If you are in high school or know someone who is, you know that making choices about higher education can be tough. If you are a dancer, you know that allowing dance training to play into that decision can make the process even more challenging! There are so many factors - and opinions - to take into account. You have to ask many questions that don't always seem to have clear answers, like:
- Can majoring in dance at a college be a helpful stepping stone for my career?
- Is college the only way to receive post-high school training in dance?
- Can I go to college and major in something besides dance?
- Is it best to go to college right out of high school?
With these and similar questions in mind, we asked Ballet 5:8 Company Artists and School of the Arts instructors to reflect on their traditional or nontraditional experiences in college. Throughout the series, you'll see a variety of stories from different perspectives. Hopefully, this will help you as you consider questions about dance and higher education for yourself!
Company Artist Marinna Kus is in her third year with Ballet 5:8. Marinna currently serves as Ballet 5:8's Production Assistant and teaches many children's classes at Ballet 5:8 School of the Arts.
Q. So, what did you do for college?
I began attending community college while I was still in high school. I began dual enrolling in 11th grade and I also took several CLEP exams expedite my academic process. I completed my Associates Degree at Indian River State College and transfered to Florida Atlantic University Online to complete my bachelor's degree in Business Administration. I alternated taking full and part time classes. When I moved to Chicago I only took 6 credit hours per semester to accommodate my work schedule. I also took some semesters off if it looked like our touring schedule was going to be really intense.
Q. What made you decide to do this? When did you decide what you would do for college?
I didn't want to attend college, but my parents were insistent. In retrospect I'm thankful they were because a dance career is not a long career and I'm happy that I have a skill that will allow me to sustain myself once my dancing days have come to a close. I chose my major based on its practicality. Going to college for dance didn't appeal to me since my goal was to have an alternate career for my post ballet life, or in case of unexpected injury. Both of my parents are also conveniently accountants, so I had free 24/ 7 tutoring.
Q. What top pro’s and con’s stand out to you about doing what you did for college?
The top pro's of my college journey were that I was able to keep my instate student status with FAU while being free to create my own schedule with online classes. I'm really grateful to also have a degree that leaves me with options for my post ballet life.
Q. Are you currently using your degree? If so, how, and if not, what are your hopes for the future?
I am not yet using my degree, but I plan to start entry level accounting work with my family's firm in the coming months to keep up the knowledge I have gained. I am interested in bookkeeping in the nonprofit sector, specifically for arts organizations. I also am particularly interested in best practices and internal controls, which is an area that I would like to become more proficient in.
Q. What is one piece of advice you have for student dancers considering higher education?
It's a long process and it can be very frustrating, but if you have the opportunity, definitely go to school. Ballet careers are wonderful, but they're short. Also, if it takes you more than four years its okay. There's no shame in that at all.