Tips on Balancing Acting & Academics

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Students of all ages are not only learning life skills in school, but they’re learning other important life skills when they participate in extracurricular activities like theater. The thirst for knowledge goes beyond school and it can make students great actors. But, for many students, the balance of acting and academics can be a bit tricky to manage. If you’re a student that is looking for ways to successfully balance these two things, here are some helpful tips on how you can do it well.

Tip #1: Keep your priorities straight.
As a student, school should always be the top priority. Maggie Larson, who is a veteran Journey student and actress, shares that during the 12 years that she has participated in Journey classes, it has been a struggle at times to balance theater and school. But, over time, she has found some ways that help her keep her priorities in line. She says, “For me, the best thing I do to keep on top of my game is to make sure that theater is my main “study break.” When I’m doing homework during the week I’ll work on the current task for an hour or so, and then take a 20-minute study break. During this time, I will often sing through the songs from shows I am in or read through the script. It’s really important to make sure that school is the priority and that theater is the thing I am looking forward to. Keeping this as my main frame of mind gives me the motivation to finish my schoolwork each week so that I can go to rehearsal and be stress free while I’m am there. It truly is a balancing act, but over the years I have learned how to manage my time well so that I can fully enjoy my time at rehearsal and classes.”

Tip #2: Communicate.
If you feel overwhelmed, it’s important to talk about it, not hold your feelings inside. This can cause anxiety and stress, which could cause both school grades and theater performances to suffer. Emily Warner, former Journey student and summer camp teacher, shares that when she was Journey and school, it sometimes felt like too much was on her plate at once. However, learning to be transparent with what she was going through helped her a lot. She shares, “Some days it felt like my life was full of too many things, but they were all so wonderful I didn’t want to give them up! If you have a busy schedule, or are feeling overwhelmed, let your directors know. Obviously, still memorize your lines and practice and be present. But it was really helpful my senior year when I told directors what classes I was taking, or if I had a test coming up. It wasn’t ever from a complaining standpoint, but just talking with them about life. It allowed them to understand why I was maybe a little more stressed on certain days in compared to others. Directors and artistic team members are people too, and they want you to succeed in all areas of life. It also allows them to pray alongside you.”

Tip #3: Don’t overdo it.
It’s important to remember that it’s ok to slow down and take a break. If the school year or a specific quarter is an especially difficult one with hard classes, don’t worry if you need to reduce your theater commitment for a little bit. Maybe consider just taking a Journey class rather than participating in a show. Or, sign up to serve on the crew instead of the cast of an upcoming show. Warner advises that this is a great way to still stay connected. “You still get to see your friends, you still have opportunities to learn and grow, but the demand is not as time consuming. And there are also seasons of life where you might need to take a session off – that does not make you any less of a Journey student and your friends will still love you when you come back. Take care of yourself and don’t overcommit,” she says.

Acting requires a lot of practice, research, and work, just like school does. With a little bit of planning and determination, students can effectively balance acting and academics with success.

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