What school(s) should I look at?


Well-Known Member
I am in 11th grade, and it seems like it would be a good time to start thinking about what schools to look at.

I want to go to a theater conservatory. I do not want to have to take math and english and history and science for anything outside of theater (the physics of sound waves/the physics of electricity, etc). I want to major in lighting design for theater's, but I want to still study sound and stage management and set design and run crew things and all of that stuff.

As I said, I want to go to a small conservatory school for technical theater. I'm looking to go somewhere in the North East, but will go somewhere else depending on the school and where it is. I know that SUNY Purchase is a really good school, but I can't go there because I live only 20 minutes away from that school.

I really have no idea where to look at schools. A friend I have who is a senior went down to North Carolina to look at the arts conservatory down there, and told me a lot of REALLY good things about that school. He is going for acting, but asked about the tech program as well for me.

Does anyone have any suggestions for what schools to look at. The only schools that come to my school to talk are liberal arts schools, which are great, but its not the type of program I'm looking for.
im a jounior too. my ld told me to check into university of indiana evanesville. universisty of illinios i hear is good. two people iworked with over the summer have theatre degrees from there.
Hey, as a high school senior I was in the same position that you are today, only I could not afford to go anywere private or far away from home. So I chose a regional college with a relativly small theatre department with a relativly newer facility. I chose Saginaw Valley State Univeristy, in Michigan (roughly located where your thumb meats your index finger) where there are only 3 full time faculty, and an 8 year old facility with a black box, recital hall, and proscenium theatre. Even though the tech program is small, I get to work on every show, doing what I want to do. I designed lights for our spring musical my freshman year of college. And as a sophomore I will be designing lights for 2 of our 4 (or 3 of our 6 if we add summer shows this year). This is all very good experience to help me become a better lighitng designer. I will leave the university with a degree in Theatre with a minor in management (then off to get a MFA in lighting design). I feel that this is a great expierence for me because I actually get to work and have input upon the shows from the get go, and not have to wait to be a senior just to work on a show like other universities. I am also coupleing my college expierence with a job as a stagehand at the local theatre/arena event center, where I learn tips of the trade while making contacts with people in the field.

I hope this helps you in some way, sorry that I could not give you any colleges to go to, but sometimes it is not where you go but the expierence that you get from where you do go.

Anonymous said:

If your looking for a small conservatory style theater program you should definately look into Boston University (where i am currently a sophmore)

I heard someone say we are considered to be in the top 3 theater conservatory programs in the country. BU itself is gigantic, but the theater and especially the Design and Production part is tiny and self contained, our classes are not even on the same campus as everyone else. The work load is quite large, but worth while. We have pretty much all theater/design related courses, and work on the numerous shows and other productions BU does every year. You spend a ton of time in class nd doing work but also a ton of time working as an electrician for the shows, or in the scene shop. whats also really cool is that we share out space with the Huntington Theatre company, a proffessional company so there are many opportunities to work for them (and get paid).

if you want more info, drop me a PM and I'd be more than happy to talk


I would love to here about the school. I have a friend who has a friend who is in the lighting design program, and I heard through the grape vine good things about it. What do you need to do to get into the theater part of the college? How big a group is it? Do you need to take all of the other courses (english, history, math, etc.) in things not relating to theater?

I would send you a PM, but, your either not logged in or registered. If you wouldn't mind dropping me an email, or IMing me, I'd love to find out about the school.

My email is [email protected] and my AIM is hls8891.

Thanks a lot
If Dan and Zac (and everyone else) dont mind, could you post this info in this thread? I would be interested in hearing this info about BU, as it is currently on my list of "colleges to consider."

I would also like to ask, is it possible to be involved with the "theator part of the college" while persuing a degree in something completely different? (say Computer engineering as an example) I really enjoy doing tech, but i am really not sure if it is something I can make a career out of completely by its self. (I realy would like to continue working in tech though, just probably it would end up being local volunteer type stuff once i am out of college)

Thanks for the info!
Here is what Dan emailed me earlier today:


I don't know why my username (disc2slick, which doubles as my AIM) is not showing up on my posts recently, oh well.

