Parent Blog: Advice for navigating the admission & audition process

October 29, 2018

Two young women with parents in USC clothing

USC Kaufman freshman Bella Allen and senior Alyssa Allen with parents Chris and Teri Allen | Photo by Cecile Oreste

By Bella Allen

As a freshman at USC Kaufman, I can still feel the stress this time of year brings because of the college application and audition process. I am the kind of student that prefers individual projects over group projects; and so, I believed this approach would work best for me in the college application process as well. I was quickly proven wrong when I began to feel overwhelmed by the abundance of questions, essays, and portfolios I needed to complete by myself and the lack of time I had to do all this work.

Thankfully, my parents were there to help me. Even though I denied their help in the beginning, I realized that I would need them for support, organization, and so much more. I know I would not have been successful without their readiness to be there for me throughout the application and audition process in whatever way I needed. They helped me in so many ways, whether it be putting together documents with essay prompts I had to complete, going through the financial aid application with me, or simply listening while I vented about my stress.

If I could give one piece of advice to parents navigating the crazy admission and audition process, I would say: listen to what your child wants, but know that they will need you more than they may lead on. Here is advice for parents—from my parents and parents of other BFA students—about how to help their students:

Firsthand experience from Bella’s parents

“The more the student puts into it, the more they will get out of it.”
– Chris Allen, parent of Bella Allen (Class of 2022) and Alyssa Allen (Class of 2019)

“My recommendation would be to browse the application process on each school’s website to get a feel of differences and similarities, as well as the ease or complexity of navigating the website and specific requirements. It’s helpful when the child and parent work together through the application process. That way if one forgets something then the other can be the reminder and vice versa.”
Teri Allen, parent of Bella Allen (Class of 2022) and Alyssa Allen (Class of 2019)

Words of advice from parents of BFA freshmen

“As your child looks at different BFA programs/schools, ask them to share their specific likes and dislikes about the programs. Not in the vein of how nice the dorm rooms are or the cafeteria (it’s okay to really like the weather though), but more along the lines of what things they like most and least about the program, curriculum, faculty, and opportunities for growth. Then, narrow the number of schools to which they will apply. Six to seven schools is a very manageable number. Any more than that gets to be too confusing. Your child will tend to like a little bit from each one and never find enough of the things they do like in one place.”
– Nilda Gumbs, parent of Nina Gumbs (Class of 2022)

“Don’t get caught in the hysteria of ‘best.’ There is no ‘best’ program. There is the program that is ‘best for your child.’ Also, some colleges offer early admission opportunities, though dance festivals such as Dancing through College and Beyond in NYC. These could allow you the luxury of knowing that your child has a place in a program(s) and choosing to audition for ones your child truly prefers. It’s such a busy time, so it’s good not to spread yourself too thin, if at all possible.”
– Hanne Larsen, parent of India Dobbie (Class of 2022)

“Have a heart-to-heart conversation with your student about the schools of interest. Research those programs, and maintain an open mind throughout the process. This will help the student make an informed decision on where to apply. It will also position the parent/guardian to provide guidance. This will help the student through the application process, and ultimately the decision on where to attend after getting accepted.”
– Terrence Powell, parent of Jordan Powell (Class of 2022)

Keeping an open mind

“Help your child keep an open mind to avoid limiting their options. This includes keeping an open mind when it comes to a school’s ‘advertised sticker price.’ Once they have been accepted and know the financial requirements for each, make an informed decision as a family.”
– Robyn Vesperman, parent of Adam Vesperman (Class of 2020)