Your Chances for College Theater Scholarships

One of my best friends is a senior in high school this year. She wants to go to Syracuse for a degree in music but isn’t quite sure about being able to fund her education. As a Texan who is coming from a middle class, white family, her qualms are not only justified but substantiated by past horror stories. Students who worked so hard in high school to get into prestigious colleges and universities that then aren’t able to pay the steep tuition prices for the brilliant schools that offered them admission is not an uncommon tale. Especially when pursuing a degree in the arts, scholarship opportunities are rare, and actually getting the money is even rarer.

So to answer the big question: What are my chances of getting a college theater scholarship? The answer is, quite simply, pretty frikin’ low. The chance of even getting a scholarship is pretty low, so I've compiled a list of some tips to boosting your chances of getting someone else to pay for part of your exorbitant tab.

TIP #1: Apply to as many scholarships as possible.
Just like you should apply to as many jobs or internships as you can within the appropriate window, you should apply to as many scholarships as possible. Make sure you are also applying to a range of scholarships, a few for large amounts of money and a few smaller ones. A lot of students will only apply to the ultra-competitive scholarships and won’t get any of them—making all that effort worth very little. The less well-known scholarships usually give you better chances of receiving them but the sum will probably be significantly less money. Play the game right, take your chances, but have a large back up net in case the big bucks don’t come in.

TIP #2: Do your research aka Google search till your fingers fall off.
There are plenty of scholarships that exist but are not on the big scholarship list websites. Those websites (like and other name brand lists) are good launching pads, and it’s a good idea to apply for less popular scholarships on those sites and look past the first couple pages of a Google search. Scholarships that are specific to theater will be harder to find but have less applicants, so do your research for the best results.

TIP #3: Stay passionate and remember why you’re doing what you’re doing.
It’s easy to give up early and fast. Find something that is more fun to do than write an essay or send in a proposal… basically anything is more fun than writing an essay, I promise. Regardless, there is little else that is as important as writing an essay during your senior year. It is infinitely more difficult to get money off this dismal tab once you’ve actually started college or university. Most scholarships are geared towards high school seniors, so that six month period before they’re all due is your prime time. If you want to be a theater major, remember why, and get through those awful essays. It will be worth it.

Putting in the effort to apply to school is one thing. You feel the relief of an acceptance, and it’s hard to motivate yourself, having already finished tens of essays, to write more when it isn’t absolutely necessary. Remember that the reward will feel just as worth it, and even if your future isn’t contingent on this money it will make your future much easier. Now is the time to help your future self to stay out of debt as much as you can! So go ahead, research, plan, and stay passionate!

Photo Credit: Bahman Farzad

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