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Reality check: What's it actually like at ____ now that your kid is enrolled ?

khill87khill87 69 replies3 postsRegistered User Junior Member
edited March 1 in Music Major
I'm starting this thread specifically to hear from some of the veterans on the board whose kids who completed this process and are already enrolled in (or have recently graduated from) the schools the rest of us are still hoping for or applying to.

Now that your kid has a semester or a few years under their belt, what's it really like there?

To make it easy to read and follow, think of a bulleted list of pros and cons (no more than 3-4 each). Not things we would hear from the brochures, but your kid's reality check on what is in the brochures or what you heard and thought initially.

You do NOT need to address all of these, but some things to think about as you come up with your short list of what you and your kid love and what you're not so crazy about:

-- Environment (supportive, competitive, friendly, cliquish, etc.);
-- Facilities (quality & number of practice rooms, school instruments, libraries, dorms, gyms or athletic facilities, student union or common areas);
-- Performance opportunities (as part of the program, as extracurriculars on campus, or side gigs);
-- Faculty (accessibility, style -- supportive, demanding, etc., skill; anyone particularly amazing who's made a difference for your kid or if there is someone to avoid and people should PM you if considering the school!);
-- Cross-departmental opportunities (is there cross-pollination between opera and musical theater, music and theater, or classical and contemporary, for example, or is it more siloed);
-- Academics (workload, difficulty, ratio of music-to-gen-ed requirements, course offerings);
-- Social life (what does your kid do for fun; are there non-musical things to do; does campus shut down on weekends; opportunities to meet and hang out with non-musicians, etc.);
-- Actual cost of living (were the estimates correct, pleasant or unpleasant surprises, tips);
-- The larger community (safety, things to do in the town or city, availability of off-campus housing, if a university or LAC how the rest of the school impacts the vibe);
-- Happiness (does your kid merely like it or really love it -- or neither, how about other kids -- what's the attrition rate).
-- Anything else your kid talks about or you've observed (campus food, airport/travel hassles every semester, weather, size of program, whatever!)

It would also be great to hear: Was this originally your kid's first choice, back-up plan, or something in-between?
edited March 1
81 replies
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Replies to: Reality check: What's it actually like at ____ now that your kid is enrolled ?

  • GoForthGoForth 790 replies29 postsRegistered User Member
    I think this is a great topic. I keep all my notes on this topic in the GoForth Journal, starting about here:
    https://talk.collegeconfidential.com/discussion/comment/20820268/#Comment_20820268
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  • khill87khill87 69 replies3 postsRegistered User Junior Member
    Thanks @GoForth! I'm hoping if a lot of people respond, it can become a pinned post. (I don't know how that works on here yet, but I was thinking it would be something almost everyone would want to read). Please encourage anyone you know to chime in!
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  • GoForthGoForth 790 replies29 postsRegistered User Member
    I think a lot of people's posting energy disappears after the student begins college. Before S went to school, I felt like there was a missing segment of the college experience description, like it just all ends after school starts. Probbaly people's doubts and fears mostly vanish, and there is hen less to talk about.
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  • Pikachu's MomPikachu's Mom 106 replies0 postsRegistered User Junior Member
    edited March 1
    @khill87

    Thanks for starting this thread! I would be interested in knowing more about students in music (and specifically VP and/or cello performance) at NEC, Baldwin Wallace, Lawrence University and Luther College—just my wish list!

    I’m curious about the balance of music and gen ed coursework, how well students felt prepared by the curriculum for graduate school/professional work/life in general, and whether they’d had enough friends, performing opportunities, the atmosphere was collaborative or competitive, they were ahead/behind in coursework, their expectations were met, costs went up a lot or a little each year, etc.

    That’s it!
    edited March 1
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  • jadedhavenjadedhaven 43 replies2 postsRegistered User Junior Member
    Wonderful topic! My eldest son attends UNT, he's not a music major but still participates in one of the lower bands because he loves to play. He's thriving at the school and really enjoys everything but the food.

    My youngest son is a music major (bassoon) and has so far been accepted to UNT, University of Houston, SMU and University of Texas (Austin).

