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  • Writer's pictureIan Soares

Why an Arts Education is Worth It.

Updated: Sep 13, 2023

With tuition costs raising and jobs dwindling during the pandemic, here's why an arts education is still worth it.

Professional production at the Globe Theatre

In the United States alone, there are hundreds of acting programs to choose from, so if you want to be an actor, how do you know which is the best option for you- if any? Is spending upwards of fifty thousand dollars per year at an undergraduate acting program worth it? Keep reading to find out!

Here at Berridge, we believe that some form of professional training is necessary for a successful career in the arts. Otherwise, we simply wouldn't exist. We understand that a four year collegiate program is a huge commitment for an eighteen year old to make so we strongly recommend exploring every option.

Should time and money be on your side, there is nothing better (in my experience) than a B.F.A acting degree from a top acting school. (New York University, Carnegie Mellon, U.S.C) The next step down from this in both time and money are professional training progams that don’t offer degrees. Examples are the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, and the New York Film Academy. These both offer two year, conservatory-style acting programs. The next step down from this would be acting classes, or any program that is less than a year. The Groundlings, UCSB or independent classes can be examples of this. However, I believe these are really meant to be supplemental instruction after you’ve received your primary training. Yes, most of these options are insanely expensive, but if you remain motivated, this will change your life, and you will get a lot out of it.

So where does Berridge fit in all this? Think of a summer at Berridge as a kind of test drive before the big purchase you've been saving up for. Before you do anything that could change your life, you want to be sure that you want your life to change.

Actor performing a monologue in Shakespeare scene
Student, Emma Gordon performing as Lady Macbeth in the Shakespeare final showcase.

So what actually makes an arts education worth it? I recently graduated from a B.F.A Acting program with Syracuse University after completing Berridge's Summer in France experience. Applicable to both Berridge and S.U, here are the big reasons you should experience an arts education:

  • The people. This is a big takeaway from my program. Over four years, I’ve met some of the best, most interesting, creative, and hardworking people in the world. They all shared the same drive I had to create art, and luckily I will remain friends with many of those people forever. The people you’ll meet in your program are also going to contribute to a huge support system once you graduate. (Trust me, you’ll need it)

  • The faculty. You will have the privilege of learning how to perfect your acting from some seriously talented people. Most professors in top programs have had years of professional training and professional acting experience that they will use to prepare you for your own career. In a conservatory-style program like mine, classes were small enough where professors can tailor the experience and feedback based on each student’s needs.

  • The shows. Most B.F.A acting programs center around theatre-based training and therefore have some performance aspects to offer you. (Don’t worry if you want to be a “film” actor, this is still the best path to be on). Programs like mine will attempt to hold their cast and crew to professional standards during department productions, preparing you for the working conditions in the real world. Shows are also a great way to try out new things that you’re learning in a “safe” environment. (Safe, as in you won’t be fired for messing up) Berridge offered several performance opportunities as well such weekly open-performance nights and a final showcase.

  • The connections. Most notable acting programs have a wealth of alumni that are happy to share their experiences with you, which can be extremely helpful when you’re fresh out of college. But while you’re enrolled, many programs have good relationships with summer-stock theaters, casting directors, and agencies, all of which can help you get a jump start on professional jobs while you’re still in school. As you move into your professional career, the most important thing you can do is keep track of who you met, and what they're up to now. Maintaining positive working relationships with mentors and former guest artists and faculty can be very beneficial.

Most importantly though, you will learn about yourself. This is the most important thing you’ll get out of your arts training. You will learn so much about who you are and you will change and evolve as a person- for the better. Whether you decide to continue in the arts afterwards or not, this education will teach you how to live your life with more humanity, more awareness, more empathy, more decisiveness, and more love.

We're ready. Are you?

Musical Theatre class performing on stage
Musical Theatre class of 2019 performing, "From Now On" in their final showcase.

Applications are now open for all programs. Students will be admitted to Spotlight, Generate, Summer in France, and Creative Semester programs on a rolling basis following completion of all application materials. We hope to welcome you to the Berridge family very soon.

For information on our new scholarships, please click here!


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