Top Tips for Drama School PrepGetting Ready to Start your Training Journey!
Congratulations! Your hard work has paid off, and you have been offered a place to train at drama school! If you are now wondering “what next?”, we have put together our top tips for drama school prep, aimed at helping new students feel ready and raring to go once their first term of training kicks off!
Whether you are gearing up to live away from your hometown for the first time and are looking for house-hunting tips, want to make sure you have all the “drama school essentials” you need to hand when training starts, or just want a “checklist” to help you prepare, check out our helpful advice…
Tip #1 – Do your “Admin”
You have been offered a place to train at drama school, which means the first, and arguably hardest, step is out of the way. The next step is to make sure you formally accept this training offer with your chosen drama school to ensure that you are included in their records regarding confirmed incoming students on all training courses and do not miss any vital information from the school ahead of the start of term. Similarly, if your offer is on an accredited course validated on behalf of the drama school by an external partner, such as a university or other Higher Education provider, be sure to check whether you need to formally accept this offer and then enrol through the validation partner’s systems as well – this will ensure you do not miss out on any information from the accreditation partner and that you receive that all-important Higher Education qualification from the awarding body at the end of your drama school training.
Not sure where to start when it comes to accepting your offer? Your new drama school will have a dedicated Admissions team, whose role it is to assist incoming students with their queries to ensure they have everything they need when they start their training journey, so get in touch with them if you have any questions or need assistance. It is their job to help and guide you, and they will be happy to do so!
Tip #2 – Fees & Budgeting
Once you have formally accepted your offer and enrolled with your new drama school, the next step is to think about how you are going to fund the different aspects of your training journey – this includes knowing how you will pay your course fees and purchase any training materials, to ensuring you have sufficient means to cover the cost of your accommodation and all other living expenses, travel and transport, plus extra-curricular entertainment and exploring your new training location, however you choose to do this.
Traditionally, actor training and drama school was seen as something only accessible to those who could afford it. This is slowly but surely changing, with many drama schools (including Fourth Monkey) finding ways to make their training more accessible and inclusive, both to diversify the voices we hear on stage and to open out creative opportunities to a greater number of talented young artists. One of the ways many schools are making their training increasingly financial accessible is to be part of the Student Finance system of government loans, typically as part of their accreditation partnerships with their degree-awarding partners. Providing actors-in-training with access to these student-specific loans means they have the option to source a degree of financial support towards some or all of the cost of their training, as well as maintenance loans to helps cover some or all of their associated living expenses (such as rent or utilities) should they wish or need to do so, meaning those who may not previously have been able to afford or finance actor training are more able to do so. If you would like to investigate whether you are able to access Student Finance but are not sure where to start, speak to your new drama school’s Admissions team and ask for their guidance. They are there to ensure you have all the advice and information you need before term starts, and this includes pointing you in the right direction for your Student Finance application by making sure you have all the relevant details about the course and training provider, offering advice and guidance, and pointing you in the right direction should you have any questions that they are unable to answer.
Once you have decided how you will cover the cost of the training and have submitted any Student Finance applications, it is sensible to then think about how you will cover any other training-related expenses, such as rent and bills, travel and transport, and everything in-between. To help with this, why not put together a simple budget or spending plan for each term? This can be as straightforward (or as detailed) as you wish, it just needs to help you visualise all your training-related costs, feel in control and keep track of incomings and outgoings so that you can focus on your training, connecting with your new ensemble and discovering your new base, rather than worrying about how you will pay for everything.
If you are concerned about your financial situation either before or during your training, do not worry in silence or alone – speak to the school’s Admissions or Student Services team about the possibility of additional support or guidance for students who find themselves in financial need, be it pointing you in the direction of reputable employers for part-time work, or helping you research whether you might be eligible for scholarships or similar financial support.
