A Dancer’s Take on College

Robbie Stephens is a senior at Community who will soon be leaving these mural-covered hallways for a slightly different scenery: Amsterdam, a city of nearly eight-hundred thousand people and the capital of the Netherlands.

 Stephens has his eyes set on one school in particular: the School for New Dance

Development in Amsterdam. To better understand this school however, one must understand the Dutch education system. Essentially, students go straight from elementary school to high school. They go to high school with a general idea of what they want to do later in life and attend a school that compliments that passion. After high school, there are three-year, four-year and five-year universities which correspond with what the student wants to do in his or her life.

The School for New Dance and Development (SNDO) is a four year college for men and women ages 18 to 27 that yields a bachelor’s degree in dance-choreography. A degree in dance-choreography is “exactly what I want,” Stephens says, adding that the school is “perfect for [him].” Stephens plans on becoming a professional choreographer, but he looks farther into his future with the dream of one day owning his own studio, possibly in his own house.

Stephens will be leaving Ann Arbor in mid-March for his audition at the SNDO. This audition is broken up into three days; the first day is a technique class, the second an improv class and, on the third day, Stephens will perform his own three-minute piece.

According to the Institute of International Education, more than 40,000 American students enroll in higher education programs outside of the United States for a degree every year. Community High’s counselor, John Boshoven, says he rarely sees kids go to college internationally, “maybe once every few years.” He added that going to college in itself is a huge transition and going to school in a foreign country where they may even speak a different language makes that transition even more difficult. Boshoven also emphasized the costs of going to school in a foreign country, specifically tuition, housing and travel. All of this can be very stressful for a high-schooler, but Stephens doesn’t seem too worried.

Stephens is excited for his future, as open-ended as it may seem. Rather than setting his future in stone, Stephens plans on seeing how things go in a new city 4,000 miles away and deciding with his boyfriend of two years, Joelle, where to go from there. As Stephens told me, “Follow your dreams and don’t be afraid, you can make anything happen.”