By Melissa Levine
I’d like to start this article with a moment of silence for the Class of 2021…
Proms, senior spirit days and even the very foundation of their senior years were all stripped away from them and replaced with some warped placeholder that did its job only because it had to.
Though it’s true that missing out on these rites of passages is immensely difficult for seniors, no experience, in my opinion, was more challenging than the college application process for students planning to attend their fall semesters.
Combining the aspects that we were all enduring virtual school work, the emotional plights of the pandemic (among other feats), and our inability to visit our potential schools, the college admission process proved itself to be a battlefield, and us inexperienced soldiers, untrained in the art of practicing “business as usual” in a time of chaos.
During the admission process, not all students are created equal.
In a normal year, young artists, or students who are applying to go to art school, (music, acting, art, etc.) are oftentimes overlooked.
Guidance counselors are typically never equipped with the proper knowledge to guide these creative students through their applications smoothly, as there is an abundance of supplemental, or additional information, needed to apply or audition for these kinds of programs (on top of regular application information).
So, it’s safe to imagine that these seniors in particular had a myriad of extra strain placed on their rounded, poorly postured shoulders this year.
In my personal experience as an acting major, I had to audition for about 10 schools. I was not allowed to visit any of my potential campuses, and all of my auditions happened online, in 15-minute increments, accompanied by interestingly assembled Zoom waiting rooms.
I found myself musing “To load, or not to load — that is the question” before each of my virtual auditions, hoping that in some way the benevolent spirit of Shakespeare would get me through my audition without my internet dropping.
Zoom became the new go-to way to explore all of my campuses and meet the faculty — as much as anyone can ever meet anyone in the “Zoomsphere”.
In a particular instance, I was waiting to be let into the virtual audition room for one of my top choice programs. My wrinkled, homemade backdrop hung rather unimpressively behind me, providing my auditors with a, “non-distracting, unbusy background to maximize their ability to focus.”
I nervously fiddled with my new ring light, unsure if I looked too washed out by the bright circular ray against my fair complexion. I heard my cats scratching outside my door, crying to disrupt my audition, because they love meeting new people as much as I do.
I was let into the audition room early, as even over Zoom, any young actor will learn that to be early, is to be on time, and to be late is inexcusable.
Thankfully, my audition ran without a hiccup. I performed a piece I had prepared, answered one or two questions they had and was sent on my way. The moment after I had finished my audition, I tried to contact a good friend of mine via Zoom to tell her how it went.
I never had the chance to call her.
Faster than a young child promises their parents they did in fact brush their teeth, my wifi dropped in its entirety. My computer was unusable; it was at the mercy of whatever wifi deity had decided to unleash its wrath upon it.
To this day, I still don’t know how I was so lucky — but I’ve learned that sometimes, things are left better in the dark.
Needless to say, the admissions process was an exhausting experience. Nevertheless, I’m grateful that I can consider this weird period of time a moment of communion between other class of 2021 actors and myself.
We will always be known as the virtual generation — a group of confused teens who were forced to become more tech savvy than they ever needed to be. But we will also be known for our resilience, and our passion for what we do.
We endured dropped wifi, the “hey friend, your muted”-es, and the gargantuan amount of butterflies in our stomachs when we saw that white screen that said, “The meeting host will let you in soon,” because of our love for our art, and our determination to not let anything stop us from creating — because doing that would be like telling us to stop breathing.
And I think we all know — we must breathe to survive.
Melissa Levine is a senior at Comsewogue High School. She committed to Ohio University for her BFA in Acting, with a minor in screenwriting.