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The College Audition Secrets I Wish Someone Had Told Me

Sophomore Musical Theater student Allison Schwartz shares the insights she's gathered about how to make the most of college auditions.

My MT class at Indiana University
(© Rudi Wilhoite)
With College Auditions beginning, my sympathy and support is with all of you starting the journey. So many of us have been there, and looking back on the process, I learned so much about myself and matured so quickly that I realized the stress and tears along the way were mere stepping stones to my future. I auditioned at eight schools, did the whole Unifieds sha-bang, and know how many of you angsty seniors are feeling right about now. So, I decided to compile a list of things I learned along the way that I figured out on my own, and I wish someone had told me!

• Organization is key.
o Plan ahead with flights, hotels, sheet music, headshots/resumes, wardrobe, proper shoes/accessories, cough drops, etc. If all of the things you can control are taken care of, then that leaves less stress to be wasted on preventable mishaps.

• Explore your options.
o Know what you want from a school. Look at BFA programs vs. BA programs. Do you want an urban city campus or a small town university? What about a liberal arts school or a conservatory? There is no right or wrong answer to these questions—but you know yourself best—so explore your options and see what feels "right" (I promise you'll just know what feels right).

• Select material that shows off your best version of "YOU."
o There is no one like you. And that's really special. The better you know yourself and are confident with your song choices, the more excited you will be to share how great you are. Don't spend so much time catering your audition for a specific program, because half the time, they don't even know exactly what they're looking for. And it could be you!

• Keep an open mind.
o I have never talked to a person who has gotten into every school they have auditioned for. Unfortunately, rejection is just a part of our chosen profession. To avoid "my life is over" meltdowns, keep an open mind during the college audition process, and do not allow yourself to get too set on one school. I encourage you to remember what about each school you like/dislike, but I highly discourage the "if I do not get into this school, I'm changing my major and never skrelting again" approach. Okay, fine, I guess that was a little dramatic…

• Practice so you feel prepared, not jaded.
o I chose my audition material August of my senior year, so by the time February auditions came around, my songs and monologues were so prepared that nightmares of messing up the words had soaked out a bit of the excitement I felt when I first picked the material.

• Take breaks from the craziness.
o It is very easy to be so engulfed in the process that you forget there is a life outside of it. Get a manicure! Take your dog to the park! Remember that whatever the outcome, life will go on, and you don't wanna miss out on life's fun!

• People will talk. Learn to tune it out.
o At many auditions, you will be surrounded by the crazy stage-moms and their melodramatic, boastful children. I was extremely intimidated by the talk, until I realized that a lot of the "talkers" were the people who were all talk and little talent. Make a playlist on your i-pod that will help you tune out the boasters and help you find your inner zen.

• The current students of each school's program help with the auditions for a reason. Use them.
o Do not only use them to get honest answers to questions you might not want to ask the directors of the program, but also really try to figure out what kind of people they are. The students of a program can really make or break your college experience, and finding encouraging, hard-working, down-to-earth people who make you feel comfortable and safe to grow is a lot harder than you might think. Really soak in the culture of the students…each school and program has its own personality.

• Take note of how the audition is run.
o Is the audition running on time? Is it running smoothly? Do the directors of the program seem encouraging or stressful? Remembering little things about the day can really reflect how a program is run and the environment you learn in each day.

• Love yourself.
o The MOST important advice I could ever give you for this process. You have worked so hard to prepare and now you get to share your talents with so many programs around the country! When it's all said and done, you must have the ability to rise above the rejection and know you did your best. As my acting coach in Atlanta told me…creating an MT class is just like creating a football team: if you already have four running backs, then you do not need anymore. Sometimes, you could be the most talented person the school has ever seen, but they might already have 30 blondes who can belt while doing a back-handspring. You must be proud of your talents and what you bring to the table, and never lose sight of the special light you will bring to any school lucky enough to have you. I truly believe the system works. And if you end up not being happy where you are, you are NEVER stuck! Don't be afraid to transfer…this process is for you to make you the best you can be. Listen to yourself and your needs. Defy boundaries. And you will be a STAR!