Is It Too Late To Apply for Drama School?

Is It Too Late To Apply for Drama School?

Our official application advice here at Stagepunch is “always apply early.” There are several advantages to this. For one, you probably have a higher chance of getting the audition or interview slot of your choice. As one of the earlier applicants, you will also be competing for more (and bigger) scholarships. We feel so strongly about this topic we included a section about it in the Stagepunch Guidebook (Pro and VIP members can access that specific scene HERE.) But let’s get real, the reason you have come to our blog asking the question “is it too late to apply for drama school?” is probably not to be lectured on why you should have already applied.

What if you missed the deadline for your dream school without meaning to? 
Something unforeseen could have happened, keeping your mind occupied somewhere else until it was too late. Maybe you were too selective with your applications and didn’t end up with the callbacks or offers you were hoping for. Or you had another set of plans that fell through.

Whatever the case, you are finding yourself at a crossroads. So what options are you left with? You could wait for the next round of applications to open. Take a gap year, travel, work and save up some money. You could even attend a shorter course in the meantime. I recommend checking out The New York Teen Shakespeare Intensive Online. Waiting a year is a more than valid option. You will gain experiences and maturity that can only help you on your artistic journey. But if you feel like now is the right time, our advice is, GO FOR IT!

Keep on Rolling

Several schools operate with rolling admissions. This means you can apply at pretty much any time of the year and (if you are accepted) begin your studies in the next upcoming semester. If you’re looking to start in the fall, you can often apply for these programs all the way into August. In the US, you will typically find that larger (often public) universities operate with rolling admissions. For performing arts degrees, you are more likely to find BA programs offering rolling admissions. BFA programs often have several rounds of auditions, requiring earlier deadlines. 

Pro tip: Most performing arts departments operate with their own separate deadlines. If you are looking at programs requiring an audition, the school’s official application deadline might be after the final audition date or video submission deadline. Make sure to read up on the fine print before applying. You don’t want to pay the application fee, only to find out you won’t be able to audition.

A Global Perspective

Another thing you could consider is studying abroad as an international student. Some countries like Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, actually begin their school year at the same time as the calendar year (it kind of makes sense, if you think about it.) This means their applications open around the same time they are closing in places like the US and the UK. Studying abroad is a great way to learn more about a new culture while growing both artistically and personally. There are great performing arts colleges located all over the world, and most of them have long and proud histories of welcoming international students. Head over to the Programs Database and use the filter option to see our selection of international programs that might be the right fit for you.

Pro tip: You might not believe it, but it can actually end up being cheaper to study abroad. Many countries operate with set fees meaning the universities can’t decide their own tuition. Some countries even offer free education to everyone, including international students.

The Secret Deadlines of UCAS

If you are based in the UK (or interested in studying there as an international student,) you’re probably familiar with UCAS. The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service is the system used to apply for almost all higher education in the United Kingdom. The regular application deadline is typically set in the last week of January. What you might not know is that this is not the definitive deadline; there are two additional rounds to consider. 

First, we have the final deadline, where late applications can be submitted through the end of June. UCAS suggests contacting the school(s) you want to apply for in advance to see if they have any vacancies. Drama schools and performing arts programs are highly competitive. After the official deadline, the major players won’t have any available spots left. But with a bit of digging and determination, you should be able to find drama schools and universities still accepting applications.

But what if you didn’t make the final June deadline? Or you did, but didn’t receive any offers? Enter UCAS Clearing (stage left.) Clearing is where UK universities and colleges can post courses with available places they want to fill. UCAS keeps an updated list of vacancies during all of clearing (July 5 through October 18.) They still recommend you reach out to the school and request an informal offer before adding them to your clearing application.

A Few Final Thoughts

So, is it too late to apply for drama school? The short answer is no!

