So You Think You Can Dance – Part II

Hello Dancers, I’m back with the next step for your college search!  Now that you’re aware of types of college dance programs and types of degrees (if you’re not aware, click here to read my last blog entry), it’s time to dig a little deeper into other factors that should influence your college decision:

  • LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION: If you’ve been a “city kid” all of your life, do you dream of going to college on a beautiful, leafy-green campus? Maybe you are from a small town, and you think you are ready to make the move to a big city. Wherever you want to spend your college years, it’s best if you can visit the campus in person ahead of time to get a feel for it. Try to visit during the school year, when students are on campus and classes are in session. Try to picture yourself living and studying in that environment, investigate what the city has to offer, and think about some practical issues: Will you need a car? Do you have a choice of living on- or off-campus? What are the job opportunities, both on- and off-campus? What are the cultural offerings? Juilliard is located in the heart of New York City, on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. We are part of Lincoln Center, which also includes The Metropolitan Opera, the New York City Ballet, and the New York Philharmonic, among other wonderful cultural organizations. We have a very small campus – one building plus one residence hall, which all first-time college students are required to live in for the first year. You can explore Juilliard further by taking our online virtual tour.
  • PROFESSIONAL OPPORTUNITIES: If you want to be a professional dancer, the performance opportunities that you get in college can be the foundation of your career. The on-stage experience that you get in college will increase your level of professionalism after you graduate, and working with guest artists or faculty choreographers can help you make connections that lead to internships, apprenticeships, and even paid company positions. Similarly, if you want to be a dance teacher after you graduate, the opportunities to assist with or teach classes while you are still a student will prove invaluable. Think about what your ultimate professional goals are, and then research what opportunities are available within each college program to help you reach that goal. How many performance opportunities are there per year? Do you get to perform as a first-year student? How often is student choreography showcased? How often are guest teachers/artists/choreographers brought in? Can students gain teaching experience? Are students given opportunities to learn the technical side of the theatre (i.e. lighting, costumes, sound design)? All of these types of opportunities, in addition to what the actual coursework is, are what make up your college education. Make sure that the program you choose offers opportunities outside of simply enrolling in Ballet Technique 101. Juilliard’s dance performance activities are outlined here.
  • FINANCIAL AID: Ok, I know you don’t want to talk about it. The idea of shelling out thousands of dollars for a college education is probably a pretty fuzzy concept for you right now, and you are probably sick of hearing your parents and teachers harp on you about looking for scholarships. But believe me, if you graduate with a boatload of student loan debt, you will wish you had thought more about financial aid and scholarships before you started college! At first, you shouldn’t let the cost of private college tuition or out-of-state tuition deter you from applying for a program that really interests you – you never know how much aid a school will offer. But you should research how and when a school awards its scholarships, and you should also seek outside scholarships that are not tied to any particular school (http://www.fastweb.com/ is a great place to start looking). Juilliard awards its scholarships for dancers a bit differently than most schools: we look primarily at a dancer’s financial need, especially since we admit such a small number of dancers each year (12 men and 12 women). Many other colleges do offer dance scholarships based on talent, and/or merit scholarships based on academic performance, in addition to whatever aid your financial situation entitles you to. You can read more about Juilliard financial aid here.

Alright, so now that I’ve added to your summer homework assignment, I’ll give you some time to further your college search taking the above criteria into consideration.  I’ll be back soon with some thoughts about application and audition processes!