Personally the 'start date' always feels like it should be heralded with a fanfare or something, as the next round of the carousel takes off.
It's always an interesting few months auditioning people. Every year is always so different, which of course in turn leads to every year group being so different. As we are student led, as opposed to 'course led' - and by that, I mean that our entire course is essentially written around the year group that we have, as opposed to having the 'model course' which the year group need to fit into. This approach keeps us on our toes, and as teachers makes us have to work even harder.
This is the reason that I will only employ people that are actively working in the industry, as our course also needs to adapt each year to what the industry is asking of performers. So for example, last year for the first time we had to add a self tape component as that is the 'audition preference' of the moment. Who knows what it'll be be this year. However I know that I have a great team within my faculty who will shout out (loud) if we're getting wrong, and more importantly shout loudly if we've suddenly become dated.
I don't know how students are going to chose their courses this year. I mean it's appalling that the Drama UK site is still live, when the organisation itself closed a few weeks ago? It still implies that there is group of colleges that have been approved under a strict criteria. Now if you've followed any of my blogs you'll know that I've always had an issue with this, as it's clearly been an 'stamp of approval' peer led, by the same group of people for years. I mean it's worth stating again that all the colleges on that list were not re-tested to get accredited back in 2013 or whenever it was it reformed - so they are NOT an elite list. They are a list of convenience.
That said there are some brilliant colleges on that list that are truly doing the business...but there are also some colleges that aren't delivering the goods at the moment.
It's hard...we're about to audition our 9th year group, which still makes us a baby in real terms.
Even since I started the college in 2009 there's been such a change in the industry. So many more courses, the existing courses suddenly doubling their intake (and yes, this is a dig...doubling their intake without doubling their pastoral support systems). So what advice to give to the incoming class of 2017?
It's the usual actually - audition in as many places as you can afford and go with your gut instinct BUT start asking for facts too. As there are some pretty big, well established colleges, actually doing rubbish out there....and there are some smaller colleges doing exceptionally well. So get the facts and ensure that you stand a good chance of recouping your fees at least by working.
I would add one thing to parents. . . get advice from 'real people' - not the online experts. Phone colleges up and ask them what the 'real deal' is? If you were buying a car for £30k you'd want to know cold, hard facts - you wouldn't be satisfied with hearing a mate telling you that they had bought one and it was OK...you'd want to invest your money wisely surely?
Finally...and we're a long way off this. I wish that people would include what pastoral care their students were really getting into the equation. Don't fall for the 'we've got this and that' and 'we've got a policy on this and that' - go to the shows, and speak to the students and ask them what care they are getting in real terms.
NB: Blatant Advertising:
Auditioning #theMTAway involves spending the day with us. You'll be auditioned by the people that are going to train you...as we see no point in getting in 'experts' as they won't know what the course is able to do for you. You'll do a few workshops, you'll sing a solo, say a monologue, you'll have time to look around, chat to the current students/staff, very often time to chat to graduates as they're always around. That evening you'll get written feedback and our decision. No faffing about with recalls etc as your audition day will only have between 15 - 20 applicants in it. So we will really be able to 'see' you. We then ask all auditionees for feedback to ensure that we're giving value for money etc. In 8 years of auditioning 100% of applicants have felt like they've received value for money, a large majority of them have actually thought that we've delivered more than required. Most applicants like the fact that we know your name by the end of the morning. Most applicants wish that they could sing more than one song too....but there you go ;-)