Sure, you might not be able to go to your dream school this year. But it is not too late to get accepted into a program that could end up being just as good (or even better) for your personal artistic journey. Things have a funny way of working out in the end. Don’t beat yourself up over the circumstances you find yourself in. A few of us here at Stagepunch missed deadlines too (Chat with us anytime, we are happy to talk about it!) 

You can’t change what has already happened. Instead, let that frustration fuel and inspire the rest of your application process. Wherever you end up going, know that Stagepunch believes in you. You’ve got this!

Jonas Kobberdal

Jonas is the Content King at Stagepunch. He leads the research team, writes blog posts, and one time even got PUNCHED in the face for the good cause. Jonas is an actor and artist originally from Norway, currently a world traveler, and a New Yorker at heart. After getting rid of his remaining hair, he now spends most of his spare time channeling his inner Bruce Willis. Having studied for an acting degree himself, Jonas knows the many joys the right program can bring your life. He is passionate about supporting young artists who are chasing their dreams!

Audition Monologues

Choosing Your Audition Monologues

Choosing audition monologues for your programs of choice is, of course, an incredibly important part of the application process. Most of the time you’ll have just a few minutes with the auditors to demonstrate who you are as an actor. It’s a daunting task. So let’s get the obvious out of the way: monologues are tough. Talking alone on stage for 90 seconds? To no one?! You’re not alone if your first reaction is “AAAHHH!” But we don’t think it has to be scary. It can be fun. Actually, it should be fun.

One of the main reasons the monologue process becomes so un-fun is because if you ask too many people for their advice, you end up getting a lot of different conflicting rules. You should be careful about who you listen to. That’s why we’re doing the research to offer you the best advice we can. This is the first in a long series of blogs that will deal with audition monologues, and we’re going to start with someone who is very qualified to offer advice: a repeat auditor for professional training programs named:

Robyn Hunt

Robyn Hunt has credentials. She has taught at two MFA programs: the University of Washington and the University of South Carolina. She also has acted extensively, written plays, founded theatre companies, and trained with world-renowned Japanese theatre artist Tadashi Suzuki for over a decade. And yes, she’s seen countless audition monologues performed. So we asked her for her thoughts and highlighted what we think will help you the most as you prepare. Let’s jump in.

The most important feelings about a piece are yours

It takes a lot of work to get a monologue performance-ready, so why suffer through it? If your hair stands up on end when you first discover the piece, then Robyn Hunt thinks you’re headed in the right direction. “If the actor wants the process to be nourishing in some way,” she says, then they should “LOVE the piece itself and be capable of relishing the chance to perform it, under any circumstances.” How wonderful to think the experience could nourish you! Remember, the auditors want to see your passion and joy. Looking for promising artists means looking for people who love what they do. So love your audition monologue. Or I should say, love your audition monologueS. Which brings us to the next point.

Have several pieces ready

We all know that most auditions ask for two audition monologues, but that doesn’t mean that you should only have two prepared. It’s common for an auditor to ask if you have something else you could show, and Hunt says that the answer to that question should always be “yes.” In her opinion, “actors should allow enough time to have three, preferably four or five, good pieces.” So it’s important to keep in mind that finding a good piece isn’t just skimming through a play, locating a chunk of text, and saying ‘that will do.’ Take the time to do some deep play reading and consideration. Start your search early. 

Be wary of extreme emotions

Yes, the moments of extreme emotions in a play can feel really great in performance. But is choosing a piece in which a character “breaks down” the best choice for the stressful environment of an audition room? Probably not. Hunt cautions against emotional “cranking”–putting yourself in a situation where you have to manufacture a big moment. It can be the death of a good audition. You want to set yourself up for success, not stress about whether or not you can find the ‘right’ emotional state when the clock is ticking. In Hunt’s experience, a piece that makes the actor “use the words to build a case to convince the listener” is more than enough to capture the auditors. Remember, acting is doing.

