all marks good except one really bad: what to do?

<p>Hi, I am a junior with an average mark of 97.5% (so a 3.9 - 4.0 for GPA? Sorry, I'm from Ontario, Canada) in all my humanities and music, but a 80% (2.9 - 3.0? Where can I find the definitive conversion chart? I've looked at so many, and they all disagree w/ each other) in one science course because I've been missing a lot of that class due to an assortment of music competitions. That substantially pulls my average down. How big of a deal is this going to be? Scholarship-wise? Admission-wise? Is the college/conservatory more likely to extrapolate that the 80% was an outlier, or is the school going to make a substantially big deal about it (as in lower my chances significantly)? Anyways, to what degree am I "screwed" by this mark? BTW, I'm applying for piano performance to Eastman, Oberlin, Mannes, and reach for Curtis and Julliard, but at am pretty good with academics. I have nearly no money, so I'm counting on financial aid and scholarship.</p>

<p>Really stressed about this issue. What should I do?</p>

<p>You are fine. It doesn't matter at all for conservatory admission that you had some 80% in one class, as long as your overall GPA is decent (and it is far more than decent). BTW there is no such thing as safety, match and reach when it comes to applying to performance programs I think.</p>

<p>Edit : Scholarship-wise too you're good. My grades were a bit lower I think and most my FA packages (except Peabody and CCM) covered more than tuition. Maybe you could consider Colburn too btw, because like Curtis, it's free.</p>

<p>TheOpusOne: I don't believe that there is a definitive conversion chart (something that I find bothersome, because in most places in Canada an A is 80%+ whereas in the US, an A is usually 90%+, so US schools possibly interpret marks in the 80's as B's; at most Canadian high schools, anything in the 90's is an A+ and is quite difficult to earn). The NCAA has a conversion book online that I looked at a few months ago and it confirms that Canadian marks in the 80's should be considered A's by American colleges, but of course the NCAA book is used for athletes.</p>

<p>In any case, Bassplayer08 is correct that your marks look fine and one 80% is not going to kill your chances at the better conservatories.</p>

<p>You probably realize that US admissions are vastly different from Canadian. In Canada the marks on the high school transcript are 100% of the determinant for most universities. In the US at non-music schools, the high school marks are just one factor, and at conservatories they are a relatively small factor. While conservatories do not want stupid students that are incapable of handling the theory courses (and some will at times exclude outstanding musicians that fall beneath their academic threshold), you are well, well above that threshold. </p>

<p>Some of the conservatories require SAT's or ACT's. If your high school is any good, then your 97.5% average should mean that you are truly an exceptional student that should get an SAT of 800 or very close and an ACT of between 34 and 36. </p>

<p>Even if a conservatory does not require your SAT score, you should include it somewhere (perhaps near the top of a resume or other list of accomplishments), assuming that you are at 800 or close. Many US high schools routinely put SAT scores on their transcripts; perhaps you could persuade your guidance counsellor to include yours in a prominent place on your transcript--your school is issued a sticker by SAT for this very purpose. </p>

<p>Two other pieces of data which help American colleges determine academic potential are class rank and academic reference letters which sometimes request a type of ranking. Some Canadian high schools do not do class rankings. Assuming that your rank is very good (at the high schools I have taught at, a 97.5% average would normally put you at a rank of 1st or 2nd out of 300 or 400 students), it would be to your advantage to have your school provide a ranking. Start plying your student services office with chocolates and flowers!</p>

<p>Yes, if finances are an issue and you are in the Curtis league, then at least look at Colburn. Colburn is a much better deal financially than Curtis. Normally admission to Curtis only guarantees free tuition and living in Philly isn't cheap. At Colburn, admission guarantees not only free tuition, but also a free studio apartment and meal allowance. Plus, the weather is much better in LA than in Philly or TO.</p>

<p>One other point (not crucial to music admissions), TheOpusOne: an Ontario overall 97.5%average could convert to several very different GPA's depending on what marks went into the mix to obtain the 97.5%: if the 97% is the result of averaging marks which are all either 97% or 98%, then the GPA would be a 4.0 (unweighted). If it is the result of several 100%'s and a couple of 68%'s, then it will be much lower. Course marks of 97 or 98 will all get you 4.0 for each course (unweighted), and a 100% still only gets you a 4.0 for the course, but a 68% probably gets you a 1.0 or maybe 1.5for the course.</p>

<p>Bottom line: do not stress. You will be great academically for music admissions. While there are many applicants to places like Juilliard who are academically talented as you are, many, many are not and they still get in. Your audition is the primary determinant at the top conservatories.</p>

<p>Just to add one point as a former Canadian resident:
My son and I were really completely unaware of the extraordinary financial costs at private and out-of-state universities in the U.S. when we first moved here.
I am hoping that because you said:
[quote]
I have nearly no money, so I'm counting on financial aid and scholarship.

