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Looking for a college with good neuroscience and music programs


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

  • NmctmomNmctmom Registered User Posts: 48 Junior Member
    Everyone has a good point. We are indeed looking for the school with the best neuroscience program she can get in to, with some music ensembles she can join, and a music composition program, if possible. We are considering a lot more colleges now, in hopes of getting better merit aid. Her interest in neuroscience is a personal one, so for that reason she will probably continue on with the sciences. I don't really think she will stop writing music, but she really just want to have a chance to play flute in college. She made all states for 3 years in HS so far, so I think she definitely has the talent.

    We are not just picking Columbia ED because of the name. My D read up on the kind of neuroscience research they do in Columbia, and she found a couple of professors in particular whom she would love to join their lab. Another professor happens to be the author of one of the neuroscience book she found very informative, and she wants to get the chance to study with that professor. Like I said earlier, her Columbia application is ready to go. I don't think she will have the time to prepare a substantial supplement for Columbia. Maybe she will for the other schools.

    As is stands right now, here are the schools in her list- Columbia ED, MIT and JHS are her reaches, Brandeis, Boston U, Mt Holyoke, Smith, Fordham and Bard (not conservatory) are her matches, and UConn is her safety. She might also submit her applications Fordham EA (it is free to apply) and UConn (because of the scholarship deadlines). She did not think she will have 3 reaches in her list. Well, she still has time to think about and work on her other regular decision schools. Hopefully she will get an admission somewhere before January 1st.

    Thank you everyone for your insights and advice.
  • compmomcompmom Registered User Posts: 9,547 Senior Member
    Seriously, add Tufts. That is the most direct suggestion I have made in the entire time I have been on CC. Non music majors can do composition at Tufts and the sciences are great. Only problem might be financial.

    Clark is great in psychology and music, don't know about neuroscience. The only school that Freud visited...
  • StacJipStacJip Registered User Posts: 620 Member
    The deal with our son's friend is that he is a composer and a Jazz pianist. He is quite stubborn and because he graduated from a high school that has an award winning Jazz program he is a bit of a snob. I am sure he limited himself to the top ensembles.

    I understand your daughter being interested in Columbia's neuroscience group. I have a son who is in this field (he is studying mathematical biology). The advice I would give her is to keep in mind that if she wants to continue on in neuroscience she will have to go to graduate school. Professors and departments that are good for graduate students are not necessarily good for undergraduates. And professors that are doing cutting edge work in their field and have graduate students do not always make time for undergraduates. More importantly they might be away more than they are on campus due to conferences and talks. At large universities students are often supervised by graduate students who may or may not be up for the task depending on their personalities and skills. But even more important a recommendation from a graduate student will not have any weight while a recommendation from a professor will.

    There are some great web sites to read about the graduate school application process. My son depended a lot on GradCafe to get a feel for what he needed to do.
  • momrathmomrath Registered User Posts: 5,851 Senior Member
    I believe MIT and JHU are also need-only schools. There's a big difference between wanting financial aid and really needing it to make college a reality, especially if graduate school is in the future. If you're willing and able to pay for these schools, fine. If not, it's better to address this obstacle sooner rather than later.

