What are your chances of acceptance?

Your chance of acceptance
Duke University
Duke University
Your chancing factors
Unweighted GPA: 3.7
SAT: 720 math
| 800 verbal


Low accuracy (4 of 18 factors)

Extracurriculars to Consider if You Intend to Study Theater and Dance

Whether you see yourself singing on Broadway or dancing with the Bolshoi Ballet, majoring in theater and dance could be the first step on the road to your dreams. Gaining acceptance to a top arts program is no easy feat. The best theater and dance programs don’t just consider a student’s GPA and test scores; they also want to find students with impressive extracurricular activities that showcase passion and proficiency in their chosen field. 


In particular, competitive private schools like Harvard and Yale utilize holistic admissions processes that place a strong emphasis on factors like letters of recommendation and extracurriculars. Because these schools receive a large number of qualified applicants for a few slots, admissions counselors have to look beyond grades to identify the best of the best. Along with revealing a student’s interests, extracurriculars should provide opportunities to demonstrate leadership, dedication, teamwork, and service.


So, what extracurriculars should you consider if you intend to major in theater or dance? Read on to learn about the four tiers of extracurricular activities and determine which ones to pursue during your high school career.

4 Tiers of Extracurricular Activities

While just about any extracurricular can add value to your resume, some activities have more cache with college admissions committees than others. Highly selective colleges tend to give preference to students who achieve high levels of success in their activities. In general, extracurricular activities fall into four different categories, with tier one being the most unusual and impressive to colleges, while also the least common. For best results, students should seek out several activities from tiers two through four if they hope to create competitive applicant profiles. 


One of the reasons tier one activities make such a strong impression on admissions counselors is that they’re harder to achieve. After all, only a few high school students will wind up founding a national organization or winning first place in a state-wide competition. Fortunately, you can still create a robust application package featuring extracurriculars from the other tiers. 


The second most impressive group, tier two focuses on activities that allow students to showcase their leadership prowess. For example, a student may serve as football team captain or president of the student council. Having two or three achievements in this group can go a long way when it comes to getting you into your dream school. While tier three is slightly less prestigious, students with extracurriculars in this category can still find ways of distinguishing themselves. If you’re a member of the student newspaper, you could express your interest in serving as sports editor for the coming year. Similarly, winning an honors award for playing piano can put you in this category.


Finally, tier four extracurriculars are the most common and therefore least likely to impact admissions decisions. In general, these activities are open to all students, such as JV sports or band. As an underclassman, it can be useful to join several different tier four activities. You’ll have the opportunity to refine your participation and take on leadership activities in your chosen field later in your high school career.

Extracurricular Ideas for Aspiring Theater Majors

If you’re passionate about theater and dance, you might be wondering which activities will increase your odds of being accepted to a top college. While there are no clear-cut answers when it comes to extracurriculars, participating in the following activities may give you a leg up on the competition:


Ballroom Dance Club


Bollywood Dance Team

Color Guard 

Dance Team 

Dragon Dance

Drama Club/Musical Theatre Club

Drill Team

Hip Hop Club

Improv Club 

Latin Dance Team

Magic Club 

Set Design Club 

Sketch Comedy Club 

Stage Combat Club 

Stage Crew 


Swing Dance

Theater Technology Club

Urban Dance Team 

Competitions, Camps, and Honor Societies

International Thespian Honor Society- Students in grades nine through twelve who complete a certain quantity and quality of activities in theatre arts are eligible for membership in this society. Along with providing members access to awards and scholarships, this honor society boasts opportunities for aspiring artists to performing at state and national events. 


Interlochen High School Dance Summer Programs- Offered at Michigan’s Interlochen Center for the Arts, these programs invite talented sophomores, juniors, and seniors to expand their dance skills during the summer months. Along with receiving the individualized attention needed to develop their talents, students will have the chance to participate in a fully produced public performance. Find more summer programs for aspiring theater majors on the CollegeVine blog. 


Juilliard Summer Dance Intensive- Students have to audition to attend the Julliard School’s Summer Dance Intensive. Open to juniors and seniors between ages 15 and 17, the program features three weeks of instruction in ballet and modern dance. Along with participating in a final performance to showcase what they learned, students have the chance to spend time in New York City, seeing Broadway plays and attending shows at Lincoln Center.



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Short Bio
A graduate of the Master of Professional Writing program at USC, April Maguire taught freshman composition while earning her degree. Over the years, she has worked as a writer, editor, tutor, and content manager. Currently, she operates a freelance writing business and lives in Los Angeles with her husband and their three rowdy cats.