    Would truly appreciate any insight into the latter three schools.
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  • GoForthGoForth 790 replies29 postsRegistered User Member
    @jadehaven - My S runs the Maple Jam on thursday nights (I believe starting at 5:30 pm) at the UNT Maple cafeteria, where all are invited to play.
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  • journeytothepastjourneytothepast 71 replies0 postsRegistered User Junior Member
    edited March 1
    @Pikachu's Mom I went to Luther College and graduated almost two years ago with a degree in viola performance. I was definitely so busy during my time there, but I felt like I could balance my school duties with orchestra and practicing and work study. However, I know that I could have practiced more :))
    In terms of balance between music courses and general education courses, I balanced them out by following the music major sequence (I can PM you a link to the music major handbook if you would like) and making sure I had at least one general education requirement taken care of per semester. I feel like the curriculum certainly prepared me for graduate school, though I did take a remedial music history course my first semester of grad school due to differences in sequences (depends on the grad school, though). Social wise, I personally had a very lonely college experience (I struggled with social anxiety when I was at Luther and still struggle with it), but I know so many people that met at Luther and stayed friends after graduation. Costs do go up per year, but I guess that might be expected when you go to a liberal arts college. I feel that the atmosphere was collaborative, or at least my studio was collaborative, but some other instruments/voice types may be more competitive. I also know of several people who were in both orchestra and choir, so that's possible. I hope that helps!
    (Edit: got username wrong and added preparedness for grad school)
    edited March 1
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  • jadedhavenjadedhaven 43 replies2 postsRegistered User Junior Member
    GoForth, I will pass that good info along. My son is a seriously good clarinet player. He dropped symphony this semester because he couldn't stand playing with people who sound like they just picked up their instruments yesterday.- which is what you're left with if you're not a music major at UNT. He still takes lessons and practices on a regular basis, he might like an opportunity to play with good musicians and make new friends. Many thanks!

    Bridgenail - that was tremendously helpful, thank you for the general insight into what all of our music majors will experience.
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  • Pikachu's MomPikachu's Mom 106 replies0 postsRegistered User Junior Member
    @bridgenail
    Thank you! Your write-up of what to expect was actually so helpful! Of course, as a mom, I worry about her finding the right place, but your post reminded me that most music kids go through the same things. That in itself was a good thing to remember. So appreciate the ‘reality check’ and am excited for D to make the most of her opportunities.
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  • Pikachu's MomPikachu's Mom 106 replies0 postsRegistered User Junior Member
    edited March 2
    @journeytothepast
    Thank you for answering. I think I have seen the music major handbook on the web site, so should be good there, and I am glad to hear you were able to balance it all AND make it to grad school! I know each individual journey can be so different. Good to hear your studio was collaborative—that’s something I know my D will appreciate if she finds it. And your point that both orchestra and choir is possible is great! That still seems like a pretty big challenge to juggle. I know a few Luther grads who were happy with their experiences, although these were not music majors, so thank you so much for that perspective!
    edited March 2
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  • Mezzo'sMamaMezzo'sMama 3550 replies84 postsForum Champion Music Major Forum Champion
    I pinned this post with the hope that it will gain traction and be useful to others in the coming seasons. Words of caution: please do not list specific teachers/profs by name, or if the department is small (as in one teacher), don't mention it at all. You can PM each other with those details, but I will remove any posts where profs are identifiable.
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  • khill87khill87 69 replies3 postsRegistered User Junior Member
    edited March 3
    @Mezzo'sMama Thank you for pinning!

    To anyone posting: Please try to start your post with just a few pros and cons for each school at the top so it will be skimmable for folks trying to get some quick info. (If you have more thoughts to add below those, that's great!)

    So for example (all of these things are made up, BTW!):

    "School:
    We're at X University, which was neither a reach nor a safety for S, but in the middle of the pack. Overall S seems happy now that he is there and settled, although he was lukewarm for the first month or two.

