Find the right fit in an advisor for visual and performing arts students.
While there are many independent college counselors helping high school students across the country, the selection of qualified advisors for students of the arts is limited. So for students and parents, it’s important to know what to look for when considering a personal arts consultant. Keep these six attributes in mind:
1. Consider all of the arts coaching credentials — Don’t be satisfied with a short bio that uses too many superlatives to inflate credentials. Ask questions and dive below the surface into the complete background in the arts, college admissions experience, and specific examples of student success. Consultants who have personal experience in the arts and college admissions carry greater credibility, as they are able to look at and evaluate the big picture from all sides. Anyone who takes all of the credit by telling you “I got a student into Juilliard” is overlooking all of the factors that go into the decision-making process.
2. Inquire about college and faculty relationships — Good arts college consultants are always building their professional networks. They often participate in performing arts workshops and portfolio reviews that include faculty and admissions officers from regional and nationally recognized arts programs. Find out how involved your potential advisor is with arts college associates. The relationships that have been developed are often an indicator of how current and relevant the counselor may be when matching students with appropriate schools.
3. Does the advisor relate to both students and adults? — A college consultant doesn’t need to be your best friend, but there should be real connection. It needs to be comfortable and genuine. You’ll want to get a sense that your advisor has your best interests at heart so that they can be completely open and honest about their assessment and the right college fit. The consultant you select must be able to interact with school guidance counselors and college personnel as well as they do with you. If they tell you “guidance counselors hate us”, that is a sure sign to run. Some advisors relate better to students than to adults or visa versa. Make sure the consultant you choose has the ability to communicate and connect with everyone involved.
4. Request references and testimonials — It always comes down to customer satisfaction. So make sure your college advisor has an extensive list of satisfied students and parents. When a college coach provides everything that is expected with optimal results, clients can’t wait to share their enthusiasm and experiences. Read what student and parent references have to say, speak with them, and ask questions relevant to your individual situation.
5. Ask how the consultant goes about assessing talent— Artistic evaluations for students are key to determining the right school or program. Ideally, there should be more than one — an initial evaluation when you first begin working with your college consultant and a final evaluation to measure progress. The better advisors may expose you to college faculty members or additional industry experts to provide feedback on audition or portfolio style and techniques.
6. Make sure guidance is offered for student branding— For performing and visual arts students in particular, it’s all in the presentation — the artistic presentation as well as the student presentation. Your image is your brand, and your consultant should offer advice related to your website, your Facebook page, and anywhere else your information may appear, online or offline. Particular attention needs to be paid to prescreening and interview techniques as well as wardrobe and general appearance.
ArtsBridge is a unique consultancy for theater, music, dance, and visual arts students. Halley Shefler and her associates offer specialized arts education expertise. Learn more about the college coaching services offered by the ArtsBridge team.