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Large school for a smaller school kid?

headoflifeheadoflife Registered User Posts: 72 Junior Member
edited November 2012 in Music Major
A thread on another section of CC got me thinking about this. Does being in the school of music make a very large university feel smaller? My son has narrowed his search, and while he would prefer a smaller school (and I think it would be a better fit), he does have a couple of large state universities on the list, specifically IU and UIUC. The size and culture of these schools does not really suit him, as he is not interested in sports or the greek system, and is much more an intellectual, introverted sort. His first choice school is NU since they offer a dual degree program, and while NU is much better located for us, Rice sounds like the type of school I would choose for him based strictly on personality. Any insight would be appreciated!
Post edited by headoflife on

Replies to: Large school for a smaller school kid?

  • AxelrodAxelrod Registered User Posts: 663 Member
    Northwestern & Indiana are amazing institutions which offer a variety of social & intellectual options. Rice is predominately science/pre-med oriented & in hot, humid Houston. Really need more info., but that's my off-the-cuff reaction.

    P.S. Being in a school of music does make a school feel smaller. Have you considered Oberlin ?

    P.P.S. Also, what about Rice University suggests "introverted & intellectual" ?
  • megpmommegpmom Registered User Posts: 3,114 Senior Member
    Being from Texas, both of my kids tell me that Rice is "where the nerds go." But the music school is fantastic. D's best friend is a junior voice major and loving it. But, every other kid we know who attends there is "top of the class" science and engineering type.
  • headoflifeheadoflife Registered User Posts: 72 Junior Member
    More info...DS is kind of a nerd. University of Chicago is a top choice school if he doesn't get into a top music program for trombone performance, in case that gives you an idea of the type. I like the sound of Rice, based on size and the residential college system. It sounds similar to U of C, but with a top music school. Ideally he is looking at a dual degree program with a a second degree in science-probably looking at med school in the future. I know that is nto generally possible at Rice, but he would be able to take his pre-med requirements.

    His thought process is that if he is not good enough to get into one of the top schools for his instrument, he is probably not destined to have a career as trombonist in a top symphony orchestra., so he is not really applying to any less selective music schools. Oberlin is on the list of possibilites, but it has 2 strikes against it. The trombone professor is retiring and they do not have a replacement, although they hope to do so prior to May 1. That might not have been so bad, but then a former classmate told him Oberlin has NO single sex bathrooms. I have to say, I would not have guessed that woudl be a deciding factor! :) Any info on the bathroom situation there woudl alos be appreciated!
  • AxelrodAxelrod Registered User Posts: 663 Member
    "DS" = "daughter's son?"

    "I like the sound of Rice." Does this mean that you haven't visited Rice ?
  • cellomom2cellomom2 Registered User Posts: 499 Member
    Hi! My S is in his sophomore year at UM working towards dual degrees in Cello performance and Math. The SOM is definitely like a smaller home within the larger campus. Having all the music students running into each other in their ensembles and music theory and music history classes helped my S to make friends quickly with people who had similar interests. Also, the 1st year most of the music students are in the same dorm on north campus, though there are also lots of other students there too. All that helped him to feel comfortable quickly and yet he has also been able to take advantage of all that a large campus has to offer and he has made friends outside of music as well. I have talked to friends whose kids are students at UM and not in music and some of them have had trouble finding their niche at such a large school so being in the SOM has definitely been a blessing for my S.
  • headoflifeheadoflife Registered User Posts: 72 Junior Member

    DS is generally dear son, but sometimes that D is something else! We have not visited Rice. He is applying there. and we will go down for an onsite audition, since they do not prescreen for tombone. That will give him the opportunity to get a feel for the place. That is true for many of the schools he is applying to, as we could not afford the time and money for mutipve visits to each campus.


    Thanks for the input! I was hoping that was the case.. It appears that at IU many of the music students live in the same "neighborhood" on campus. Most students think it is the dull part, but I suspect it might suit my son much better that the more rowdy areas!
  • kmcmom13kmcmom13 Registered User Posts: 3,910 Senior Member
    Headoflife - yes, indeed a School of Music can "shrink" a large university. And there are a number of reasons not to dismiss larger programs/schools, despite my own earlier misgivings about this notion.

    (Eg. IU is a no-brainer for your son's instrument, I would think, as is UNT. In addition, I'd be inclined to want to see him apply at some other major programs with a high degree of rigor to have a sufficient number of auditions to truly test that talent theory...eg. UMich, USC/Thornton, Miami/Frost, Rochester/Eastman, McGill -- etc.)

    My son was in love with the University of Chicago, but really wanted to pursue music + technology/comp so found himself instead applying to larger U's with robust schools of music where there were sufficient numbers to have the variety of coursework/degree he desired. (Chicago matriculates a lot of students from his hs, but as you know, has no SOM.)

    He ended up at his first SOM choice, which was University of Michigan. Due to his academic strength/background, he also was able to net a large merit scholarship and had the option to pursue a dual degree (which he did later switch out of.)

