The short version: What are the small LAC’s with strong aid possibilities (need-based/academic/talent merit) that have excellent music programs?
We just dropped my oldest child at Grinnell College last week (freshman) and we are thrilled with the small, selective, collaborate/quirky LAC experience she is having so far. We are also thrilled with the amount of financial aid she is getting at a school with a big endowment. We’re from Philly, so Iowa was not originally in our plan, but this school was just the perfect fit. Phew.
My middle kid is a rising Jr. in high school. In many ways, a school like Grinnell, would also be fantastic for him. He is neurodivergent; the small, supportive community and focus on mentorship would be hugely beneficial for him. We now know that the full needs-meet selective privates are good possibilities for us financially because we’ve run all the NPC’s with my older daughter. My son will have good stats so less selective privates could also work for us with merit.
The issue is, he is ALL ABOUT MUSIC. This guy is going to be a musician. Jazz piano, composition, producing, scoring; he wants to do it all and doesn’t want to be pigeonholed. He needs to be with other good musicians to be happy. He doesn’t need 8,000 of them like a Berklee, but he needs a cohort of like-minded music-makers and he needs a small handful of excellent teachers. We love the idea of a good liberal arts eduction, and he’ll need that reading/writing/thinking for his music career, but 4 years of classes that are not predominantly music related would not be palatable for him. Back to Grinnell, an open curriculum like that where kids take exactly what they want and leave the rest could work, IF there was enough music learning potential offered.
We have toured and are considering conservatories and bigger schools with robust music programs. Some seem too rigid; you have stay in your lane, either piano performance OR production. Some are going to be way too expensive for us, particularly those in expensive cities (Boston and NYC) that don’t guarantee housing all 4 years.
Our thoughts about college being an effective vehicle for a contemporary music career are shifting as we compare college program specifics with the mix of real skills he needs in order to be ready for the modern music industry, which is changing constantly. So many of those skills can be obtained more efficiently with the right private teachers and mentors, and we don’t need to wait for college for that .
He does need to go to college though. Those are special growing-up years. The right school does wonders for focus, independence, maturity.
We are in Philly. I’d rather this kiddo be within driving distance. Fafsa EFC is 22K with one kid in college; will have two in college by the time this guy goes; hoping to pay under 20 all-in.
We have toured: SUNY Purchase, Berklee, New School, Hart School of Music
What small LAC’s with strong music and strong aid should I be looking at?