Grad School Advice: Questions from a prospective student
When I made the decision to apply to get my MFA in Theatre for Youth, I had no idea that that would be the easiest part in the entire process. Between researching the programs, studying for the GRE, completing applications, and preparing for interviews, it almost feels like I have another full time job.
When getting acquainted with MFA in Theatre for Youth programs, the questions I have for the prospective schools sometimes seem endless. The questions vary from inquiries about the department, faculty, financial aid and assistantship opportunities, to outside opportunities and the cost of living in program or school locations. I want the best program that is going to fit my long-term goals and will best fuel my growth as an educator/artist. I also want to find a place where I will enjoy living and working for the next two to three years of my life. Not the easiest task. But luckily, with faculty members and current students making themselves easily accessible for these inquiries, it relieves some of the stress brought upon by the application process to my prospective programs. To be honest, most of these conversations have made me realize that there is no doubt in my mind that graduate study is the next step I want in my career.
So, now I am left finishing my application materials with the stress, nervous excitement, and anticipation for interviews growing every day. With all that in mind, my supervisor at the Omaha Theater Company thought it would be a good idea for me to kick off a discussion here on the blog about things candidates want to know about graduate programs and the admission process. Here are some of the things that I spoke about with prospective programs and will continue to be important in making my graduate program decisions.
1. What is the diversity academically and professionally of the current faculty? What kind of professional affiliations or connections do they have within the TYA community?
2. Are assistantships available? How much do they contribute financially? What different work study options are accessible to students? (TA, administrative, research based, etc) Also, if accepted, do you offer any other financial assistance for students?
3. My experience is varied between performance, administration and recently I have been growing my teaching artist/education experience, but I DO NOT have my undergraduate degree in theater (I have a BA in Communication Arts). Will this lack of an undergraduate degree in theater be an issue during my admission process?
4. What are some of your alumni doing now?
5. What kind of materials would you like to see in a candidate’s portfolio?
6. How much does your GRE score matter in the admission process? Do you have a required score?
7. How flexible is the course of study? Are there any new courses you are currently developing or looking to add in the next two to three years?
8. What qualities are you looking for in incoming students? What do you think makes for a successful student in your program?
Jennifer Guhl is currently a teaching artist intern at the Omaha Theater Company. She received her BA in Communication Arts from Marymount Manhattan College and worked previously for the Orlando Repertory Theatre as their Marketing Manager. She is considering applying for an MFA program in TYA for the fall of 2013
TYA/USA has invited grad students and graduate professors to write blog entries with advice for prospective students.