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Bachelor of Arts in Music & Computer Science

nextstepcollegenextstepcollege 37 replies7 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
I am hoping someone could offer some advice for us. My son is a rising senior this year. He is currently applying to colleges for next Fall 2020. We live in a small town in rural upstate NY and are only interested in colleges in the Northeast. He wants to earn a BA in music and computer science. He doesn’t want to go the Engineering route for CS as he is very interested in also pursuing his musical interests. He plays percussion and sings. He has received top honors in both from NYSMAA. He also cofounded two bands that play for our local community at various events, and even released an album with one. He also plays the piano and guitar.

His academic stats are: 1420 SAT—730 Math, 690 V, ACT composite of 32. 4.0 unweighted GPA. He has taken numerous honors and advanced courses, but only 1 AP—AP English. Our high school recently gave up AP courses and implemented something referred to as “College course in high school”. Students take college courses with agreements established with NY colleges and can opt to take the AP exam at the end of the year. I’m most concerned he doesn’t have enough of a rigorous curriculum. I’m also concerned we don’t have enough safety schools for him to apply to.

Here’s a list of the schools he is considering. Please let me know which may be a good fit for what he’s looking for. He toured Hamilton and loved it, even considered ED, but we will need some assistance. I’m also not sure if it’s the best fit for both CS and music. We are definitely not eligible for any federal or state grant aid, but Hoping for merit or some need based aid. Are there any we should rule out or ones we aren’t looking at that should be considered? Also, any advice on music supplements would be helpful. This whole process is overwhelming and we have made visits to 4 colleges, one of which jokingly insinuated at a group information session that an applicant’s chances would increase if they moved to a midwestern state. The same institution also stressed that the class is more than half full with ED applicants. I understand about the need to build diversity, but that is just crazy. I appreciate all the feedback and input.

Cornell — Obvious Reach
Hamilton
Colgate
Skidmore
Hobart & William Smith
Ithaca
Rochester
Vassar
Connecticut College
Trinity College
Williams
Middlebury
Amherst
Bowdoin
Bates
Haverford
Wesleyan
Gettysburg
Lafayette
Franklin & Marshall
Bard
Oberlin
St. Lawrence University
UB
SUNY New Paltz
SUNY Oswego



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Replies to: Bachelor of Arts in Music & Computer Science

  • circuitridercircuitrider 3367 replies168 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    You won't find a lot of merit aid with this list. Merit aid is more prevalent outside the northeast where, quite frankly, good institutions need help persuading high-scoring northeasterners to look outside their normal geographic comfort zone. Running the net price calculators (NPCs) on a few of these elite colleges should give you a better idea whether you need a Plan B.
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  • nextstepcollegenextstepcollege 37 replies7 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    edited August 23
    Thank you! The SUNY (NY state schools) are his main back up. We have run the NPC for several of the private schools and the amount showing is doable. That said, I’m reluctant to have him apply to a binding early decision that would take away all his options. I just feel that Nov 1 of his senior year is too soon to commit, and have heard that award offers can still vary among the schools that guarantee meeting 100% need.
    edited August 23
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  • circuitridercircuitrider 3367 replies168 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    I think you are correct on both points. There's no rule that says you have to apply anywhere Early Decision.

    I think you should look at Dartmouth as a possible High Reach. It has a long tradition of experimentation with computer science and the liberal arts. It's major Con (in terms of fit) is a popular Greek system and a split between conservative and liberal students.

    Keep Wesleyan. Music and CS sounds like something that would be in their wheelhouse as well: https://www.wesleyan.edu/music/ensembles/experimental.html

    Rochester certainly strikes me as the sort of place with cross-over strength in STEM and the arts. Those are the kinds of places I would be looking at. I think you just need to look at the different course catalogues.

    Oberlin offers a lot of academic strengths as well; a good fit, despite recent litigation setbacks.
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  • momofsenior1momofsenior1 7000 replies50 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited August 23
    I have a safety suggestion - Clarkson U. Great for CS, your son should see a lot of merit, and they have a reciprocity agreement with SUNY Pottsdam/Crane School of Music. You'd have to look into how possible it would be to double major but they highly stressed the connection to my very musically focused chem e.

    Rochester would be an obvious fit based on interest but be aware that their tuition just underwent a big jump. The COA is now over $75K and there have been some posts about financial aid being decreased.

