YOU’RE REGISTERED for the 2021 International Thespian Festival (yaasss!), and you’re looking forward to the chance to wow dozens of college recruiters all in one place, through a unified virtual audition and online college fair. (If you’re not registered, get registered now.)

THE DREAM

Maybe you wish your college recruiters could tell you just the answers to these two questions:

  1. Will I be happy at this school?
  2. Will the school accept me?

THE REALITY

Of course, they can’t. But if you plan your time with them and do the right research then you’ll get closer to those answers on your own. Before we share the best questions to ask your college recruiters, here are tips to keep in mind:

  • Be prepared. Put your questions in a note on your phone or write them down on a notecard. Use the method that works best for you.
  • Don’t think you’ll just remember the questions. There’s a lot happening during ITF. And there’s a lot happening in your personal life. Your prepared questions will let you shift gears quickly when it’s your turn with the college recruiters.
  • Don’t expect the college recruiters to carry the whole conversation. Your prepared questions show you’re interested and eager to find out more about the school. In fact, a lack of your participation in the conversation can go against you. The recruiter may think you’re just going through the motions!
  • Consider asking every recruiter the same questions. That way, when you review your notes, you’ll be comparing “apples to apples.” Random questions won’t let you compare each recruiter’s answers.
  • Feel free to ask college recruiters about scholarships. They may share opportunities about their institution’s awards that you didn’t even know existed.
  • Ask the questions that will give you a full picture of life at that college. You can ask about financial aid, student life, the academic experience, etc.
  • Stay away from asking the college recruiters personal questions. It’s fine to ask if they attended the college and if they want to share anything about their own experience there. Beyond that, leave the personal questions off your list.
  • Ask sensitive questions sensitively. You want to ask thoughtful and pertinent questions. But trying to put the college recruiters on the spot is a bad idea. It’s important to keep in mind that college recruiters can and may report back any troublesome interactions they have with potential students.

    Good questions include asking about racial equity in the school’s programs or the school’s ethics policies, etc. However, asking the recruiter if she or he supports the Black Lives Matter movement is not a good question. Asking if the school allows students to participate in activism on important social causes, like the Black Lives Matter movement, is fine. Just think before you speak and say what you mean.

  • Remember that if your time with a specific recruiter runs out before you get to ask all of your questions, it’s okay to ask if another appointment is possible. Or ask if a follow-up email with your questions would be better. Either way, get their contact info in case you have questions when reviewing your notes about their answers.

Read through the following questions and carefully choose the ones that will help you make the most of your time with college recruiters.

BEST QUESTIONS: THEATRE SPECIFIC

  1. What theatre degrees does your school offer?
  2. Is theatre the major? Is musical theatre the major?
  3. If you offer a BFA vs. BA what are the advantages of each? Why is the one you offer more useful?
  4. What are the performance opportunities for undergrad students? Can I perform as a freshman? Is it ensemble-only? Leading roles?
  5. How many plays vs. how many musicals does the college produce each year? What’s the typical production calendar look like? When are the shows?
  6. Are there student productions? Does the school support independent productions? Will the school sell tickets? Is there performance space available for my production on campus?
  7. Do my extra-curricular activities and hobbies influence my chance of being accepted into the theatre program?
  8. Am I allowed to audition for professional works while still in school? If I get hired, can I pause my schooling and return after my contract?

BEST QUESTIONS: LIVING ON CAMPUS

  1. How would you describe campus culture? What is student life like?
  2. What can you tell me about on-campus living? What are the dorms like and how many are on campus? How many students to a dorm room?
  3. Are there part-time work opportunities within the program? How might I earn money doing something relevant to theatre on campus or nearby in town?
  4. What about off-campus living? What’s available to freshmen? What do most students do after freshman year?

BEST QUESTIONS: OVERALL WELL-BEING

  1. How does the student clinic work? Is there always a doctor on campus? To what extent can I access healthcare?
  2. What types of counseling services are offered? Are there other services, for example, in getting adjusted to campus life the first year?
  3. Does the school offer peer counseling? If so, in what areas?
  4. Does the school offer job placement services? If so, when can I access the services? And for how long after graduation can I access the services?
  5. Can you tell me about tutoring availability?

BEST QUESTIONS: GENERAL

  1. What differentiates the college from others?
  2. What upcoming changes to curriculum, planned on-campus construction, etc., will affect students, either positively or negatively?
  3. What do students enjoy most about this school? And, as a follow-up, what do you hear that students dislike most about the school?
  4. If I need to pause my education for a semester, can I come back without having to reapply?
  5. When do I have to declare a major? Can I change majors later?
  6. Are there study-abroad opportunities?
  7. How would you describe the faculty overall?

Patty Craft is Content Manager for Educational Theatre Association. She lives in a cabin on 10 acres in southwest Ohio and hikes to her heart’s content.

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