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How To Politely Decline An Offer

Congratulations! You’ve found the perfect school, but what about the schools who made an offer that you have to turn down? Saying no can be a bit nerve wracking. Here are some helpful hints on how to decline an offer in a polished and professional manner.

Put your fingers on the keyboard or keypad: The college audition process has been long and exhausting. Most likely it’s been just as long and exhausting for the college arts departments. They’ve spent many hours going through pre-screens and applications, showing up to auditions, listening to hundreds of songs and monologues and combing through countless resumes and headshots to find the perfect fit for their program. Now you need to show them the same respect with a personalized response when you’ve made your final decision.

Be Gracious:  Declining an offer can feel uncomfortable. Before cutting to the chase, begin the conversation by showing your appreciation for their time and interest in you. Let them know how much you value being considered for their program.

Avoid the one and done: Whether in an email, over the phone or in person, nothing feels more impersonal than a one-line message declining their offer. Take some time to consider your correspondence. They took the time to go through hundreds of applicants to choose you!

It’s ok to be transparent: It can be very helpful to know why you decided to go with another program. Students should feel free to provide information about their decision making process and why they chose another program. Information and feedback are helpful tools as programs continue to learn and grow. Insights into why or why not a student chooses their program can be valuable information for the future.

Pay them a compliment: Let them know what you liked about their program and point it out! Be certain to let them know what you found special and unique. Make sure you are specific. Were the professors interesting? Were the students friendly? Did you love the campus? Every program brings something unique to the table. A compliment goes a long way.

Remember – It’s a Small World. Professors are often in high demand. You never know when you might run into them again in a master class or as a guest lecturer or director. Make sure you left them with a good impression.

Making the final decision on where you want to spend the next four years of your life is a tough decision for any college bound performer. It involves many highs and lows. It’s often just as hard to decline an offer from a quality program as it is waiting for months and months for the offers to arrive. Just remember one thing, for every door you close, you may open the door for someone else’s journey to begin.

If you need some inspiration – here’s an example to get you started.

Dear Mr./Ms._________,

Thank you very much for your email offering me a position in the freshman musical theatre class of 20__.  I loved my time visiting the campus. My favorite part was participating in a freshman ballet class. The chorography was challenging but lots of fun. While I firmly believe that (­­­­name of school’s) program is exceptional, I have been given another offer, which I believe more closely aligns with my personality, goals and interests. I do appreciate all the courtesy and hospitality extended to me by you and your department, and I wish you and the incoming freshman class all the best.


(Your Name)


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