I'm not entirely sure what the process is to apply for the theatre program at BU. My situation is kind of unique in that I started out in a different part of BU and then transfered into the theatre program. I know you have to come in for an interview and portfolio review session, which is kind of intimidating (i know I was scared shitless for mine) but its really not that bad. The important thing to keep in mind when constructing you portfolio is to keep in mind thatr they are not necessarily looking for someone who is a great lighting designer, rather they are looking for someone with the potential to become a great lighing designer, so don't worry if you don't have tons of light plots and stuff, or even tons of stuff in the portfolio. Really any sort of artwork you have done, photography, drawings, anythign like that is great. My portfolio, as it turned out, was
mostly actual working drawings and stuff I had done, but a balance is probably even better. You also need three letters of recommendation from whoever. They are pretty forgiving in this respect
also, two of my letters were from students and friends of mine who I had worked with. I dunno the most specific stuff you can get from the website (i'll give you the link at the end of this very long

The Design and Production part of BU is tiny, though BU itself is huge. BU has about 30,000 people counting undergrads and grads. The D&P department has about 150 people counting grads and undergrads. We all take all of our classes in the same buildings, and work next to each
other on the work calls. Its a very close-knit group, with tons of mutual respect between teachers and students. Everyone is on a frist name basis with one another, students, teachers, even the director of the department.

You are required to take some classes outside of the department but just a few. I believe you are reqiured to take 1 semester olf history, 2 semesters of Writing (which is a joke) and 2 semesters of art history. Art history is taken your sophmore year, the others, freshman year usually.

The way classes and such work, is that you take all your classes, then on top of that you are (as a Lighting designer, which is what you are intersted in right?) you will be assigned to work on one specific shows, probably as the assitant master electrian, which basically translates to the ME's bitch and board-op. You are also required to go to all of the hang and focus calls at the two smaller spaces that are campus, on top of this you may be called to go to any call at the alrger
paces off campus. Basically, expect to work long hours, never leave the theatre, and to not have any friends outside of the program.

if you want mroe info check out http://www.bu.edu/but

Dan here, from earlier, I'm, actually signed in now.

in response to peter:

I can only speak from my experience here at BU, but this is what I found.

it is very very easy to keep doing tech in college without being in the tech. program so long as you are at a decent sized college. Here at BU there about a zillion and a half different theatre groups that are not affiliated with the College of Fine Arts. All of these are constantly looking for experienced people to do tech for them. also, I know BU has a thing called "production for non-majors" which is basically anyone (who can convince the higher ups of CFA) can work on a CFA show and get credit for it. hope that helps, you can PM with more questions

Thanks Dan for the Below Post too! I will be sure to bug you with more questions if BU works it's way to the top of my choices list! At this point, I am still to busy with scholarship and application paperwork to figure out this stuff. I am going to buckle down and make a final decision about where I am going to go once I see which colleges I get into (I am applying to a BUNCH), and I will be needing as much of this nitty gritty advice as I can find!

Thanks again!

(sorry for the short posts, this convo is happening almost like a chatroom!)
Too bad you can't get a full ried at Full Sail...
I havent look tooo much into Full Sail and what they offer for scholarships. I am setup fairly well for scholarships, which is why I am just applying to all kinds of schools and worrying $$ and really deciding between them when I figure out where I have been accepted and what each place is giving me for financial Aid. (MA state schools are already offering me a full ride.... so there's always a fall back there!)

I guess right now the reason I havent really looked into full sail too much is, it's in FL, and I realy dont want to go too far out of the Northeast (USA), and I think I want to get a degree in Computer Engineering or Science with a minor (or dual major, or sometheing like that, it depends on the school) in Business, or Management, or MAYBE teaching.

Because of this, I have been Primarialy been looking at MIT (MA), Worcester Polytech (MA), and Rensilier Polytech (NY), Boston Univeristy (MA), Northeastern (MA) and a few others. If anyone has more info on these schools, I would love to hear it! Thanks for everyone's help so far!

I am of course, somewhat partial to my own school (BU), but of the ones you mentioned I am quite certain we have the best theatre program by far. MIT is obviously a good choice for comp. engineering though it won't get you anywhere in terms of business or teaching. I don't know much about Northeastern or either of the polytech schools you mentioned. hope it helps.

I am a sophmore in high school, and i am in Thespians, and i hope to attend a school for tech, so this is very helpful...
I am currently a technical theatre student at Longwood University. I love it here. I'm only a freshman, but this year I have gotten more experience than I did through most of high school.
The one suggestion I can make is to go to a school without a graduate program. The reason i have gotten so many opportunities this year is because there are no graduate students.
Although I sometimes wish I didn't have to take math/science/etc, I feel that those general education classes are very important. It's interesting sometimes to see how those general ed classes come in handy. Take, for example, last semester we do a show called "Proof." If you're not familar with the show, it's basically about math proofs. Now, during the production I had no idea what any of the math lines meant. This semester, however, I am in my general education math course. And in that course we are discussing elementary proofs. The show now makes more sense to me than it did when I was involved in the show. I can't tell you to take those general education courses, but I have found that they really do help.
Good luck on your college hunt!

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