It is audition season! Across the country, high school seniors are preparing to audition into various undergraduate music programs. There are a TON of great schools out there for the aspiring musician. Here are some tips for students, educators, and parents about how to navigate this process:
INVESTIGATE MORE THAN ONE SCHOOL
You might have your heart set on a certain school or institution, but it is worth your while to check out multiple schools. There are a lot of differences between a conservatory, a school of music, and a department of music, and in these categories there is a lot of variation between specific institutions. Each one of these different types of school offers its own set of advantages. You need to figure out which type of school is right for you. If you put all your eggs in one basket, you might discover that the school you thought you loved was not really right for you.
If possible, go visit campus before your audition. Many students make decisions based only on the reputation of the school, but unless you go to campus, meet professors and students, sit in on ensembles, you really won’t know if that school is a good fit for you.
GET A LESSON
Your private lesson teacher will be your primary mentor during your time in college. This is the person you will be working with most closely to craft your musical skill on your voice or instrument. The relationship between you and your teacher is the most important relationship you will have in college. Do you know who you would be studying with? Do you know how often they are on campus? Have you met them? Have you had a lesson with them? What is their teaching like? What is the culture of their studio? If possible, schedule a lesson the same day as your campus visit to help answer these questions. Many teachers will do this for free for prospective students.
It might seem like something you don’t need to worry about now, but you need to look at the specific degree plans at the schools you are applying for. Will you be able to complete your program in four years? If disaster strikes and you do not finish in four years how will that impact things like financial aid, scholarships, and student teaching? Before you decide, you need to know how you will navigate your intended degree.
How will you be able to make a living a professional musician if you are paying off $100K+ of student loan debt? It is important that you get a quality education, but the most expensive education does is not necessarily the best education. Before you make a decision on where to go, you need to know how much your education will cost, and how much you will need to borrow (and pay back) after you graduate.
You have been offered a scholarship! HOORAY! When you look at your scholarship offers, think about how it will impact your total cost of attendance. If school A offers you a $20,000 scholarship, and School B offers you only $1,500, you might be inclined to take the $20,000 option. But if tuition is $40,000 at School A, and only $9,000 at School B, the $1500 scholarship is still the better deal financially.
These are in fact a thing and can really help you finance your education. Find out what you are eligible for and apply. You should make it your job from the time you are accepted until the time you set foot on campus for classes to apply for as many scholarships as humanly possible.
In conclusion, there are many great options out there, the trick is to find out which one is right for you!