Music Composition Programs for Screen/Media Scoring

You might want to read the Double Degree Dilemma essay in the Read Me thread pinned closer to the top of this music forum. It uses hypothetical individuals to illustrate different ways to study music. (It does not include the option of majoring in something else and continuing lessons and extracurricular performance.)

Basically the options are BM, BA ,double major or major/minor, and double degree. A BA is 1/4-1/3 classes in music, and a BM is 2/3-3/4 classes in music.

A BM usually involves audition, and a BA usually doesn’t. But you can submit a music supplement with recording/video, music resume and letters of recommendation related to music.

Composers do fine with either degree. Some BM composition programs require an instrument, some don’t. Some BA programs have a performance component, some don’t.

At the undergrad level, we always felt that diversity of student works is important, because it shows faculty is allowing students to develop their own “voice.”

I also sent you a DM.

A close colleague’s D got into USC film with a 28 ACT and a good but not great GPA, with a few bad grades. It was not TO at the time.

She did struggle but it had to do with an entrenched ADHD problem that manifested itself in absent mindedness. So, for example, she often didn’t do assignments, or was late and lost points. She did make it out in one piece, but she probably would have been better off elsewhere, but not because she lacked the intellectual horsepower to be at USC. It had more to do compliance issues.

I’m not an educator, but I’ve been made to understand that the predominant wisdom on test scores is that HS GPA and rigor correlate better than do scores.

One of my three wasn’t a great (not bad, but not great) tester. She’s been formally tested, and while she’s more than intellectually capable, even scoring very high in some areas (off the top of my head, pattern detection and reading comprehension), her processing speed is just a little better than average and presents a big mismatch to her other scores. So at least at that point in her life, testing with a lot of time pressure wasn’t her friend. She eventually got into a very competitive college, in part on GPA and HS rigor, and in part on being recruited, and wound up doing very well with no accommodations.

I think we have to be careful with drawing too many conclusions about the ACT and SAT. I think you have to know more.

I wonder if the student you mention as struggling with ADHD had accommodations.

Not sure. Normally those accommodations involve taking exams in a quiet room by oneself and, sometimes, more time to take the exam.

I’m unaware of accommodations that involve giving a kid a pass for not doing something or for handing in late work. That’s a prof by prof kind of thing.

My colleague often pulled his hair out with this particular D. They were shocked when she got the acceptance to SC. She was also accepted to St. Olaf and Cal Poly SLO. Can’t remember where else. She was rejected at Northeastern, BC, Georgetown and one of the NESCACS, can’t remember which. I have heard on the grapevine, but have no basis in proof at all, that all is not what it seems at USC when it comes to student profiles. Out west, people now talk about admission to SC like they’re talking about Stanford, which is a reflection of SC’s brilliant branding machine. SC is definitely a school that works hard at burnishing an elite image.

Lots of kids with ADHD have accommodations allowing extensions for work submitted, reduced course loads, single room, yes exam by themselves and others. A student with ADHD and other learning challenges should be able to do the work they would be capable of without the disability, if properly accommodated. In theory at least.

I have it on good authority that good GPA + avg test scores have a better chance to get in than good scores w/ avg GPA at USC.

That said, USC works hard at having well rounded classes that are diverse in all senses, not just ethnographically, yet still strong academically. The story you mention about your colleague’s D scores and GPA and still getting admitted is awesome yet it is not the norm. Many more examples of those with Above mean/median scores and GPAs getting rejected by USC. Kudos to her.

The craziest recent example: student with 35 ACT, 4.3 weighted GPA, 10th in the order of merit at a large Orange County HS, captain of the water polo and swim teams, lots of community service. Applied as an engineering major to various CA schools and . . .

USC: rejected
UCLA: rejected
UC Berkeley: waitlist
Stanford: waitlist
UCI: accepted, no scholarship
UCSD: accepted, full ride tuition/books/fees/room/board
UCSB: accepted, full ride tuition
Cal Poly Pomona: accepted, scholarship but not 100%

Not surprisingly, student went to UCSD

Even crazier IMHO: another student 4.2 weighted GPA, 1420 SAT, rejected for engineering program at CSULB (seriously).

If you compared Thornton and School of Cinematic Arts vs Viterbi, Marshall, or even Dornsife, I think the odds are better for a music major or cinema major relatively speaking with equivalently average grades & scores assuming the music/cinema major is strong artistically, but it’s still tough. And for those others (and most programs at USC), it’s not just “branding” or PR — the university is in a different league than it was in the 80s or 90s.

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I think admission to Thornton is different from admission to the university with portfolio/audition being very important. And that is most relevant to the OP.

@WestOfPCH I think conventional wisdom is that high test scores with lower GPA may indicat an issue with work ethic.