For anyone interested in a future on the stage, there’s probably nothing more important than getting into the right theatre school- it’s where your career will start, after all. Whether you’re an actor, singer, dancer or triple-threat, you’ve probably had your sights set on the theatre school of your dreams since you first stepped on stage and caught the performing bug.

For many of you, the dream will become reality this summer as you head down to your chosen school after successfully securing a place there. Firstly, congratulations! If you’ve managed to get a place, there’s no doubt you worked hard through a difficult application process and several tough auditions. The first few weeks while you settle into your new student home and get to know new friends and tutors will feel really surreal- you’re finally on the way to achieving your dream career!

Knowing you’ve got three or more years of tough training and industry experience ahead can be a daunting thought in the early days. But there are a few things you can do in your first weeks at theatre school to ensure you make your time there easier and get the best you possibly can out of this once in a lifetime chance.

We’ve made a checklist of the top 3 things you need to remember, and any questions you should be asking to make sure you’re completely prepared when it comes to starting out on your theatre school course…

Find your way around

It’s important to get to know your way around in the early weeks. You’ll be able to find classes quicker, you’ll become more confident in your knowledge of the school and you’ll feel more integrated and settled in as a whole once you know where you’re going.

There will probably be school tours in the first few weeks, but it’s always a good idea to walk round with any friends or older students in your spare time to really get a feel for the place. Visit important areas like rehearsal rooms, recording facilities and dance studios too. Find out more about these rooms- are they strictly for class use, or are students able to hire them out for extra rehearsal outside of school hours? How do you go about booking rooms and how long can they be reserved for? It may seem premature, but learning as much as you can about these policies can stand you in good stead later in the year when you have to prepare pieces for assessment and need space to practise in.

Learn about the local area around the school too. Ask experienced students which are the cheapest areas, which pubs and clubs offer the best nightlife and if there are any places to avoid. Spend any free periods wandering round and getting a feel for the place.

Chat with other students

It can be daunting to reach out to people who aren’t your housemates in the first few weeks, and students often get into the habit of only socialising with those they live with. Instead, spend time getting to know your course mates by organising meals out after class or coffees at lunchtime.Your classmates will be invaluable in giving you the support you need during difficult classes or at examination time, and it can be good to have a group to fall back on when things get tense at home.

Similarly, chat to older students if you get the chance. They’ll have been through the same experiences as you in the early days, and it can be valuable to have their advice and support when things get tough or you have doubts about the course you’re on. No one’s going to give you a more honest opinion about the school than someone who’s currently studying there. So ask them about the classes they do in detail, learn about the modules you should be aiming to get onto in your second and third years, and the classes and tutors you should avoid.

If they have similar career aspirations to you, ask them about any extra-curricular activities they’re doing to enrich their learning, or any valuable industry contacts they’ve reached out to.

Introduce yourself to your tutors

The first few weeks on your course are a great opportunity to make yourself known to the tutors of your various classes, so if you do get the opportunity to chat to a staff member, use it to make a good impression of yourself.

Ask questions about their course and what they expect from you. Discuss the areas you feel you want to improve and tell them your career aspirations to see if they can give you any advice on shaping your course to meet your goals.

It can be valuable to have an ally in your tutor, so make the effort to reach out to them in the early days and you’ll feel much more supported throughout your course. You’ll probably strike up a strong bond with them anyway over your years at the school, but they’ll always remember the interest you showed in the early days in finding out about them, their career history and their course.

Pursuing a performing arts qualification at an accredited drama school will not only allow you to develop and improve your creative skills, it will also allow you to transform your passion for performance from a hobby into a successful, rewarding career. It’s important to remember, though, that vocational drama school courses are designed to be tough, to prepare you for what can sometimes be an exhausting career on stage or screen. You might find yourself in classes or rehearsals for over thirty hours a week, so it’s important that you’re fit – both physically and mentally – to prepare yourself for this.

It will all be worth it at the end of those three years though, when you’ve improved existing skills, developed new ones and had the opportunity to meet and work with important industry experts and experience a professional theatre environment. So really make the most out of your time at drama school and squeeze everything you can from the experience. The more you put into it, the more you’ll get out!

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