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Advice from an Alum: Academic Applications

September 13, 2019

Written by Songbook Academy 2017-'18 alum, Lucy Breedlove.  Lucy hails from Vienna, Virginia and recently graduated from James Madison High School.  Lucy will be attending Otterbein University this fall to pursue a BFA in Musical Theatre.


Want to read "Step 1: Choosing Schools" before moving on to Step 2?  Click here.


Step 2: Academic Applications


Now that you’ve chosen your pool of programs, it’s time to do all of the normal applications! The biggest thing to stress here is to put as much time and thought into this part as you would your audition portion of the application. In most cases, you have to be academically admitted (or at least capable) before they can admit you for your performance major. It happens more than you would think where someone will pass a pre-screen then be denied academically, and that’s where the journey ends. So keep up with your schoolwork, develop strong relationships with your teachers (you’ll probably need their rec letters!!!), and start your essays early.


The Common App opens on August 1st, but they use the same essay prompts every year, so start writing the long 650 word one over the summer! The individual school supplements are harder to find in advance, but you’ll need the one Common App essay for almost every application that you complete through their system. Since I knew that a lot of my supplemental essays would have to be theatre related, I chose to write about something completely different for my main essay that still had a theme relating to my extracurricular list/activities resume/”package” as a potential student. Spend time on that essay to make it solid, but for performance majors the supplements will likely carry more weight.


On that note, once you begin applications for your schools— whether it be through the Common Application, The Coalition Application, or their own school website— organize all of the essay prompts in Word or Google Docs at the same time so that you can start cross-comparing, because most of your prompts will be similar enough that you can start to copy and paste sections of writing. I had a separate document for each school and a folder with everything together. Write the longest essays first and take time to edit them thoroughly, then the rest should come easily.


I had a goal to finish all of my applications by the end of September, and (for the most part) I did which turned out to be EXTREMELY helpful. Sure, September was the worst month of my life, but I had a much smoother process for the submitting and scheduling that came after my academic applications than the majority of my peers did. Filming/submitting pre-screens is its own beast, and having every application out of the way ensured that 1) I had time to edit and submit all of my videos early to make sure that I felt good about them and 2) when a school asked for an application code/number I already had one and didn’t have to stress-apply to meet the pre-screen deadline. In short: get it done, you’ll thank yourself later.


Check back next week for some tips on Pre-Screens!  Don't know what a pre-screen is?  You need to keep an eye out for this upcoming blog.  In the meantime, here's a summary of what Lucy taught us about Academic Applications - feel free to print it out and stick it on your fridge!