23 Must-Know Acting College Terms

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To help you out during the college audition season, here’s a list of some commonly used terms that are often thrown around. You might call this collection the nomenclature of the college audition process, so if you hear or read these words used within the audition language idiom and are too embarrassed to ask the meaning, don’t worry. Let’s de-mystify the officialese!

I hope this takes a little of the mystery out of the very complex college audition process. Good luck to all and break a leg. As you embark on the audition tour remember: be joyous, be brave, be yourself.

BFA: Bachelor of Fine Arts degree

MFA: Master of Fine Arts degree

BA: Bachelor of Arts degree

BM: Bachelor of Music degree

AA: Associate of Arts certificate

Prescreen: Digital audition submission to determine if you are granted a live audition

Tracks: Recorded playback piano accompaniment

Combo: Brief dance choreography taught to usually 6-4 eight counts of music

Adjustment: When an auditor gives you a re-direction of your monologues or songs in the audition room

Conservatory: A college for the study of the performing arts where nearly all classes focus on practical performance training

Conservatoy-style: A program for the study of the performing arts where practical performance training classes are supplemented by general education classes that usually make up about one-quarter of students' credits

READ: How to Create Your College Dream School List

Common App: The undergraduate college admission application available to apply to any of 693 member colleges

Gap Year: When a student decides to take off a year before applying or re-auditioning for college programs

Early Decision (ED): A binding early offer of admission to a college

Early Action (EA): A non-binding early offer of admission to a college

Rolling Admission: Programs that make offers as they audition, rather than waiting until all auditions have been completed

Redirect: When college admission offers you a spot into a major other than the one for which you auditioned

Deferral: When a college program is holding their decision about your audition status until a later date

Waitlist: Students listed who are stand bys after a college program has made first round offers

FAFSA: An acronym for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid

CSS: An acronym for College Scholarship Service, a financial aid profile from the College Board

NACAC: An acronym for the National Association Of College Admission Counseling

Reply-By Date: May 1st is the national deadline to put a deposit on a college

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The views expressed in this article are solely that of the individual(s) providing them,
and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Backstage or its staff.

Mary Anna Dennard
Mary Anna Dennard is a nationally recognized college audition coach and the founder of CollegeAuditionCoach.com, the first ever online prep for college performing arts applicants.
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