8 Summer Tips for Dancers Preparing for College Applications
It may be tempting to postpone working on your college applications until the fall, but this could be a big mistake. Dancers applying to audition-based programs can expect to spend at least double the amount of time on their college applications as a traditional college applicant, so getting started early is key. Here are eight summer tips to get the process rolling.
Continue your training. With summer in full swing, it may be too late to get into well-known summer intensives, but there are other ways to hone your technique. Look for local intensives or get privates. Be sure you are cross-training to improve overall conditioning and strength. Also, consider taking dance classes in different genres. College dance involves the exploration of styles and techniques. Consider modern dance classes if you are unfamiliar with that style because it is incorporated in most college programs. Work on your improv skills. Versatility is an asset in the dance world.
Self-reflect on your goals - Is the professional dance life really what you want? Do you have a plan for life after performing? Before making the final college list, it’s time to explore your short and long-term goals and how to use college to prepare for both. There are many careers associated with dance that don’t require the physical components of dance. Some dancers understand that they have the potential to dance professionally but acknowledge that it is just a step toward a long work life that may or may not include dance. Thinking about the options will help you pick colleges and programs that will support your short and long-term goals.
Consider contacting someone in the college dance programs to get more acquainted and ask questions. You may not have been able to visit each college you are considering or observe a dance class. That doesn’t mean you can’t get more informed about the dance program and its requirements. Contact programs and ask if you can schedule a time to talk with the department head or one of the professors. It’s important to ensure you’ve done your homework about the program first so you can ask questions beyond what information is available on their website.
Build your college list - then be prepared to change it. The college admissions process for dance majors can be grueling. Preparing materials and attending the auditions can be challenging while maintaining your dance and school schedule. To better manage the process, prioritize your college list. You'll know which college goes first if you must remove one because of time constraints or conflicts. Additionally, if you attend any multi-college auditions, you may have new colleges to consider, so be ready to adjust your list as the process progresses. Adding a few colleges with later audition dates may be wise if early auditions do not yield acceptances. In this case, you may want to add one or more non-audition-based college programs to the list or lean in on colleges for another academic area of interest. If you get an early "Yes" from a favorite college, consider reducing your list.
Get your project management tools ready! For many colleges, you are applying to the university and the dance program through two distinct processes. Separate application and audition materials are often required. Keeping track of submission dates and requirements is challenging. Using a spreadsheet to track tasks is helpful. Then use a calendar to plan when you will complete each required application or material to stay well ahead of the deadline. Drawing a visual chart/timeline with task start and finish dates can help identify where you have competing priorities and make adjustments ahead of the conflict.
Start preparing application and audition materials - but don’t get too far ahead Review program websites to identify what each college wants for their dance applications/auditions. However, the information for the current application cycle may not update until mid-late summer. Getting a jump on a headshot, a college dance resume (different than a professional dance resume), and perhaps a solo may be useful, but consider waiting to do college-specific photos until later in the summer to take them all at one time. If video submissions are required, and you’ve confirmed that they are for your application cycle, get practicing and film as soon as you are ready.
Take some time for yourself - The college application process is a marathon requiring physical and mental stamina. Resting you your mind and body over the summer will serve you well. Additionally, colleges appreciate dancers that have interests outside of the studio. Explore your world or dive into a new area of academic or personal interest.
Ask for help - before you need it - Whether asking your dance or school teachers for recommendation letters, getting a choreographer for a solo or hiring a professional to assist with the college application process, the summer before senior year, if not before, is the time to pull your support system together.
Following these tips will set you up for a manageable college application season.
Dance into College by College in 3-2-1 specializes in advising US high school dancers from 8-12th grade. Each dancer has a unique set of talents with different expectations for their college dance experience. We help dancers plan and prepare early in high school, build a college list, and guide them through the steps for applications and auditions, if applicable. We utilize a personal online portal and project management tools for efficiency. We welcome dancers who want to find the best-fit college as a dance major, double major, or for a college dance team or company. We limit the number of dancers we serve to provide dedicated assistance. Comprehensive services are available for 9th-12th grade.
For more information, visit www.danceintocollege.com or click below to schedule a free 30-min introductory meeting to learn how we've successfully helped dancers get accepted to top colleges with reduced stress and more confidence.
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