[/quote]
that you are also planning to apply to some of the extraordinary music performance programs in Canada as well, such as McGill.
While McGill is highly selective, I would consider it at least a FINANCIAL safety for you. U of Toronto and U British Columbia may also be worth a look.</p>

<p>In the US, some of the "meets 100% need" schools such as Oberlin may very well end up giving you a package that meets all your needs, but many of the outstanding students receiving scholarships at music programs still end up with substantial costs that are significantly higher than attendance costs in Canada. Eg. if the tuition to the U.S. program is $43,000 (like NYU) then a $20,000 scholarship still leaves you with the TUITION ONLY cost for a single year that would net your four years at McGill (depending on where you live.)</p>

<p>Good luck in your search!</p>

<p>PS - I think the universities that do look at academics (eg. UMich) recognize that there is NOT the grade inflation in Canada that there is in the U.S. -- was told as much once by a counselor, just FYI, so you should be in good shape.</p>

<p>To add to kmccrindle's suggestions of Canadian schools: the Glenn Gould School in Toronto has faculty that are as distinguished as those at many of the best US schools. While GG tuition is very expensive by Canadian standards (and dirt cheap by US standards), it has an automatic merit award to all accepted Canadian students (and possibly to others, as well) which makes it as cheap or cheaper than Canadian public universities. </p>

<p>Glenn Gould is definitely of the conservatory mold (i.e. like Juilliard and Curtis in its singleminded focus on music), whereas places like U of T, UBC, and McGill would be more like Northwestern, U of Mich, and Rice with strong non-music academics.</p>

<p>Of U of T, UBC, and McGill, McGill has by far the largest music school and generally has the best reputation (but, of course, "the best" will vary from instrument to instrument and from student to student: you may find a better teacher fit elsewhere etc.). McGill has some excellent piano pedagogues. It would be worth your while to try to set up a trip to Montreal to take sample lessons with a couple of the teachers that your teacher thinks would be good fits for you. </p>

<p>Don't assume that the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence! My son auditioned at 5 US schools and was admitted to all 5 with $22 000 to $42 000 merit aid per year at 4 of them (including Juilliard) and $12 000 at the 5th. His McGill application was a last minute decision at my prodding (about two days before applications were due: thank goodness for electronic submission and cheap couriers). Son took sample lessons at most schools including McGill, and he felt that teacher fit/quality was as good as or better at McGill. He ended up at McGill. There are excellent teachers (and less than excellent teachers) at many many schools including a few in Canada.</p>

<p>If you are serious about performance, your chances of doing a graduate degree are very high. Funding for grad students is usually considerably better, so if finances are an issue, you may want to delay US education until your master's.</p>

<p>TheOpusOne: I hope you are doing the Oberlin piano competition for high school students this summer: the top students get a full ride at Oberlin.</p>

<p>kmccrindle: Ah! Your former Canadian residency explains your well-informed and closely reasoned posts! :)</p>

<p>One other thought more closely related to your original question than the last couple of posts: My son had a high school transcript similar to yours (average somewhere between 97 and 98%) and it included a couple of marks in the 80's (in, of all things, band--don't get me going on band teachers!). These 80's did not prevent admission and good merit aid to the schools previously mentioned.</p>

<p>Thanks everyone for all the very informing replies! </p>

<p>I actually live down the street from Glenn Gould School (which is across the street from U of T's faculty of music). Definitely, for the Canadian side of things, GGS is great! I've heard some things about McGill though that made me not so sure about it; maybe some of you here have more insight on this:</p>

<p>I've seen rankings for McGill consistently ranking in the top five for music schools, and of course, the general academics there is Canada's best as well. However, I have been told that the teachers - at least the piano professors - there are so busy performing and lecturing all around the world that freshmen are usually only given to TAs for basically half the year, and that the actual time students get to see their teachers (though highly accomplished pedagogues) is about 3 months out of the whole year. Apparently this is the downside to such a large school. I've heard this from a student in my former theory class who's now studying at UofT instead of McGill though she got into both. Of course it may have been just her personal bias... @violindad, how has your son found McGill music in this respect?</p>

