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Parents need help with narrowing list and any other schools to consider!

VeryapparentVeryapparent Registered User Posts: 255 Junior Member
Hi All,

My D and I have been narrowing down her list of schools. Any other school suggestions would be greatly appreciated. She plans to start working on common app and essays over summer. D is high stat student and very capable (but not elite)cellist. Lots of music ECs and very few awards. National Merit Commended. 12 APs (5 next year). We are full pay so merit would be great. My quiet introverted D thrives (socially) in an intellectual environment and can't breathe without her cello. She doesn't need a music school specifically but at least a school orchestra that performs at a high level. She would prefer no Greek life and is liberal and non religious. Would double major (or dual degree if conservatory) in music and science or math. Here is our working list (includes some non merit and some potential not so good fits with big merit opportunities ) we hope to narrow to 10. Most are small LACs which seem to be the preference after some tours. She might include a few ivies just to see if she can get in then we would have some thinking to do. Any other school we should consider or should rethink?
Smith Grinnell Macalester Scripps Claremont McKenna
Harvey Mudd Mount Holyoke St Olaf Lawrence
Oberlin (conservatory expectance here I think would be iffy)
Wesleyan Bryn Mawr Wellesley
Davidson University of Washington Honors College
Wellesley Washington and Lee(?) Vanderbilt
University of Chicago Tulane

Thanks in advance!

Replies to: Parents need help with narrowing list and any other schools to consider!

  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus Registered User Posts: 62,988 Senior Member
    edited May 18
    Have you and your daughter talked about the price limit and run the net price calculator on all of the schools?

    Note that if a competitive merit scholarship is necessary for affordability, the school should be listed as a reach since admission without the needed scholarship is effectively like a rejection.

    Washington and Lee has very heavy sorority and fraternity presence (80% of women and 73% of men participate, according to http://www.collegedata.com/cs/data/college/college_pg05_tmpl.jhtml?schoolId=1580 ). That may not be desirable for a student who is not interested in sororities and fraternities.
  • intparentintparent Registered User Posts: 29,530 Senior Member
    Merit exists at Mudd, but is hard to get and not very large usually. Now my kid just graduated and we were full pay for the last 2 years -- and it was worth every penny for us. But it has to be the right fit for your kid.
  • LBowieLBowie Registered User Posts: 1,723 Senior Member
    Vanderbilt is a great school strong in music located in Music City BUT, it is big on fraternities and especially sororities, with more than half the women in one.
  • gardenstategalgardenstategal Registered User Posts: 3,081 Senior Member
    I think you have a good list. She might like Tufts. The New England Conservatory connection there might interest her. Bard might also be interesting. Neither is known for merit aid, though. (You have several on your list though that are.)
  • compmomcompmom Registered User Posts: 8,234 Senior Member
    edited May 18
    I suggest you go on the excellent music forum on this site, and also that you read the "Double Degree Dilemma" posted there, which is really about different ways to do music.

    She really needs to decide if she wants to apply for a BM music degree, whether alone or part of a double degree. She can also apply to BA's, but it is important to know if she wants a music school or conservatory versus Liberal arts college.

    Be aware that liberal arts colleges and universities that DO have a music school or conservatory, may offer fewer opportunites to students NOT in the music school or conservatory. So if she wants a BA or BS, not a BM, she might want to avoid schools that have BM programs, or at least check out whether the better teachers and performance opportunities go to the BM students.

    Schools with BM programs would include Oberlin, Bard, Lawrence, Vanderbilt, and add Ithaca- and many others of course. Bard requires all students in the conservatory to do a double degree.

    Schools on your list with good music, that I have heard about, would include Davidson, Macalaster, Smith, Wellesley, St. Olaf, U. of Chicago, and I'm sure Grinnell too. You could check out Clark and College of Wooster too. In fact, check out the Colleges that Change Lives website. Sarah Lawrence and Vassar also have good music. Welseyan is especially known for its world music courses.

    I am not saying the other programs on your list don't have great music, only that I have actually heard about the above list.

    The TuftsNEC program is for elite musicians, so up to her whether that seems appropriate. Tufts itself has a wonderful music department and very active participation in orchestra etc. And excellent science.

    She sounds to me, off the cuff, like a student who would do a BA or BS degree and do music lessons and performance while on campus, but not as part of a BM degree. But she can apply to all options and decide in April of senior year.

    Applying to BM programs can be grueling, with auditions. For a BA or BS there usually is no audition for admission (though there are in the fall to join ensembles or orchestra) but the applicant can submit a supplement with music resume, CD or DVD etc.- but only if talent merits the submission.

