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Back-To-School Guide For Incoming Acting Majors

You can ask the internet almost anything these days, especially for advice. I remember being so nervous about college that I googled as many tips as I could about how to succeed in a new place with new teachers and a new lifestyle in hopes that I could get an upper hand. If this sounds like you and you’re an incoming theatre performance major, this article is the stop you’ve been looking for on your long journey down the rabbit hole of informational blog posts. Here are some things that can help make your transition easier based on my personal experience. This article covers essential items to have, what to expect and my No. 1 tip for success.

Essential Items

There will be plenty of things left out of this list, but these are things you may not have considered as fundamentals:

1. Audition Kit

This is a simple tote bag with the things that help ground you during an audition, such as your favorite non-perishable snack, a water bottle, headphones and antiperspirant. It will come in handy if your program auditions multiple shows in a short amount of time.

2. An Updated Resume

This is very important! A resume may be a professor’s first impression of you if you audition for them before you have class with them. It’s always nice to have someone want to work with you just from seeing your professionalism. They are more likely to treat you like a professional in the future.

3. Some Headshots

The photos themselves don’t have to be Vogue-worthy — they can even be taken on one of the newer smartphones with a good camera. What’s important is that they are printed on photo paper, 8’x10’, in high-quality paper instead of printer paper. If you can save up to print them in bulk, it will save you time later. Just make sure you look the same in your photo as you will when you walk into the audition room. College is a learning environment, but it’s better to have a fair-quality headshot while you’re experimenting with your look than an old headshot that no longer suits you.

4. A Few Journals

Something I’ve found helpful is having a journal to keep all the things that have affected me the most in one place. One of the fundamental differences between college and high school is the change in how information is given and how long you hold onto it. The tips you learn from your professors will go far into your career. Investing in a nice journal and pens — or perhaps scrapbooking gear and a binder — will ensure you can keep your thoughts and best tips organized when you’re in the real world and need them most.

5. A Water Bottle

Imagine using your voice, body and mind to the extreme for the majority of your day. Staying hydrated will change your experience and make a lot of things a lot easier.

6. Socks

There are many reasons to own socks, but performance majors tend to have an unusual number of classes that require no shoes. Cute patterns are always better than smelly feet.

7. Workout Clothes

An essential part of learning in this major is learning how to sweat. Having clothes that you feel confident wearing and are comfortable moving in will make scene work, movement and more physically intense classes smoother and more rewarding.

8. Nicer Clothes

You can’t forget to also have clothes that are nicer than your day clothes. These will be used mainly in auditions, scenes and certain classes that work on period pieces. Some period classes may require a sportech jacket or corset and floor-length skirt. This depends on the teacher or program, but they are nice to have for rehearsal if you know your costume will require those pieces anyway.

What to Expect

Like any other college major, there will be a fair amount of difference based on the program. That’s why it’s important to do your research for the program you’re going into. It’s nice to not be completely blindsided, but also leave some avenues open for surprises. The school’s website is always a great place to start. After you pop onto the website and do some clinical research, get personal. See which professors you can email, make a friend in the major who has been there for a while or go see a show the school is putting up. This way, you can see behind the scenes, which will make the transition even smoother. Overall, it’s comforting to remember that one of the most memorable things about your first year will be learning how well you can adapt to a new environment, schedule and stasis, even when you weren’t sure you could.

No. 1 Tip for Success

There are a million things that may or may not help you succeed, but often students aren’t told the one thing that is a surefire way to encourage success: If you never fail, you’ll never learn anything. Sure, it’s important to make good choices as a student, but you can also take failure as an offer for future success. The point of pursuing higher education is to emerge from it knowing something you didn’t know about your passion. It’s OK to make a mistake if you learn from it. Enjoy each moment, because the ride goes faster than you think. If you allow yourself to fall on your face and surprise yourself, you’ll be all the better for it.

What tips would you give your freshman self? Let us know in the comments below…

Written by Jasmine Middleton

Jasmine is a sophomore in college, pursuing theater with a concentration in acting. Born in raised in colorful Colorado, she is one of many mountain art snobs. She hopes that more people learn about theater and it's practicality, so that they will be inspired to also pursue their dreams!

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