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Looking for a college with good neuroscience and music programs

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Replies to: Looking for a college with good neuroscience and music programs

  • momrathmomrath Registered User Posts: 5,880 Senior Member
    If you are considering schools that are need only, then your daughter should look at Williams. Excellent academics -- especially sciences, with ample research opportunities and strong graduate school acceptance. Neuroscience is a concentration not a major, but it draws on a foundation of strong biology and psychology departments.

    Excellent music: multiple performance opportunities, even for non-majors, including orchestras, ensembles and a very good marching band. Double majoring is common. Less competition among high achieving Asians than at other urban or big name schools of similar caliber.

    She should be sure to submit a music performance supplement with her application, especially at smaller liberal arts colleges.

    You might want to get this thread transferred back to the general College Search board.
  • staceyneilstaceyneil Registered User Posts: 1,234 Senior Member
    I saw that jkeill911 mentioned Mount Holyoke... just thought I'd add that 3 out of my D's 7 closest friends at MHC are studying neuroscience. I think it's a good program there.
  • jazzpianodadjazzpianodad Registered User Posts: 160 Junior Member
    @nmctmom: My son is a student at Columbia and has been very happy both academically and musically (and makes extensive use of the music resources in NYC outside of Columbia too). His music focus is jazz but he says there are many excellent classical musicians there as well. Although it's right to view Columbia as a reach for anyone, and I'm not much on "chancing", I do think your daughter should certainly be a competitive applicant based on the description in your first post.
  • compmomcompmom Registered User Posts: 9,699 Senior Member
    I was going to say Tufts, nice music department, great science. We liked Clark University in Worcester Mass., one of the Colleges that Change Lives. They have merit aid there. Tufts has financial aid to some extent but not like the Ivies.
  • musicprntmusicprnt Registered User Posts: 6,253 Senior Member
    It sounds like your D might be happier getting a BA in composition along with a BS in neuroscience, from what I know of composition (which is not a great deal), it is probably a lot easier to get a BA, they may not have the requirements they would in a conservatory program. The real key to seeing if schools have good performing groups is to try and find out if they actively recruit good musicians (the ivies definitely do), if so then your D will likely find a good experience there with the flute and playing in ensembles. One thought with costs, I would recommend not leaving schools off the list unless you are absolutely sure they won't give aid to bring it into your range, for example (not that you mentioned it) I would tell you not to apply to NYU, they quite frankly stink with aid unless you are really challenged financially (meanwhile, they just got approval on a 6 billion dollar project to put up new buildings..sure as heck aren't spending it on financial aid).
  • NmctmomNmctmom Registered User Posts: 48 Junior Member
    I really appreciate everybody's help.

    @musicprnt You are right about her getting a BA in music and a BS in neuroscience. She probably will not get into a conservatory program anyway. She is applying to Columbia ED, so do you think she should send in a supplement. She pretty much mastered the all state piece this year (Cantabile y Presto), and another piece called Kokopeli, which I think she can really play well. She also has more than a dozen other classical pieces that she had played before.

    @compmom - I will look into Clark. If it is something she might be interested in, I will ask her to check it out.

    @jazzpianoparent - thank you for the reassurance that it is possible to be happy academically and musically in Columbia. My D plays a lot of classical music, and she has a lot of fun playing contemporary pieces as well. Thank you also for considering my D a competitive applicant in Columbia. Coming from a Columbia parent, that means a lot.

    @staceyneil - It is good to know that Mt Holyoke is highly regarded by current students. Mt Holyoke is in my D's short list.
    @momrath - cost is a big factor now, and we are looking for merit aid. Thank you for the advice about the music supplement. Do you think D should prepare a supplement for Columbia? We kind of have to make that decision very soon...Williams sounds like it has everything on my D's wish list. I will check on that as well.
  • ScubachickScubachick Registered User Posts: 308 Member
    I agree with @musicprnt, do not discount any schools at this point based on money. The offers can vary drastically from school to school. What may seem like the most expensive school now can in reality become the most affordable after the offers are made. I was amazed at the scope of aid offered. D was offered anywhere from 14k-35k per year. It made some of the more expensive schools the cheapest. D is vocal performance with good academics. One school stacked academic, vocal merit, and gave a housing supplement. The "sticker price" of this school was 40K but after the offer our price was 5k. She did not choose that school, but I am just telling you this so that you do not discount a school right now.
  • NmctmomNmctmom Registered User Posts: 48 Junior Member
    @‌Scubachick - Thank you!