    I think @StacJip aptly described the difference between the undergraduate experience at a research university and an LAC. The resources are there at larger universities but they are not always available and tend to go to the squeakiest wheels. That's why fit is critical.
  • compmomcompmom Registered User Posts: 9,547 Senior Member
    It is not necessary to study neuroscience at the undergrad level to do neuroscience on the grad level, or to become a neurologist. (This was mentioned in another thread and reminded me). The very specific focus for this student apparently stems from personal experience but having a long range view may help as she picks schools and as the family thinks about financing future grad school options.
  • glassharmonicaglassharmonica Registered User Posts: 3,199 Senior Member
    Compmom is right. I assumed the OP's daughter had a personal interest in studying neuroscience, which is really an interdisciplinary major. If she wants to be a neurologist (which is an internal medicine specialty) she can major in anything--bio, for example is fine--because she will need four years of medical school before she specializes. When undergrads major in "neuroscience", or whatever it's called at their institution, it's usually because of a personal interest, but it's not really a specifically career-oriented major.
  • NmctmomNmctmom Registered User Posts: 48 Junior Member
    Sorry for the late response. D is definitely looking to go to graduate school and get her PhD. She wants to a scientist with focus on neuro-developmental disorders -like ADHD and Autism. She wants to go to a good research school without giving up her music. She did her two year AP science research requirement on Synesthesia, and she was fascinated with the links between Synesthesia and other conditions like Autism. She could have just picked her major as Biology or Psychology, but since a Neuroscience major is available, why not study a more focused major.
  • glassharmonicaglassharmonica Registered User Posts: 3,199 Senior Member
    Cool! Synesthesia is a longtime interest of mine, too. I've heard from academics in other fields that an interdisciplinary major can be looked down upon in graduate school applications, but cannot speak as to whether it would be true for "Neuroscience" (whatever that entails at a specific institution) vs. Biology, etc. But it sounds as if your plan is to stick to a less expensive school if she does not get into Columbia. Where she goes to grad school will have a greater effect on her career (at least that's the prevailing wisdom; however, I can think of many cases in which relationships formed during undergrad had a stronger pull opening career-doors than undergrad.)
  • NmctmomNmctmom Registered User Posts: 48 Junior Member
    Thanks @glassharmonica !
    You a right, D decided that if she does not get into Columbia, she will stick to a less expensive school where she can have a chance to do some research, and hopefully keep playing her music. Hopefully, a neuroscience major won't hurt her chances to go to a good grad school.
  • ScubachickScubachick Registered User Posts: 305 Member
    edited October 2014
    If you can get into a UG NS program that is great. But, it is not necessary for grad school NS. Strong biology and chemistry is what you need and no debt :)
  • NmctmomNmctmom Registered User Posts: 48 Junior Member
    Thank you Scubachick. It will be really nice if she can finish her undergrad without any debt.
  • ScubachickScubachick Registered User Posts: 305 Member
    I was very fortunate to get my PhD in physiology tuition free and with a living stipend. It is harder to do that now, so the less UG debt the better.
  • hornethornet Registered User Posts: 660 Member
    To me, with a neuroscience direction such as the OP mentioned, it seems less a matter of where one does his/her undergrad but more a matter of accessing good summer internships, taking the right courses, doing a mentored independent research project at least once, and, of course, making good grades. Many schools have good music teachers and satisfying music experiences for developing scientists. D chose an LAC with an excellent violin teacher and played in several chamber groups that were composed of strong players. Check out who the music teachers are at the schools your D applies to and start an e-mail exchange to get a feel for what the possibilities are.

    My daughter is now in the process of applying to neuroscience PhD programs. She could not decide on med school or research (did not want MD/PhD) during undergrad and did a two year post-bac at NIH as she wrestled with which direction to take. The NIH post-bac program is for new bachelor's graduates who are expected to apply to med school or PhD science programs. D was provided a good stipend, health insurance and was reimbursed for one course a semester during her NIH time. She also volunteered in a medical clinic where she got some amazing firsthand medical experience. While at NIH, she's gotten her name on two papers, has become quite good at fMRI reading and is currently writing up a paper she presented at a conference last summer. She is in charge of her own project and has really grown as a scientist. Interestingly, D has continued playing violin in a number of groups at the Peabody conservatory on the side-music is still there.

    As an undergrad, D applied for and was accepted to two summer NSF internships. Housing and a stipend were provided.The experiences provided her with opportunities not available at her LAC and gave her additional strong references. D's work also earned her a name spot on a publication with one of the summer internships.

    Given the interests the OP mentioned, I, like scubachick, suggest OP's child have a strong undergraduate science background. The programs my D is applying to expect a year of O chem, calculus based physics, statistics and a number of biology courses (genetics, microbiology, pharmacology, etc).

    About half of the programs D has applied to waived application fee and indicated that her travel expenses would be covered when called to interview. It looks like grad school debt is not going to be an issue. The stipends run 28-33K a year (most provide this for five years) at the schools she has applied to. Tuition is waived and health insurance is provided.

    Best wishes in your search!
  • ScubachickScubachick Registered User Posts: 305 Member
    @hornet that is good news on the stipends. Will they require D to teach or can she work just on her project? I did not have to teach. I have seen more schools move away from pure research stipends to teaching requirements. It is great to get the teaching experience as long as the load doesn't take away research time.
    I agree OP child should make the most of summer research projects.
  • StacJipStacJip Registered User Posts: 620 Member
    Full funding is the norm for most science PHD programs. Lately there has been a number of PhD programs that admit students without funding or with very little funding. It is unwise to accept those offers. No funding is basically a rejection.

    For those interested in the sciences they should definitely consider doing an NSF REU (Research Experience for Undergraduates). These fully funded summer opportunities give undergraduates a chance to "try on" doing research and see if they really do want to go on to get a PhD.

    As for teaching NSF has some specific funding that allows for a student to be exempt from teaching their first year in Graduate school. But only for one year. To get that same funding in subsequent years the student has to teach. It would be foolish for a grad student not to teach because if they are going to go into academia, teaching experience is taken into account when hiring.
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