I’m currently a freshman in high school. I’ve been doing band since 6th grade (Trumpet) and I like being in band. Right now I play lead trumpet in the school’s top band and I usually make the district honor band and all-state band. The thing is, a lot of people are telling me not to continue because it’s an on-level class and it will bring my gpa down throughout high school and that I could take another AP class instead. Others are telling me not to continue because I want to do CS/Engineering in college and there’s no point doing band since it is a fine arts class. I’ve also heard from others that I should continue band since doing fine arts makes me well balanced and that colleges look for that. I have no idea whether I should continue or not. Georgia Tech has been my dream school since I was in second grade and I really want to get in. Can someone point me in the right direction? Thanks!
You like being in the band. You are good at it (lead trumpet and playing beyond school). And you want to quit just because it may not look good enough on your resume? C’mon!
And it’s based on poor advice too. While I don’t know specifically about Georgia Tech, so many schools, including most selective one, love musicians, and love candidates who have these long-time ECs, showing commitment and seriousness.
A high-level choir was the No. 1 EC that got my D into the most selective college in the country. She’s not a CS major but not a music major either.
Please, for all that is good and holy, stay in the band.
Contrary to your friends’ opinions, band is a great EC. Partly the music, partly the fact it does require substantial hours, and partly because it shows teaming and following adult directions.
I let my kiddo decide about continuing orchestra, but in her senior year. At that point, she’d followed her commitment.
Adcoms will understand grading. And depending on where you apply, gpa won’t be the sole factor. Plus, taking any old APs just to stuff them in is not it.
Don’t quit something you enjoy doing. Especially not for something that isn’t guaranteed. I don’t think another AP class is going to make you a better applicant over a good EC that you like and are committed to.
Just for future reference, btw, any time you are unsure about these types of questions, try to tune out what a bunch of clueless teens have to say on the matter. Ask us
I’m the dad to a hs senior who is in top 10 of class and has done 4 years of honors band instead of other electives or APs…so here’s my band rant, lol
I hear ya - it’s hard to give up points on your GPA but you know what, GT and any other school is going to have a huge sea of applicants who have perfect GPA, perfect SATs, etc. It ends up being really hard to stand out when you all look the same. Why compete against that? We’re in the northeast and our son has chosen to do year-long honors band as his elective and has given up many other class options as well as the option to overload himself with AP classes just to try to get a boost. 4 years later and music is an integral part of his application. He’s done districts and other festivals, he’s gone to Disney, he does annual summer camps at a local conservatory. Colleges do not want a robot. They do not want an applicant who is scatter-shot and had joined 15 unrelated clubs. They want students who are interesting, can actually ADD to their college community, and who have taken an interest and gone deep and excelled greatly. You don’t need to be an athlete, join student gov’t, etc.if you don’t want: make music your thing. You want to do CS/Engineering?? Holy &^%, how cool would it be to explore the intersection of music and CS?? How about building a PVC instrument and exploring the impact of material size, curve shapes, lengths, etc. on note quality? I’d say use your interest to expand music even more…learn about composing, throw some stuff together in GarageBand, add a second instrument, etc…
That all said, yes, pursue CS/engineering too. See if your HS offers any certifications with local/online colleges, find something for the summer, etc. and in 4 years you are the kid with a really good GPA AND have demonstrate deep interest in CS/Engineering AND have demonstrated skills in music and collaborating with others.
As a dad let me also say congrats on your interests and focus on GT but always always always allow yourself to change plans, k? Focus is great, but so is flexibility. You may not get in to GT. You may develop a love of history, politics(!), natural sciences, etc. and suddenly your target schools may be something else entirely. HS is the time to do some exploring and learn about yourself - don’t let others set you on a track you are not allowed to get off of. My son is excellent in English and history but over the years has developed himself to have a focus in the biological sciences that combines HS classes, and online class, and local watershed research. Now when he’s applying to college he is the high achieving bio/music kid, and that’s great because it is unique and an honest reflection of who he is.
If you really want to look at it from a college admissions resume standpoint (which you really shouldn’t, just do what you enjoy doing), band offers great opportunities for leadership positions (1st chair, lead player, section leader, assistant drum major, drum major, etc.) and also offers great experiences that can be ideas of inspiration for admission essays. Meanwhile, jazz band and other forms of band if your school offers can be just as helpful. Also, the awards that you get from band either as a soloist musician or the band as a whole, can be listed down in the admissions.
Just because you are going for CS/Engineering doesn’t mean AOs only look for activities centered around that. I played band from 5th grade to 11th grade all as first chair alto saxophone, and I highly recommend to keep going because it is such a great experience, especially if you enjoy it. I am also going for the CS/Engineering route, and applied for GTech and other engineering schools despite band/music being one of my biggest achievements. There is definitely time for CS/Engineering related activities to do outside of music/band, its certainly possible, if that is what you’re worried about too.
Stay in Band! Especially if you enjoy it.
As previous posters said, being a strong member of the band will give you multiple opportunities for leadership in something you truly enjoy. Colleges love to see commitment and dedication and that is the definition of marching band.
S21 had to deal with the same dilemma. He is top 3% in his class with 4 years of band. Yes his GPA and rank could be slightly higher but he would have missed out on so many amazing experiences. He was able to further the commitment by participating in many ensembles and gain leadership. It has not hurt his college acceptances. He has gotten many acceptances so far including very good merit. If you are worried about Ivy, that will be a reach band or no band. So do what you love!
You’re making All-State as a freshman? I’m sending you a private message.
Thank you guys so much for your responses! They really gave me some important advice!
My son was in the same predicament. He was #1 in his class. If he would have dropped band for an extra AP he would still be there. He dropped to #2 and he was fine with that. He enjoys band way too much to give it up.
Stay in band if you live it. My son just got into Stanford, and I am convinced that a big part of his acceptance was his involvement in band. He has lots of APs, high test scores (35 ACT), and UW 4.0, but so do many applicants. What made him stand out is that he loves trombone and has taken band for all four years of high school. He was in the all state band for 2 years including this year when he was 1st trombone. He was also chosen as drum major for the marching band. He submitted an arts supplement as well, Besides these resume building things, some of his best friends in high school and best memories are from band.
Stay in! It’ll follow you into college if you really like it (and you must). I hated band and quit in HS but I know a lot of people who stayed with it through college and had instant friends and one had a scholarship for playing trumpet (she played in the marching band—majored in nursing). Stick with what you love!