Choosing your dream school can be daunting, as you want to make sure you’re making the right decision to fulfil your wants and needs. You want to pick a course that covers your interests but also offers you valuable skills that you can carry through life with you, like team-working skills. You’ve also got to think about associated costs that come with auditions, so there’s no point in applying to a school that you’re not interested in or isn’t the right fit for you. Thanks to Google, you can find out more information about schools and speak to past students about their time at school. But how do you decide on which school is best for you? We’ve composed a list of things to take into consideration when making your decision.
Visit the school (if possible)
Of course, you can look at a school in a prospectus, but you won’t know how you feel about it until you’ve visited. This is the place you will be living and studying in for the next few years of your life and a place you’re expected to be comfortable performing in, so investing some time into visiting schools is essential to make sure you’re making the right decision. You also get the chance to meet with teachers and current students, giving you an insight into what life at that school is really like. A lot of students who visit universities and performing arts schools agree that they instantly knew it was a place that they could (or couldn’t) see themselves in and this was a deciding factor in their applications. Most schools host regular open days where you get the chance to get a feel of what the schools are like and how you may fit in.
Before applying, do some research into the reputation of the school. A school that has been around for a long time and has a long list of famous alumni is a clear sign that this school is good. However, that does not mean that this school is good for you; each student works best in different situations, e.g. different class sizes. There are many schools with excellent tutors and training who are much smaller than the large well-known schools which might be a better personal fit for you. If you find your dream school that specialises in your chosen subject area but has a mixed reputation, there is no harm in going for it!
Whether you’re wanting to move miles away to get some independence, or you’re thinking of staying close to home, your perfect school must also have a perfect location for you. Think about accommodation costs and work out what’s in your budget, as we all know that London living is more expensive than other places! You may also be looking at working part-time to help fund your studies, so look at potential job opportunities in the area and travel costs for your trips back home. Similarly, find out what the local area is like in terms of socialising and things to do; if you’re someone who loves the hustle and bustle of a big city, a rural area may not be for you! It is also important as part of your training to visit the theatre regularly and the more shows you see, the better. So, make sure the location you decide on has a good theatre base available to you.
If you know what career you want to end up in after gaining your qualification, have a look at schools that offer work placement opportunities. This will help to give you an insight into the potential jobs you may want in the future while allowing you to gain experience and build your personal statement.
Spending years of your life studying at a school you love is important, but make sure you love the course they’re offering too. Do your research and don’t be afraid to ask questions. You need to know that the course you’re picking will be of interest to you and will help you to achieve your goals; you are choosing the school as much as they are choosing you. If you’re fully invested in a course, try getting a head start by reading material that may be on the reading list, before you attend auditions or start the course. This can show your enthusiasm to a school and prepare you for your studies.
Remember, you don’t have to accept the first school that offers you a place, even though you may be filled with excitement! Think about what you liked/disliked about the school, how the audition process ran, and how you felt when applying for the school. There’s no harm in waiting to see what other offers come along before making your final decision but remember that the competition for places at performing arts schools is fierce, with around 1 in 10 applicants being successful. If you do not accept your place within a period set by the school, they may offer your place to someone else. If you don’t get accepted into your dream school, why not spend a year or two expanding your knowledge and experience and try again!