Please Stop Telling Conservatory Students They "Didn’t Go to a Real College"

  • Gigi Principe

As graduation season is upon us, I would like to take the time to say congratulations! Congrats to everyone who graduates or have already graduated this year! Especially those who pursued a career in the arts. That is no easy task! Coincidentally I too have graduated this year as well (Congrats to the 134th class of The American Academy of Dramatic Arts!), and above all, I would like to say one thing.

Please stop telling the conservatory students they didn’t go to college. I’m getting really sick and tired of being told I didn’t go to a real college, and I bet some people who are reading this are too. 

Let me put it into perspective FAFSA, also known as financial aid, is what you apply for when you go to college. Guess what? FAFSA took me in too! 

It’s funny actually even Jeff Daniels who is currently starring as Atticus Finch in To Kill A Mockingbird on Broadway told our graduating class “it doesn’t matter where you come from no one gives a shit” to that I say well-said, sir! I say we take a page from Daniel’s book and just focus on getting jobs instead of judging what schools we came from!

A conservatory is still a college; it’s just a special kind of college. For instance, if you are very passionate about the arts be it acting, music, dance, etc. and want to do that and nothing else, a conservatory is a better option because they immerse you in all the things that have to do with regarding your passion of the arts. You won’t have the core classes such as math, science, and English. And a conservatory is more likely a two-year program, but most will result in a BFA (Bachelor of Fine Arts) either way. To sum it all up, you did just as much if not even more work in 2 years than some will do at most “real colleges” and you saved yourself and your parent's money by doing two years instead of four.

Now I’m not saying conservatories are better than universities. Props to anyone who did a four-year program, with all the fixings and core classes and the college experience. That’s something I know some could never do.  However when those people who went to “a real college” tell those who went to a conservatory that they didn’t go to college, they took “the easy way out” that’s when it hits home.  

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to defend my conservatory by telling people who don’t know better that yes I did go to college as well as my two hundred fellow alumni who graduated with me from the conservatory I attended. 

I speak for myself and all the conservatory graduates. We did go to college, we paid our dues, done our sentence, succeeded, laughed and cried, and most of all, we learned something. We graduated too. 

So let me repeat congratulations to ALL graduating classes, conservatories, universities, homeschoolers, online class and so on. We all did it!