5 Tips for Conquering the College Audition Waiting Room

For many students applying to BFA musical theater and acting programs, college auditions will be their first major audition outside a high school or community theater environment. Some audition days will feel quick; others will require you to spend a full day on campus. To be frank, the waiting room can be terrifying. When I walk through the hallways of NYC Unifieds every January, I feel my own heartbeat skyrocket and I’m not even auditioning. The excitement, nerves, crippling terror, and ignorant bliss can be overwhelming, to say the least. But how you handle the waiting room experience can have a direct impact on your focus and readiness in the room.

Follow these tips to conquer the college audition waiting room to leave the best impression on audition day.

1. Treat everyone with respect.

From the moment you walk into the building, handle yourself professionally and treat everyone around you with kindness (including your parents!). In most cases, you have no idea what the faculty on the audition panel looks like and you don’t want to create a sour first impression. It’s a safe assumption that anyone you encounter on audition day is a current student, administrative staff member, faculty member, accompanist, etc. So whatever drama has led up to you walking into the audition venue (i.e a fight with your mom about forgetting to pack your steamer or your flight getting delayed), let it all go. Greet the audition day experience with positivity. A simple “hello” and a smile can go a long way to not only leave everyone you encounter with a positive impression but also to keep yourself in a great mindset as you go through your audition day.

Pro tip: Always thank your audition monitor before you leave the audition!

2. Put your phone in airplane mode.

When you’re waiting around for hours in a holding room before an audition, you’re going to be tempted to turn to your phone to pass the time. Although it might seem helpful, you never know when you may receive a pre-screen or college admissions decision from another school by email or a text about the latest drama within your friend group. Any interaction with the outside world can throw you off. So it’s crucial that you avoid any activity on your phone that will distract you from staying focused on your job that day: bringing your best to your college audition.

Pro tip: Create a mega playlist of music that helps you stay calm, focused, energized, and determined. Books, crossword puzzles, even knitting can be welcome distractions. Whatever works best for you!

3. Keep conversations to a minimum.

It’s inevitable that you’re going to see friends from MT, pre-college, and summer programs, or past shows at your auditions. And it’s natural for you to want to catch up; doing so may even help calm you down, knowing you have a support of friends who believe in you close by. Just make sure these reunions don’t hijack your audition experience. Some people love to chat before auditions. Some people don’t want to lose focus. Don’t take it to heart if someone doesn’t want to have a conversation. Also, if someone won’t stop talking, feel free to tell them politely that you’d like to take some time to focus before your audition.

Pro tip: If you know a friend is going to be at the same audition as you, schedule a time before or after to grab lunch or dinner somewhere off campus.

4. Learn your audition material before you get to the audition.

Believe it or not, I see this happen a lot at Unifieds: Applicants shaking nervously as they attempt to cram monologues into their brains or read the play for the first time. It always breaks my heart to see this because there’s no way anyone can present their best work if they’re under-prepared. The key to remaining confident in the waiting room is excellent preparatio