    I think that any school besides our state schools will cost us more than 25K/yr. Our original list is only about 6 schools, and we are expanding our search. Most of the schools in our list cost more than 50K/yr to attend. Our main requirement is a school with a good neuroscience program, where she will get the chance to play her music, and a composition program will be plus.
  • woodwindswoodwinds Registered User Posts: 601 Member
    Peabody/Johns Hopkins. Definitely expand your list of schools.
  • musicprntmusicprnt Registered User Posts: 6,253 Senior Member
    One note,don't discount columbia, from what I have heard they are not bad with aid, the ivies often do better with aid then you might think, so don't assume columbia will necessarily be out of the running. Again with aid it is always a tricky confluence of things, she could end up getting more money then you think, and keep in mind that aid awards can be appealed. Maybe someone like herself, who wants to do composition and a science field, is attractive to them, you never know, schools do try and look for diversity (if not, the ivies would be full of kids who all wanted to study finance or a stem discipline and want to become doctors or investment bankers:).
  • compmomcompmom Registered User Posts: 9,699 Senior Member
    I just looked at this thread again and want to suggest that perhaps she might focus mainly on finding the best school for neuroscience. We know students who continue to compose during college and don't major or minor in music (or in some cases even take any music classes at all). It is still possible to fit in a music class here and there and take private lessons or even just do your compositional work on your own,especially if she loves to do it "for fun." She could continue involvement with flute if she also enjoys that, but as an extracurricular.

    There are many great schools for neuroscience. So then it becomes a question of location, size, city or country, research opportunities, and general vibe.

    Or course, many students have majors in mind during later high school and change their minds during the first year or two of college.

    A few people have mentioned Ivies and other selective schools. If your income is $150K or below, there is significant financial aid at some of these colleges and universities.
  • momrathmomrath Registered User Posts: 5,880 Senior Member
    want to suggest that perhaps she might focus mainly on finding the best school for neuroscience

    Agree, and suggest that this thread belongs back in the College Search & Selection board.

    I think the OP's daughter could be a contender a for substantial merit awards at some academically excellent schools, but she may have to re-evaluate her geographic restrictions. With a few exceptions (Smith, Holyoke for example) most of the generous merit money is NOT in the Northeast or mid-Atlantic. There's less competition among high achieving Asian-Americans in the midwest and south, so the chances of getting more money and a better education increases exponentially as you get away from coastal urban centers.

    If she's willing to go further afield, she'd have quite a few choices. In the LAC category: Grinnell, Kenyon, Carleton, Rhodes, Davidson. Midsize: WUSTL, Tulane, Emory, Chicago. For large State U's I'll have to defer to other posters.

    The point is when you're looking for money, you have to cast a wide net. Applying doesn't mean that she has to attend. It just gives her more options to choose from in March/April when the acceptances and financial packages come in. At that point, she may feel differently about her priorities.

    Unless the net price calculator indicates a fair amount of need based aid, Columbia ED with a comfortable budget of $25K scares me. Making up a ~$140-150K shortfall by economizing doesn't sound realistic. Apply to Columbia, yes, but make it RD so that you can compare and negotiate aid packages.

    Think about applying EA to a school that offers merit and has some overlap with Columbia (like Chicago). If accepted she'd have a bird in the hand, but wouldn't have to make a commitment. She could still pursue her other choices RD.

    I really don't know how Columbia (and other super selectives) relate to music supplements, but I would recommend submitting one for the LACs (Wesleyan, Smith, Holyoke, etc.).
  • compmomcompmom Registered User Posts: 9,699 Senior Member
    A music supplement will have to show considerable talent, in the music itself, and a resume, reperotoire and teacher reference letters should also be included. A supplement should be able to increase chances of admission: otherwise it is not wise to submit one.

    I suggested Clark because they do have merit aid. Check out Colleges that Change Lives, both website and book by Loren Pope. Some of the schools that have been suggested above are on that list.

    Cornell might be a possibility too: I know someone who went there for neuroscience at the grad level.

