It seems, of late, that there are independent college audition coaches popping up everywhere. Every month or so during the audition recruitment season, new services appear virtually all over the country, in big cities and small towns, in the Northeast, the Southwest, and the Midwest. Those families who find themselves in the market for a college audition coach need only use Google to see an abundance of offerings. Some of these college advisors also work as private voice or acting coaches, and some are instructors at summer performing arts programs or training facilities.
Currently there are about 20 private advisors throughout the country who have set up shop offering college audition coaching services. And that number increases substantially if you take training schools, summer programs, and online companies into account. Many of those offer a college prep weekend or college audition workshops and seminars. And the largest coaching company for college auditioning, based in New York City, has about 50 individual coaches on their roster (most of whom are recent graduates from BFA college programs). And there are college theater faculty members available for private lessons and master classes focusing on college prep. In fact, more and more university theater, music, and dance departments now have summer pre-college programs.
So what is spurring this trend? I asked my friend and colleague, Amy Rogers, who is writing a book on the BFA musical theater process. Amy is director and founder of the Pace University BFA Musical Theatre program in New York City. Their drama department has a record number of applicants in the thousands.
Amy had this to say: “Roughly a third (this is a very unscientific estimate) of students we see audition use a coach or a coaching company to help them prepare for their college audition. The growing competitive nature of acceptances into BFA theater programs has helped to fuel this relatively new cottage industry of college audition coaches. Families have realized they need help navigating this often overwhelming process, which coaches tend to do very well.”
But does coaching actually give these musical theater hopefuls an advantage in the college admission process? She continues,
“The truth is that while students who have coaches are often very prepared, organized, have strong repertoire choices, and strong audition skills, they do not have any kind of advantage on the final outcome of acceptances. Talent, skill, and potential will get you accepted regardless if you are using a coach or not.”