TL;DR - Music Education at Baldwin Wallace with 100% job placement rate and $50,000 in loans(split between student and parents) or Youngstown State University with "very good" placement rate with no debt?
I like to "think out loud" so below is my process:
Daughter has been accepted for Music Ed to 4 of the 6 schools she auditioned at. She's down to choosing between two: Youngstown State University's Dana School of Music and Baldwin Wallace Conservatory - each of which cooperate with the university's Education College for the Music Ed degree. Both schools are accredited and have 100% of their students passing the Ohio licensing exam. A graduate degree is probably desired at some point, although not necessarily right away.
BW claims a 100% job placement rate for their Music Ed graduates and they were very frank during the site visit about how much attention they pay to the students - basically, you can't hide. They WILL talk about how you're doing. They stress early classroom participation so you know right away (as in the first few weeks) if you're cut out for teaching or not. My daughter liked both of the flute professors there, although they are both adjuncts. She is setting up a private lesson with one or both of them for this Friday, followed by an overnight hosted by BW for admitted Conservatory students. Their people in admissions and financial aid offices are very friendly and helpful. My husband and daughter were VERY impressed with how they presented their program. Both really liked the campus as well. It's very likely that the caliber of student would be higher than at YSU, and daughter is one that responds to peer competition.
Cost no object, daughter would be at BW in a heartbeat. But BW will cost about $62,000 more than YSU over the 4 years of undergrad. Since most of that premium would be in loans (about half hers and half ours), we're not convinced that we SHOULD pay the premium for the supposedly better school, even though we can. (We calculated the total loan amount and payments we would be responsible for if we choose BW for daughter 1 and a similar cost for daughter 2...and the loan payment is about 75% of the amount we're putting away in cash for college now. We'd have the loans paid off well before retirement.) Plus, daughter would be required to work to provide at least $12,000 of her own money toward tuition (in addition to her spending money). There would likely be no money to upgrade her instruments, or additional experiences (traveling, extra private lessons, etc.). So, she'd graduate with a great degree, the same instruments she started with, and about $27,000 in debt.
OTOH, YSU has a really strong local reputation for their music program (Daughter2's cello teacher works with a violinist who got her undergrad at BW and is currently working on her master's...at YSU). My daughter's private teacher for the past 2 years is the only flute professor there, and she's a full-time professor (not an adjunct). We don't know as much about the statistics of the Music Ed degree (job placement rate, etc.), but my daughter's 1st flute teacher also teaches at her high school and came from there...and daughter likes her very much (as opposed to teachers & student teachers she's had from other programs). Next weekend, my daughter will be participating in a Master Class at YSU's Flute Festival with her private teacher/flute professor. We'll also get to ask some of the questions we haven't yet, such as job placement. Daughter has been on YSU's campus several times for previous flute festivals and private lessons, but hasn't done a real tour...but at this point she's kinda "meh" about the campus, even though YSU has been doing (and continues to do) a lot of improvements on and around campus. The average caliber of student would likely be lower than at BW, which just means she'd have to find her motivation either within herself (ideal) or from outside sources. Although she really likes her private teacher and has absolutely no qualms that she has more than 4 more years of stuff to teach her, daughter is also looking to get input from other sources. Financially, we'd be able to fund supplemental experiences, such as private lessons with a variety of instructors, master classes, maybe some summer week-long intense camps with great teachers. And since daughter would only have to work enough to earn her own spending money, she'd have more time for these extra experiences. Plus, we'd be able to upgrade her instruments when needed. So from YSU, she'd graduate with an acceptable degree, upgraded instruments, additional experiences that could improve her playing skills, and no debt.
Daughter1 freely admits she will do "just fine" regardless of where she goes. She just doesn't have any excitement about YSU like she does for BW. I do think a lot of it is due to familiarity - with the professor, with the campus, and the fact that it's only an hour away from home (BW is 2-1/2 hours). And it's Youngstown...not the same *sparkle* as being 20 min from Cleveland. But if YSU has a good job placement rate, I just have a hard time recommending going into debt just to have some *fabulous* 4 year college experience and letting that dictate the next 10 years of her life. If YSU has a mediocre placement rate, or the expected salary is much lower than for BW grads, then the premium may be worth it.