    Again, she can make music work at many schools. If neuroscience is an interest, look at schools with excellent neuroscience majors, but keep in mind that kids this age change their minds and make sure that the schools she chooses to apply to meet other needs (and wants) that she has.
  • StacJipStacJip Registered User Posts: 625 Member
    First I would try to take a step back and read some books on undergraduate education. Remember you want a school that is the right fit and not necessarily the school with the best name. I know a very smart and talented young man who went to Columbia (to do science/engineering and music) who despite all his talent found he did not get into any of the music groups he auditioned for and spent Freshman year rather depressed. I know another young man who also was very talented in the sciences and music who went off to Harvard and hated it and then transferred to MIT. Another boy went to Mcgill to do Neuroscience and music and was also miserable due to the size and transferred to Emerson College in the Boston area. All three of these young men are about as smart as you can be and and were extremely talented musicians as well (had won music awards and easily could have auditioned at conservatories if they had decided that was what they wanted).

    Kid's interests change. Your daughter wants neuroscience now but it is unlikely she has actually studied neuroscience at the level that say a graduate student or advanced undergraduate would. If she were at that level then (University of Pittsburgh, UCDavis, University of Utah, University of Ohio and Arizona State) would also be on her list. Undergraduate education for a field like neuroscience will involve learning the necessary mathematics, psychology and biology necessary for her to figure out at what level she wants to pursue her interest. If neuroscience is a passion then chances are she will want to do an NSF REU (Research experience for Undergraduates) and she will get exposure to what it is like to do research and work in the field.

    Almost all the schools you mention can provide her a solid undergraduate education that will prepare her for graduate school in the field of neuroscience. She does not need a specific neuroscience program to get that. So the question you should be asking is where will my child be happiest. If music is important than make sure she lands in a school where she not only has access to music at a level that she wants and where she can have opportunities to play even if she is not practicing as rigorously as more dedicated students are. But I would also think about Large University versus small liberal arts school. I would think about what size classes your daughter wants to be in and what size classes would help her the most. If she is considering graduate school in the field of neuroscience then she might want to consider a smaller school where she can really get to know her professors because faculty recommendations matter a lot more than good test scores and grades when applying to graduate school.

    Financially keep in mind, as I mentioned above schools that are not as selective for undergraduates have some of the best people in certain fields. If she is 100% sure she wants to do neuroscience then she might want to consider attending a place like U of Pittsburgh because she could potentially get a full ride at a school like that and she would have some of the top scientists in the field to work with. If she had a full ride she could afford to take the train or fly home when ever she wanted to.

  • jazzpianodadjazzpianodad Registered User Posts: 160 Junior Member
    edited October 2014
    @momrath‌: although I agree in theory that this thread may belong on the other board, I think OP is getting better and more extensive advice here than she would there. :)

    @Nmctmom‌: on the question of a music supplement for Columbia, they don't actively discourage it, but they're not overly encouraging either. See http://undergrad.admissions.columbia.edu/apply/first-year/supplementary-materials ("we request that the volume of supplementary credentials be kept to a minimum," "if you feel it is necessary to provide additional information, you may submit," "we can provide no guarantee that all materials will be reviewed or evaluated, as they are not required for the admission process"). I agree with compmom that it will make sense to submit a supplement only if it shows considerable talent. And even then, I expect the number of cases in which the supplement will make the difference between being admitted and not being admitted is extremely limited. Given the time constraints of the music faculty, the admissions office is not likely to ask the faculty to review a supplement if the admissions office is comfortable making a decision based on the application alone (which itself will describe your daughter's involvement with music and indicate the level of the groups in which she participates). I think it would only be in those cases where the exact level of music ability is really important to the admissions decision that they would ask the music faculty to review the supplement and weigh in. In those cases, an impressive supplement could help, but conversely an unimpressive supplement could hurt. If it's not feasible for your daughter to put together a really impressive supplement by the November 1 deadline, I wouldn't submit one and wouldn't worry about it.

    I also think that StacJip's post makes some excellent points. I'm obviously a big fan of Columbia and my son loves it there. And by reputation, Columbia has one of the best neuroscience programs in the country. But I agree that no one should choose Columbia, or any other school, just for the name or reputation.

    I am a little surprised by StacJip's story of the young man who was a very talented musician and was unable to get into any of the music groups he applied for at Columbia. Columbia has a fairly extensive music performance program and a number of ensembles in addition to the University Orchestra. See http://music.columbia.edu/mpp. One does have to audition, but my understanding is that if you have talent, there are enough performance opportunities to be able to get into one. Hopefully the young man was able to audition again as a sophomore and find an appropriate spot then.



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