If you’re considering attending acting school, you’ll find that there are many options out there. Many traditional colleges offer majors in theater, and there are graduate programs in acting, as well. In addition, film schools and conservatories can provide excellent training for the up-and-coming actor. And then there are weekly acting courses that can be attended on an ongoing basis. So which acting school is right for you?

The most basic requirement, of course, is that you can afford it. Many acting schools, particular those with prestigious, well-known names, are priced way above the means of most aspiring thespians. Although it may be tempting to scrape up the money, be realistic with yourself. Is the quality of the program truly that superior to others that cost less? And how much is it worth simply to say you attended such-and-such acting school? More than in any other industry, getting your foot in the door (in this case, getting that big audition) is much less about what school you went to and much more about who you know in the business. Your focus should be on developing your acting chops and making those all-important professional connections. If you spend all your time waiting tables so you can afford to take a class, that’s time spent away from actually pursuing your dreams. And that’s why you’re going to acting school in the first place, right?

So what should an acting class offer you? Besides a reasonable tuition, it should teach you to approach any script you’re given with a sense of excitement. You want to delve into your character and tell his or her story in an honest, engaging way that’s meaningful to you. Of course, that can be hard to do when you’re actually on an audition, reading with intimidating, brusque casting directors who nonetheless hold your fate in their hands. Acting school should give you the tools you need to focus on yourself and your character, and not let nerves get the better of you. You may be the best actor in the world, but if you crack under pressure, you’re simply not going to land the job. It’s the responsibility of any good acting school to help you through this all-too-common problem, and give you the confidence you need to nail any audition. (Not to mention the call-back, and then the actual job.)

In addition to performance and preparation skills, acting schools should also teach you about the business side of the industry. From how to land an agent to managing your money, you’ll need to understand how to make acting not just a passion, but a financially career. You should learn all this and more when you attend acting school.

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