Choose something that fits you

Hunt echoes the oft-repeated advice that the character you choose should match your identity in regards to age (within reason), ethnicity, and gender identity. She goes on to state more specifically that “there should be no appropriation of the struggles and difficulties BIPOC characters have endured, unless the actor has a right, from experience/inheritance, to embody those issues”, Even if the monologue doesn’t feel like it really confronts those issues directly, you’re best to steer clear. You don’t want the auditors to be distracted by the question, “Does this actor know they don’t fit this character?” Remove any barriers that could distract from a great performance.

It’s about the listener

This may seem obvious, but it deserves some space here. Your monologue is about the listener. And no, we don’t mean the auditors. We mean the character you are talking to. Hunt reminds us that the judgment of a good audition is the same as the judgment of a good onstage performance: “Can the actor, in the moment of performance, connect with someone else, make that other [person] real, and the situation matter, and use the words and the ideas to cause something to happen in the other person?” Hunt can still tell the story of a young actress who did just this at the URTAs in New York. She captured the attention of everyone in the room, and ended up receiving offers from fourteen different programs.

That’s it for now. We’ll keep engaging this question with people who know their stuff. And we’d love to hear from you! Have thoughts about what makes a good audition? Have questions about what makes a good monologue? Feel free to reach out to us! Shoot us an email! We’d love to hear from you and help answer any questions about this process.

Robyn Hunt’s bio:

A member of Actor’s Equity, Hunt has acted professionally in the U.S., Canada, Europe and Japan. She worked for over a decade with Tadashi Suzuki, performed in Tokyo and Kanazawa in OPIUM, a joint Pacific Performance Project/Theatre Group TAO production under the direction of Kenji Suzuki, studied and performed in Kyoto under the direction of Shogo Ohta, and between 1994 and 2000 performed frequently at the Actor’s Theatre of Louisville, under the direction of Jon Jory. Hunt was co-founder and first artistic director of the San Diego Public Theatre and co-heads the Pacific Performance Project/East now based in Columbia, S.C. and E. Sandwich, Massachusetts. In 2001, she received a University of Washington Distinguished Teacher award. In 2013, she was named one of five new Carolina Distinguished Professor endowments.

Acting roles include: Dottie in NOISES OFF, the title role in MOTHER COURAGE (Connecticut, Seattle and Columbia), Ranevskaya in GRAVITY (Seattle Playhouse, and the Connelly Theatre, NYC) and in THE CHERRY ORCHARD SEQUEL at LaMama, Serafina in THE SUICIDE, Titania in A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM, and multiple roles in BLACK SNOW. Hunt performed in the New York debut of Peter Kyle Dance as Miss Haversham in “To What Extent” at the Henry Street Settlement/Abrons Arts Center in fall 2007; in 2000, she appeared in another Kyle dance, “Going.”

She has created several evening length dance/theatre pieces, including the trilogy SUITE FOR STRANGERS, which had its Seattle debut in 2004. Other dance/theatre collaborations (with Peter Kyle and Steven Pearson) include: MYRA’S WAR, PRIX FIXE, and Shogo Ohta’s THE WATER STATION (MIZU NO EKI). She wrote FLIGHT, which toured in 2014 to Edwardsville, Illinois, Flint, Michigan and to Bangor, Maine. She appears in the January, 2008 article “Shaping the Independent Actor,” in AMERICAN THEATRE magazine; in winter 2012 GIA READER, “”An Artist Examines the Intersection of Creating and Teaching,” and in THEATRE Forum, fall 2000, in two articles on OPIUM. She performed at DNA in New York in Nancy Bannon’s THE POD PROJECT in 2009, and later as Cherish in Bannon’s DRINKING INK at the 92 Street Y in New York. She most recently appeared as Alisse in FLIGHT.

Tim Giles

Tim Giles is a theatre artist who likes to make work capitalizing on risk, coming together, and a little chaos. He also makes music, bakes a mean loaf of bread, and runs around outside a lot. As a Southerner, he thinks everyone needs to recognize the beauty of one of the best words ever invented: y’all. It’s gender-neutral! If y’all start to incorporate “y’all” into y’all’s everyday vocabulary, y’all’ll quickly understand its usefulness.

