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is NEC worth it?

ladymacbladymacb Posts: 2Registered User New Member
edited April 2011 in Music Major
Hi there,

Long-time lurker here. I've just finished with the grad school application process and have three great places from which to choose: NEC, MSM, and Peabody. I'm lucky enough to be graduating with no debt from my undergrad, so I am just wondering if going into debt for music grad school is worth it. I'm a string player looking to pursue a performance career, if that helps.

Things to consider: I got into my first-choice studio at NEC but would be borrowing about 30K/ year for 2 years to attend. Both MSM and Peabody gave me significantly more scholarship money than NEC (but I would still be going into debt in order to attend *any* of them...at the very least, 15K/ year). However, NEC is definitely my first choice, mainly based on the caliber of the teachers, students, and its reputation.

Would love to hear your thoughts on this decision. Thanks!
Post edited by ladymacb on

Replies to: is NEC worth it?

  • 18karat18karat Posts: 224Registered User Junior Member
    does your name have anything to do with the shostakovich opera? he's one of my favorite composers :D probably not though...I thought of him before I thought of the obvious

    anyways, I think you're very lucky to have no debt so far, and grad school is a much safe option to be borrowing money for. I think NEC is a great choice, but it is very expensive, I assume you'll be living in an apartment? or somewhere off campus? Although MSM and NEC have amazing locations the cost of living is intense...not too sure about Peabody. NEC is definitely known for its string program and getting into your first choice studio program is great. you're in a good position, you can easily leverage with schools to see if you can get anymore money out of them, in a practical manner though, they obviously want you to attend though
  • violadadvioladad Posts: 6,641Registered User Senior Member
    ladymacb, congrats, but tough choices. Without knowing the viol, and in which studio you'd be in, it's hard to make judgments. If it were my son asking the question, and with no ug debt, my answer is a qualified NEC but run the numbers on a loan calculator for $60k. It IS not a small nut to crack, especially for a musician trying to cobble together an existence and hit auditions over the next two-three years. A lot depends on your resources and support network AFTER grad school.

    Have you heard about ta/ga options at any or all? You can try and leverage more money, but NEC bargains hard, and is not known for being overly generous unless you are at the extreme end of the food chain.

    Seek out fiddlefrog via a pm.

    I'd also like to add your acceptances here http://talk.collegeconfidential.com/music-major/1045522-master-list-music-school-acceptances-fall-2011-a.html, but if you are reluctant to disclose the instrument, I can always just list it as strings.
  • musicprntmusicprnt Posts: 2,479Registered User Senior Member
    These days a lot of music students get both a bachelors and a MM, so it is a common path. My thought for you turns to the socratic method (aka teachers who love to drive their students up the wall:), asking questions. Do you feel like your training at this point gives you solid skills enough to be able to audition? Have you already been able to get performing gigs, or are you coming out of ug still not having really gotten your feet wet other then student performances? More importantly, do you see that path you want/need to take and know how to go about doing it? If the answer to all three of these in your mind is a strong yes, then you may not need to get a grad degree (again, this is just my take on it, don't take this as gospel, just what I would tell me own child when their time for grad school came).

    In terms of where to go, it is a tough quandary. NEC is not known for great financial aid and conventional wisdom is that you are better off, even from grad school, coming out with as little debt as possible, because grad school doesn't guarantee anything in terms of actually making a living, either. 30k versus 60k is a big difference, I don't know the terms of student loans, but obviously 60k is a lot to drag around (and if you were fortunate enough to have relatives who might be willing to lend you the money to pay these off, or had perhaps the ability to get a loan at a more favorable rate, lot easier to ask for 30k then 60k).

    Outside the money, again questions come in. All three schools have faculty who know the 'real world' and can help with that, MSM has the advantage of being in the middle of the NYC music scene with some top end teachers like Glenn Dictorow (CM NY Phil), among others, NEC has great faculty and is in Boston, and while I don't know how big or small the performing scene is in the area surrounding peabody (Baltimore, DC), they have some talented faculty as well who are out there. My take (which is not based in concrete facts) is that MSM or NEC might be better, simply because they are in areas where you might get a lot of chances to start getting your feet wet, gigging and so forth, whereas at least to me Peabody is an unknown in that regards.

    The other question is, have you met with any faculty at the schools? Have you talked to potential teachers, and gotten a feel for them? Have you looked at the schools and the environment to see if you like it? and as others have asked, have you looked into the potential of being an RA or TA, which hold advantages (TA getting a teaching stipend and scholarship, RA getting to live in housing in return for being a floor advisor)? All these might help influence your decision making. In the end, I think going to any of the three would end up being beneficial if you feel you need grad school to get on your feet, and from there the decision is a combinatorial decision based on how well you feel the school would prepare you weighed against the cost.
  • violadadvioladad Posts: 6,641Registered User Senior Member
    One very simple way to look at is the less you have to come up with in a monthly loan payment, the more resource you will have available to apply towards audition expenses.
  • ladymacbladymacb Posts: 2Registered User New Member
    Thanks for all your thoughtful replies so far! @18karat, I've got to admit that my name is inspired more by Shakespeare than by Shostakovich..though I am big fans of them both! And Violadad, I play the viola :)

    musicprnt: One of the reasons I'm even considering grad school is because I went to a state school for my undergrad which wasn't exactly known for its music program--so I don't feel as though I could just go out into the music world now and be prepared to compete with those that have had years of training at conservatory. (From what I've heard, it's better to go to a "name" school for your grad, so that's sort of what's swaying me toward NEC as opposed to the other two-- though they are all excellent schools!). I have met with all the teachers and spent time at the three schools and while I like the teachers equally, I feel like I'd have more opportunities in NY or Boston. NEC has some RA positions, but that looks to be all.
  • violadadvioladad Posts: 6,641Registered User Senior Member
    I'll again direct you to try a private message to fiddlefrog. You may find the inbox full, but I have every respect for his thought processes and insights when it comes to strings.

    You may also try a pm to bratsche, who had some amazing choices last year (MM viola). Peabody was the only school you both overlap, but her insights may make things clearer.

    Lastly, tomdug, whose d is is deciding between CIM, Yale SOM, and Juilliard.
  • compmomcompmom Posts: 4,209Registered User Senior Member
    NEC has a great reputation for strings, as you know- one of the best. I have had contact with some of the quartets who have been or are in their Professional String Quartet Program (such as the Parker and Harlem) and they are amazing, and doing very well professionally, too.

    MSM is a great environment, as you no doubt know, but I don't know as much about their strings program.

    Agree that Boston or NYC are good places to do a master's.
  • slovesviolaslovesviola Posts: 146Registered User Junior Member
    I would say NEC overwhelmingly over the other two for a violist!!! With NEC's top viola faculty your opportunities there will be amazing. Especially for a grad student, can't get any better, (IMO). Go for it!!
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