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Dual Major in Music/Math

jsmomjsmom Posts: 336Registered User Member
edited August 2008 in Oberlin College
My son is a hs junior interested in majoring in music and math. How difficult is this to do and does Oberlin really look to accept students who are interested in both? Also, how competitive is it for acceptance into both schools - he is a strong student - 3.9 W GPA - all honors, AP Classes - PSAT scores were in 700's as far as music he is an excellent trumpet player but is NOTprodigy.
Post edited by jsmom on

Replies to: Dual Major in Music/Math

  • shennieshennie Posts: 2,467Registered User Senior Member
    Oberlin is an excellent school to attempt a double degree. He will need to apply for and be admitted to both the music conservatory and the college. He does not need to be a prodigy but he will need a very strong audition. Also, most double degree students take 5 years. Visit the Music major forum and look for BassDad. His daughter is a double degree student at Oberlin.
  • mamenyumamenyu Posts: 1,520Registered User Senior Member
    The double-degree program is very doable -- and is well-supported and regarded at Oberlin. Double degree students have dual advisors -- in the college and in the conservatory; there is also a double degree advisor. Because there are loads of practice rooms and the college and conservatory are on the same walkable campus, it is easy to get from one place to the other and to fit in practice time. There are some terrific ensembles, including contemporary wind ensemble, that your son might find appealing. The Oberlin website includes, on the Conservatory site, some little videos of faculty members talking about various aspects of the program.
    You must be accepted separately by both the college and conservatory. The conservatory is generally more generous with merit aid than the college (the same regarding need-based aid). Look into the early acceptance opportunity at the Conservatory (it is nonbinding).
    It usually takes 5 years to complete the double degree, though with a lot of strong AP scores, it could be done in 4 (I know a student who did math and piano in 4 years).
  • noir.storknoir.stork Posts: 77Registered User Junior Member
    There's also a Music Major in the College, which would be an alternative to the Conservatory. So, if your son isn't into practicing for 3-4 hours a day, he could still pursue options in the Conservatory, double major in math, and graduate in 4 years!
    Program: Music Program - Oberlin College - acalog ACMS™
  • BassDadBassDad Posts: 5,381Registered User Senior Member
    No need to look me up - I am here.

    Oberlin does indeed seek out students who are interested in the double degree in all disciplines. In fact, the current dean of the conservatory is an alumnus of the Oberlin double degree program. Over a quarter of the entering conservatory students this year are enrolled in the program and there is widespread institutional support for it. There are reported to be a small number of applied music teachers who do not want their students in the double degree program, so it is still a good idea to ask about it when taking a sample lesson.

    My daughter is no longer a double major. She decided to give up the math degree and work on music full time so that in addition to classical bass she would have time for jazz bass and viola da gamba lessons and an ethnomusicology minor. From what I hear, the conservatory has overall acceptance rates around 30% (as usual, rates are much lower than that for flute students and female vocalists). I understand about half the people in the double degree program eventually drop one side or the other, but having half complete the program is still a whole lot better than the completion rate at most other schools. As mamenyu says, it can be done in four-and-a-half, or in rare cases even four years with lots of AP credit and perhaps some summer study elsewhere, but five is the norm and it is very doable. Financial aid is good for up to five years, is not gapped and is usually weighted much more toward scholarships and grants than loans.

    College Board reports that the admission rate for the college is also about 30%, but the median high school GPA appears to be around 3.6 and the median SAT somewhere around 2050. In addition to grades and test scores, they take the "Why Oberlin?" essay pretty seriously.

    One thing that my daughter has really liked there is the Co-op system. She lived in co-op housing for two years and has eaten in co-ops all four. As a result, she has learned quite a bit about all aspects of preparing a meal for seventy or eighty people and is head cook for at least one meal per week of that size.


    Moderator's Note: BassDad's paragraph above about Co-ops has been copied to start a new thread: http://talk.collegeconfidential.com/oberlin-college/558999-co-ops-osca-cooperative-housing-dining-options.html

    To read or post more about Dual Major/ Music-Math, please continue to use this thread.
  • jsmomjsmom Posts: 336Registered User Member
    BassDad - thank you for your response...

    Any specific reason why your daughter dropped the math? What other schools did your daughter consider and what swayed her to decide on Oberlin? Thanks!
  • BassDadBassDad Posts: 5,381Registered User Senior Member
    She dropped the math because something had to give. In addition to the normal music load, she was also taking secondary lessons on jazz, working in the co-ops, and playing with about three student-run bands in addition to the school orchestra (one folk/indie rock kind of band that was recording a CD and doing some touring on weekends and breaks at other colleges, a klezmer group and another band formed by some math department people). She then hit a couple of pretty hard math courses for which she worked her butt off and still got a B. She realized then that she wanted to concentrate her efforts on music (other than her one elective per semester in the college.)

    She was also accepted at NEC and Peabody and turned down by Curtis, Boston University and Rice. (She was not really thinking double major when she was picking out schools, but the possibility intrigued her once she got to Oberlin.) She withdrew applications from Cleveland Institute of Music and Carnegie Mellon before their auditions after getting a non-binding early review admission from Oberlin Conservatory in December of her senior year in high school.

    NEC provided no financial aid whatsoever and she did not click with one of the teachers at Peabody. Oberlin, on the other hand, was a school that could have been designed with her in mind. (She is vegan, interested in animal rights issues and probably wishes she could cast her first presidential election ballot for someone with a more liberal voting record than Obama.) Once the rejection from Curtis arrived, it was a very easy decision for her.
  • mamenyumamenyu Posts: 1,520Registered User Senior Member
    One distinctive point about the double degree program is that it is well-established, understood, and respected at the College as well as the Conservatory; one English professor told me that some of his best students have been double degree students.
  • shennieshennie Posts: 2,467Registered User Senior Member
    Just a quick caveat on the double degree program - not all of the studio teachers are supportive of it. The son of one of my friends had a studio teacher who basically told him to drop his college major or get out. Kid eventually switched teachers, but had a rough couple of years.
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