When it comes to finding the ideal undergraduate dance program for you, some fancy footwork may be in order. Annual college rankings can help you make the right steps toward a rewarding education and career, when accompanied by additional research and some personal introspection.
Annual rankings put forth by such organizations as US News and World Report rank institutions according to many factors, including overall academic quality, average SAT scores of the freshman class, number of students continuing on with postgraduate study, and even the size of the library. While some of these factors can be helpful in making your initial selections, they can't tell the whole story.
“I think the rankings are really useful when looking at a college or university overall,” said Ryan Parker, a high school senior in Renton, WA, who is considering his options. “There's more to college life than your major, and while I want a program that will meet my needs as far as academics and my major, I also want to be able to enjoy the entire college experience. And that's where the rankings are particularly useful for me personally.”
You'll want to use these rankings to narrow your initial list of schools based on the criteria that's most salient to you. For example, you may want a college or university that has a more intimate campus and smaller student body or one that is close to home. These rankings can help you make your initial cut.
However, there are a wide variety of considerations that college rankings won't address for the prospective student, which can include factors such as these:
- Do you want a dance program that is narrowly focused or one that includes other aspects of the performing arts?
- Take a tour of the facility. Does the program have several large studios with sprung floors? Are there smaller spaces available for one-on-one instruction?
- Examine the curriculum. Compare the balance between academics and dance, the level of advancement and the difficulty and frequency of technique coursework.
- How many performance opportunities are there during the school year? Are they on campus or in the community? What is the usual audition process?
- Are there guest artists? Who are they? How long will they be in residence? Are there opportunities to study with them?
Remember, dance programs are as unique as their students. You want to find one that will nourish your existing skill set and talents and take you to the next level while providing you with enough performance experience to fill your resume with solid work -- so let rankings take you as far as they can, but after that you'd do well to explore further on your own.
Used wisely, college rankings can help you choreograph a fast and fruitful search for the perfect dance program. When combined with additional program-specific research and campus visits to your short list, these rankings can help you choose a dance program that is perfect for you.
Dance School Resources
- Dance/USA: Advice for Choosing a College
- Dance Magazine: Online College Guide
- Peterson's College Search – Dance
- America's Best Colleges 2007: Dance
- US College Search
- The Princeton Review – Colleges Offering Dance Majors
- America's 25 Hot Schools – Kaplan College Guide – Newsweek
- College Guide for Performing Arts Majors 2007
- The Big Book of Colleges - 2007
- Fiske Guide to Colleges – 2007