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August 17, 2012

Please welcome to the blog guest poster Katharine Heaton! Katharine is a working actress in New York City, and she’s here sharing her personal experiences with a graduate school education with us today.

The Pros & Cons of Grad School

I went to one of the largest private universities in the country, and in NYC, after working an admin job at home for 2 years.  I admit, the reason I decided to start auditioning for schools was because I had no idea where I was going, both personally & professionally.  It turned out to be something very productive to do for myself, all on my own (PRO).

However, because of the school I chose, I am now literally saddled with almost 70k in loans (CON).  I feel this could happen with any school though – all costs are through the roof now.

I was fortunate enough to have my hard work pay off with landing 4 roles (one each semester) and I worked with some amazing people, who were from the Broadway community (PRO).

However, I honestly went to that specific place because I knew it would culminate in an industry showcase, however it was a huge disappointment and we still do not know why.  The Grad class was shocked when we got on stage and looked out and saw basically our parents and friends only (CON).

Since then, I have worked so hard at Actors’ Connection, One on One, The Network, etc meeting agents and casting directors and often feel left thinking “why did I have to go to grad school if I’m doing all the industry work in the years after??” (CON).

Sometimes I really wish I saved the 70k and then I’d have way more money for rent, food, classes, pay-to-play meetings, etc.  However, the time I spent at school definitely was as productive as possible (I feel like there’s an art to this) because I made it such, so I wouldn’t say it was a ‘waste of time’.  I would love to chat with anyone who is considering going back to school because I wish I had a mentor at such a critical life point.

Thanks so much for sharing your experience, Katharine! Feel free to ask Katharine questions in the comments section below, or on her twitter!

What are your thoughts on grad school for actors?

7 Comments leave one →
  1. The College Theatre Dork permalink
    August 17, 2012 11:16 am

    Thanks Katharine! I was seriously considering grad school for awhile there…I’d still love to go, but the money is too big a con for me 😦 I’ll just have to enjoy what’s left of my undergraduate time.

    • August 19, 2012 12:35 pm

      totally. It was definitely the easiest thing in the world to get loans, so that’s all possible, but later on the bills are depressing. It’s something to consider!

  2. The College Theatre Dork permalink
    August 17, 2012 11:19 am

    I just looked at your website—Elizabeth Ruff, who graduated from my school, was on the Cats tour with you! Small world…

  3. August 17, 2012 10:56 pm

    I went to grad school, and it was the right choice for me. I was lucky though, and got into the Florida State University/Asolo Conservatory for Actor Training. All students that go there get a full-ride scholarship AND a paid assistantship. I still took out a couple of loans (mostly for travel money; in my program you study abroad in London during one summer, and I decided to wander around Europe for awhile afterward), but my debt is a lot less than most people who go back to school.

    @The College Theatre Dork — If you do get an MFA, try to find a program that waives your tuition, or — better yet — pays you to be there. It’s not unreasonable to look for that. After all, you are providing your services while you’re there. It makes sense that you should be compensated.

    • The College Theatre Dork permalink
      August 18, 2012 11:57 am

      Something to look into! As of now, I’m planning to graduate, work and consider going back to do an MFA or other conservatory training if I find a program I really want/can afford further down the road if I find something I really want to specialize further in, or if I need that degree to end up teaching.

    • August 19, 2012 12:37 pm

      Wow Angela, your experience sounds awesome! NYU definitely does not give you a dime of assistance to attend/be in their shows. You go girl for seeking that place out & being successful!


  1. Sunday Summary — August 19, 2012 « The Green Room

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