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What Should Prospective Students Look For On College Tours?

For some students, it's the moment of ultimate clarity: The second they set foot on campus, they're hooked. But for others, touring a potential college can be overwhelming. What exactly should you be on the lookout for? And can you really get a feel for the whole college in one day?


Dos and Don’ts on Tour Day

Do ask to observe class. If class observations aren't a routine part of the tour, ask the dance department if you can sit in on one while you're there. Watch how the professor interacts with students, the teaching style and the level of technique.

Don't just tour the dance facilities. Dancers can get laser-focused on the studios and theaters, but you should explore as much of the campus as possible to get a sense of day-to-day life. Visit the dorms, the student union, the libraries, academic classrooms and other spaces where you'll be spending time.

Do your research. Before arriving, thoroughly read the college's website and peruse the dance department's social media. "Know who the faculty are and what they do so you can ask informed questions," says Dan Froot, professor and former chair of UCLA's Department of World Arts and Cultures/Dance. This is an opportunity to make a good first impression.

Don't get distracted by the glamour. Of course, everyone wants to dance in a gorgeous studio with floor-to-ceiling windows, but don't let the glitz factor overshadow the actual training. "See what the facilities are, but that's really the tip of the iceberg," Froot says. "It's much more about what goes on in those facilities."

Lock Down the Logistics

Don't forget to cover the basics while you're touring. Syde Orange, interim undergraduate coordinator for the dance department at Rutgers University, encourages students to ask about the following:

Transportation Find out the best way to get to class. Is there a campus-wide bus system? A convenient subway route? A shuttle?

Dining Look into what kinds of meal plans are offered and where the dining halls are located.

Housing Some universities offer living-learning communities where performing arts students can all live together in the same dormitory. Inquire about whether or not living on campus is mandatory, and what the off-campus housing options are.

Health care In addition to on-campus infirmaries and hospitals, find out about access to athletic trainers and physical therapists.

Safety Ask about what measures the college takes to keep students safe. At some universities, like Rutgers, a campus security officer will pick you up from the library at night and drop you off directly in front of your dorm.

A Virtual Visit

Sometimes it isn't possible to visit all your college options in person, but thanks to the pandemic, nearly every university now offers a way to virtually tour the campus. Check the college's website for these opportunities, and take advantage of online open houses. At some, like Rutgers University, prospective dance students can even take a virtual master class with a faculty member.

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This concept is the throughline of the curriculum at American Musical and Dramatic Academy, where dance students spend all four years honing their audition skills.

"You're always auditioning," says Santana Trujillo, AMDA's dance outreach manager and a graduate of its BFA program. On campus in Los Angeles and New York City, students have access to dozens of audition opportunities every semester.

For advice on how dancers can put their best foot forward at professional auditions, Dance Magazine recently spoke with Trujillo, as well as AMDA faculty members Michelle Elkin and Genevieve Carson. Catch the whole conversation below, and read on for highlights.

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July 2021