Bates vs Skidmore for STEM and Music

S is a rising senior, interested in Physics and Math, with a strong extracurricular interest in music. He would love to play in an excellent college orchestra on clarinet, and to play in great jazz ensemble on saxophone. Both Bates and Skidmore seem to have strong interdisciplinary science programs. Both have strong outing club programs, which is also important to him. Can anyone comment on the strength of the instrumental music programs, in particular the orchestra and the jazz ensembles?

My D just graduated from Bates and visited Skidmore back in the day. She didn’t apply there though.

Musically, I think they do a very good job at Bates. There are a lot of musicians at Bates and we were very impressed by the level of skill we saw. Here is a link to their various music groups:

Bates is known as the more arty of the three Maine NESCAC’s and there are a lot of musical events through the year, including dance events and concerts by musicians that Bates brings to campus. Your student will have many ways to be involved with music if he attends Bates.

Bates Outing Club is popular and well established. There are many other excellent ways for students to be involved too. In fact, my D’s fellow Bates grad friend will be at Bates this fall running programs designed to keep students engaged in campus life while maintaining current health protocols. Bates has a very high retention rate, a little higher than Skidmore, so students are happy.

Both schools are excellent, and of course, I am biased. My daughter has had a world-class education at Bates. She has taken advantage of so many fantastic opportunities and has grown in the best way possible. She has secured not one but three different jobs post grad, quite a feat at the moment.
If your student chooses Bates, he won’t regret it.

ETA: I think my D would say that the professors at Bates were the key to her success. They are there to help your child reach their full potential, academically and personally. They are great at their jobs.

Skidmore offers notable strength across performing and fine arts, even if considered nationally. For extracurricular opportunities in music, you will find relatively few schools that compare with it.

Skidmore is notable in the arts, and second @merc81 that you will not find many schools that rival it. As for STEM, Skidmore recently completed phase 1 of 4 of a 200+ million dollar science center known as CIS (Center for Integrated Sciences). Although I am biased because I attend, I would vote Skidmore for the combination of STEM and Music. Nonetheless, Bates is a fantastic option.

Here is a link to the CIS page:

Please message me if you have any questions!

I can’t comment on the music program, but I can share some info on the theater arts scene there. It might be similar, so talk to students and do some research.

My D20 visited Skidmore twice, and had it on her application list. There was a lot she loved about the college, and the strength of the TA program was certainly one of them…until she talked to current students. D loves theater and has always participated in school plays and musicals both during the year, and in some summer programs. She had no intention of being a theater arts major, but wanted to continue performing in productions as an extracurricular at college. The students she talked to were very clear that if you are not a theater arts major, it is very difficult to break into the theater scene on campus. While anyone can audition, they all agreed that the theater scene is a bit cliquey and non-majors usually get passed over in productions.

I realize this pertains to theater and not music, but I would do a bit of research and talk to students to see about options for non-majors. If TA is indicative of the larger Arts scene there, it could be difficult to break in on a more casual level.

@merc81 @renaissance101 , how do we find out more about music at Skidmore? Have looked at the ensembles page, and found a facebook page with concerts, but it’s hard to get a real feel for a music program via those avenues? @profSD, thanks very much for your information. S is interested in theater as well, so this is good to know. @Lindagaf, thanks for the clear and strong recommendation for Bates. It does seem like a truly great place. Will contact the music department to try to learn more.

My jazz and orchestral musician (who also went through D3 sports recruiting) researched Skidmore and was intrigued by the Filene music scholarship – non-need based, $15k a year, plus private lessons. The award is open to students of all majors and is not limited to music majors. We read up a lot about it to see if it might be worth pursuing, and it did seem Skidmore is committed to expanding music opportunities for non-majors. As it turned out, even if my son had been competitive as a musician for that award, we needed more in merit than that award, so Skidmore came off the list. But our sense was that Skidmore is a musically rich environment.

For what it’s worth, he also went through recruiting at Bates and explored music options there, though with the lack of any merit at Bates, it came off the list much earlier (he also despised the then-Bates coach and wouldn’t consider playing for him. A couple years later, Bates ditched the old coach and hired a coach my kid loved and would have played for in an instant. Since we couldn’t Bates without merit, so it’s just as well. )

Hello, following up on your question I am not sure about getting more information myself about the music department as I am not involved in the music scene. I am friends with many students in the music and theater program which attracts top-notch students. My friend, who went to a well-known arts academy in Mass. has a roommate from LaGuardia. I am also aware of two more students in my class that attended LaGuardia. As for getting more info, I would suggest reaching out to someone in the department of your interest. But in the case of Bates vs. Skidmore, you really can’t go wrong. I’d also suggest Wesleyan if you haven’t looked already. And I’d even throw Bard in there, their conservatory is world-renowned and they have a gorgeous science center. Good luck you have a great list so far!