Niche Resources
Niche Resources
Niche Resources

5 Steps to Find the College Where You Belong: Performing Arts Edition

My name is Rosalie Anthony, and I found my niche at Point Park University studying Dance. The college admissions process was, at times, tedious, scary, and challenging, but with the right advice and guidance, I found the college that was my perfect fit and became my second home. After going through that process, I have compiled the best advice I got when applying to schools pursuing a dance degree. These steps can apply to any major, but for this article, they will aim towards performing arts majors.  


Step 1: Analyze Your Dreams and Goals  


Analyzing your dreams and goals will not only help in choosing where to go to college but will also help you plan what you want out of life. My goals include earning a Master in Fine Arts, having a prosperous performance career, teaching, and helping others through dance as dance has helped me. This information will also be helpful to craft admissions or scholarship essays. During this time, you can determine what skills and experiences you would like to have or have refined by the time you graduate. For example, some skills I would like to have are cinematography, leadership, community engagement, clerical, and budgeting. Experiences I would like to have include mentorship, performance, conflict management, public relations, financing, fundraising, and community service.


Furthermore, I have gotten the advice to come up with a five to ten-year plan. Having a plan ensures you’re taking the appropriate steps to secure your future. It will help determine what activities, classes, or experiences you need to have to start building your resume. After coming up with a plan, you can start your research.  

Your Guide to Acing the Admissions Essay

Step 2: Where to Start 


A good place to start is by going to Niche. They have a list of the “Best Colleges for Performing Arts in America” that is updated each year. The feature that can be most helpful researching on Niche is the “filters” on the left-hand side. Additionally, these can offer a great starting point for what aspects are important to you in a college. If you make an account, your information can be compared to other students to predict the chances of you getting accepted accurately.


Another great resource is looking at the National Association of Schools of Dance, who set curriculum standards for undergraduate and graduate degrees. OnStage Blog publishes rankings of successful Theatre and Dance programs. Furthermore, research your artist role models, mentors, teachers, and idols to see where they received their training. This can help you get an idea of what their career paths looked like and how they got their opportunities.  

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Step 3: Research / Analytics 


Now is the time to start compiling a list of schools you are interested in. I would suggest collecting your findings in one place, whether that be digital or physical, and organizing the places by what is most important to you. I had a spreadsheet and physical binder where I kept information I collected about the school, including application deadline, admittance rates, cost, location, private/public, degree offering, alumni success, financial aid, and experience with the college. My binder helped organize and eliminate colleges to fit my needs.


As a performing arts major, this would be an optimal time to research whether you want to pursue a Bachelor of Fine Arts (B.F.A), Bachelor of Arts (B.A), or minor in your specific art. The distinctive difference between these degrees is their course intensity. More specifically, in a B.F.A, most of your courses will be centered around your major/art than a B.A or a minor.


Determine if the school has rolling admissions and if you want to apply early decision or early action. This information can help when scheduling artistic applications. Following your schools on social media can be important to see what opportunities their current students are being given and their student engagement and involvement. Watch some of their performances and get a feel for what kinds of artistic works they do. Now, you can look at their COVID-19 response and the student’s response. Ask yourself what values you are looking for in a college and what your needs are. 


Step 4: Applications  


This is the step where you can shine, especially as a performing art student. After you have compiled your list of schools and their application deadlines, you can start looking at the substance of the application. Usually, students are admitted first academically, then artistically, and then offered financial aid, meaning, as a performing arts potential student, you may have to fill out three separate applications for every school you are interested in. Regarding an artistic admittance, you may be required to attend a physical audition, submit an artistic work, or provide an additional essay. This year, applying to college as a performing arts major may be different, so make sure to read the fine print.


Additionally, schools may require a separate application fee for your artistic application. Be sure to have a resume, official transcript, and a headshot prepared. I applied to about eleven colleges to diversify my options. You do not have to apply to that many, but I would suggest doing a college visit AFTER you have been accepted in some capacity. Traveling can get expensive, and since we are in a pandemic, there are ways to figure out if a school would be a good fit for you without having to visit campus physically. Shine your star!  

What To Do When You Can't Tour In Person

Step 5: Wait for Acceptance 


Congratulations! All the work is complete. You have successfully applied to college for your passion. Know that even though it seems very permanent if a school turns out to be not a good fit, that is okay. You did all you could to prepare, and when one door closes, another one opens. Make sure you pay attention to the date to accept your acceptance and financial aid. Your financial aid package may come a little after your admittance letter, and make sure to fill out the Federal Student Aid Form, even if you think you may not be eligible to receive any aid. Furthermore, you can appeal your financial aid if an extenuating circumstance presents itself. Look at Niche for scholarships, including an Art scholarship, in which there are no essays needed and are “one-click” to apply.


We would love to hear your decision, and where you found your Niche. Direct Message us on Instagram for a chance to be featured and share your college journey!

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Author: Rosalie Anthony

Rosalie is currently attending Point Park University earning her Dance- B.F.A degree with a minor in French. Previously, she attended and graduated from the Alabama School of Fine Arts in dance. She is passionate about learning, teaching and mentoring. In her spare time, she enjoys working out, chatting with friends, and discovering new places to go in Pittsburgh.