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How to handle DD's college disappointment....
Old 04-03-2018, 09:31 AM
  #1

DD is a 17-year old HS senior, who is planning on majoring in Musical Theatre in college. She is extremely talented and driven: she has beaten 100+ girls for lead roles in regional theatre productions, has won competitions, has been invited to sing in NYC with Broadway performers, etc. Her vocal and college coaches told us that she would easily get into the top schools for MT, and would likely get big scholarships.

She didn't. She applied and auditioned to 12 schools: 1 "safe", 1 "medium", 10 "reaches" -- all on the advice of the coaches. Her auditions went very well, she got great feedback. But she only got into her safe school, the medium school, and 1 reach (which ended up being a "no" because of a class she didn't take). Which left her with two schools. The safe school is local, and she has no desire to go there. So she's left with the "medium" school. It's a state college, but has a well-respected MT program. I'm happy with the program, and thrilled with the price tag.

But DD is distraught. She is disappointed in herself, angry and ashamed. When the local "theatre people" ask where she's going to college, you can see the confusion and shock on their faces. Many of them will even say, "You're too good to go there!" DD knows that she should be excited to be heading to college to major in something she is passionate about, but she's not looking forward to it.

It's tough because we don't know WHY she didn't get in. The acceptance rate for the MT program at these top schools is 1% or less. Typically, about 1800 apply, and only 12-18 get in! Kids come from all over the country to audition at these schools.

I don't know what to do. We've talked about taking a gap year, having her get a job and continue with voice, acting and dance lessons, and then re-auditioning. We've talked about having her go to the state college and try to transfer as a sophomore to one of the other schools. Going on auditions again will be extremely difficult for us, a financial and time strain.

Any advice?


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Old 04-03-2018, 10:12 AM
  #2

It sounds like she may have to change her expectations. If only 1% get in, I would have extremely little expectation of getting in. I would tell my own child to be happy with the ones that wanted them and go enjoy yourself. What is she trying to do career wise? Is it going to matter where her degree is from? As far as people saying she is too good for X school and having horrified looks on their face, I think that's just flat out rude.

My ds has several possibilities to pay for his school, including music in which he is very talented. He is going to go where it makes the most sense economically. He wants to coach or be a game warden, so a particular "name" won't make any difference. If he doesn't get offered significant money he might even start out at a JC so that he doesn't incur debt.
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Old 04-03-2018, 10:12 AM
  #3

I say go with the state school. It's likely that your daughter will have a more individualized experience and will be under a lot less social pressure which will be good for her mental health.

And if she truly wants to be at one of her reach schools, a few semesters at the state school with good grades and recommendations will be really important if she transfers.

I went to a state school for a tough math program and was very thankful that I stayed, even though I wanted to go to a "better" school. I was able to make more friendships and get more time one-on-one with my professors.
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Old 04-03-2018, 10:15 AM
  #4

I don’t really know how those programs work, but could she go to her medium school for a year and possibly apply again to one of her dream schools next year? Or could she just take basic freshman classes for a year locally and then reapply to the reach schools?

I guess if it was my kid, I’d try to help her accept the medium school since you are happy with the program and cost. This is just a stepping stone on the way to her goal. People probably aren’t going to care where she went to school when she auditions for parts in the future, or at least I’m assuming that.
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Old 04-03-2018, 10:20 AM
  #5

Oh, poor girl. How sad for her. I just want to tell you that this is my "dread" week too. My dd applied to a school and they are sending out their acceptance letters this week. Yesterday and today I looked at the mail for a large envelope (acceptance letter with all info) and saw none. I was praying the little envelopes were not from her #1 choice school.
Back to your dd. I don't know what to say to her. Those specialty schools are probably so so choosy. There are so many talented young people out there. She may be the most talented where she lives or auditioned for, but people come from ALL OVER to go to these specific colleges so there are so many more talented kids trying to get in. ( I see you said that in your post)
I know she probably won't like this advice but why can't she do some core classes locally and then look for other schools in which more than 1% get in. That's horrible and pretty much setting yourself up for sadness. I'm sorry. I may be commiserating with you by the end of this week. I hope she's okay. It really sucks!


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Old 04-03-2018, 10:24 AM
  #6

I have two close family members that majored in musical theatre. One took out extreme amount of loans and went to a top school in NYC. The other lived at home and went to a state school. Same degree. Now the one who went to school in NYC works completely outside of theatre and owes so much $$$. The one who went to state school still acts regularly in regional theatres (but she also has a side job).

