Trying to pick a college for your degree can be a daunting task, especially in a field such as the arts, where there is much less known about formal training and education. However, we’ve got you covered, with this list of dos and don’ts that can help you make a decision!
Don’t look only at big-name schools.
This is one of the biggest misconceptions out there - that you must apply to a famous school in order to get the best training and the best chance at success. Just because a school is famous does not automatically mean that it is the best school for you. The vibe of the school has to suit you as do the curriculum, faculty and other students.
Do look at other factors as well.
Look at factors such as the city the school is located in, how far away from home are you willing to travel, what opportunities might be available in terms of performance, learning and showcasing your own work, mentorship and networking.
Don’t choose a programme because someone else did.
Everyone’s needs are different. You will have to look at what art form you want to major in and decide whether you want a Bachelors or Masters degree in music, dance or theatre specifically or if you would prefer a degree in performing arts.
Do look at the curriculum and reach out to faculty.
Most colleges have their syllabus available online. Take the time out to check out the syllabus and see whether the training programme covers your specific needs - maybe you would like a performing arts course with an emphasis on one form or you would like a course that has in-depth training in anatomy and physiology or on any specific aspect of an art form. You can also reach to faculty and alumni of the school and ask about their experiences and even have your doubts cleared, if they are willing to do so.
Don’t skip out on attending performances!
If you have the chance, do attend performances put up by the school. This will give you an understanding of the kind of work that the school puts up and insight into the kind of training you might receive. This will also be a good chance for you to decide whether you would like to participate in/create those kinds of pieces.
Do check out guest artists of the programme.
Schools often bring in guest artists, either from the country or abroad to work with their students. This can be for specific pieces or for fixed periods of time, ranging anywhere from a week to a few months. This can be an important deciding factor while choosing a school. Look at past guest artists and see whether their work is something that you might be interested in, whether they are artists you recognise and whether they are people you might be able to network with.
Don’t hesitate to ask for help.
This can be a very confusing and overwhelming process, so don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it. Once you have decided on a course to study, then career education centres or a school counsellor might be able to help narrow down a list of potential schools to apply to. The process of application itself can be lengthy and detailed, so having someone to help with that as well, to make sure nothing has been missed is also a good idea.
Do network and talk to alumni.
Looking at what the alumni of the school are doing can be a good way to gauge whether the school will be able to set you up for the opportunities you are looking for. You don’t want to graduate out of a programme where only a handful of people are successful. You do want a programme where the alumni are doing interesting projects and more importantly, are equipped with the tools to pursue the kind of work that they would like to.
This process is supposed to be fun! So do take your time and make sure that you choose a programme where you will enjoy the curriculum and where the environment is best suited for you to be able to focus and absorb everything that you learn.