    If you are chasing merit, I agree with not applying ED.

    edited August 23
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  • nextstepcollegenextstepcollege 37 replies7 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    Thanks so much! This is all very helpful. I’ll admit my son is also considering Dartmouth, but wasn’t sure if he had any chance of getting accepted. He’ll be encouraged to hear it’s at least worth applying to as a reach school.
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  • merc81merc81 10261 replies156 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited August 23
    It seems that Hamilton should be a top choice for your son based on its flexible curriculum, which would make the pursuit of a double major a relatively straightforward path, as well as for its overall academic balance. As an indication of the strength of its computer science program, it would be worth noting its performance in coding competitions that have included other liberal arts colleges (Middlebury, SLU et al):

    https://www.hamilton.edu/news/story/comp-sci-department-hosts-college-computing-conference

    https://cs.hamilton.edu/ccscne/
    edited August 23
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  • SpringbirdSpringbird 139 replies9 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    Why does he want to major in music? What will he do with a music degree? Is he interested in a performance degree on a specific instrument (or voice)? Or is he more interested in composing? Or something else? Has he considered a Bachelor of Music (BM), or is he okay with a Bachelor of Arts in Music (BA)? Or maybe he would want a music minor?

    The reason I ask is that in college, many students are involved in musical ensembles, from school-sponsored choirs and orchestras to a cappella groups to student-created rock bands and everything in between. Students of all majors can also usually take private instrument or voice lessons at many colleges, whether for credit or not. And students of any major are usually able to take a music class or two as an elective or to fulfill gen ed requirements, or even a few more classes to get a minor. Most of these students are not majoring in music. Perhaps continuing with one or more of these options will meet your son's needs without his double majoring. Maybe not.

    Some schools also offer dual degrees: a BM in percussion performance along with a BA in computer science (or another major). These typically take 5 years to complete and can be pretty intense. He would likely pick one instrument or voice.

    It sounds like he needs to explore a bit more about what is involved in a music degree and what he is looking to get out of such a degree. He might want to try googling "double majoring in music" or "dual degree vs. double major in music", as well as exploring individual schools' programs. and offerings.

    And if he decides he would prefer to just take private lessons and/or play in ensembles, look at his college list carefully. Often schools that have conservatories (like Oberlin and U of Rochester, for example) limit how involved Arts & Sciences students can participate in the school ensembles (although they usually offer a lower level arts & sciences orchestra, for example). Lawrence U is an exception: anyone can try out for the conservatory orchestra, and there are many non con kids in their ensembles.

    Good luck!
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  • circuitridercircuitrider 3367 replies168 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Why does he want to major in music?

    I don't think he does. If I read his subject line correctly, DS is inerested in computer science but wants to join it to his long-standing practice of music. Finding a job shouldn't be a problem.
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  • SpringbirdSpringbird 139 replies9 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    @circuitrider, I wasn't questioning his ability to find a job. And I actually think majoring in music can be a great major for some students. It's just that I think some kids are very involved in music in HS, which clearly this student is, and so they think they have to major in music to stay involved in college. There are actually lots of opportunities to make music an important part of your life in college (and prepare you to keep music in your life after college as well) without having to major in it, that's all.
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  • nextstepcollegenextstepcollege 37 replies7 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    He ideally wants to major in both, but he wants a double major not a double degree. I had a very candid conversation with him before we started looking at schools. I even asked if he was just doing the double major with CS to keep his father and I happy. I ultimately want him to do whatever he wants to do, but admittedly was relieved when he said: “Mom, I’m not 100% sure I want a career in music, and I would rather go into a field that I can earn enough money to continue pursuing my musical interests on the side”. He is interested in a BA in both, and definitely not a BM, and said both are important to him, but if he had to pick one due to the curriculum for both being too much, feels more strongly toward CS at this point. He loves music, and is truly a great vocalist and percussionist. He taught himself when he was younger how to play Stairway to Heaven on the piano just by listening to a CD. He’s the type of kid where music is a stress reliever—an outlet. It’s definitely a big part of who he is, but not so much where he wants a conservatory program.
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  • nextstepcollegenextstepcollege 37 replies7 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    In regards to schools with conservatories, we are somewhat concerned that for say Bard, Oberlin, or Rochester (Eastman School of Music) that he be able to still have access to strong instructors in spite of not being admitted into the BM program at the conservatory. He definitely wants to pursue music as extracurriculars as well (Ensembles, Band, etc.), provided that’s possible with. Double major workload. This is something he will have to sort out once enrolled.
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  • merc81merc81 10261 replies156 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited August 23
    Note that ensembles have been integrated with the curriculum in some music programs in that participation is regarded as a form of research through which the student earns course credit.

    https://www.hamilton.edu/academics/departments/Research?dept=Music
    edited August 23
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  • nextstepcollegenextstepcollege 37 replies7 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    edited August 24
    I have a safety suggestion - Clarkson U. Great for CS, your son should see a lot of merit, and they have a reciprocity agreement with SUNY Pottsdam/Crane School of Music. You'd have to look into how possible it would be to double major but they highly stressed the connection to my very musically focused chem e.

