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How do I Choose the Best Acting Colleges?

By D. Jeffress
Updated Feb 19, 2024
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Most professional actors and actresses that work on film or on the stage have received extensive training at accredited acting colleges. An acting college may be an entire school dedicated to instructing hopeful performers, or a specialized division of a university or community college providing degrees in theater. Choosing the best acting colleges entails researching the credentials of a program and teachers, determining the types of programs offered, and examining the success of previous graduates. Completion of a respected acting program can be a very influential segment of a new actor's resume and portfolio.

A person who is exploring different acting colleges should first determine whether or not certain schools have been accredited. Most acting programs at community colleges and public universities are accredited by governing boards that require them to meet high academic standards. Professional organizations, such as the National Association of Schools of Theatre in the United States, provide accreditation to independent acting colleges that offer quality education and performance opportunities to students. Information about a school's credentials can usually be obtained by speaking with admissions counselors or other staff on campus.

Once accreditation has been confirmed, a prospective actor can look into curricula that best suit his or her aspirations. Some schools focus more on film production, while others concentrate on preparing individuals for stage acting. A person who hopes to act on Broadway, then, would likely choose a school that is more geared toward stage productions. Many independent schools award specialized certificates or diplomas upon graduation, while universities frequently offer bachelor's and master's of fine arts degrees for successful students. An individual can usually get a clear idea of the type of curricula and degrees offered by perusing college brochures and online resources.

Equally important are the credentials, resumes, and specialties of teachers and other faculty members. An experienced, respected acting teacher can greatly influence the success of his or her students. Knowledgeable school personnel ensure that new actors develop all of the skills necessary to work professionally. As with the curriculum itself, teachers' preferences for film or stage acting should be taken into consideration.

The success of recent graduates can be a good indicator of whether certain acting colleges are worthwhile. Schools that consistently produce well-prepared actors who enjoy many job opportunities are usually considered to be the best. If such information is not expressly stated in brochures or on an acting school's website, an individual can ask admissions counselors about the likelihood of finding work after graduation.

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Discussion Comments
By jonrss — On Feb 05, 2012

I think it is important for the instructors at acting colleges to have current professional experience. Many of them have worked in the industry at some point but then retreated into their offices to live the lives of academics.

Their memories of the stage get foggy and their ideas about acting get too gummed up by the pressure of academia to over intellectualize things. Acting is a practical craft and you need instructors that can draw on real world experience to help you become the professional you want to be.

By summing — On Feb 05, 2012

One good tip I heard when choosing a good acting school is to look at the quality of not just the acting program but the quality of the entire performing arts college.

Actors almost never act alone. As part of films or plays they collaborate with other artists to create pieces that reflect and combine all of their artistic contributions. The quality of the work around you effects your own. So actors are made better by good directors, and set designers and sound engineers.

When you are picking an acting school look at the other departments where the school is considered strong. If they seem like fruitful collaborators you might consider that school more strongly.

By gravois — On Feb 04, 2012

There is a lot to be gained from going to acting college but this has more to do with who you meet than what you learn.

Like a lot of jobs, acting is best learned from experience. You get better at it once you start doing it a lot, especially in a professional setting because it is, first and foremost, a job.

You can learn a lot in acting college, but no one is made or broken by their acting education. What you can get from gong to a great acting college though is contacts within the industry and mentors who can help you get your foot in the door. Professors at some of the more prestigious colleges have a lot of contacts and the industry is always looking for fresh new talent.

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