Let’s Talk About College Essays

Whenever someone asks us when they should get started on their application journey, we always give the same answer: Now – The sooner (is absolutely) the better. This goes for writing your college essays as well. Getting on top of the application game early can give you a massive confidence boost throughout this stressful process. Another bonus is that it will free up ample time for you to prepare for the high-stakes moments like your audition or interview.

But do I really have to spend my summer writing essays?

We are in no way suggesting that you should start writing your college application essay yet, quite the opposite. You’ve just completed a whole year of school and have earned a break from writing. However, this is the perfect time to start cooking up some essay ideas! We often hear from students that the most challenging part of the college essays process is figuring out where to begin. Getting a head start will alleviate a lot of that anxiety.

Pro tip: We have included a full Application Timeline in the Stagepunch Guidebook. The scene gives you an overview of the entire year leading up to the start of your college experience.

Successful examples

When I was writing my college essays, I found it helpful to look up a few successful examples that people had shared online. I don’t think it’s smart to base too much of your essay on the work of others – after all, your essay should be about your personal experiences – but reading other essays gave me a feel for what was possible. How much I could play within the genre, and how to stand out from the crowd.

Some colleges will actually publish selections of essays from previously accepted students as a guide for potential applicants. It is also a way for them to show off the talent that resides within their campuses. One of these schools is Hamilton College, located in Clinton, NY. We suggest you check out their selection of College Essays That Worked.

Just this past week, the New York Times published their annual collection of college essays. Each year they ask high school seniors to submit application essays on the specific themes of money, work, or social class. This year’s NY Times College Essays Article consists of five essays, and they are all worth the read. (You do have to log in with a NY Times account to access the article, but it is free to create one.) Earlier in the year, the New York Times also published an article with excerpts from college essays on the impact of Covid-19, which was included in several prompts (including Common App.) More than 900 high school seniors submitted their essays, and you can take a look at what some of them wrote HERE.

Essay prompts

To get your creative juices flowing, we have also included a few essay prompts for you. These are intended as jumping-off points for the application essay, and most schools will give you several options to choose from. The prompts below are the current 2021-2022 essay prompts from Common App. Some schools will ask you to answer their own prompts instead, so be sure to check out the websites of your top choices. Soon, Stagepunch will be able to help you keep track of application criteria. You can sign up right HERE to be among the first to learn how to pack that PUNCH! In the meantime, I hope you can find some inspiration from the list below:

Common App:

  1. Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.
  2. The lessons we take from obstacles we encounter can be fundamental to later success. Recount a time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?
  3. Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome?
  4. Reflect on something that someone has done for you that has made you happy or thankful in a surprising way. How has this gratitude affected or motivated you?
  5. Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.
  6. Describe a topic, idea, or concept you find so engaging that it makes you lose all track of time. Why does it captivate you? What or who do you turn to when you want to learn more?
  7. Share an essay on any topic of your choice. It can be one you’ve already written, one that responds to a different prompt, or one of your own design.

Pro tip: To go even deeper in your college essays preparation, check out “Act II Scene III – The perfect application essay” in the Stagepunch Guidebook.

Have fun preparing. Remember, you’re chasing your dream and Stagepunch is here to help you reach it!

Jonas Kobberdal

Jonas is the Content King at Stagepunch. He leads the research team, writes blog posts, and one time even got PUNCHED in the face for the good cause. Jonas is an actor and artist originally from Norway, currently a world traveler, and a New Yorker at heart. After getting rid of his remaining hair, he now spends most of his spare time channeling his inner Bruce Willis. Having studied for an acting degree himself, Jonas knows the many joys the right program can bring your life. He is passionate about supporting young artists who are chasing their dreams!