Seniors prepare to enter competitive career fields after graduation

Meghan Dincler | Online Editor

Senior Claire Northcut, pictured above performing in a production of Frozen Jr., plans to major in musical theater in college this fall. Northcut has been through many rounds of auditions during her college admissions process.

As the Class of 2021 is preparing to graduate, some seniors are planning to compete for their future careers. Those who choose to enter competitive fields — such as acting, music, and writing — must consider the difficulties they will face both in and after college.

Senior Claire Northcut plans to major in musical theater in college. Northcut grew up with the influence of her parents, who are professional musicians. Seeing them perform in the orchestra for Broadway shows such as Wicked, Chicago, Phantom of the Opera, and Beauty and the Beast exposed Northcut to musical theater from a young age. As a result, she has grown up taking an interest in the field, and having the support of her parents has allowed Northcut to tap into her competitive spirit.

“I grew up in a house of musicians, so I know how competitive [the field] is because my parents have gone through it,” Northcut said. “We’re all driven by [competition], and we were taught from a young age to be the best.’”

Even after preparing for the competition that comes with going into competitive industries like acting, students still have a long uphill battle, even just to get into college. The audition process can be extensive and trying. After finishing over three rounds of auditions in addition to her original application, Northcut knows firsthand that the process is not just lengthy, but cutthroat as well.

“In each of the programs, there are 14 people [auditioning] and they only accept half of them,” Northcut said. “They normally only accept one girl [with my features] so it’s like there’s only one of me they can put in the program, but there’s like 5,000 equally as talented [applicants] going into the same major.”

For performance degrees like acting and musical theater, acceptance times can be delayed as well due to the unique nature of the college application process. While many seniors have already committed to college, Northcut is just getting started. 

“The entire audition process for college is way different than everybody else’s,” Northcut said. “Most people just send in the regular application and get an acceptance. On top of applying, I have to do the first round of auditions, and either get accepted or rejected from that. Like, I’m still doing auditions right now, I have no clue where I’m going to school. It’s all up in the air.”

Northcut is not the only performer going through the ups and downs of the audition process, however. Senior Olivia Dorer has had to deal with similar trials in her pursuit of a degree in flute performance, a major that will assist in her desire to join an orchestra when she is older. 

“There’s just so much competition because there’s so many music majors across the country,” Dorer said. “For my instrument, there are only three positions in each orchestra and there are only so many major orchestras. Plus, most of those positions are filled right now. It’s stressful, but I’ve been able to not let that deter me from wanting to pursue it.”

Going into a competitive field may cause a lot of stress for those who are trying to plan for their future, and because of that, some students are electing to strive for their dreams on a more predictable route. One example is Senior Carolyn Fuson, who decided to tie both her passion for creative writing and her love of historical research into her college decision. 

“I’m planning to major in creative writing and minor in anthropology,” Fuson said. “I want to do something with writing research papers, and creative writing helps open up a really good gateway to different things in advertising and marketing.”

After realizing her love for history and research, she realized she found two fields that she could combine pretty easily. With many possible career plans, including writing research papers on Nordic Studies or working and curating museums, Fuson most of all wants to be able to channel her creativity.

“Recently I’ve gotten into writing historical fiction because I like doing the research for it,” Fuson said. “It started as a fun pastime but I figured if I’m able to make a career out of it, I’d want to.”

Passion is the driving force behind many creative fields, and Dorer attested to that being the main reason she wanted to pursue orchestral music. She said that when she visualizes her future, “that is the only thing [she] sees” and that “[she] feels like [she] wouldn’t be complete without music in [her] life.” It’s passion and drive that keeps them moving forward, showing the students to see the hope even when faced with challenges. 

“I just love playing with other musicians,” Dorer said. “I love how we’re all working towards one common goal – playing this gorgeous piece – and I love that music is an expressive outlet that you can share your emotions with. You can display so many emotions just for an instrument and a couple of marks on a page. Honestly, I would rather end up being unsuccessful in the future than be living with regrets of not pursuing this; I want to make it my livelihood.”

Photo contributed by Royal Theatre Company