Help with college

April 10, 2016 at 05:32 PM · I am high school senior who recently auditioned for college. I was considering several major conservatories (Eastman and Peabody). My teacher is a graduate of Eastman and he didn't think I would have much trouble getting accepted. I ended up auditioning at a local university for financial reasons, thinking that I could get a much better scholarship there than at a conservatory. I was accepted, but when I received the scholarship information a couple days ago, I was informed that the university had received an exceptionally large number of highly talented applicants who had taken up all the scholarship money the school had to offer. Does anyone have any suggestions as to how to pay for college? If so, should I go for this university or should I wait a year and try for Eastman? I'm not exactly the next Heifetz, but I'm a competent player and I would like to be a performance major. And yes, I have submitted the FAFSA. Any help is appreciated.

Replies (21)

April 10, 2016 at 05:36 PM · Obviously, talk with your parents about this, but here is one idea that springs to my mind. Take a gap year, practice your butt off, and then next year aim very, very high. Find the places like Yale and Juilliard that truly meet the financial needs of students. Also go around and get to know some of the teachers, you might have a better chance at a scholarship if someone really wants you in his, her studio.

Consult a lot of other people, too, obviously this is just one idea!

April 10, 2016 at 06:07 PM · Laurie is spot on in my opinion!

April 10, 2016 at 07:22 PM · I hadn't heard before that places like Julliard and Yale actually meet financial needs. I will look into that, since my family's income is definitely lower than their tuition. Any other suggestions of schools like that?

April 10, 2016 at 07:23 PM · And also, I did have several lessons with the teachers at the university I mentioned, which was one of the things that led me to believe I could get a scholarship.

April 10, 2016 at 07:29 PM · It is getting increasingly more difficult these days to recruit good players, simply because parents are much more aware of the difficulties of finding a job in music and there are many qualified players out there searching for positions. (I think your local university might be an anomaly.)A student of mine who is an exceptional player recently auditioned for Nashville, and there were 100 people auditioning for one opening.

You might consider auditioning for some good liberal arts universities. Not all, but some, are even offering room and board scholarships. The competition between these schools for students is ferocious. The conservatories generally have less scholarship money. For instance CIM rarely offers more than 75% tuition and Peabody only about 50%.Also, consider state schools whose tuition is fairly reasonable, especially if you are in state. You should also be aware that quite a few second tier soloists are teaching at universities, because of the slump in performance opportunities.

Ask around

April 10, 2016 at 10:23 PM · I agree that there's no harm in taking a gap year. Make some money, focus on your playing, explore more options, solidify your decisions.

April 11, 2016 at 12:18 AM · Obviously if you could take a year off and increase your skill level to the point where you would be competitive for a scholarship, that would be ideal. But nobody can guarantee you that it will work.

If your parents are simply not well enough off to send you to an in-state university, then that should be apparent in your FAFSA, and you should get some financial aid.

If you don't get enough financial aid to pay for your education, then you can either find a lower-cost educational plan (partial community college, technical school, etc.), or you can find a job doing something that does not require a college education but may require training. In my area, skilled trademen (carpenters, plumbers, electricians) do okay. The problem with these kinds of jobs is that they are hard on your hands.

Your last choice is to take out loans. If you do, then I suggest you choose a major that will give you a reasonable chance of paying them back before you turn 50.

April 11, 2016 at 01:38 AM · Try not to take out student loans if you can.

April 11, 2016 at 03:21 AM · I would say, do not exclude applying to any school just because of sticker shock. The worst case scenario is you get in and can't afford it. At that point, at least you tried then and do not have the regret of not doing so. Best, case, you get enough money after applying for a scholarship and can go. I second the advice about a gap year, especially if you cannot afford it and you aren't crazy about the teacher. Also, I know not many Americans consider this, but maybe you could look into some European or Asian programs which are likely much less expensive than the US, if not tuition free. The price of a few plane tickets and a living in a cheap co-op definitely beats the price of dorm living and US tuition. You might also learn a new language while you are at it, though there is no shortage of English-taught programs and expat-oriented housing. It just might be worth the hassle if you are willing to work out visa and living arrangements.

April 11, 2016 at 03:57 AM · I should point out that many lower-income students do not apply to a lot of schools because schools have application fees, and it might not be easy to get those fees waived. Plus there is the cost of taking auditions.

April 11, 2016 at 12:42 PM · What do you want to do after graduating from college as a performance major? Bruce is not exaggerating about the difficulty of getting a job in an orchestra.

Many if not most people end up working in a field unrelated to their major anyway, so I don't necessarily object to having your four-year degree be in performance. But borrowing money to get that kind of degree is insane.

April 11, 2016 at 02:32 PM · If I decided to wait and audition for some big schools, what would be some good repertoire around or a little above the Bruch level? I know, I know, just ask my teacher and play something that shows off my strengths. I'm just looking for some general suggestions of pieces around that level.

April 11, 2016 at 05:32 PM · Side question: Can you get into the "big schools" (and then, can you get a full ride to the big schools) playing at the Bruch level? My guess is no, and even at lesser schools, students getting a full ride are probably at above that level?

April 11, 2016 at 07:43 PM · If you take a year off between high school and college, you should also develop a really good Plan B.

You can make a good income as a pharmacist, physician's assistant, or nurse anesthetist. Your profile doesn't say where you're from, but presumably there is at least one decent comprehensive public university in your state. Go there and major in biology, biochemistry, or chemistry (and then take one of them also as a minor). You will find that they probably have a good violin teacher on staff, or there may be violin teachers in the surrounding community that are quite good (that is the case in my locality, which is a college town). You can have a very musical life if your career is not all-consuming, and Plan B does NOT have to be medicine or engineering, so don't worry if you're not a math whiz or if you haven't had all of the AP science courses.

April 11, 2016 at 09:54 PM · Bruch level is not going to get you into a first or second tier school. You don't say how old your teacher is but if he's several decades out from his own conservatory admission, he may not have an accurate idea of the competitive level these days.

I got into Oberlin on Bruch but that was a lucky break even in 1978 and would not have happened any time in the past few decades.

April 12, 2016 at 12:02 AM · I attended a festival with a girl who got into Manhattan with Bruch about five years ago who had started at age 12. I would say it has to be impeccable though.

April 12, 2016 at 12:58 AM · That is precisely why I didn't try for one of the big schools in the first place. Thanks anyway.

April 12, 2016 at 01:52 AM · In your OP you said you were considering Eastman and Peabody....

April 12, 2016 at 02:16 AM · I think your level should influence your plans, OP. The first round of comments you got was based on the parameters laid out in your initial post -- that you were at a level that would easily get you into a top conservatory or gain you a substantial scholarship at a lesser school. Based on your updated info, that would seem not to be an accurate judgment on the part of your teacher.

If you're headed towards a life of teaching and freeway philharmonic gigs, you really need to find a school that won't burden you with any debt whatsoever, but one more year of study in a gap-year probably won't radically change your playing level and thus your fortunes. Hopefully someone will chime in with where someone at your level can find scholarship money. I'm guessing that it might be more fruitful to pursue music education, where scholarships for aspiring teachers are probably more plentiful.

April 12, 2016 at 11:38 AM · There's plenty of scholarship money out there. All you need to do is score 2400 on the SAT...

April 13, 2016 at 01:08 AM · Paul Deck - FYI the new SAT is out of 1600.

Joe, the Interlochen Arts Academy offers a postgraduate year.

I don't know the costs or all the details, but based on the info the website has it seems like a good option for someone in your situation. Here is a link:

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