All this to say, I think that in the world of theatre, the actual school means less than talent. If your DD is talented, she will go far, despite what school she attends. The reach schools may bring about a little more opportunities in terms of auditioning, but state schools can have great opportunities too. In my area, even our college actors/shows are reviewed regularly in the paper and are “famous” within the local theatre culture. Many have gone on to be big names in media. No one cares/notices where they went to school.
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Old 04-03-2018, 10:25 AM
  #7

When you are looking at 1% acceptance rate to top programs the fact that one reach school wanted her should make her feel good about herself. The fact that she didn't have the required coursework surprises me that they would have let auditions get that far without it.

If the state school is well-respected for the program, I say go for it if she can change her mindset. Otherwise, she has to be very careful about her mindset if she goes anyway because many of the students in the program will be so happy they got into their choice school and program and there is nothing worse than the one who sees the program they are in as settling.

I understand how disappointing it is to reach high and not quite get there especially when you are surrounded by people telling you that you should have been there. As a wise teacher once said, sometimes it is better to be the big fish in the little pond...
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Old 04-03-2018, 11:16 AM
  #8

It's a disappointment that she doesn't have more options. But theater is a ruthless, highly competitive industry. This may prepare her for future disappointments. She knew during the application process that it was a very low acceptance rate. It would be unusual to get accepted to most of the schools with that much competition. This is a great life lesson for her. I think it's important that kids learn to deal with disappointment.
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Old 04-03-2018, 11:17 AM
  #9

Aw! I'm so sorry for DD. I have absolutely no experience with MT, but this seems to be the way it goes. My ds did not get into ANY of his reach or medium schools. He is a very bright student, and seems to have a lot of the qualities they are looking for, but he didn't make it...

What's really unbelievable to me is that ds has a friend who is a phenomenal student and all around guy. One of those kids who has everything going for him. He is in just about every activity/ sport at school and holds leadership roles in many of them. His grades/ scores are near perfect, and he is doing a lot of "out of the box" activities as well. We are in a top school system too.... He's a nearly perfect kid () and I can't imagine what ANY college would be looking for if it isn't him! He didn't get in to any of his reach schools either. No idea why. It made ds feel a bit better that he didn't get in, but it's hard to figure out what colleges are looking for.

DD sounds like she's got a lot of talent. If their MT department is well-respected, it could be a great place for her to get a start and could lead to many opened doors. It's a shame she can't start off at a place she wants to be, though... I feel for her, but please let her know that many, many kids are in the same boat. My ds was devastated that he didn't make it in to his dream school and is already talking about trying for a transfer next year.

I hope she goes off and ends up loving her new school!
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Old 04-03-2018, 11:20 AM
  #10

I say go to the state school, rock it, and then transfer it she desires. Less $ on loans for first 2 years, and prestige of the name school last two years.


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Old 04-03-2018, 11:38 AM
  #11

This must be hard on all of you. A close friend’s daughter majored in MT. She sounds very similar to your dd. She didn’t get in most of the MT schools she wanted to attend. She did go to a smaller college and majored in MT. It is a very competitive major and also competitive to get jobs after college. Let this all sink in and your daughter can decide what to do in a few days. Her talent will shine through.
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Old 04-03-2018, 01:09 PM
  #12

Unfortunately, for someone as successful in HS as your DD, this is just the beginning of disappointments. College is so tough on these kids. Then even once they get out of college and looking for that first job is hard. They tend to get built up with all they do and what they're told that reality is tough.

I hope with time, your DD will come to accept and appreciate her talents, even if they're not in the top 1%. She can still be successful.
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Old 04-03-2018, 01:20 PM
  #13

Quote:
Unfortunately, for someone as successful in HS as your DD, this is just the beginning of disappointments. College is so tough on these kids. Then even once they get out of college and looking for that first job is hard. They tend to get built up with all they do and what they're told that reality is tough.
I used to try to convince her to go for Music Education, but she refused. So now I'm supporting this dream 110%. FWIW, when she expressed an interest in this as a career, I started driving her out of our rural area and into the city 30 minutes away to see if she was competitive in a bigger area. And she always has been. She may be competing nationally at the end of the school year. It will be interesting to see how that goes......

She knows that the end game is not always Broadway. She is happy on any stage!
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Old 04-03-2018, 01:52 PM
  #14

Another thing to remember...

The choice of undergraduate school is far less critical than the choice of graduate school.

Being in Musical Theater, I assume she will continue her work after getting her undergraduate degree. It will be important to carefully choose her graduate school.

