Visiting a college campus is the ideal way to get a solid feel for the school, the town, the programs, and more. While there are still restrictions with college tours and outside visitors at many universities (as of this post in May 2021), some campuses are allowing potential students to visit. That being said, be sure to call ahead of time or schedule online so you know what the current protocol is you need to follow. In the case that the campus is open, here are some tips for maximizing your visit:

PLAN AHEAD: Contact the theatre department to set up a theatre tour and a meeting with the faculty. If you want to major in theatre, check out the theatre facilities and meet the faculty, if possible. Your admissions officer may set this up for you or you might need to do it yourself, depending on the school.

QUESTIONS: Have questions prepared to ask the faculty. You want to be prepared with questions about their theatre program specifically. Here are some questions you can ask:

  • How many students do you accept into your program? Be specific about which program(s) you’re interested in whether it’s acting, musical theatre, tech theatre, or theatre education.
  • What performance opportunities are there for freshmen?
  • How are students taught about the business of theatre?
  • How does your program help students who are graduating find work in the field?
  • Are there opportunities to perform / audition for summer work? For a full list of questions and my free college-tour template click here.

WRITE IT DOWN: Bring along a notebook or create a note in your phone and keep track of what you like and dislike about every school. This is a very simple, yet effective way to stay organized throughout your college process. If you’re auditioning for theatre programs, you most likely will be visiting and auditioning for many schools. Staying organized is essential. Trust me, it’ll hard to remember details about each program six months after your visit.

BE PREPARED: Bring your headshot and resume just in case you have a chance to share it! When you meet with the theatre faculty, they might ask for your headshot and resume. If you have one, bring it along. If you don’t have one, it’s okay but you can easily put together a resume. Here’s a template.

OBSERVE: Ask if you can audit a class (sit in). You’ll need to set this up ahead of time, but many schools will allow you to sit in classes in the theatre department. This is a firsthand way to observe the faculty’s teaching style and see how the students work with the faculty. You can also try to visit the campus during the school year and see a performance. This is a great way to get to know the theatre program.

If you can’t visit the campus in person, for whatever reasons, here are ways to maximize your virtual campus experience:

VIRTUAL TOUR: Many, if not all universities are now offering virtual tours of their campuses. Spend time doing the virtual tour of the campus. Explore the school’s website thoroughly and see what it has to offer. Take as much time as necessary and dig deep.

GET SOCIAL: Find the social media handles (Instagram/Facebook) for the theatre department and the university. Look for additional info there. Many times students will do takeovers, Q&As or “a day in the life” to give you a better feel for the student experience.

MEETING: Ask to set up a virtual meeting with the theatre department to get more information and ask questions. During this meeting, you can also ask if you can speak to current students (or be connected with current students) so you can ask them questions about the school and program.

STUDENTS: Connect with students online or over Zoom. Ask the theatre department to put you in touch with students so you can get a feel for the program from the student’s perspective. They may even give you their own personal tour!

EXPLORE: If you’re unfamiliar with the city or town where the campus is located, do some online exploring! Google what’s nearby. Search for the nearest grocery store, distance from the airport (if you’d be flying to and from school), local restaurants. Check how far hotels are from campus for family and friends’ visits. Get to know the surrounding area.

SELF-GUIDED TOUR: Some of the campuses are open but aren’t giving tours. In this case, walk the campus on your own self-guided tour. You may not be able to go into buildings but you could at least drive around and walk around outside to get a feel for the campus.

As we all have learned, situations will continue to change in this post-COVID world of ours. Campus restrictions will change so be sure to check with the university and the local restrictions before you plan a trip.

Laura Enstall is the owner and founder of Audition Well and is a well-respected St. Louis-based College Audition Coach. She specializes in college audition prep, acting and acting-the-song training for high school students in the United States and internationally. Here’s a post with tips on auditioning. Because she believes in giving back to the theatre community, she regularly shares her expertise, audition tips and other valuable, free content on Instagram, so be sure to follow @auditionwell. 

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