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The Top 5 Things I Wish I'd Done Before Undergrad

Alexa Doggett shares what she thinks should have made her to-do list.

The kind of Christmas gifts received once in college.
As I head into the second semester of my junior year - horrifying! - I've begun to reflect back upon my college career at Coastal Carolina thus far. As proud as I am, I of course think about things I could've/should've done. And some of these things should have happened before I even began to pursue my BFA! So although I always try to look forward, I have compiled my list of the top 5 things I wish I would have done before starting undergrad…

1. Got Unwanted Classes Out of the Way: As I look towards senior year and eventually graduating, it strikes me that I should have gotten some of my "core" classes out of the way before college. People may disagree with this because they encourage theatre majors to take courses outside of their degree. I agree 100%! These classes are in our curriculum to make us well-rounded, but some I honestly don't believe help in my career. On the other hand, it is mind-blowing how many ARE offered that I think would serve me… and I'm not required to take them. I wish I had made more of an effort to take, for example, AP Math or Biology so that there was room in my schedule now for New Works, Opera Scenes, or Forensic Anthropology. That freedom is something I yearn for.

2. Went to the Gym/Ate Healthier: I was fairly healthy in high school. I ate moderately well so with dance classes, long rehearsals, and a fast teenage metabolism, I never had to worry about being fit. However, I wish that while in high school I had established better eating patterns and had developed a workout schedule. Although body image is important in our careers, I am more invested now not necessarily because of weight, but for overall health and well-being. I've made the transition where I am now buying my own groceries and going to the gym 5-6 days a week. Now the goal is to create a lifelong lifestyle and doable routine. A jump start pre-college would have been extremely helpful.

3. Taken Time Off: I am very interested in becoming well-rounded as a theatrical artist. Like many, I think that we must be intelligent as actors. In order to do this, I think occasionally getting away from the theatre can be helpful. I was always dead-set on doing local performances during my high school summers. Now I spend much of the year planning and auditioning for summer jobs- and I know I am not alone on this hunt! And whether truthful or not, I have a notion that it is "wrong" to do otherwise. I must make connections; add theatres/roles to my resume for the real world. But somewhere deep down I sometimes wish I could spend the summer, I don't know… touring Europe! If I had just set aside time in high school to get off the stage, I think it would have quenched some of this thirst for the "outside."

4. Read More Plays: I prided myself on being very knowledgeable about the world of "musical theatre" - which meant I knew a lot of contemporary works and actors. But I wish I would have gotten a leg up and learned more about theatre as a whole. We take 5 or 6 play reading and history course, but I should have known some of the basics before arriving! From Shaw to Shepard to Styne… those names roll off of the tongue in typical theatre speak, and a lot of it went over my head until I put forth an effort to research and be informed. Not only will it make you look good in conversation, but it might help you on a test some day!

5. Saved Money: Life is crazy busy, and although I am lucky enough to have a job in the theatre office where I get to fit in 10 hours of work a week… rent is expensive! I try and save quite a bit while working during my summers, but bills pile up. And when friends want me to go see a scary movie and I can't afford it, it's a bummer. Although I am lucky that my parents help me out when I really need it, I've been trying to start being financially responsible as I will be in full-on "adulthood" soon enough. Money saved will begin to be put towards NYC, and if I'd learned this thriftiness earlier, life would be more secure.

So that's my top 5! For those reading… thoughts? Anything you encourage me to do while still in college so I don't have to write one of these blogs later? Chime in!


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