This is a monthly column from Juilliard about the nuts and bolts of admissions. Search the archives for previous posts.
Tip #1: Spreadsheets!
Using a spreadsheet to organize your applications is a sure way to reduce stress. Label each column across the x axis with the name of a requirement. Label each row down the y axis with the name of a school.
You can then plug in school names and requirements, and see all in one place what is needed and by when. You can also sort the spreadsheet according to the column headings and compare schools that way. Thus:
Tip #2: Know your deadlines
When is the application due? When are transcripts due? Prescreening recordings? Recommendations? Essays? Make no assumptions—schools have different deadlines for submitting the application. And within each school there may be different deadlines for the various required materials.
If you have set up your spreadsheet, sort by the deadline column to ensure that you keep on track with submitting the application.
Tip #3: Know your requirements
Most schools require transcripts. But when are the transcripts due? Can you send in an unofficial copy, or does the transcript have to be sent officially by the school itself—in which case, you will have to add in time for the school to process your request.
Are recommendations required? How many? What type—Academic? Artistic? How is an artistic recommendation different from an academic recommendation?
Do you have to write a unique essay for each school or can you repurpose an essay for different schools? And if you are reusing an essay that mentions the school by name, did you remember to change the name of the school? Every year I read essays that tell me how much an applicant desires to attend…another school!
If you are required to submit a prescreening recording, is it due at the same time as the application? What repertoire have you chosen? Can at least some of your repertoire serve to meet the requirements at different schools?
Tip #4: Use your time wisely
Once your senior year starts (whether it’s your last year of high school or of undergraduate study), you are going to be very busy. So create your spreadsheet over the summer before senior year and start filling in the deadlines and requirements. You will want to double-check everything once schools’ applications go live, but the head start will save you time later.
Map out your timeline. Take a calendar, mark the application deadline for each program, and then back up from there—When do you need to make your prescreening recording? When do you have to ask your recommenders to submit their letters? When do you have to request your transcripts?
If you are thinking, I don’t have time to do all this, then reframe the question: How can I prepare the best application and audition for each school? Making a spreadsheet and mapping out your timeline will give you a sense of control and reduce your anxiety about getting everything done.
Tip #5: Neatness counts
In addition to having a sense of control over the application process, being organized about deadlines and requirements allows you to be neat. Why does that matter? Just think of the applicant I once encountered who mistyped their own name on their application. The admissions office kept requesting materials and the applicant kept sending them in, but they were all misfiled because the names didn’t match. That was painful.
Avoid the pain. Be organized, be timely, be neat. Remember that you are going through this process in order to achieve your goal—being admitted to your chosen schools so that you can continue on your artistic journey. Use these tips to ease your way through the process.