If she has been accepted to a school that has a solid reputation for her degree, go there and keep a keen eye on graduate school options.
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Old 04-03-2018, 02:42 PM
  #15

I am sorry your DD is disappointed, but I was basically going to say what Reading gal said. It is an extremely competitive career path with tons of disappointed very talented people who are never able to make a living at it.
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Old 04-03-2018, 02:45 PM
  #16

This is what teachers talked to my kids about...going from being a big fish in a small pond to being a little fish in a huge pond.

I think too many people poofed up her excitement at the possibility of getting in to the reach schools. Sadly, they are reach schools for a reason. It all depends on the applicant pool from year to year. This year she may not be "good" enough, but next year she might make it easily given the same criteria she had. Very very frustrating when you are on the short end of the stick.

DS applied to a high end university. He was wait listed. He chose to make the decision to bail out and go to his safe school. Got a great education and didn't I we a gazillion $$ afterward. Was very happy there.

I know some that go to that reach school and hate it. They end up coming back to their safe school.

It will take time, and really getting into a mexiun school is more than others got, so it's a good place to start.
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Old 04-03-2018, 03:03 PM
  #17

Quote:
She applied and auditioned to 12 schools: 1 "safe", 1 "medium", 10 "reaches" -- all on the advice of the coaches. Her auditions went very well, she got great feedback. But she only got into her safe school, the medium school, and 1 reach (which ended up being a "no" because of a class she didn't take). Which left her with two schools.
I've decided this is a weird year for college admissions. DS18 applied to seven schools. He was accepted by five, including three in-state and two private out-of-state. The two private schools offered a ton of scholarship and grant $$. He was rejected outright by a second-tier state school . Last week, the last state school replied with an offer to have him go to a special program at the local community college for a year, then apply to transfer. The wording varies between sounding like it's an honor and sounding like it's punitive. His results have truly been all over the place. We can't figure it out.

I would advise your DD to go to the medium school, do her absolute best, and see whether she can transfer later and/or take advantage of summer jobs and internships and work toward graduate school or full-time performing. DD22 originally started as a music major. Obviously that's not musical theater, but I know music is extremely competitive, and she was rejected by schools that we thought were "safe" schools. It's unfortunate that people built up your DD's expectations on the "reach" schools, because she's disappointed. However, she needs to be realistic and learn how to take advantage of the opportunity she's been presented.
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Go with the safe school...
Old 04-03-2018, 03:14 PM
  #18

She may find she is very happy there. But if she isn't, she probably could look into transferring for her sophomore year. Maybe it might be easier to get in as a transfer than as a freshman. FB had an article about how low the percentage was of Georgetown University's acceptances. While Georgetown is not a musical theater school, it is indicative of how competitive some of these programs are. I hope she can eventually focus on the opportunity to go to college, major in what she loves and enjoy her time there, rather than worry about the reactions of others to where she is going. I truly believe life is what you make of it.
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Old 04-03-2018, 03:18 PM
  #19

Quote:
She may find she is very happy there. But if she isn't, she probably could look into transferring for her sophomore year. Maybe it might be easier to get in as a transfer than as a freshman. FB had an article about how low the percentage was of Georgetown University's acceptances. While Georgetown is not a musical theater school, it is indicative of how competitive some of these programs are. I hope she can eventually focus on the opportunity to go to college, major in what she loves and enjoy her time there, rather than worry about the reactions of others to where she is going. I truly believe life is what you make of it.
We just had a long talk. We decided that the only way for her to be happy there, is to make up her mind to be happy there! I reminded her that she is there to learn and grow, and that she'll have a competent staff at her disposal. She's going to look at it like a year (or more) of improving her art, and not look at it as her second-to-last choice college. I think after the summer orientation (overnight), she'll have a much better attitude.
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One more thing....
Old 04-03-2018, 03:47 PM
  #20

I remembered something my dentist had told me. Her dd was applying to schools for dance, which is also very competitive. She told me that she had heard to send her dd to summer camps for HS students at the colleges they were most interested in. These were expensive, but she sent her to the summer camps at 2 or 3 of her dream schools. She believed that her dd would get to know instructors, etc and that might have some “pull” for her when it was time to apply, and would also look great on her applications.

Well, they were visiting one of the schools for a prospective student event when one of her summer instructors- who was also on the faculty of the university- spotted her. He made a big fuss over her and ended up taking her to someone important (maybe the admissions office?) and saying how talented she was, what a pleasure it was working with her, etc. She was offered admission at that college.

We wanted to send ds to a science camp at his dream school and looked into it, but the camp was $8000. We couldn’t afford it.

