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A Few Schools

Discussion in 'Education and Career Development' started by Jak119, Aug 24, 2008.

  1. Jak119

    Jak119 Member

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    Alright it's time to seriously start looking into schools considering I start senior year next week. I've been looking at the following schools around Connecticut and I'm very interested in them. My question to you guys is do you have any advice on these schools.

    I'm looking into (In order of choice):
    Boston University
    Carnegie Mellon
    NYU
    Rutgers
    Ithaca
    The George Washington University

    I've looked at all those schools for either sound or technical theater majors. I'm also considering a minor if possible in electrical engineering (any suggestions on that).

    Oh and thank you so much in advance for any help you provide me.
     
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2008
  2. Mullet1215

    Mullet1215 Member

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    Im in the same boat with you. I have been looking at Electrical Engineering as a major, but I want a place where I can also do technical theatre. I have heard great things about NYU and have worked for a LD who got his MFA there. I have also been looking at Carnege Mellon because I have heard they are a school that is at the cutting edge of whatever they do. One school that I have been looking at is UCLA. It attracts a lot of people who really know their stuff with the reputation of their film school.

    Those three are pretty high up on my list because they are all in major citys. I think this is important because it would be possible to get an internship or overhire work to learn from working professionals.

    Lemme know if that helps at all and if you have any suggestions for me.
     
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  3. Jak119

    Jak119 Member

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    That is very helpful, I think that may have just pushed NYU up to tie with Carnegie Mellon for my first choice(s). And as far as any knowledge I have to share all that I can tell you is that Full Sail is pretty good I've got a friend down there who just started other than that I've got no clue for schools.
     
  4. Jak119

    Jak119 Member

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    I have sat in with a few real designers, and worked for a couple as well. However sitting in on a class is a good idea.
     
  5. derekleffew

    derekleffew Resident Curmudgeon Senior Team Premium Member

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    Regardless of the school, I strongly believe in the mentor approach to technical theatre. Be sure to meet, and talk at length with, the Sound Designer. Try to decide whether or not you can learn from him/her. If it's Otts Munderloh or Martin Levan or Jonathan Dean, all the better. Try to ignore the physical plant and the equipment. I hope you've heard by now: A good soundman can make any system sound good, but even the best system can sound awful with the wrong person driving it. It's the faculty and staff that make a theatre dept. Meet as many as you can. You're interviewing them more than they're interviewing you.
     
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  6. icewolf08

    icewolf08 CBMod CB Mods

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    Be sure to take a look at this wiki page, as it has some of the CB Member college demographics listed. These people would be happy to tell you about the schools they attended. I won't go into anything about Ithaca, as I have done many times, just search it, and you will find my thoughts on my alma mater.
     
  7. thenelsontwins

    thenelsontwins Member

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    Those are all fantastic schools with solid theater programs, but you must consider what you want to do. A conservatory program along the lines of C.M. will not allow for much flexibility.

    When I was dealing with high school students on a daily basis, I could not stress that enough. Yes, you love technical theater now, but how will you feel in 4 years? I know how I felt after 4 years, but I keep getting work and keep working!

    A school like Full Sail, is considered by those of us who do the hiring, to be a bit of a factory for mediocrity. Yes there are students who emerge from there with real talent, but they are few and far between and I was looking really hard for talented ones.

    The school doesn't matter so much as the ability to LEARN. You could do theater in the boodocks, but if you are surrounded by people who are also willing, not just to 'teach' the art, but to be even more specific, to be surrounded by people who will teach YOU.

    Find a mentor, as suggested, is one of the primary ways to really learn in this industry. I was lucky to have one of the greatest broadway lighting designers as my mentor for many years and it benefited me far more than simple education. That and work. Lots and lots of work. And failing. Lots and lots of failing and finding a new way to approach a situation to turn that failure into a success before anyone finds out that you failed! :)

    My advice is pick the school you like for what you want from it. One of the things I realized as I was graduating from my program was that I could have studied ANYTHING and still been involved in the theater department. How it took me 4 years to realize that is beyond me. In that way, not only do you have degree to fall back on, but you can keep a little perspective on this crazy theater life.

