Choosing whether or not to go to college, and if you decide to go, picking the right program might be the biggest decision you’ve made so far in your life. It’s ok! Take a deep breath, you will figure out the right choice for you. Let’s break down what feels like a huge decision into small manageable steps. Just remember the main building blocks or D.N.A:
- D o your research
- N etwork
- A ssess your options
Do your research - what do you want and where can you go to get it?
Start by compiling a list of things you want out of your post high school life. This list looks different for everyone and can include things like geography (maybe you need to be close to your family or maybe you want to go far away)! Maybe it includes wanting to start working right away, getting to Broadway or breaking into the commercial industry; perhaps you want to explore other interests by double majoring. Try to get your list down to 7-10 concrete things you want in your immediate future so you can start researching what options will result in getting you the most of what you want.
Networking is key to figuring out what is right for you, and launching your career.
If you want to start working fast, why go to college? Spoiler alert: Even if working right away is what you want, you may still want to go to college! One of the main reasons to go to college is to build your professional network. The faculty you study under in school will be the foundation of your professional network. Many students book their first jobs from their college professors. Plus the talented, ambitious artists who will be your peers in school will hire you, give you job leads, and be your future collaborators. Often times it can take 5 years to get established in the industry by taking open classes at industry studios, and booking the occasional job, even if you’re lucky enough to get an agent right away. Well you can be in and out of school in 4 years, with a solid network and more developed as an artist.
The key is to take the time to get clear on what you want out of your future so you can plug yourself into the right network. You don’t want to dream of being a backup dancer and go to a ballet conservatory program. It’s the wrong network!
Assess your options
Talk to your family about your financial options. It’s no secret that living in New York or LA is expensive, can your family help you get by? Summers as a waiter or working at a retail store can help you qualify for entry level support jobs, but how much can you expect to make? If you’re working 40 hours a week to make ends meet, you won’t have a lot of time left to train, and classes are expensive, can you afford them? Research the average wage for the support jobs you think you can get, and how much rent and dance classes are in the city you want to move to. You may find that going to school and accepting financial aid makes more financial sense than trying to survive on your own in a major industry city. Especially since there are more scholarships available for students going to college than aspiring professional artists wanting to live in New York or LA.
Just remember the main building blocks or D.N.A
The good news is that there are many more options available to young artists today than ever before. The challenge is how to pick the right option for you, so be sure to remember to fully examine your D.N.A. And check out the series of videos “College and Beyond” available here on DancePlug, for more depth tips on how to break this process down into simple steps!