Help!

<p>Classical musician, loves literature, interested in WashU, UChicago, NWU, Rice, Looking for advice from experienced parents. Pros and cons appreciated. Thanks!</p>

<p>Rice and Northwestern are known for good music programs. I haven't heard of WashU and UChicago on the music forums.</p>

<p>Are you interested in getting a degree in music performance, i.e a BM? Chicago does not offer a BM, only BA in music history or composition. But there are lots of performance opportunities at Chicago for talented, passionate classical musicians, which might not be the case for someone at Rice or NWU if they are NOT in the Music conservatory. So the question is- what is your intended major?
The "feel" of Chicago is different than the other schools. It is very academic and rigorous, and does not have the typical "big U" rah-rah feel to it. It attracts students who are passionate about learning ABOVE ALL ELSE, and is not a forgiving place for those who are looking to have fun in college.</p>

<p>Classical music and literature are two things that are prized at pretty much every liberal-arts kind of college (not just LACs -- most comprehensive universities as well, especially the elitist ones that sneer at vocational training). So those interests don't narrow down the field much at all.</p>

<p>With music, as others have hinted, you have to make some choices. There are conservatory and semi-conservatory programs, where musicians are somewhat segregated from the general population and trained for professional careers in music. There are places with strong non-conservatory programs that attract a core of musicians who want to study aspects of music, but not to get BFA degrees. And there are places where music is mainly an amateur activity, although if there is a critical mass of musicians and good traditions the "amateur" opportunities can be great. A non-conservatory classical musician at a college that has a conservatory may have less satisfactory opportunities there than at a place with a bare-bones music department but lots of pre-meds who were in their high school orchestras. And, on top of that, location may matter: There are more vibrant classical-music communities in New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, Boston, than in, say, Denison, OH.</p>

<p>The University of Chicago probably falls into the "amateur" category: lots of musicians, not so many music courses that they take (although there is, I believe, a pretty strong Music History PhD program). There are university orchestras and other performance groups that a skilled, but nonprofessional-grade player can find a place in -- but, I believe, fewer of those than at some other elite colleges. Chicago the city is, of course, a great (if sometimes expensive) place to be a classical music fan. The University's English department is highly regarded, and English is the third or fourth most popular major.</p>

<p>Given your apparent geographic preferences, you may want to look at Oberlin, too: largish (as such things go), arty LAC near Cleveland with a well-regarded conservatory.</p>

<p>I know several kids who more or less fit your description who went to Penn, and who found it both musically and other-interets-ingly satisfying. Penn is more in the second category -- a significant academic music department, and also a loose affiliation with the Curtis conservatory, so some Curtis students filter around. Bard -- whose president is a musician, with great pull in the music world and a location not inconvenient to NYC -- is another place where arty, intellectual students congregate.</p>

<p>2 factors with schools I know very well -- Both Rice and WashU aren't located in the safest of areas. In their little pockets of community (immediate surroundings of homes) they are affluent areas, but there is NO WAY I'd want my child walking around either of those campuses after dark. (or driving in the parking lot). Both are in cities that I don't think of as "city feel" -- not exactly great subway transportation system or that "downtown feel." Rice has a greater range of students (income, backgrounds, etc.) than WashU, which is mostly white middle to upper class. WashU is on my daughter's list - and I'm trying to dissuade her. I do know WashU is hurting on giving good financial packages. So, if money is an option - it's a high cost versus what the others may be. I think Rice has a better national presence when it comes to where a degree is from, so does Northwestern. UChicago and WashU - although strong schools - aren't generally known to the common public as being just as strong academically as Rice and Northwestern. In this tough economy, where your degree is from may be a more pressing factor. I never - ever heard of Rice as an musical or literature school. My general thought was that it was heavy hard-science/engineering. Literature and Music - very strong in Chicago, so there may be more contacts and more things your student may like to do. If your child wants more of a college life atmosphere - some of those don't have sports teams; some do. Some are heavier into the greek system and some shun it. I'd also look for "commuter issues." My son went to a school was was NOT considered a commuter school, but still about 1/2 the kids lived within a couple hours drive and all went home over the weekend. It made for a lonely first year, and he switched schools. Rice is definitely not a commuter school. WashU is very popular for students from St. Louis who do live at home or go home for everything.</p>

<p>All those schools are SO DIFFERENT... it's hard to think upon a visit you wouldn't instantly have a preference of one over the other. I'd also look at a school like TCU in Ft. Worth - very strong academically and socially, very strong Lit and music programs - big financial packages.</p>

<p>^ That post seems like upside-down land. But if you don't like the neighborhoods that Rice and WashU are in, don't even bother looking at the University of Chicago.</p>

<p>
[quote]
UChicago and WashU - although strong schools - aren't generally known to the common public as being just as strong academically as Rice and Northwestern.

