by Liz Griesmer
Almost every senior, past and present, would agree that the college process is difficult. But for those pursuing a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Acting or Musical Theatre, applying to schools is only half the battle. While a Bachelor of Arts is a more broader approach that allows for study across many fields, a BFA focuses on intensive training in the craft with minimal liberal arts courses.
Most BFA programs for Acting or Musical Theatre require auditions on top of applications, so the process involves more work and is very selective. For example, the acceptance rate of the Juilliard School, one of the most prestigious BFA programs in the country, is only 6 percent, according to US News. As a result, many students pursuing a BFA will apply to a greater number of schools than typical students.
“Many people are extremely shocked when I tell them I am applying to 18 schools, but when each school only takes about 5-6 girls and 5-6 boys for their programs, I need to make sure I have a place in at least one [of] those schools,” said senior Taylor Jackson.
“Aside from having double the amount of applications/supplements of a normal student...the already expensive application has become even more costly because of all that traveling, extra application, etc.,” said senior Michaela Tropeano.
Many students hire professional coaches and teachers to prepare their auditions. The auditions requirements vary from school to school. For most acting programs, two contrasting monologues are required, showing classical style versus contemporary style, and comedic versus dramatic. For most musical theatre programs, two contrasting songs are required, as well as a monologue and a dance call.
Musical Theatre College Auditions is a popular service for those applying to a BFA in Musical Theatre. “It was tough to find pieces that fulfilled every school’s audition requirements...I am so thankful for the MTCA group,” said Jackson.
“While most of my peers will know where they will be going to school and have settled into the second-semester senior mentality, I will be focusing on staying healthy and getting homework done any chance I can get instead of hanging out with friends,” said senior Nicole Zimmermann. There is also a two day event called Unified Auditions, when numerous BFA programs hold auditions in New York and other cities across the country, according to unifiedauditions.com. Zimmermann said she will audition for eight of her seventeen schools during the Unified Auditions in NYC.
Some students feel stress from the demands of the BFA application process. Senior Maggie Tanji, who is applying to 17 schools, said: “Between applications and rehearsing my monologues, it’s been very easy to get lost in all the stress and forget why I’m doing it in the first place.”
To pursue a BFA, Guidance Counselor Paul Valenzano said, “You have to be self-motivated...you have to have a lot of passion.”
Yet many speak highly of the BFA style program despite its difficult application process. Tropeano said, “I wanted to be prepared as possible for entering the crazy, crazy world of performing arts and a BFA program trains you to that point of preparation.”
Senior Jack Mustard, added that, “pursuing a BFA doesn’t just mean you are studying theater; there are so many other things that students can take away and even use in the business world.”
“Even though the process is crazy, I am really excited to embark on this journey,” concludes Zimmermann.