Imagine a gorgeous spring day on a college campus: art students sketching and painting out in the courtyard, music majors writing a song in one of the many gazebos on campus, and theatre students practicing their lines with the auditorium doors open to let in some fresh air.  That’s actually pretty typical on a warm spring day at Belmont University.  Belmont is located in the heart of Nashville, a city known for its appreciation and passion for the arts.  Belmont University has 7,200 students studying in a variety of disciplines ranging from the arts to the health sciences, music business, religion, liberal arts, and the sciences.  Our men’s basketball team has made it to the NCAA tournament again while also boasting one of the strongest academic records in the NCAA.

As the Admissions Coordinator for the College of Visual and Performing Arts, I work with students (and their families and counselors) as they navigate the admissions process.  I often am asked what steps students, families, and counselors can take to help the college application process be less stressful, especially with auditions and portfolios looming.  Here are my best tips:

Research each school’s application process.  Each school’s admissions process will be a little bit different based on how the general and arts admission processes work together.  For example, Belmont requires that each student submit an application to the university (with deadlines for general academic merit scholarship consideration) plus specify a major on the application.  For students who plan to major in the visual and performing arts, an email gets sent to each applicant about the portfolio or audition process once your application gets submitted.  Visual and performing arts applicants at Belmont can complete their portfolios or auditions while waiting on the academic admissions decision to the university, while other schools will require that the student be admitted academically before moving forward with anything related to the arts program.

Familiarize yourself with the application requirements/timeline for each school.  Know each school’s deadlines for applying and for scholarship consideration so you can map it all out on your calendar and avoid missing any important deadlines.  Getting things in early ahead of deadlines will cause less stress for everyone.

Do your homework about the audition/portfolio requirements.  Know what each school is requesting as part of the audition or portfolio process.  A student may need to adjust what he or she submits as part of an audition or portfolio depending on the school because of what they may be looking for during the review process.  Belmont’s School of Music has very specific audition requirements for each instrumental area based on the intended major and the Theatre program requests different materials for students pursuing Set Design, Directing, Performance, or Theatre Education.  If a student has any questions about the requirements, get in touch with the school to clarify.  It never hurts to ask!

Keep a “cheat sheet” for each school.  Keep all of the important details for each school in one place so you can easily find details about the admissions counselors, deadlines, etc.  Include a section for notes of your first impressions, how your program seems to fit into the campus environment, areas for future questions, and anything else important.

By Maren Bishop
Admissions Coordinator for the College of Visual and Performing Arts
Belmont University