[/quote]
Umm, I don't know who this "common public" is, but it seems quite misinformed. Should I care what it thinks?</p>

<p>I would argue that UChicago and WashU are better known to the general public as being top universities.</p>

<p>Um, I really don't know where you got these ideas:
"UChicago and WashU - although strong schools - aren't generally known to the common public as being just as strong academically as Rice and Northwestern."
"I never - ever heard of Rice as an musical or literature school."
1]Chicago is repeatedly ranked among the top 10 U's in the US, right behind HYPSM & Caltech.
2] Rice has the well known Shepard School of Music, which is a separate conservatory, like NWU. Chicago does even not offer individual music lessons- hardly the mark of a "strong" music program. Students interested in individual music lessons need to find music teachers in the surrounding community, although Chicago will recommend teachers.
Given that, there are very many undergraduate students at Chicago who are also talented musicians. Those interested in music as a career go elsewhere.</p>

<p>"But if you don't like the neighborhoods that Rice and WashU are in, don't even bother looking at the University of Chicago."
THAT'S an understatement! LOL!</p>

<p>
[quote]
I never - ever heard of Rice as an musical or literature school.

[/quote]
</p>

<p>USNAMomBGO- Rice's Sheperd SOM Shepherd</a> School of Music - Houston, TX is a conservatory level program and produces some of the best musicians in the nation. Rice's music experience for non music undergrads is also a cut above most other programs.</p>

<p>OP, a better description of what you want or need out of a music program, and your level of experience would be helpful. All of those mentioned are fine schools, but may not fit in terms of what you expect or anticipate from an undergrad music experience, whether or not you intend to pursue a music degree path.</p>

<p>
[quote]
Both Rice and WashU aren't located in the safest of areas. In their little pockets of community (immediate surroundings of homes) they are affluent areas, but there is NO WAY I'd want my child walking around either of those campuses after dark. (or driving in the parking lot). Both are in cities that I don't think of as "city feel" -- not exactly great subway transportation system or that "downtown feel.

[/quote]
It is important to take safety precautions at any school or on any campus. But my kids felt/feel quite safe, thank you very much, living and walking around Rice campus. And they enjoyed hopping on the free-to-them light rail which goes right by campus.</p>

<p>I don't have a student at Wash U, but we visited. I don't understand USNAMomBGO's comments. We used the public transport, went to the student hangout street (blanking on the name) and hung out. Unless you are set on a small, rural, protected campus--this area is no sketchier than any other major university. (U Mich alum speaking here--so I include Ann Arbor)</p>

<p>A few more words about Rice- the neighborhood is safe. The campus is safe. The Shepard School of Music is top notch. And very hard to get into. </p>

<p>If you are looking to play in an orchestra without being a music major, however, Rice might not be a good option. It does not allow non-music majors into the orchestra.</p>

<p>A few more thoughts- my D checked out Rice, Wash U and Northwestern last year. </p>

<p>Wash U seems like a fairly safe campus, although close (ie a few miles) to a very rough neighborhood. They have some very interesting music opportunities for non- music majors who want to continue to pursue their development. Check them out. </p>

<p>Northwestern- the conservatory is outstanding, but again, like Rice they are not keen on non-music majors playing in the orchestras or chamber programs. </p>

<p>It seemed that the schools with the finest conservatories were the ones least likely to offer strong music opportunities for those who wish to pursue music as an extracurricular or minor. </p>

<p>Since my D wanted to pursue an academic track with music as a major extracurricular and possibly performance as a minor, she ruled out Rice- did not apply (it's also 15 minutes from home). Although she applied and was accepted to Northwestern, decided to go elsewhere where she would be able to do the performance minor. (and get better fin aid)</p>

<p>Don't get me wrong- Northwestern's fin aid was excellent. But Princeton's was better.
Wash U waitlisted her- in part I think because it is not need blind for admissions and our need was great. Of course, probably other factors too.</p>

<p>I think some people are just paranoid. I went to grad school at Columbia in the middle of the crack epidemic and lived on 125th Street adjacent to Morningside Park. NOTHING feels dangerous to me anymore! That said Rice and WSUL seem very safe to me on the scale of urban campuses.</p>

<p>pipmom, I just want to direct your attention to</p>

<p>Shepherd</a> School of Music - CAMPANILE ORCHESTRA and
Shepherd</a> School of Music - CHORAL ENSEMBLES</p>

<p>Most conservatory level programs attached to academic institutions have abundant opportunities for music engagement even for non majors. Numerous schools, including Rice have tiered or audition based ensembles open to non-majors.</p>

<p>
[quote]
If you are looking to play in an orchestra without being a music major, however, Rice might not be a good option. It does not allow non-music majors into the orchestra.

[/quote]
</p>

<p>I remember they have an amateur orchestra that rehearses on Saturdays, conducted by a student conductor, for non-music major but competent musicians.</p>

<p>
[quote]
I think Rice has a better national presence when it comes to where a degree is from, so does Northwestern. UChicago and WashU - although strong schools - aren't generally known to the common public as being just as strong academically as Rice and Northwestern.

[/quote]
</p>

<p>Hmm, I have to disagree. In my experience, The University of Chicago has the strongest purely academic rep of these schools, with Northwestern a very close second, followed by Rice and Wash U.</p>

<p>As to music, that isn't a strength of the U of C, but Chicago--the city, that is--has enormous resources in terms of music and teachers.</p>

<p>I'm quite surprised to see WUSTL campus described as problematic. There is a Ritz nearby. The area around the campus is very affluent with both old and new money.</p>

<p>OP to your comment that WU isn't located in a city with a city feel or subway -- wouldn't the subway be a disadvantage with your safety concerns? For example, anyone can get on a subway and get to Evanston / NU and wander around campus. The same isn't true at WU. It seems inconsistent to me.</p>