School suggestions for summer visits-undecided major + music

Starting to think about some summer and fall visits for S24 to get some idea of what he is interested in. Basically his only criteria are cold and rural. He is an undecided major but wants a strong music performance program. Stats are currently 4.0 unweighted GPA, 4.5 weighted but obviously no scores. School doesnt rank but he should be top 5-10% and rigor is very high. He will submit a music supplement and this is his main EC (attends audition based Saturday program and summer programs). I am thinking LACs?

Skidmore? Bates?

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Oberlin (obviously)–not super cold or very rural, but could meet these criteria

St Olaf

Thanks! He is going to Oberlin for a summer program so that is already planned, I have heard of St. Olaf, that is a long trip but will plan it!

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Bates looks very interesting, our school does not send people to the Maine LACs, not far from a summer program he is attending so will stop on the way.

We visited St. Olaf with my 2020 daughter and loved it (Oberlin, too). She’s an atheist but said she’d feel comfortable there. Seems to be a very liberal and open-minded place. With his stats, your son is likely to get a very generous merit scholarship there (they also offer music scholarships). My daughter ended up choosing a different LAC (Kenyon), but both St Olaf and Oberlin made a great (if different) impression. She isn’t majoring in music but continues with lessons/orchestra, so the strength of the music performance program wasn’t her top priority. Best of luck!


Hamilton, Wesleyan and Skidmore are some northeastern colleges that offer excellent music programs and that match your son’s general criteria in one or more ways.

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Another vote for St. Olaf. Lawrence in WI would be another.



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I would suggest your son look at Williams: cold, rural and excellent music department. Multiple performance opportunities, both orchestra and smaller ensembles.


This one I know about, have a friend who went there, and the area is gorgeous, major reach though!

Bard is one that came to mind. Also, this article might be useful.


Bard and oberlin are the two that come to mind.


I second Bard and Oberlin with “cold and rural” must haves! Cornell comes time mind, too, for some reason, not a LAC, but “rural and cold” as well!

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How about Lawrence? Definitely cold. Not really rural, but Appleton is no big city, either!

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People are suggesting schools that have conservatories or BM programs. I suggest you go to the music major forum and read the essay in the Read Me thread entitled “The Double Degree Dilemma,” which uses hypthetical individual students to show different ways to study music.

If he wants a BA in music or a bachelors in something else with extracurricular music, he needs to make sure the schools that have a BM program/conservatory are a good fit. Often the best teachers and performance opportunities go to the BM students. There are exceptions.

Oberlin now has a BA Musical Studies program that gives access to conservatory resources for BA students.

I would usually suggest, for a young person as you describe your son, schools that do not offer a BM. That would include Ivies and “little Ivies” (google that!) like Tufts, Wesleyan, Amherst, Williams, and so on. as well as other liberal arts colleges like Macalaster, Carleton, Davidson, many more.

Lawrence has a conservatory BM program, and St. Olaf also has a BM program. Bard has a conservatory. U of MIchigan has a BM in its school of music. theater and dance. Just check the resources available for non-BM students.


Baldwin Wallace?

Bates is not particularly strong in terms of music.

Thank you, , a BM is certainly an option, I do not think he wants a true conservatory experience. Oberlin’s BA Musical studies program is very interesting along with the BM at St Olaf. Otherwise we will look at some of the LAC and little Ivy’s. The Ivy’s that have strong music programs are easier to identify!

Check out Denison University near Columbus, OH. We were so impressed with all aspects of the school. Music | Denison University