In any case, I think you’ve given your dd great advice. I agree that she’ll be happier after the orientation.
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Old 04-03-2018, 03:50 PM
  #21

Wow!! The more I read this, the more upsetting it is! What nerve that these colleges have so much power to reject our kids!! Who do they think they are?????????
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Old 04-03-2018, 04:05 PM
  #22

Quote:
I remembered something my dentist had told me. Her dd was applying to schools for dance, which is also very competitive. She told me that she had heard to send her dd to summer camps for HS students at the colleges they were most interested in. These were expensive, but she sent her to the summer camps at 2 or 3 of her dream schools. She believed that her dd would get to know instructors, etc and that might have some “pull” for her when it was time to apply, and would also look great on her applications.

Well, they were visiting one of the schools for a prospective student event when one of her summer instructors- who was also on the faculty of the university- spotted her. He made a big fuss over her and ended up taking her to someone important (maybe the admissions office?) and saying how talented she was, what a pleasure it was working with her, etc. She was offered admission at that college.

We wanted to send ds to a science camp at his dream school and looked into it, but the camp was $8000. We couldn’t afford it.

In any case, I think you’ve given your dd great advice. I agree that she’ll be happier after the orientation.
OH YES! All of the theatre kids in the region that got into the big name schools attended a prestigious summer program at one of the big colleges. We looked into it a couple of years ago, but it was $6000. I'm a single parent, and a teacher in a rural county. I couldn't come up with that kind of money if we lived on mac & cheese for a year.
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Old 04-03-2018, 04:10 PM
  #23

Sometimes, time is the only thing that heals. I think you are smart for supporting her dreams. She doesn't have to give them up, she just has to change the path to get there. Everything she does is a stepping stone to somewhere. We just don't always know where it will go!

She will figure it out.

My cousin's dd went MT and then went after her dream. She ended up working in Disney World, traveled with a few Broadway shows for several years. Now she is working as a work out guru, making videos and leading on line and in person classes. Looks like she is having fun, but I know that isn't where she saw herself heading.

Life is a journey.
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Old 04-03-2018, 04:12 PM
  #24

These types of events are where our children grow in their resilience to disappointments in life. I would be disappointed but in the end thankful for what will really be a small letdown in her life. My kids had several of these experiences and in looking back, I am glad that they had these opportunities to toughen up.
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Old 04-03-2018, 06:17 PM
  #25

She has a much better chance of getting leading roles and valuable stage experience at the State school. If the “reach” schools are that competitive, she might not even land a spot in the chorus for their productions.

A “name” college doesn’t do much for the resume if you are only given minor roles. I hope your DD will view this as an opportunity to own the stage at her State school - and that will look great on her resume!
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Old 04-03-2018, 07:14 PM
  #26

I'm sorry your DD is disappointed, and I'm even more sorry that she's getting this kind of feedback from her peers. I think hearing everyone tell her she'd get into top schools with big scholarships set her up for major disappointment. Now she's more likely to feel she's been denied what is her right to have. Top 1% is extremely small and her changes were almost nil. I completely believe she is incredible and amazing, but 1% or less is terrible odds, even for an amazing young lady. It's horrible that she is feeling so terribly about herself.

I am with kahlua- I think this will take time. I agree with you that she'll probably get excited about her future after she spends some time there and gets to know some people. I also agree with guest that she will likely be very happy at the state school where she will likely snag better roles. This could be an amazing turn of events for her, actually. Even though it doesn't seem like that to her right now. And you never know why people get in or don't get in to various programs. It's not just based on the things we usually think of. For many places, having an "in" by knowing someone really does make a difference.

Are there students she can talk to at the state school? I think your daughter can have an amazing experience at the state school. She can always think about trying to transfer after a few years. If she takes a gap year, continues with lessons and re-auditions, do you really think her chances will go up? What happens if you spend all the money on more lessons and auditions and she doesn't get in again? I would go to the state school and get the most out of it. You say it's well-respected, it's affordable, and she can have an amazing experience.
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For....
Old 04-03-2018, 09:37 PM
  #27

For whatever this is worth...

My friend's dear kid major in MT at the big deal, uber expensive college (dear kid had a monster trust fund). Same dear kid got post graduate degree at big deal, uber expensive graduate program.

What is dear kid doing now? Answering phones at a relative's business, and has done NOTHING with the two degrees.

The only saving grace it was the trust fund that paid for all the school, and my friend wasn't on the hook for loans.

Honestly, I think dear kid got in because she/he paid out of state tuition with no financial aid. You don't know how many students are paying international/out of state tuition, and who knows if that sways who gets in.

