Carnegie Mellon Theatre Students Offer Freshman Survival Tips

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12 Aug 2014

Jordon Bolden
Jordon Bolden

Student-made video shares hard-earned advice from outgoing freshmen.


It all started this past May when Carnegie Mellon freshman musical theatre students Jordon Bolden and Henry Ayers Brown were walking across campus and started to reflect on the lessons they’d learned during their first year in college.

Not just the classroom lessons, but the life lessons they had learned about surviving and prevailing as first-time college students away from home.

“We started to think, what if there were some kind of video students could watch before they arrived on campus?” Bolden said. “Something that would ease that transition?”

Two months, a lot of inspiration, a bunch of cooperation and a load of collaboration later, the video "How To Survive Your First Year in a BFA Theatre Program” has already been passed around on social media, starting with the members-only Facebook group for Carnegie Mellon freshmen, but quickly spreading to open forums and others colleges, eventually clocking more than 2,000 views on YouTube alone.

The video, produced entirely by students with no university funding (but with an ex-post-facto university blessing), begins with a cluster of relaxed and wholesome-looking theatre students. “Are you entering your freshman year of a BFA theatre program?” Isabel Pask asks the viewer. “If so, get ready for the most challenging—and rewarding—year of your life.

Shot in and around the Carnegie Mellon campus in Pittsburgh, the video offers tips on everything from keeping track of assignments, managing time, dealing with pressure to maintain a “Broadway body,” getting outside the “bubble” of learning in a conservatory, keeping yourself creatively fulfilled, and being supportive of classmates.

The students offer brass-tacks advice like warming-up vocally before parties so you don’t harm your vocal cords if things get noisy, how to pace your drinking if you must make that a part of your college life, and learning how to power-nap instead of watching Netflix.


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