    As for work outside of academia, find GOOD summer stock, if you are in a big city take legitimate internships, even during the school year. I am a huge advocate of finding theaters and companies that are affiliated with the various trade unions (IATSE, AEA etc.) I have found that the quality of the work and of the people is greatly increased, especially in summer stock which can be more like abuse some places.

    Of course the conservatory life, you had better be 100% sure that is what you want because 4 years and $100,000 later, there you are.

    I also can't place enough emphasis on the idea I also passed along to my students, whether they liked it or not: no matter where you go to school, what program you choose to study, like anything, you will either be good enough to make a living at it or you won't. There isn't any in between. If you want to feed yourself AND pay rent working in the entertainment industry, you had better be aware of that distinction and be aware of what to do about it.

    The same theory holds true in every profession, that just because you went to medical school doesn't mean that you're a good doctor because 'C still equals MD'
     
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  8. mbandgeek

    mbandgeek Active Member

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    I agree with thenelsontwins 100%

    I will be attending NC arts here in 3 weeks, and from what i have read on this board, it sounds like a really difficult program. My Key to success is staying focused. Which is not hard for me to do in the theater. Working summer shows at the local theater has shown me that.

    The thing that really sealed the deal on theater for me was getting out of theater for a little while. I had to get a job to get money for a computer for college. For me, even the worst day in the theater as an unpaid intern, was still a lot better then a really good day getting paid bagging groceries. In fact, theater was what i would think about all the time, and how i desperately wanted to get back into it. Which leads me to where i am now.

    Like everything else, you will get out of it what you put into it.

    Now if i regret my decision by the end of my 4 or 5 years, i will let you know. However, i have a feeling that i am going to love it at NCSA.
     
  9. derekleffew

    derekleffew Resident Curmudgeon Senior Team Premium Member

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    I just found Gilbert Hemsley's tribute site, and feel some of his words, written thirty years ago, are just as important and pertinent today.

    "The lighting designer is expected to communicate with directors more and more. I don't deal with somebody who majors in theatre as an undergraduate. I want a history major, a communication arts major, or an English major. I want somebody who can talk about the history of the 19th century. It is crucial that students have a sense of time and place. It is impossible to do opera unless you understand the 19th century. Or the 20th. Thank God I had taken a lot of classics at Yale before I talked to Martha Graham. ... You can't get into those wonderful, fantastic conversations unless you do have a knowledge of the world behind you. One foot in the humanities, the other in the technical side. It's no longer Leko, Leko, Leko. A broad education is needed not only of the real world but of the humanities, finances, art, and architecture; then they can be a lighting designer or a person in the theatre. ...
    In the end that's what counts. When you're 45 what are you going to do with your life? Talk about Lekos? I worry a lot because there are many schools teaching people to be lighting designers and nothing else. I worry that they're not being taught the complete world. Not only do you have to be artistic but you've also got to be a person who can withstand the problems of making it happen. People yell and scream and people have to be able to lose their tempers. Some of my students would have been great lighting designers but they took everything personally. The student's first lighting assignment is like having sex the first time. You can't really tell anybody where to put it; you've just got to get through it. When you get through it then you start dealing with it and getting advice from the side. Well that's not a standard Madison [University of Wisconsin-Madison, where Hemsley taught] reference. One of the things I do in Madison is to always let them use as much equipment as they can get their hands on and just let them overdo it for the first time. I'd much rather have them muck it up the first time. I let them come up with crazy ideas. They're all going to make it beautiful. And of course when they fall down I pick them up."
     
  10. Jak119

    Jak119 Member

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    Wow, some awesome feedback in here and I'll definitely consider it all. Thank you so much!
     
  11. NicktheEvil

    NicktheEvil Member

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    I went to 3 colleges before I found the right program for me. I started at a school that was known for theatre. I was so excited to go there, but when i got there i found out that i had to contend with a billion other students wanting to do the same thing that i was trying to do. in bigger programs the individualized attention starts to slip away, so its something to be careful of.

