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How to Overcome the BFA Waitlist Woes

How to Get Off the BFA Waitlist

You passed your pre-screens. You successfully completed all of your college auditions. You even have been accepted at some college programs. Then you get put on the waitlist at one of your top BFA Musical Theatre or BFA Acting choices!

Wait, what? Now I have to wait longer?!

Although you might be in agony having to wait a little bit longer (and just want this whole college audition process to be over), congrats on making it on the waitlist. It might not feel like a victory, but remember that out of hundreds of auditions, they felt like you were a strong enough match for the program to give you a slot in the BFA class, if one were to open up. When putting together a BFA class, so many factors are taken into consideration. BFA programs could easily fill several classes with talented and worthy applicants, but unfortunately, the spots are limited to keep the student/faculty ratio low.

If you are currently on a BFA waitlist and don't know what to do, here's some advice on

How to Overcome the BFA Waitlist Woes

1. Would you commit to this college?

Before you initiate any contact with a BFA or BA program that you have been waitlisted at, consider whether or not you would actually accept an offer. Of course, if you get off the waitlist and you don't receive a financial aid or scholarship package that makes the program possible for you, then it's ok to turn it down. That being said though, taking money out of the equation, are you 100% sure that you would consider committing to this college? It's important that you don't waste anyone's time; you ultimately are slowing down the process for other students who really want to train there.

2. Multiple Waitlists

It's possible that you could be put on waitlists at different colleges. There's nothing wrong with trying to turn your waitlists into acceptances at multiple programs, but just make sure that if you get off the waitlist at your top choice and decide to go there, communicate with the appropriate contacts at all the other waitlist colleges ASAP (and audition-based programs that you have already been accepted at). That way, the programs can work through their waitlists efficiently and send out their next set of offers.

3. Ask for an additional recommendation.

Maybe you have an acting coach, voice teacher, dance teacher, director, etc. who didn't write a recommendation for you when you initially applied. Don't be shy about asking for an additional recommendation. These arts-based recommenders can provide an accurate picture of what you are like to work with, your overall potential, and your growth throughout your training with them. Ask your recommenders to send these recommendation emails/letters directly to the program, not the general admissions department, to make sure that they get to the appropriate faculty members that are overseeing the BFA selection process.

4. Let them know you're interested.

I'm not saying you need to make an Elle Woods Harvard video-sized display of affection, but a simple email or letter, expressing your interest in the program and specific reasons why you want to train there, works. Specificity is key. Stay genuine. Show your passion for the program. If you have had a new onstage or on-camera experience, taken a new class/workshop/training opportunity, won a competition, etc., don't be afraid to update them, especially if you auditioned earlier in college audition season. Unless a faculty member has made direct contact with you, it's usually best to send these letters to the arts administrator or whomever communicated the waitlist decision to you, asking them to forward it along to the faculty.

5. Commit and still wait?

This is clearly the least ideal situation because to commit to a college, you will have to make a deposit, which is typically non-refundable. You can hold off until the last possible moment to commit, but if you are left with this predicament, you will have to choose either a. Commit to another college/pay deposit and take yourself off the waitlist, b. Commit to another college/pay deposit and remain on waitlist/get accepted off waitlist later/pay a second deposit, c. Commit to another college/pay deposit and remain on waitlist/get denied from waitlist, or d. Don't commit to another college and take risk of staying on waitlist and maybe getting accepted or denied. I would strongly caution you from going with Option D.

6. Be patient.

Waitlists can take a little while to sort themselves out. The faculty is still trying to piece together a cohesive, diverse class, so waitlist offers might be released one at a time. Typically, waitlist offers will be made sometime in April or May, but depending on how long the process takes at any given college, these offers can be made later in the spring.

If you are on a waitlist or you are having difficult making your final college selection, please feel free send me an email.

Stay tuned for next week's blog

5 Tips for Making Your Final BFA College Decision


Tom Morin is a NYC-based acting coach, co-founder of Polish Your Passion, and a professional actor/singer. He holds a B.A. in Theatre & Political Science from the College of the Holy Cross and an M.F.A. in Acting from Ohio University and has been teaching for the past 9 years, advising and coaching students through the college audition process and beyond. He loves coffee, Shakespeare, and YouTube.

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