Overview: CollegeAdvisor.com Client Success Stories
In our CollegeAdvisor Client Success Stories, we highlight the journeys of students who achieved their college dreams. With support from our vast network of Admissions Experts, these students learn to make the college application process their own.
For each Client Success Story, we interview our students about their experience navigating the college process with support from our team. We’ll discuss how they crafted an intentional college list, leveraged the personal essay to share their story, and built confidence for the interview setting. We’ll also share which CollegeAdvisor resources they found most valuable, along with tips for future applicants.
Getting to know Andrea!
For this installment of our Client Success Stories, we spoke with Andrea Robles, a high school senior with dreams of pursuing a performing arts career.
At her high school, Andrea spent four years in conservatory programs for theater and dance. Upon reaching her senior year, Andrea served as president of the drama program. From masked shows to leading a group of peers with limited previous theater experience, Andrea realized that she not only rose to the challenge but “did it pretty successfully.”
“And so that’s where this story’s going.” As Andrea turned her attention to auditioning for colleges, she realized she might benefit from some reinforcements. Andrea recognized that “a lot of theater programs, especially good theater programs in the country, have less than 10% acceptance rates.” Ultimately, she applied to and auditioned for 14 schools with help from CollegeAdvisor.com.
What attracted Andrea to CollegeAdvisor?
Andrea was one of the thousands of high school seniors applying to college after losing connections to their schools due to the pandemic. “A lot of us didn’t really know what we wanted to do in the future and knew nothing about the college process,” she said.
After some reflection, Andrea knew she wanted to pursue musical theater in college. This meant her application process had several parts. “We had to do a round of videos called pre-screen videos. And on top of that, we had regular college applications. And then after the pre-screen videos, they would invite you to do an audition.” Her work was cut out for her.
With a bit of research, Andrea found CollegeAdvisor and signed up for a free consultation. After her initial meeting, Andrea remembers being drawn to the kindness and openness of the team members with whom she connected despite feeling “pretty far off in the game.”
In addition to supporting students with specific application feedback, organizational support, and timeline accountability, CollegeAdvisor team members prioritize a student’s sense of comfort throughout the process. Andrea came to us in August and was impressed by her advisor’s “openness to help [her] stay calm and not freak out about everything.” She appreciated being told, “it wasn’t too late.”
Our team of Admissions Experts at CollegeAdvisor meets students where they are. We develop a personalized, intentional, and effective plan of action that suits each student’s needs.
Andrea’s experience with her advisor
Once she found a sense of calm and renewed focus, Andrea began tackling her college essays. Andrea shared, “I think I wrote like 32 essays within the span of these months.”
During her time with CollegeAdvisor, Andrea recalls being reassured by her advisor’s support and accessibility. “We met really often because I had to submit a lot of my essays by early November. So, I think we met like once or twice a week,” she said. In addition to essay support, Andrea worked with her advisor on crafting a compelling extracurricular list as well as in-depth interview prep.
This holistic level of support provided Andrea with both the confidence and the knowledge to excel as audition season approached. She recalls the importance of having someone ask her relevant questions and offer guidance about presenting herself professionally. This was essential after “not being in the real world” for months. For Andrea, learning how to present herself to colleges made a huge difference.
College Application Auditions
Applying to programs with a focus on music, dance, theater, and other areas of performance can be a daunting process. For Andrea, this meant juggling a combination of stage skill sets and keeping track of various requirements and deadlines. “Each school wanted something different, but luckily, there was a website that a lot of them followed,” she shared.
For the singing portion of the musical theater requirement, many schools requested 30 seconds of a classical song and 30 seconds of a modern song. Others asked for songs in the pop/rock categories. Andrea was required to memorize three monologues, around one to two minutes in length, for the acting portion of her applications.
Additionally, Andrea tells us that each pre-screen video required a dance combination that students recorded themselves executing for submission. Following the pre-screen videos, students are invited to audition for schools in person or via online processes.