    Rochester would be an obvious fit based on interest but be aware that their tuition just underwent a big jump. The COA is now over $75K and there have been some posts about financial aid being decreased.

    If you are chasing merit, I agree with not applying ED.

    Thank you for the suggestion. I am actually a Clarkson alum, as is my Mother, so DS would be a legacy. As a proud alum, I am encouraging my son to apply even though it doesn’t have a BA in music or a BA in CS. It does have an excellent CS program as a BS and, as you said, he could take music classes at Crane. That said, he’s made a clear it’s not his first choice, or anywhere near the top. He is applying and at least considering it, and I would certainly hope he would receive a decent merit award, but I also understand that he wants to find the school that’s the best fit for him.

    I had also heard about Rochester’s tuition increases and that is concerning. For now, at least, we’re still keeping it as an option.

    edited August 24
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  • merc81merc81 10261 replies156 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited August 24
    This whole process is overwhelming and we have made visits to 4 colleges, one of which jokingly insinuated at a group information session that an applicant’s chances would increase if they moved to a midwestern state.

    This type of comment may have been humorous the first time it was said, but, beyond hinting that this institution is of course impossibly, and therefore desirably, selective, it ignores the reality of who actually attends certain colleges. Middlebury, for example, recently enrolled 43% of its class from the compact New England states, so obviously it accepts a large number of students from its home area. In any case, sophisticated colleges that consider geographical diversity consider region as much as state. A college in New York State may value a qualified applicant from its own North Country more highly than one from a Chicago suburb, for instance.
    edited August 24
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  • circuitridercircuitrider 3367 replies168 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    ^This could explain why 70% of the student body of, an otherwise estimable NESCAC college like, Hamilton is from the northeast:
    https://www.hamilton.edu/admission/apply/class-profile
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  • nextstepcollegenextstepcollege 37 replies7 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    merc81 wrote: »
    This whole process is overwhelming and we have made visits to 4 colleges, one of which jokingly insinuated at a group information session that an applicant’s chances would increase if they moved to a midwestern state.

    This type of comment may have been humorous the first time it was said, but, beyond hinting that this institution is of course impossibly, and therefore desirably, selective, it ignores the reality of who actually attends certain colleges. Middlebury, for example, recently enrolled 43% of its class from the compact New England states, so obviously it accepts a large number of students from its home area. In any case, sophisticated colleges that consider geographical diversity consider region as much as state. A college in New York State may value a qualified applicant from its own North Country more highly than one from a Chicago suburb, for instance.

    This is encouraging to hear. To be honest, after we heard the comment, which was made in a joking tone, we still couldn’t help but he concerned that we are from NY and aren’t from Wyoming, for instance. It’s reassuring that institutions do factor in likely yield from their home state.
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  • techmom99techmom99 3438 replies6 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    My D's bf attended Tufts. He studied bio-engineering and CS and did music as well. He is an amazing cellist. He works in CS now He also plays in a quartet and performs with my D, who sings and plays guitar, banjo, ukulele, etc. Sadly, since meeting her bf, she has refused to play cello, because he is so much better. He very much enjoyed his experience at Tufts.
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  • nextstepcollegenextstepcollege 37 replies7 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    techmom99 wrote: »
    My D's bf attended Tufts. He studied bio-engineering and CS and did music as well. He is an amazing cellist. He works in CS now He also plays in a quartet and performs with my D, who sings and plays guitar, banjo, ukulele, etc. Sadly, since meeting her bf, she has refused to play cello, because he is so much better. He very much enjoyed his experience at Tufts.

    We looked at Tufts, but DS wasn’t so sure about the split campus. Is that really a big deal for students?

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  • momrathmomrath 5962 replies39 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    @nextstepcollege, Williams has excellent music and CS programs. It's fairly common to double major, and there are ample music performance opportunities for non-major as well.. The overall culture and environment is very similar to Hamilton, though I would give Williams an edge on performing arts. (Plus they have beautiful pianos.)

    Williams doesn't offer merit aid, but as a general statement, the expected family contribution estimated on the NPC is usually reliable, even for ED applications.

    Your son should definitely submit a music performance supplement with his application. Many colleges have detailed supplement instructions on their websites and will be happy to answer your questions about their music program.
    https://music.williams.edu/special-admission-informationhttps://music.williams.edu/visiting-williams/
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  • merc81merc81 10261 replies156 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    momrath wrote:
    (Plus [Williams has] beautiful pianos.)

    Do the Steinway grands at Williams differ in character from those available to students at other colleges?
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