<p>Also, violindad was also mentioning how we shouldn't assume that "grass is greener at the other side" of the boarder. This is absolutely right, but I've been rather confused as to how the Canadian schools compare with those in the states. You were talking about how UofT, McGill, UBC were more in form like Northwestern etc and how GGS is more in form like Julliard and Curtis, but is there anywhere I can read about how they compare in terms of how good they are? I know this is really a subjective thing, but are there at least tiers that we can categorize the various school with? That would be most helpful seeing as I already know so much about the Canadian side of things (except McGill, as I haven't been to Montreal in years) and regularly run into/get adjudicated/do masterclasses with the teachers at UofT/GGS but I have no idea how that translates into US schools. For example, what - in terms of level of "how good it is" - is the US equivalent of GGS or UT? </p>

<p>Finally, relating on the previous point about how I'm already quite familiar with the Canadian scene but don't know how that translates with the scene in the US: in Canada, the famous pedagogues are like Andre Laplante, Marc Durand, James Anagnoson, etc (FEEL FREE TO ADD TO THIS LIST). Who are the teachers to look for in the States?</p>

<p>Every good school of music has at least a few teachers that travel to perform. While I can't speak specifically to all of the piano faculty at McGill, I would venture that McGill's studio faculty are gone less on average than faculty at some of the other major conservatories. </p>

<p>The important thing with this issue is NOT to compare schools (because the variability within any school is huge), but to get upfront information about the particular teachers that you want to study with. Some are gone a lot and some are almost never gone. Many fine teachers do not have teaching assistants because they are so rarely gone. Ask students of various teachers how often their teachers are gone. I think that this is also a fair question to pose to an admissions office person: some may not be able to answer it because they just do not know, but others could give you a reasonable response.</p>

<p>As well, some TA's are very, very good teachers in their own right. Some wise students have claimed that their primary teacher had the fame, connections and performing chops, but their TA actually was able to teach them. So do not avoid a teacher just because they are gone a lot: this might actually be a good thing!</p>

<p>My son is just starting at McGill this fall, but of the students that he knows already there, no one has complained about teacher absenteeism. Most of his acquaintances there are string players. </p>

<p>The absentee teacher issue is an important one that many applicants to top schools are unaware of. I don't see it as a major problem, as long as you know what you are getting into (i.e. no surprises and a good TA).</p>

<p>I do not think that there is any guide or anything written with any authority that compares the quality of US music schools with those in Canada. Any attempt at such a guide would probably be useless, in any case. Within any school there is huge variability as to studio teacher quality and class quality. In any case, a teacher that is excellent for some students could be death for others! You need to find a good fit for yourself.</p>

<p>Here are some things that you can do on your own to help inform yourself:<br>
a) Read teacher bios. Where did they study? Where and with whom have they performed? What recordings have they made? What are the reviews of their performances and recordings like? Where do they teach in the summer (helps to have connections to competitive summer programs and your teacher's presence at a top summer program speaks to how they are regarded within their discipline). At what other schools have they taught or are they currently teaching at (many top teachers especially in the East teach at two or three different schools)?
b) Look at the bios of laureates of major competitions (if a top performance career is where you think you might be headed). Where and with whom did they study (for undergrad, grad, diplomas etc.)?
c) Talk/email/facebook with at least three or so students in each of the studios/schools that you are seriously considering.
d) Try to figure out as much as possible what you want in a school. Do you want the stimulation of strong liberal arts courses and students that are not majoring in music? Or do you want a total immersion experience where you do as much music as possible and hang out with serious musicians as much time as possible? If you can determine whether you want the broader or narrower approach (or a combination), this will help narrow your focus considerably.</p>

<p>Anyone that attempted to rank or tier music schools on this board would probably get 10 critical responses for every supportive response.</p>

<p>Regarding traveling teachers: DD and her best friend are both mezzos at the same school in different studios. DD's teacher has retired from performance and is almost always there. Her friend's still performs and travels. Both are well suited to the studio they are in. DD needs the consistency of her teacher's availability. Her friend does not and does well with stretches where the teacher is not there, but makes up the lessons. She does not have lessons with a TA, though sometimes studio is lead by a graduate student. So even performing faculty may have different ways of managing their absences.</p>