While applying to college theatre programs how much do your essays matter
When I was auditioning for college theatre programs, this was actually a question that was asked frequently during Q&A sessions with parents and program information sessions. The consensus I gleaned from nearly every school and administrator I heard from was: your audition takes precedent. The first thing that will influence whether or not you are accepted to theatre programs that require auditions is, simply, your audition. Only whether they are unsure about you or your audition will they look at the rest of your application, your essays, your grades, etc. That’s not to say they don’t matter at all – they do look at them, but first priority is your audition. For some programs that involve longer callback processes, like Juilliard, they look to your essays and other required application questions during that second phase, and therefore your essay should help paint of fuller picture of who you are as a performer.
In terms of schools whose theatre programs do not require auditions, such as Northwestern, your essays and other application materials will clearly carry more weight. In general, I’d say that while your essays shouldn’t cause you to lose sleep (whether you’re applying to a theatre program or not!), it’s just another opportunity for admissions to get a more complete idea of who you are and what your goals are.