Also, summer camps that are the tune of $5K+ for becoming a known quantity to professors is a big deal around here too.
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Couple of ideas
Old 04-04-2018, 03:33 AM
  #28

Here are two more reasons to attend the medium state university. The first is to get the dorm/living away from home experience. That's important. (Although I will tell you that DD22 is at home now, and DS18 considered it.) The second is...what if your DD changes her major? I know, she's set on musical theater. But many, many students who are convinced they know what they want to study actually change their minds once they get into it. DD22 was set on being a music major. She quickly realized she really didn't enjoy the intensive music study, and she also began to develop repetitive stress in her wrists due to so much instrumental practice. She switched to nursing and will graduate in December and loves it. She did earn a music performance minor, and she hasn't played clarinet since. The state university offers your DD the option to change majors without having to change schools, and that could be important down the road.
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Wow, unbelievable odds!
Old 04-04-2018, 04:01 AM
  #29

Your daughter is lucky in a way, because she now has a clear idea of how difficult her chosen profession will be.

Have you done any research to see how many of those top schools that she wanted to get into are legacy schools, i.e., you get in because your parent went there. In this type of profession, I would not be surprised if that is an issue.

She is young. The state school sounds great. Once she gets there, she will get caught up in the program and may want to stay. Or she could try to transfer. Either way, she will focus on having the most successful college career possible and set her sights on a good graduate school.

I know she is disappointed. But she is in a profession where disappointment is a big ongoing part of things. I wish her all the best. She sounds very talented!
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Old 04-04-2018, 04:46 AM
  #30

Has your “extremely talented” daughter considered skipping college for now and going straight to performing?

Or, consider this....I have a friend whose DD was the national #1 water polo goalie in HS. She was heavily recruited by colleges and decided to accept Harvard’s generous offer. However, when reality time came, Harvard didn’t officially offer because her SATs weren’t high enough for them. In fact, Harvard turned her down; Harvard was fine with a lower ranked player who met their academic standards. She played at another school and has a job completely unconnected to those 4 years.

I’m sorry for your DD and I hope you can help her understand that there’s lots of talent in this world and not all of it is appreciated. Hard lesson at her age, but it might help her in the long run.

Last edited by amiga13; 04-04-2018 at 05:41 AM.. Reason: I can spell sometimes
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Old 04-04-2018, 05:46 AM
  #31

Quote:
Has your “extremely talented” daughter considered skipping college for now and going straight to performing?
Yes, she has. When she took an audition workshop last summer, the guy who was in charge (an agent from NYC) took me aside and told me that he could take her to NY that day and she'd have a great shot at 4 Broadway roles he could think of off the top of his head.

The problem is that she's 17. She's never been on her own, and we are 6 hours from NYC. We don't know how we could make that work. She feels that she's not ready, and really wants to go to college to continue her training.
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Old 04-04-2018, 07:55 AM
  #32

I've really thought about this post a lot because it hurts me to see kids dreams not okay out the way they want.

Instead if looking at it as going to her second to last choice she should look at it in categories...tier 1, 2, & 3. She got middle of the road, which is NOT bad. Both my kids ended up at their safe schools if very competitive programs. Neither will ever say it was a bad choice!

To her benefit, if she's as good as everyone says (I only say that because I don't personally know how good she is) then she will be one of the top students at this school. This will help her get the better roles in productions. At the tier one school she would have been competing with all top players, all the time. It's hard to grow your craft when others are beating you out for roles. Plus the stress of always busting your butt to not get a role can be depressing.

I would plan her schedule so that she gets an associate degree in 2 years in case she wants to try Broadway after 2 years of being on her own. The fact that she doesn't think she's ready to go live alone in NYC is very mature of her. This guy might be able to get her a role in 4 shows, but would it pay enough to pay the bills? Part of his job as the camp person was to recruit. A good salesman can do that, but most salesmen leave out the bad parts when selling their product! So many Broadway actors, my cousin was one, had other jobs to help support themselves.

Those camps are ridiculously priced! It really makes it about the haves and have nots! Even with a spouse with a good job we didn't choose to go in debt for sumner camp. Eating Mac& cheese 365 days was not appealing to us!. Makes me sad that competition has made it this way!

Good luck to your DD and tell her to "break a leg"!
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Old 04-04-2018, 08:17 AM
  #33

In regards to the recruiter... Many of them charge for their services whether or not you get the roles. They do better if you get the role, but still get paid if you don't. Some are just shady as heck. They sound great and make people feel great, but they are usually only out for themselves.

I think being a top dog at a state school would be fantastic. The other thing it will allow is that she starts working on a plan B because in life you need skills in more than one area because you never know what will happen. State schools have so many options it is easy to get a minor in some other discipline that can either supplement her major or be an alternative if things don't work out in the future.
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