College auditions are scary. It can feel like your entire career, and your entire life even, hinges on those delicate two minutes in which you stand on stage in front of the audition committee and give it your all.
But that simply isn’t true. A college audition is a long process that involves steps before, during and after the actual moment on stage. To do your best, ace your auditions and help earn a spot at the school, conservatory or theater program best for you, here are some tips to follow and remember.
9 Tips to Remember Before College Auditions
As Polonius says in Hamlet, “To thine own self be true.” This adage is as helpful today as it was in fictional ancient Denmark.
In order to excel in your next audition, you really need to think about where you want to be and what you’re willing to do to get there. Are you ready to handle the rigor that a professional creative life will bring? Are you willing to take the criticism, do the hard work, and accept a life where competition will be a daily challenge?
Audition committees are looking to see if their potential students have considered these questions and understand the rigors that await. It’s not just about having a great voice or being a master of monologue. There are tons of talented people out there, and the ones who eventually see success chalk it up not to their creative gifts but to their spirit, their tenacity, and, yes, to knowing themselves and what they are willing to sacrifice in order to succeed.
It doesn’t matter how talented you are if the program you’re aiming for isn’t right for you. Like all college prep, college auditions require research. What sort of life do the students at this school have? What are the classes like, and what are the specialties of the professors? Where do alumni tend to find work? What are the facilities like, and how do students spend their free time?
3. Acknowledge your strengths and weaknesses
Make sure you know what your best assets are and how to flaunt them. An understanding of what to promote, however, requires an understanding of the points that make you weak, as well.
All performers have strengths and weaknesses, so be honest with yourself. Your time on stage is so limited, so don’t waste it showing anything other than your very best.
4. Be flexible
Despite all of the time that you might spend preparing for your college auditions, there is always a chance that the panel will want to see something else from you. The committee might want you to provide more material, or to try your delivery again in a different way.
If this happens, stay calm. It’s a great sign that they want to see more from you, but they are also watching to see how you react. Be flexible, be professional, and most of all, be prepared. Come to your audition with a few back-pocket options should you be asked to think on your feet and offer something more.
5. Dress for success
You want to look professional, but still comfortable. Your clothes tell a story about you before you even open your mouth.
6. Be organized
Arrive at your audition with crisp, flattering headshots and a well-tailored resume. The committee wants to see a headshot that looks like you and fits your type, and they want a simple one-page resume they can browse before you perform. Don’t let them down.
7. Be yourself!
Remember, everyone on that committee is a human being too. Make eye contact when you speak. Remind yourself how much you want to be there, and then show it to the committee when you address them.
8. Follow up
Write a quick thank you email to the admissions committee or faculty. A few short lines can help set you apart from the hundreds of other students, and will also show you are a professional, class act.
9. Stay confident
No matter what happens, you decided to enter this field because you love it. The creative life is full of rejections, so if you don’t make it into your dream school, don’t give up. Use the experience to sharpen your audition for the next time and to become a stronger performer. If you love it, keep on going!
Tom Morin is a professional actor and NYC-based Acting Coach and Co-Founder of Polish Your Passion, an online-based training company for actors, singers, and dancers across the country. He holds a B.A. in Theatre & Political Science from the College of the Holy Cross and an M.F.A. in Acting from Ohio University. He has been teaching for the past 9 years, advising and coaching students through the college preparation process and beyond.