View from the ArtsBridge: A Junior’s Advice on How to Choose a College

Luke Steinhauer, photographed by Ruth Hendricks

In our View from the ArtBridge blog series, we’re highlighting members of the ArtsBridge community, mining them for advice for students still in the throes of the application process. Wondering where to apply? How to choose a college? How to prepare for your auditions? ArtsBridge students have advice!

(If you missed our last interview with Montclair State senior Matthew Liotine, you can find it here.)

We caught up with Luke Steinhauer, a former ArtsBridge Summer student and a current junior studying musical theatre at the University of Michigan. Luke spoke to us from Beansters, which is a coffee shop on the central campus always abuzz with students. He was feeling happy to be back in Ann Arbor, after an “intense weekend” of auditions in New York.

This semester Luke is taking a ballet class, a musical theatre styles class, theatre history, musical theatre history, a Shakespeare acting class, voice studio, and voice lessons. On top of all that, Luke was recently cast as Ewart Dunlop in The Music Man. He will start rehearsals in a month or so.

Luke managed to find time in his busy schedule to talk about what life is like at Michigan, and reflect on his experience with ArtsBridge. He also offered some great advice for high schoolers on how to choose a college that is right for you.

Read more from our conversation with Luke below: 

What was your freshman year like at Michigan?

My freshman year was a lot of technique and foundational classes. You have to take a lot of music theory, piano, an intro class to musical theatre, as well as the requirement to tech two shows. As daunting and uninteresting as this may seem, you learn a lot, and you learn (especially as a junior now) how important those first classes during your freshman year were.

On top of all of your classes you’re experiencing college life for the first time like making new friends, falling in love, falling out of love, failing a test, joining a club or activity completely unrelated to your major, as well as many other things. It’s really beautiful at the end of the day. You have endless possibilities.

What do you like most about Michigan? 

I think what I love about Michigan is that it’s not a conservatory. Our department head likes to continuously stress that going to Michigan for musical theatre means that you’re getting conservatory style training within a four year liberal arts setting. Just like any other major at The University of Michigan, I’m taking different classes with different people.

Sure, I have my requirements within my program, but the beautiful thing is when I get to go to an English class or history discussion with students who are majoring in all different things. That interaction with different types of people and in courses outside of my department connects me with others, broadens and challenges my own thinking,  and allows me to become just a more rounded and active citizen in society outside of the musical theatre world.

Any recent performances at Michigan you can tell us about?

I think my department put on the two best musicals of my time here this past semester. They did Cabaret and Caroline, or Change. Though I didn’t get to be a part of either, I could not help but appreciate the terrific writing in both of these shows, the impeccable well thought out characters and direction, and the scenic integration between the set and the book.

How did you end up applying to ArtsBridge Summer? 

I had heard about ArtsBridge from Ingrid Sonnichsen [former ArtsBridge Summer and Carnegie Mellon faculty], who I had worked privately with on acting at home in Pittsburgh. She recommended the ArtsBridge Summer program so highly that I knew I had to do it. There truly is nothing like the program. The fact that you get to work with some of the best teachers from some of the best programs in the country sets you up for not only great instruction, but great connections when you start to audition for all of the different programs.

Without ArtsBridge, I don’t think I could have gotten through my college auditions. Instead, I was able to feel better than most of my fellow auditioners who didn’t have the tools I was given at this wonderful program.

What did your parents think of ArtsBridge? 

My parents knew that ArtsBridge Summer was integral to my success in getting into college and even beyond that.

What was it like working with Halley Shefler (President of ArtsBridge)?

I met Halley in New York on the first day of ArtsBridge Summer and I knew I was going to love her. She knew every person who was there and she made you feel so welcome. I felt like I could always talk to her about anything and she would be extremely sincere and honest with me. When I was deciding between two programs, it was Halley who I reached out to and who ultimately lead me in the right direction.

Halley says she remembers that moment well! 

If you could go back to your junior year of high school, what advice would you give yourself about the upcoming college application process?

With ArtsBridge, I was given the tools to be the best that I could be at that time in my life. I think that’s the key at college auditions. When the schools are looking at you, it’s your job to just be the best version of you at that time in your life. That doesn’t mean perfection, that just means a heightened, best version of yourself. At the end of the day, you can always trust in who you are. When choosing a school, make sure that it’s one that supports, challenges and respects you.

We think that’s phenomenal advice on how to choose a college! Thanks Luke for catching up with us, and for your sage words. We can’t wait to hear how The Music Man goes! (Buy tickets to see Luke in action!)

If you need help applying to college, please reach out to us. Contact ArtsBridge here.


Take the first step to the finest arts education.

Let's Talk
简体中文English한국어