Deciding on the next steps after undergraduate studies can be can be a bit tough. However, if there is even some inclination to go to graduate school then URTA (University/Resident Theatre Association) would be a perfect next step. I have composed a sequence of steps to aid any theatre undergraduate student in the graduate search based on my own recent experience. One thing to remember is that there are many options for a future in theatre, graduate school is only one of them.

  1. 1.      Reflect

Take your time. Deciding to go to graduate school takes the same amount of time and dedication as actually completing grad school. The best way to find out if grad school is for you to ask yourself, “What would I like to do for the rest of my life even if I didn’t get paid to do it?” If the answer is unanimously theatre then grad school is a great future where you will continue to develop your theatre design/ technical skills as well as learn new methods hands –on with professionals in the field. While you are at it, you might want to answer a few other questions on if grad school will be right for you.

-What do I expect to get out of grad school?

-What area or areas do I want to study? Do I want to study an area outside of theatre also?

-What locations would be best for me in terms of education and opportunities?

-Is teaching a crucial component of my graduate career?

-What would I do if I didn’t get into grad school? Or couldn’t do theatre anymore?

This list of questions will both help to talk to a mentor to the full extent and prepare you mentally in order to own your decision.

  1. 2.      Discuss

Talking with an instructor or anyone that has been through this process will be a great help. They will be able to generate a list of credible schools as well as a list of schools that gear more to your own studies and interests. Make sure you write all of these schools down and star all the ones that really interest you. This step will get you on your way to grad school. A good mentor will also help you throughout the process in answering any questions that you may have.

  1. 3.      Research

Look into all of the schools your mentor mentions to you. Find out:

-Their location

-The tuition

-Their scholarships/assistantships and any financial aid

-Their courses

-What jobs past graduates obtained

-Who the faculty are

-Nearby apartments

-The amount of shows you will get to work on

Determine what makes each school unique to set them apart from other schools. Then narrow your list to about five.

  1. 4.      Prepare

When it comes to preparation there are two main aspects to prepare: your portfolio and your interviews. Since URTA is a combination of portfolio review and college interview, most of the work that will have to be done will be for this step. For URTA there are three types of “portfolios” to create: hard copy form, a website, and a display. While putting together these displays of your work just remember to be yourself. Anyone can create a portfolio that is beautiful, but few can create one that captures the essence of who you are and what you can bring to any school. Putting these together will in the end prepare you for your interviews at URTA. As with your portfolios answer all questions truthfully and allow the interviewer to feel a connection with you. This will help you and them in finding the best future company.

  1. 5.      Attend

Make sure you make all the plans to attend URTA, meaning paying all the fees, deciding how you will spend your weekend, and making sure you have everything that you need to impress. URTA will be the most strenuous interview process ever and visiting the URTA website will prepare you for this journey ( Just remember to dress your best, bring a notebook to take down notes, and be personable. The day will fly by and schools will soon begin to merge together. Above all, be honest and be yourself.

  1. 6.      Contact

After URTA be sure to thank everyone that took the time to interview you. These people obviously saw something that they liked in you and reminding them of what sets you apart from the remaining applicants and of your unique traits which may be what they base their decision on.

  1. 7.      Visit

Make sure you make all the plans to take a visit of a campus or two, especially the ones that you are most interested in. There are many great schools in the Midwest and due to their proximity to each other a devoted weekend to college visits may yield visits to at least three schools, which was my case. At each campus that I visited there were four major parts for each visit. The first part was a tour. This is a great way to take in the full experience and ask any questions if something doesn’t look as promised. This may also include the attendance to a class or two. The next component is a lunch with the current grad students. This is the time to impress the current students as well as ask anything about the student experience. Just remember that the lunch is another informal interview that may or may not affect the school’s decision. The third component is a portfolio review with faculty that have not seen your work yet. This is a time to pretend you are at URTA again and remember everything that you have learned up until this point. Remember that you are in control of the situation and focus even more time on the projects that you feel the best about. The last component will be a wrap-up. This is a great time to ask any final questions and to leave the school with a great final impression of yourself on them.

  1. 8.      Inform

Many schools that you visit and that are interested in you will want to know how the remainder of your visits went. Keep them informed and remember to include any information on current work you are working on to show that you are a well-rounded candidate that has a lot of experience under their belt.

  1. 9.      Hope

Just remember that whatever happens is for the best. If you do not receive any offers there is always next year and maybe you will receive a better offer. Just take in all the criticism that you may have received from the different schools and you can return to URTA the following year at full force.

  1. 10.  Decide

As all the offers come in, make sure you find the best one for you. You are the only person at that point that can make any type of decision. Just remember your entire journey and you will make the best decision for you.

Hopefully these steps allowed for an insight into your future or at least gave you something to think about. No matter what happens, good luck and always remember your passion for theatre.