Tip #3 – House & Housemate Hunting
As the start of term approaches, your new school will begin to invite you to connect with the rest of your new training cohort so that you can start to familiarise yourself with your fellow students. These might be virtual introductions and connections, such as joining social media groups specifically for incoming students on your training course, or in-person introductions such as “Meet & Greet Days” at your new training base.
Whatever these opportunities might be, they are a great way to introduce yourself to your new training mates, seek out any friendly faces from audition days or taster workshops that you attended previously and generally familiarise yourself with the people who will be sharing your training journey over the next few years! What is more, these “Meet & Greet” opportunities are a great way to find potential new housemates with whom you can search for accommodation in your new training location, something many drama school students find beneficial as it means everyone that they live with understands the demands of the training, and the various successes and challenges this can bring. It also allows you all to “buddy up” whilst house-hunting, sharing responsibilities for booking viewings and researching the best, affordable locations within easy reach of your new training base.
Moving away from home and living in a new city for the first time? This can be a daunting prospect – from finding new friends with whom to share a house, to knowing where and when to start searching and how much you should be paying for accommodation, there is a lot to take into consideration. If you are not sure where to start when it comes to house-hunting, here are some pointers to help make this process as simple and straightforward as possible:
- Location, location, location – it is always advisable to consider accommodation in area which are geographically near and within easy reach of your training base, either on foot or by easy, affordable public transport links. Be realistic and honest with yourself about how much time you are prepared to spend travelling between your accommodation and training base, and ensure you factor this into your search when you start house-hunting with your new housemates.
- Bills, bills, bills – think about your maximum budget for rent and bills and what you need to have left over to cover the cost of any other household or unexpected expenses alongside day-to-day living. This does not necessarily mean choosing the cheapest house possible (as this might come with its own issues further down the line), however it does mean being honest with potential housemates about what you can and cannot afford, researching nice yet affordable areas within easy reach of your training base and being prepared to spend some time searching to find the best deal.
- Eat, sleep, rave, repeat – the final, and possibly most important, factor in your new housing situation is the people you choose live with, as this can have a big impact. Think about whether you are a night owl or an early riser, a social butterfly or a home bird, and try to seek out likeminded people when looking for potential housemates amongst your new training cohort.
Tip #4 – Last-minute Practical Preparation
Once you have formally accepted your training offer, submitted your Student Finance application and found perfectly located accommodation with newfound friends, the next step is to do any last-minute, practical preparation that will help you feel ready and raring to go!
For instance, are there any specific requirements for training kit or additional materials, such as wearing “blacks” whilst in the studio or ensuring you have appropriate movement gear? If so, think about stocking up before term starts so that you have everything you need to jump in as soon as training gets going. These “blacks” do not need to be expensive; they just need to allow for comfortable, physical movement within a variety of different disciplines and be “training appropriate” – think nothing too revealing, or overly branded.
Similarly, make sure you think about any other practical or lifestyle aspects of moving to a new city, especially if you will be moving away from home for the first time. For example, you will need to register with a GP and a dentist. These should ideally both be conveniently located for your new training base or accommodation, accepting new patients and, crucially, offer a friendly and sympathetic service – research the available practices or surgeries within your new postcode or speak to your new cohort to see if they can recommend anywhere before deciding which will be the best fit for you. The same principles apply if you wish to find part-time employment to supplement your finances – this should be something that fits around your training and timetable commitments, as well as within easy reach of your house via public transport. If it can be with an employer or organisation who offer creative development opportunities, such as internships or placements for those looking to make their first steps into the arts industry, then this is even better, so keep your eyes peeled for part-time employment opportunities with theatres, arts organisations or creative hubs.
Doing your research and making plenty of practical arrangements in advance will help ensure you feel prepared and organised – a great mindset to be in when you kick off your training! If you are getting ready to join us at the Monkey House this Autumn, we can’t wait to welcome you into our community!
Thinking about applying to audition for Fourth Monkey in the future? Make sure you check out our Audition Prep Advice, so that you know what to expect and how to prepare before you meet the panel!