You could hear a pin drop in the room.

You could practically hear hearts plummeting.

I felt it too – and that’s when my mental light bulb went on.

That’s how you all feel, isn’t it? When I talk about numbers for Juilliard?

The shock. The stomach sinking. The immediate sense of impossibility.

But it’s not. It’s not impossible. We have 765 students here who are proof. You could be one of them.

We started writing this blog is to try to help applicants and their families navigate the application and audition process – this year, we’ll do it together.