Andrea applied to 14 schools in comparison to some of her peers who submitted over 30 applications. She remembers thinking, “[This is] a lot of work for someone who had never seen any of that before to have to get all of that done.”
Andrea credits CollegeAdvisor’s support with her ability to navigate these processes with confidence, quality material, and an authentic voice.
Andrea’s tips for acing your auditions
Now that she’s on the other side of this demanding process, we asked Andrea what advice she might offer to others who embark on this journey. She told us, “Sing your songs so much that you can sing them when you’re really, really sick. Or if someone wakes you up at 2:00 AM… You have to be so comfortable with yourself and with your material… You have to know the whole show.”
For Andrea, confidence, practice, and knowledge are the keys to success. She acknowledges that “colleges expect you to be professional and be really prepared with your material because you have a lot of competition, especially as a girl in the arts.” As someone who came to this field later than others who may have been performing since age four, she knew she had to work hard, work consistently, and have a clear purpose in mind. “So you really have to push yourself and practice every day. That’s what I would say to somebody,” she shared.
How CollegeAdvisor helped Andrea through the audition process
Organization was the essential foundation for Andrea’s process. She was balancing several different performance requirements alongside the traditional college application pieces for 14 different schools. This is where CollegeAdvisor helped the most.
Andrea recalls her advisor sharing a “document where we had all the dates listed, where I had to turn in my stuff. I would’ve never thought of that on my own.” She found it incredibly helpful to have a central location to track individual application requirements and audition timelines.
This allowed Andrea to remain accountable to herself and her advisor. It also helped her feel less overwhelmed as application deadlines neared.
CollegeAdvisor Resources – Essay editing and the advisor network
As a budding artist, discovering and learning to write in her own voice was a transformational part of the CollegeAdvisor support structure. After working through various topic ideas and crafting a few different drafts, Andrea was ready to share her writing with our team.
Andrea used our Essay Editing Team for additional support. She recalls the feedback being “good [and] quick, like here’s the last couple ideas we could have to make your essay better, and it did help everything get smoother.” In addition to the Essay Team, CollegeAdvisor provides access to free essay examples and guides for students to reference as they brainstorm, draft, and finalize their essays.
Support After Submission
When Andrea needed to make a decision about where she would ultimately attend college, her advisor leveraged the wider CollegeAdvisor network to connect her with someone who shared a background in theater.
During this conversation, Andrea received advice about the schools she was deciding between and the theater industry at large. She was able to make an informed decision after considering “what would help [her] personally… and which school was the best [fit] for me.“ This was the final piece that helped Andrea pick her dream school.
Andrea’s admission decisions and the road ahead
Before we jump into Andrea’s final decision, let’s recap her application process.
Building a Broad List
Andrea applied to 14 schools. Among those schools were: the University of Michigan, Point Park University, Boston Conservatory, Ohio University, NYU, and Emerson College to name a few. At CollegeAdvisor, we emphasize the importance of creating a college list that will provide you with a wide range of options.
In the end, Andrea was admitted to five top-notch institutions.
Narrowing it Down
Once she was accepted, it was time to make a decision.
Andrea’s advisor connected her with a fellow admissions expert to assist her with this choice. She remembers that she “was between NYU, Point Park, and Roosevelt University. Point Park and Roosevelt were two conservatories. One is in Pittsburgh. One is in Chicago, and then NYU was NYU.”
After making a list of pros and cons to compare schools, Andrea was still struggling to make a decision. The CollegeAdvisor team was there to help. After a casual Zoom meeting where she was able to consider her strengths and weaknesses, Andrea realized she needed to select a school that caters to her specific needs. That way, she could get the competitive edge required for her desired industry.
Weighing the Costs
As with any college admission decision, the time came to think about money. Andrea recalls speaking with one of our Admissions Experts about the realities of a career in the arts. This included the potential of a delayed timeline before achieving immense financial success.
Andrea appreciated this candid discussion and remembers one particular piece of advice that stood out at the time. “If you pick a more expensive school, it’s going to be a big burden on you… If money is a big worry for you, especially if the school’s really expensive, you’re going to be living with that for quite a few years after school.”
