This is the time of year during the college audition process when seniors start to get their first taste of rejection. You’ve worked hard all summer to select the perfect audition materials, pick out that perfect outfit, attend weekly voice, acting, and dance lessons to get everything just right. You film them, submit them, then you receive the dreaded “thanks but no thanks” email from one or more of your dream schools.
Your heart sinks. You worry that none of your other schools will like you because this one didn’t. You wonder what you did wrong. Suddenly all these crazy thoughts spring into your head.
“Was it that last note?”
“Was it because I blinked too much?”
“It must have been the lighting.”
“Why did I listen to my friend and added that riff on the last note?”
“Maybe my mom’s co-worker’s sister’s friend’s pastor was right: I won’t ever be successful in this business!”
Deep breaths. There is no reason to send hate mail to Dreamschool University’s Theatre Chair because they didn’t like your prescreen video. You should actually – brace yourself – THANK THEM.
The fact is, they may have liked your prescreen very much. They probably also think you’re talented! By saying “no thank you,” they are doing you a great service! They are telling you up front that right now you are not what they are looking for in their program, and it may have very little to do with your talent.
Last year was the first year Carnegie Mellon used prescreen videos. Why? Because it gets over 3000 applicants for TWELVE available slots: six boys and six girls. They are doing you a great service by letting you know that they are not interested before you book your flights and hotels, take time off from school to go audition, and go through all the other stresses that come along with adding ONE MORE audition to your list.
So, you applied to eighteen schools, six of them required a prescreen video, and three of those prescreened schools didn’t offer you an in-person audition. Guess what? That’s why we spend our time making a smart list of schools.
What if ALL of your prescreens rejected you? Well, maybe it’s time to go back to the drawing board. Work with a coach to see if maybe it was a poor choice of materials, or if your audition materials were underprepared? This probably means it’s time to reexamine your list of schools to which you are applying before all of the deadlines have passed. Meet with a coach or instructor who has never met you and will be honest with you about your abilities and help you pick some better schools to build out your list, and perhaps find a new plan of action.
Why someone who has never worked with you? Because this is not the time for someone to sugarcoat their critiques. A coach you’ve worked with for several years may be somewhat blinded by their connection with you or may not be completely honest with you. (Though this may NOT be the case as well. My private voice students certainly know I never sugarcoat ANYTHING!)
No matter what your next steps are, you would have never known what to do, had these WONDERFUL schools not been honest and upfront with you about your prescreens.