Head to Head – University or Drama School?

Apologies for the late blog again! As usual I’ve been a very busy woman. I can begin this blog by following on from my blog last week with another wedding update!

At the weekend, it was my lovely god-sister Lizzie’s wedding. It was back up North for this one so I got to go back home and see my Mum, Dad and dog, Honey! (Which of course was also a very exciting part of the weekend!) Unfortunately, my Dad couldn’t make it to the wedding as he had tickets to see U2 at Twickenham with his cousin. Despite the lack of my Dad, we had such a beautiful day and Lizzie looked absolutely stunning. I really do wish Mr and Mrs Norton the biggest congratulations and the best for their future married life!


What a beautiful bride! Here’s one of Bobby, Mum and I too.


You might remember last week I mentioned my friend Amanda who is also Type 1. Well, my blog last week spurred Amanda on to make her first Youtube video with her boyfriend AC, all about following the Vegan diet. She also touches on Diabetes in her first video. If you’re a diabetic or not, I recommend you check out their first video and future videos because they really are going to be providing lots of great information and advice. They’re also looking for feedback and for people to reach out to them who are in similar situations! Check out their video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1T1xQykU0_o&feature=youtu.be

I had a phone call this week about being featured in the local Croydon Newspaper in regards to The Big Conversation event! Hopefully I will get to see the article soon and can pop up a link to it here in my next blog!

So, the main topic I wanted to tackle this week is the age old question:

University or Drama School?

I do find that this is a bit of a controversial topic. I, myself attended the University of Cumbria and completed a BA in Musical Theatre and Dance Performance where I graduated in 2013 and I absolutely loved it! Before I decided to apply to Universities I did apply to Drama Schools around the age of 18/19 and didn’t get accepted. When I reflect back now, I do think that it wasn’t really the right time for me to be putting myself into the Drama School audition process. At the time I feel I was much more raw to being rejected and I’m not sure if the Drama School process would have made me or broken me. I’m extremely glad that I applied to Universities and had the experience that I had. As cliche as it sounds, I endured a lot during my time at University (be that within the University environment and personally) and I really do think my experience shaped me and helped me grow into the person that I am today. Which I am extremely grateful for.

Don’t get me wrong, I would have loved to attend Drama School. However, I would have much preferred to attend it with the attitude and knowledge that I have today, but now I don’t feel like I would ever put myself back into education. As I have been out in the professional world since 2013 I really do feel like I want to keep going and prove to myself that I really can make it.

There has always been a huge stigma with University courses in regards to performance. There has always been a negative response to training at University opposed to Drama School as people always assume that you “weren’t good enough for Drama School” or that you “wouldn’t get as good training” there. In all honesty, I think it’s very hard to compare the two. I know I can’t speak from experience, but still.

Originally University courses focused on the more academic performance programmes with Drama School courses being highly practical. Throughout the years, Universities have tailored and developed their courses so now the line between the two are beginning to blur. I think this is brilliant. For some Drama School is just too expensive and not everyone receives the luxury of a scholarship. Universities, even though the fees have gone up since I was there, do offer a slightly more affordable way to attend their courses with the help of bursaries and maintenance grants. I’m not actually 100% sure if Drama Schools offer these too, this would be something I would need to do more research about.

It is true that at Drama School you are looking to have a very intense experience where you are presented around 30 hours a week of face to face practical training. Whereas at University you are offered a plethora of encouragement to develop and devise your own work, whilst also working under the direction of others and having the opportunity to learn about other aspects of the industry.

When it comes to the world of casting, I must admit, there are still an abundance of Casting Directors out there who won’t even look at you if you haven’t trained at a reputable Drama School. I find this extremely frustrating. Just because you haven’t trained at a Drama School doesn’t mean that you aren’t good enough, or that your ability to produce work would be at a lower standard. But alas, this is something we do have to face on a daily basis and deal with. I am really hoping that for Casting Directors it will get to a point where they won’t need to look at where you have trained to consider you for a job. They just need to find the talent within the person, not the words to show where you trained. I guess with the full on face to face practical training that you receive at Drama School it is more likely for a Casting Director to think you are more suitable and well prepared for a role, but likewise, being from a University should not hinder your opportunities.

It is a really great feeling when you go to watch a show, you buy a programme and you look through and begin to see more and more actors cropping up who have trained at a University. It is a very nice feeling to see that, especially being a University graduate myself.

For some, I have known of a combination of training at both University and Drama School. University to gain a BA and Drama School to further their training with an MA. I really do think that this is a great idea. Not only are you getting two forms of qualification, but you’re getting two different experiences that give you a completely different outlook of the industry. I think you’re at a great advantage having experienced both. My friend Vicky is a fantastic Actress and she did just that. She has had a cornucopia of experience and opportunities and she is really excelling and thoroughly deserves it! Well done Vicky!

There is a great article about University vs Drama School on The Stage website which really is one to read. I thoroughly recommend that you check it out. You can find it here: https://www.thestage.co.uk/advice/2017/how-university-theatre-courses-differ-from-drama-schools/?utm_source=newsletter1&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=newsletter1

All in all, I’m not going to come to a conclusion about whether you should choose the University route or the Drama School route. It is completely down to every individuals opinion. When it is time for you to decide where you want to train, do the research, think about what you want and which course offers that to you. You never know, you could even be one of the lucky ones who doesn’t even have to train because you’re discovered way before that! Don’t let that make you think that it will happen to you though. You don’t get anywhere without working hard for it.







Published by diabetesandtheactor

Actress, singer and type 1 diabetic.

One thought on “Head to Head – University or Drama School?

  1. Very interesting read.
    I feel that the two offer completely different options for people. Only really in England is the drama school Vs university divide so prominent. I do admit though, there is a stigma against people who trained at uni that want to pursue a career in the industry. But people have to fight that stigma. It’s not that you’re not as talented, I’ve worked with plenty of actors who went to uni and they’re wonderful performers. Similarly, drama school offers things that uni doesn’t like an indepth practical approach to training. It’s definitely what’s right for you though – both very valid choices.
    I’m currently training at drama school and not to sound like a purist but I feel the two shouldnt be mixed, simply because they’re two separate institutions. University is a wonderful place where you can really study and understand your craft. It allows you to mix art with academia which is a great balance. Drama school offers a more intense practical training in acting/movement/singing.
    The two options should be kept open and supported to allow people to choose which option is right for them. There’s no one way into the industry. 😊


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