This guidance resonated with Andrea. She recognized that each of her top options were amazing schools that produced strong, polished graduates in her field. This revelation allowed her to prioritize selecting the school that was the best fit for her as opposed to picking one that was better or worse than the others.
Defining Personal Fit
When it comes to selecting a college, it is essential that students understand what works best for them. How might you figure this out? Start by considering your non-negotiables. For Andrea, this included finding a place where she’d be able to major in musical theater and focus on strengthening the main skills professionals seek post-undergrad. For other students, this can include location, type of school, academic offerings, athletics, and financial support.
“I ended up choosing Point Park University, and I’m really excited to go there.” For Andrea, Point Park was a good fit financially and academically. As a musical theater hopeful, she knew she’d need to refine the “big skills”—acting, singing, and dancing. “And especially because I’m not the strongest dancer, Point Park is one of the top schools in the country for their dance program as well. So I was like, I’m going to need all three of these for musical theater,” she said.
While she was excited about the opportunities available at a place like NYU, the intensive “full-on artistic training” she personally needed and desired to hone her specific skill set was a better match for the conservatory program at Park Point.
Andrea acknowledges that NYU remained a close second. “So that’s why… it’s also not just the bigger name that really matters. It’s what is going to give you the skills and the attention you need to help you grow most.” In the end, Park Point is where she belongs.
What is Andrea looking forward to at Point Park University?
Above all, Andrea is thrilled about getting to study exactly what she wants. “At home, there hasn’t been, especially for Latinos, a lot of opportunities given to us, so finally having the schedule that I’ve always wanted… since I was a little kid,” she shared.
In addition, Andrea is looking forward to growth. She’s ready to sharpen her skills to pave the way for herself and others like her to make an impact on the musical theater industry.
When growing up, Andrea remembers being disappointed by the lack of representation in the media available to her as a child. She’s ready to shift the narrative. She reflects, “I think of it as something that’s healing future generations, and that’s what I’m excited to build.”
Andrea’s advice for future college applicants
What if you aren’t like Andrea? What if you don’t have a specific path laid out when it’s time to apply?
Given the pandemic, many of Andrea’s friends were uncertain about what they wanted to do. Some still don’t know. Andrea believes it’s important not to feel pressured by those around you who do. “Just figure out what strengths you have and really show schools. Be really confident in those strengths because everyone’s different.”
She adds that “just because you weren’t the right fit for a school doesn’t mean you’re not a strong candidate or not as smart or as cool as the rest of your friends.” Andrea wants students to remember that everything works out just as it should. Her message to fellow overthinkers is to try to avoid worrying.
Her final piece of advice is all about preparation. “Take those late nights to really fix your essays and take those extra hours to really think about what you wanna say if you’re in interviews or auditions and stuff. The time you take to help polish everything, really, really does help and really sets you apart.”
From expert information to reassurance, support, and a network of connections, Andrea remains impressed by the level of care and guidance she received from the CollegeAdvisor team. She shared, “Without the information that I was given, I don’t think I could have done all of it. I think I would’ve been just extremely overwhelmed with everything, especially because I know every year it’s getting harder and harder to get into schools.”
Andrea shared that the skills she gained from CollegeAdvisor continue to be relevant beyond the application process. The writing techniques she learned from our editing team are being put to great use in her AP courses. The interview prep she received helped boost her confidence and secure job opportunities. “They really helped me see the strengths in myself and really build upon that and be able to show that to people…It’s given me that extra bump I need to help myself in this industry.”
For more information about how you can identify, apply, and ultimately land a spot at your dream school, check out our wide range of resources. From requesting letters of recommendation to building your college list and finding your voice, CollegeAdvisor is here to help!
This Client Success Story was based on an interview with Andrea Robles and written by Kyra Green. Andrea connected to us for help with her college applications. If you are also looking for assistance with your college applications and are interested in working with a CollegeAdvisor.com Admissions Expert, register with CollegeAdvisor.com today.