I’m thinking of applying to university drama programs in the US, but I still have two years before I apply. I’m trying to decide how to make the most of my summers and better my chances of getting in. What are good summer theatre programs and do they help you get accepted?
Especially as an international student, I think that doing a summer theatre program in the US is a fantastic way to learn more about the field, the requirements for applying to various schools, and gives you the opportunity to meet other applicants and professors from the top university programs. A number of schools with the most competitive performing arts programs also offer pre-college summer courses, including NYU Tisch, University of Michigan (MPulse), Carnegie Mellon University, University of Southern California, Emerson College, Boston University, and University of North Carolina School for the Arts. Many of these schools have options for both straight acting as well as musical theatre. Even though you still have two years ahead of you, I would encourage you to look into the degree programs each University offers and then apply to the summer programs at the schools that most interest you.
In addition to summer programs offered by specific universities, you also have the option of pursuing summer theatre through independent camps and programs that have specialized acting and musical theatre courses. I, personally, spent two summers training at Interlochen Center For the Arts and my time there could not have been more valuable. They do a wonderful job preparing you for a career in the industry and are able to answer any of your questions regarding college auditions and the process. Moreover, it is a beautiful place to spend a summer and I made lifelong friends across disciplines from all over the world. Other summer theatre programs that are notable and are not attached to a specific university program include Stagedoor Manor and French Woods Festival of the Performing Arts - both located in New York state.
All this being said, attending one of these programs is no guarantee that you will get into a degree program, and not attending a program is no guarantee that you will not get in. If you have a community theatre that you enjoy working with back home, or you need to get a summer job, or you would rather focus on just taking voice lessons or dance lessons - you will not necessarily be at a disadvantage when and if you choose to audition for collegiate theatre programs. Assess what your priorities are, peruse your options, do your homework, and make the decision that you think is best for you and your goals.