    Pros:
    Most faculty are really caring and nurturing so far; collaborative feeling among students; health center was amazing when my S broke his ankle; workload that was billed as "intense" has turned out to be really reasonable -- less work than high school for S

    Cons:
    Difficulty getting practice rooms in the dorms; one teacher of an important first-year course was really kind of mean and that caused a lot of unnecessary stress; most students leave campus on weekends which can make things pretty lonely for those who remain in the dorms" (again -- all of that is an example, totally made up)

    And then... please give any other details you want!
    edited March 3
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  • Pikachu's MomPikachu's Mom 106 replies0 postsRegistered User Junior Member
    edited March 3
    Dear all, I am grateful for the reminders by @Mezzo'sMama and @glassharmonica to be cautious when discussing program experiences. I apologize if my request contributes to that vein of discussion. I have so appreciated everyone’s posts so far, including the latest by @jazzpianodad. These posts have really helped me envision the future life of my musician for the next few years, something I have struggled with as a parent who hasn’t been a full-time musician.

    @jazzpianodad
    I am glad to hear of your son's commitment to music in the context of an academically focused undergrad program. It does seem as if the environment contributed the mentors and fellow players that one would expect a music program to have contributed. As he is a jazz musician, I wonder whether your son feels he missed out on theory, arranging, composition, or music history. I have heard that this kind of experience can make it easier to design your own (entrepreneurial) path as a musician. It’s great to hear that your son’s initiative kept him playing so much, though. He must feel confidence having had to exercise that commitment muscle all the time during his undergrad. You must be so proud of him! Thanks for the post.
    edited March 3
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  • albertsaxalbertsax 298 replies5 postsRegistered User Member
    @jazzpianodad
    I'm curious, what did your son major in (you mentioned it wasn't music), and did he feel it connected at all to his music studies?
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  • jazzpianodadjazzpianodad 195 replies2 postsRegistered User Junior Member
    @Pikachu's Mom - my son had a pretty good grounding in theory and composition coming into college, and I think he continued to work on theory with his music teachers, both at Columbia and at Juilliard after he got into the exchange. In terms of coursework, he took a graduate level jazz composition and arranging course at Columbia, as well as an undergrad jazz history course. He also did an intensive course in jazz history outside Columbia at Jazz at Lincoln Center and has done a lot of self-directed study of jazz history, including collecting and listening to jazz recordings from all eras of jazz. I think he has as much knowledge of jazz history, maybe more, as anyone coming out of a music school program. As with the other aspects of his music, he pieced together resources both within and outside Columbia to get what he felt he needed.

    @albertsax - my son majored in philosophy. In the thread about debunking the myth that fine arts leads to the poorhouse, I joked a few years ago that music was my son's "practical" pursuit. I don't really know if he finds a connection between his philosophy and his music. I think mainly he wanted to pursue something that would force him to think and ponder the universe outside music, so maybe it was more a complement to his music endeavors, a connection to the broader range of interests that led him to go to Columbia rather than a music school. Though the title of one of his compositions is named after two characters from a novel by an Austrian philosophical writer, so maybe there was some musical inspiration there too.
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  • Pikachu's MomPikachu's Mom 106 replies0 postsRegistered User Junior Member
    @jazzpianodad — wow! Sounds like your son made the most of his opportunities. Your description made me remember how resourceful someone who is truly interested in something can be (and my own joy at discovering the things I was after to learn). Thanks.
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  • eliandieliandi 2 replies0 postsRegistered User New Member
    jadedhaven

    Regarding "My youngest son is a music major (bassoon) and has so far been accepted to UNT, University of Houston, SMU and University of Texas (Austin). Would truly appreciate any insight into the latter three schools."

    My son applied and was accepted at a similar set of schools. However after speaking with a number of Texas high school band directors, he chose to attend Texas A&M Commerce for Music Ed. Unlike many schools, TAMUC school of music focuses on the Music ed folks. Most (~90%) of the students are music ed, and so pretty much everything from marching band to ensembles is focused on developing educators. This is not to say they do not develop performance skills because they have many great chances to perform as well.

    If your son is interested in Music Ed, I suggest you give TAMUC a visit.

    The negative, if your son does not like small towns, is its Commerce. My son could care less as its close enough to DFW to go see performances. My other son is at UH (Biology major), and would never tolerate Commerce.
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