College Bound Dancers
by Kim McCluer, December 9, 2018
When I was a junior in High School I was confronted with the fact that I was just a year or so away from reality. My parents had encouraged college, but had very little idea how to go about it. They did not attend college. In fact if I went to college I would be the first in my full extended family to go from high school into college. Although my high school counselor passed out college pamphlets in the same manner you pick up travel brochures at a rest stop, very little guidance was given beyond that. My baton and dance teacher at the time was my point of contact for questions. As you know, it does take a village and our dance studios are a huge part of that village for many dancers.
My dance teacher saw a need, not just with me, but with 6 graduating seniors in the studio at the time, and took it upon herself to find us each a college home where we could continue with dance or baton. In the spring of my junior year, on three separate occasions, she packed at least 4 of us at a time into her car and carted us to college visits across state lines and in state as well. She set up the auditions and helped us with admissions paperwork and student loan (FASA) applications. Four of the six dancers took advantage of her kindness and hard work and landed college scholarships, allowing all of us to be able to continue doing what we loved into college. I landed a 46K Leadership Scholarship at a small University in Wichita, KS. It was not my first choice, but it was by far my best offer. In 1982 this 46K scholarship was a huge deal for me and my family. My parents had not saved much for this, nor were they in the position to fund this without loans. I took the scholarship, continued my love of dance on the cheer/dance team and twirled at halftimes, graduating in 4 years with a Bachelors in Education. I liked college so much I went back to the same University, thanks to Alumni grants for my Masters degree six years later.
In an effort to pay forward the assistance I received, I am proud to present College Bound FREE to our TOP dancers on January 6, 2019 at Johnson Community College in Overland Park, KS. It’s also our way of giving back to those who have grown up on our stages and to the dance community as a whole (ALL dancers are invited) for FREE.
Teachers, I am going to challenge you to share, push and even take your high school dancers to this. Let the dancers out of that one Sunday rehearsal. I promise you that dancers at that level will not let you or the team down at the next rehearsal. Eric and I were talking about how this is truly a golden marketing opportunity for you. Let me explain…..say you have 7 college bound dancers and you do a ‘College Bound” day with them, perhaps a slumber party at the hotel the night before, the auditions, dinner and then home. You have clearly announced that you support and will help your dancers move on to the next level. Dancers and parents that are younger will see that you are not only about the competition, but truly want them to continue to thrive in a skill you have spent years teaching them, perhaps keeping more high school dancers interested. Teachers, go beyond the dance studio and competition stage. I am forever grateful to my teacher for her hand in my college education. And teachers, don’t get me wrong, I know you are busy with your own families and those Sunday rehearsals, but at the very least let them miss rehearsal for this one, even encourage it!
Why is it in January? Because the schools are in mid-semester and can take the time more easily between their commitments and on-campus auditions.
Why is it always in the KC area? Because we have an amazing host facility and the area is geographically in the center of ALL of the TOP locations.
Why did you go to every other year? Because Colleges have limited budgets to travel yearly and there is a better chance for them to attend every two years. This is why we are allowing freshmen to take the classes this year as well.
What if the college I want to go to is not there? Please know the TOP 25 dance programs were invited to attend. Only some take us up on the offer. However, I have seen many a talented GO PRO dancer put all her/his eggs in one basket and call me in tears in March when the limited programs fill up. Or, they were accepted into the programs but without scholarships. I encourage dancers to see what is out there beyond what they know about already. The added bonus is they can practice auditioning with 4 FREE classes that afternoon on the college level. If nothing else it’s real audition practice, and did I mention it’s FREE.
Parents can attend with the dancers, visit each booth, ask questions in the Q & A, and even watch the auditions. Parents, what you cannot do (yes, it has happened a couple of times), you cannot call or email me two weeks later and tell me your dancer was better than the dancer you just heard got a 40K scholarship. I will be blunt with you and tell you that if things like that continue we will stop letting parents attend the audition portion. NO VIDEOS or PHOTOS allowed though! Parents, understand that every program looks for something different. Dancers may get multiple offers, only one, or they may be invited for a second look at the school. Just like life in general though, there are no guarantees.
With all this said….Please come, tell your friends, it’s FREE, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain…..a future in dance! And, as Mr. Don has said (yes he will be there representing TAPS), “If you do not attend this FREE event it will be your first career mistake!”
See you in January!