    Good luck!

  • MaterSMaterS Registered User Posts: 1,315 Senior Member
    Vanderbilt has a strong Greek presence. UofC has the core so it is harder to double major.

    Lawrence sounds like a good fit. Also consider Occidental.
  • roycroftmomroycroftmom Registered User Posts: 536 Member
    It might be a good idea for her to visit schools to narrow her list of what environment she is seeking. Urban, rural, residential colleges or not? Mount Holyoke is very different than Tulane, and Chicago has little in common with W&L. The women's schools all have a different feel. I would think you could narrow the list greatly by further defining your criteria.
  • momofthreeboysmomofthreeboys Registered User Posts: 15,342 Senior Member
    I think it is a good list and you should be able to narrow it down nicely for the app cycle with input you glean here.
  • thumper1thumper1 Registered User Posts: 63,509 Senior Member
    A lot of the schools on your list do NOT give merit aid...at all. And for those that do, the competition is very intense.

    What about University of Rochester? The school has fine groups (NOT Eastman...but UR) for non-majors.

    If your student wants to double major in anything AND music, she will need a school that encourages that sort of thing. Some do...and some just don't.

    If she is double majoring in sciences...this can be dicey because very often labs occur at the same time as required ensemble rehearsals.

    If you are concerned about auditions...that will be an issue at all BM programs.

    A BA in music is very different.
  • MassmommMassmomm Registered User Posts: 2,810 Senior Member
    Wellesley's music program is excellent (they share some faculty with New England Conservatory) and you don't have to be a major to have access to lessons and classes. It's also relatively easy to get a practice room when you need it. My daughter is a non-major and has taken piano all the way through her four years.

    The downside is that if you are full pay, you will be full pay, as there is no merit money. Scripps, OTOH, does give merit scholarships (separate application), and also has an excellent music program and much, much better weather!

    If she is not a Con student at Oberlin, she won't have her first pick of music courses, but she will have plenty of opportunities to play, as there are lots of student groups.
  • VeryapparentVeryapparent Registered User Posts: 255 Junior Member
    "She sounds to me, off the cuff, like a student who would do a BA or BS degree and do music lessons and performance while on campus, but not as part of a BM degree. But she can apply to all options and decide in April of senior year."

    As parents this is what we are hoping she eventually choses. Her high school is well known for producing a lot of talented musicians. A few have gone the way of the dual degree at Oberlin. Most of them dropped out to pursue one or the other. We are hoping to avoid this scenario if possible.
  • VeryapparentVeryapparent Registered User Posts: 255 Junior Member
    "Schools on your list with good music, that I have heard about, would include Davidson, Macalaster, Smith, Wellesley, St. Olaf, U. of Chicago, and I'm sure Grinnell too."

    Thank you this is what I was looking for.
  • VeryapparentVeryapparent Registered User Posts: 255 Junior Member
    Wow thanks all this has been very helpful!
  • liska21liska21 Registered User Posts: 343 Member
    Here are some data tables I posted on STEM at Liberal Arts colleges.

    This one shows % students getting merit and average size (also has links to where I got the data, which may help you)

    This one breaks out the Baccalaureate origins of PhD data into different STEM fields. If you D has a particular field of interest, this can give you some ideas of which LACs are particularly strong those fields. This can be esp helpful if you are looking at LACs more in mid-table. For example, comparing Beloit and Knox, I'd guess that Beloit has the bigger/stronger Geology dept though their other hard science depts are similar.

    When looking at the tables, keep in mind that it is probably best to compare schools in school 'tiers'. There are many differences in the student bodies of, say, Carleton and Beloit, that could explain much of the ranking. See the discussion in the thread.
  • LindagafLindagaf Registered User Posts: 6,925 Senior Member
    I second U of Rochester. Davidson and W&L are more preppy. If she is into quirky people, Grinnell, Wesleyan, Mt. Holyoke and Oberlin work. Does she like intensely academic nerds? Chicago. Tulane is a good choice if she shows interest and is looking for merit, but it is quite a party school. St. Olaf is good for match/safety school. I am not super au fait with the Claremont consortium, but I believe Mudd is super techy and smart. Smith and Bryn Mawr would be my choices of the women's colleges. And I think Macalester is a great school for an urban LAC experience. If it were me, my list would be Mac, U Roch, Bryn Mawr, Smith, St. Olaf, Chicago, Wellesley, Claremont McKenna, U Wash, and Wesleyan. Covers most bases, but I don't know enough about music to give a super knowledgable assessment.
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