For many music students across the country the penultimate year of secondary education has or will quickly come to an end. What next? As upperclassmen, the search for the “right” university or conservatory is just beginning. At times this process will seem long and can be more than a little stressful. There are hundreds of college, university and conservatory brochures and letters of interest—not to mention phone calls from alumni and students, all of value, that will begin to appear in your mailbox, each laden with gentle persuasion.
Unfortunately, you cannot apply and audition at 100+ schools. So, how do you choose? Much of what happens next is dependent on your goals, prospective career interests, and detective abilities. You’ll need more than a desire to live in the mountains or the coast to get you through! Do you wish to attend a school with a prominent athletic program? Is marching band important? Are you interested in music business? Do you wish to become a music teacher or win an orchestral audition? Take a look at each brochure and explore each institution’s individual website closely. They will all likely sound great. If you’re already studying with a private teacher, you are well on your way. If not — find one! This teacher will become one of your strongest allies and an unyielding source of information. If you’re attending summer clinics, camps and festivals, talk with the other students and clinicians. Soon you will find that certain names surface frequently in discussion.
If time allows and the school is within traveling distance, most professors are happy and willing to meet with potential students. Take a trip to explore the campus, have a lesson with the teacher and converse with students who are enrolled in the program. Many professors will arrange for their most forthcoming students to give you the grand tour and answer questions you might have about the studio.
Start the process now to allow time for discovery as you narrow your list of prostpective colleges. Check back for a discussion on the college music audition and who is really auditioning.
Useful read: The Student’s Guide to College Music Programs