    I eventually Finished college at a place called Slippery Rock University just a little north of pittsburgh. They had a small theatre program, but a strong one. With in one year of being there i was someone that they depended on. by the time that i graduated i ended up with 9 main stage designs, lord only knows how many small stage designs, i worked there as a carpenter for 2 years and the master electrician for one. People may not know where the school is, but i certainly got a lot more experience at the smaller school.

    Don't let this sway your opinion too much, but don't discount the smaller schools just because they're small.
     
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  12. Jak119

    Jak119 Member

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    That's actually just what I needed to hear, yesterday I was thinking about this and I'm starting to really consider some of our smaller state schools as a very viable option.
     
  13. CynicWhisper

    CynicWhisper Member

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    You listed all excellent schools. I'm a freshman in college now and most of those schools were on the top of my list. I also had SUNY Purchase on my list which is cheaper and has a very strong program. Emerson in Boston was also on my list. In fact I had sent in my acceptance papers to Emerson when the head recruiter for Southern Methodist University called me. I went to visit SMU and from the second I walked into their theatre building and talked to the professors, my choice was made, hands down to go to SMU. Emerson and SUNY didn't hold a candle to it.

    SMU is expensive, but really generous with scholarships which is not so true for most of the schools I was looking at. I got half off my tuition on just merit money, and that's true for a lot of people going here. Mainly I chose it because I could study more than just theatre. That was my problem with most of the conservatories, they didn't even offer classes in the sciences. I agree with some of the former posters that to do this, you absolutely have to study more than just theatre to be good at theatre. I was considering a minor in electrical engineering, most schools I was looking at didn't even offer a single class in it. Plus, all of their programs are huge, which is lovely in some ways, but in others you're just one of a crowd. Here, I know all of the professors, I get to have regular meetings with them to figure out how everything is going. Our program is really small in a relatively big school. There are 3 under grad design majors because the undergrad design program is brand new. The grad program is already well known, but this is the first year of the undergrad. But the program will always be small, they don't want more than 5 undergrad tech majors per graduating year. Since it's so small, we have a lot of freedom to design our own majors, minors, concentrations, everything. Right now I'm majoring in tech, minoring in film and taking classes in both theatre and real academics.

    Apologies for the shameless plug, but SMU is the last place I ever would have imagined going last year and right now I'm really glad I chose it. I would go crazy in a strictly conservatory school. Feel free to PM me if you're interested in more info. I went through the harrowing college process last year and I'd love to help if I can.
     
  14. Pie4Weebl

    Pie4Weebl Well-Known Member Fight Leukemia

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    I'm gonna have to differ with you on a lot of your observations about conservatory programs. If you want to do theatre and be good at theatre, go to a conservatory. It is true that you need to study more than just theatre to be good at theatre and conservatory programs are aware of this. At Webster we are required to take several art classes (4 credits away from it being a minor) as well as a variety of non-theatre classes, yes including a science one. If you want to take on a focus of something out of theatre it is doable, but tough. Just a for instance, but I am in an entrepreneurship program outside of the conservatory.

    As far as the programs being large, DTS/M program has around 40 people in it and most of us wish there were more of us as there is just too much to do at the moment. Having more people in a program gives you an opportunity to work with a wide variety of different people and learning how to play nice with other designers is one of the most important things you can do.

    Like any other program you get out what you put in. If you go into a conservatory wanting to focus on just theatre you can do that. On the other hand if you want to broaden the scope of your studies it is difficult, but it can be done. So don't discredit conservatories because the assumed negative connotations.

    If anyone has any questions about conservatories, in particular webster I would be happy to answer them either here or over pm.
     
  15. jwl868

    jwl868 Active Member

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    For what its worth, I don't think that there is a true "minor" in engineering - you either have a BS in Engineering or you don't. That's not to say that it wouldn't be worthwhile taking engineering classes if you are interested.

    Joe
     

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