Myth Busters – My First Month As A Musical Theatre Freshman
I’ve officially been a Musical Theatre major and Dance minor at Otterbein University for a month. College life is both everything I expected it would be, but nothing like I thought it would be at the same time. The journey to become a college theatre major is intense and many times overwhelming, but once you’re over the hurdle of pre-screens, auditions and offers the experience of entering college, as a freshman looks pretty much the same for all majors. Ok, maybe not exactly the same, getting up for an 8AM dance class and finishing rehearsals at 11PM if you’re cast in a show is not the schedule that a political science major would have, but theatre kids are used to being extra. I did have pre-conceived ideas about what college life would be like, some I got right and some, not so much.
Things I Got Right!
- I knew making an 8AM dance class would be hard, but after the first couple days, that early morning alarm is brutal…seriously. The first few days were a breeze because of new school adrenaline, but after that, it gets harder and harder to get yourself out of your dorm on time. Quick Tip! Lay out your clothes and put homework or dance shoes in your backpack for the next day. It makes the morning so much easier, and there’s less chance you’ll forget something when you’re running out the door at 7:55.
- You NEED alone time! Socializing in college is important, don’t get me wrong, but your workload and timelines are in overdrive. When your friends invite you out the night before you have a paper due, stop for a second; get your priorities straight and finish that paper. When the weekend comes around, you have nothing to worry about! Yeah, I know, it’s cliché, but I’ve learned the hard way.
- Getting around campus is a workout. If possible, get a bike! Unfortunately, I’m a student without a bike, so I definitely get my steps in every day. As an MT major and Dance minor, walking can take a toll on your legs and body. Even though walking is excellent exercise, carrying a heavy backpack and speed walking across concrete from 8-4 every day can take a toll on your body. So, if possible invest in a bike – you get just as much exercise and an extra bonus, you get to classes faster.
- Campus. Food. Is. Not. Good. I didn’t expect it would be fine dining, but it’s not even close. Find the things in your campus cafeteria that are decent, and then build room in your budget to go out and buy some protein bars, fruit with a longer lifespan, and snacks you can carry with you to class. Even if you’re a Musical Theatre major, you’re still susceptible to the “Freshman 15”! Remember, diet is part of the major too! On the weekend, splurge a little.
- Organization and prioritization is the #1 key to staying sane. There’s literally no better feeling than waking up with all your assignments for the day finished. Making an excuse to your professor, asking for another day, or throwing it together at the last minute is not the way to roll in college. If you prioritize assignments, as they’re due, and space out larger project workloads – you’ll help maintain your sanity.
Things I Got Wrong!
- I wasn’t thrilled with the idea of sharing a bathroom, but I’ve discovered community bathrooms are NOT that bad! Have your shower caddy, get yourself in and out of the shower in a timely manner, and you’ll be fine. Everyone else feels just as awkward as you do, so you’ll survive.
- I thought I would be exhausted every day. Classes can be intense, but you’re not always dead on your feet. After about a week, your body starts becoming accustomed to the new schedule, and everything slowly starts to become easier as the days go by. Yes, you’ll have some rough days, but for the most part, everything starts feeling normal.
- I know, we’re drama kids, but you do NOT need to socialize every night of the week! My day begins at 6:45AM and doesn’t usually end until after 4PM. If you’re like me, you slow down on the need to socialize and quickly find the benefits of sitting quietly in your room, doing your homework, and going to bed at a semi-decent hour. Of course, not everyone is like that; I just found that’s what works for me.
- Excuses don’t work in college! I’m sure some kids don’t do their homework and skip classes regularly, but that is not the case for theatre majors. Theatre programs are small, close-knit communities. Everyone knows who is making an effort and who isn’t, especially your professors. Take a few hours, finish your essays, projects and dumb worksheets, and go to bed! You’ve worked too hard to get here to throw it away.
- DO NOT FOCUS ON OTHER PEOPLE! Of course, having friends and being social is a huge factor in college, but you are your first priority! Work on being your best possible self – it’s the most rewarding thing you can do!
So these are just a few insights into my first few weeks as an MT major. Not every school is the same, obviously, but it’s all the same major…so every program has similarities. Take what I say with a grain of salt, and know every college experience will vary from person to person. I hope these little pieces of advice help you survive AT LEAST the first semester of your freshman year! I’ll keep you updated as my year progresses, but for now, work on getting your college list finalized, your pre-screens submitted and your applications started. Before you know it, you’ll be a freshman and living the college theatre life.