    He came from a small G/T school with a graduating class of 85 and a very interdisciplinary approach to learning. His experience of Michigan, even though it is huge, with frats, football and all that "big school" jazz, is that the school of music IS in fact pretty intimate and that the resulting variety of social and academic opportunities at such an otherwise large school is actually great for him. He absolutely loves it there. I mean, this is his senior year, and he STILL LOVES IT there ;)

    So while you might think a "Chicago-style" kid might not be happy in a big 10 setting, he would argue to think again ;)

    His friend from the same G/T program, however, went to NU. Socially, it was actually not a fit for a variety of reasons. (I actually think Chicago might have been a better fit for this kid, but again, he was geared toward a music program that Chicago did not have.)

    I've never been to Rice, but do know a prof there from work in another industry in which said prof participates. My "sense" from lengthy discussions with him (at one point he was making a case for McSon's fit for his school...) is that it is a great fit for gifted kids highly interested in innovative STEM.

    If you're in a position to do so, you might want to do some touring and encourage your son to cast a slightly wider net. You will increase his odds of not only finding the true right fit, but of getting a package that makes the cost of attendance manageable. You may be surprised if he actually visits some of these programs and sits in on classes what his preference actually turn out to be.

    That is one thing my son did that was important -- not only visited the universities, but got permission to sit in on regular studio classes. It made a real difference for him.
  • headoflifeheadoflife Registered User Posts: 72 Junior Member

    He is actually casting a wider net than I have mentioned so far. The list includes IU, NU, Eastman/Rochester, Curtis, Colburn, Julliard, Rice and UIUC for musc. He knows the prof at UIUC and I am pretty sure he will get in there. He has received his academic admit to IU, but has nto auditioned at any schools yet. He is also applying at UofC, WUSTL, Case Western, and possibly Tufts for a more academic program. I know a couple of those have affiliations with conservatories, so it is possible he would look at that program option too. He is really focusing on a top level classical program, but he has the grades/stats to apply to any school. I am not sure what he would do if the choice was UIUC for music and UofC for bio!
  • imagepimagep Registered User Posts: 628 Member
    My son attends a fairly small school of music at a large university. This semester all of his classes except for one are at the school of music building, so it is almost like attending a very small college.

    Also some large schools may have "living and learning" communities, where students are grouped by interest or major. Last year my son stayed in a dorm that was designated just for first year music students. It could made a 30,000 student university feel like a 92 student university.

    He ended up seeking out friendships with people outside of the school of music, seemed that he fit in better with students other than music majors.
  • BartokrulesBartokrules Registered User Posts: 219 Junior Member
    Oberlin is undertaking a search for the new trombone faculty. Application deadline is December 15th. The job posting is on the Oberlin website. As far as bathrooms go, students vote as to how the bathrooms are designated. There will always be at least one bathroom in the dorm that is reserved for single sex.
  • headoflifeheadoflife Registered User Posts: 72 Junior Member
    Thank you for all the feedback! It alleviat4es some of my concerns about him at a larger school. Thank you also for the info on Oberlin! I knew about the search, but the bathroom info helps! Maybe I can get him to put it back on the list, and remind him he will not be forced to make a decision until the new faculty is in place, and if they don;t have someone chosen, he can simply decide not to attend there.
  • HoggirlHoggirl Registered User Posts: 1,177 Senior Member
    We recently visited Rice and loved it. Like you, I really liked the residential college system. The frustrating part there is that one applies directly to the school of music, and if not accepted into the SOM, you can't go to Rice. This is disappointing to my ds because, like yours, he is academically strong and has other interests. It would be nice if one were accepted to the university first and THEN either accepted to the school of music or not, but it doesn't work that way there. My son is also enamored with U of C - the recruiter who came to his school must have been amazing, as several kids are keen on it now. I think Northwestern sounds like a great fit for your son. A poster on here said it was the most double degree friendly of the schools he looked at. I am trying to get my ds to look at NU.
  • headoflifeheadoflife Registered User Posts: 72 Junior Member
    NU is a wonderful school and it has a true 5 year double degree option. You apply to both schools, music and the college that houses your other degree. Both applications are considered, and you receive 2 admissions decisions. It is possible to be admitted to NU for your more academic degree but not get into Jacobs, and vice versa. While Jacobs does consider academic standards, they are less rigorous than the other colleges, and obviously there is the issue of the audition! We also attended an info session and were told it is possible to obtain a second major without doing a double degree, and still graduate in 4 years.. Because NU is on the quarter system, there is an opportunity to take more classes. NU and U of C are both excellent schools but the vibe is very different. I wish NU was a bit more like U of C in that regard, but I suspect my son would find his people there, and it fits in so many ways.

    I do wish Rice allowed the type of application NU does. I don't know if S would go all the way to TX for a non-music program, but it would be nice to be able to explore the option.
  • sally305sally305 Registered User Posts: 7,604 Senior Member
    How about a large small school? St. Olaf in MN would meet his criteria very well. The music program is really well respected and a big part of campus life. And the school has an excellent reputation for preparing students for medical school.
  • Mezzo'sMamaMezzo'sMama Registered User Posts: 3,399 Senior Member
    @headoflife- a word about the affiliation between Case Western and CIM, if I may? If he admits through Case, he will not have access to the teachers at the conservatory nor their classes. But, if he auditions and admits through CIM, he has access to Case's classes and could pursue a dual degree if he was so inclined (and had the time to do so!).
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