Will unrelated ECs to my future major effect my chance at T20s and T10s?

Hey, I’m a rising sophomore and my ECs are very rich in music/clarinet. I’ve made my state All-State Band and Orchestra since the 7th grade, winning 1st consecutively. I also participate in my state’s youth orchestra (repertory and symphony) and I do a lot of community work by volunteering with my school’s marching band, I’ve made All-National, and I’ll be looking to do NYO-USA later down the line. Now, this is a briefer overview of my music, but I also do have athletics, academics, and clubs. Will this affect my chances of making it into universities with a strong CS program?

1 Like

Commitment to ECs is what matters…and you have that.

One of my kids was also a state ranked musician, and played on all state plus precollege wind ensemble and orchestra. Very strong musician. Got accepted to the top application choices.

@parentologist has a kid at a T20 school and strongly believes the kid’s music ECs were the positive tipping point.

Of course, the rest of your application needs to be sufficiently strong to be considered for T10 and T 20 colleges.


Thanks for the reply.

Yes, I also do have a very strong academic background, and I’m looking to pull some awards from that as well; Hopefully, I’ll have a good shot.

Although I won’t be pursuing music as my major, will it be possible to participate in the school’s band or orchestra?

1 Like

My son is very similar to you and he is planning on applying to small liberal arts schools with strong music programs to continue music but not have it be his primary focus. He has been told that it is absolutely a possibility.


Many top schools have ensembles either for those who are not music majors, or their ensembles are open to all.

Yale, for example, has a large number of ensembles for undergrads. Their music performance program is for grad students only.

Our kid plays an “endangered instrument”. Kid reached out to orchestra directors, music department chairs and private teachers on the instrument to find out what opportunities were available for those not majoring in music. These folks were very helpful. Kid played first chair in the orchestra all four years of college and took private lessons as well all four years. This was a top criteria for our student.


BTW your music accomplishments are very impressive for a rising sophomore. Congrats on your hard work! NYO is an extremely competitive and exciting opportunity, if you can afford it definitely look into other options for next summer, there are many that you will likely qualify for and possibly with a scholarship.

1 Like

Thanks! NYO is definitely at the top of my list. Do you have any other recommendations for the summer? And do you know if NYO has rehearsals in New York? Just wondering because the commute would be very long for me.

So NYO has a regular and NYO2 which is slightly lower level. You live on campus at SUNY Purchase (I think) before the travel. It is all paid for. You should look into BUTI Tanglewood and if you want a chamber music/camp music experience both Greenwood and Kinhaven are more camp like experiences that have orchestras and chamber music each week. All are very very competitive but less so for Clarinet than other instruments since less applicants. Look at their websites and for Greenwood they have their weekly concerts on Facebook.

1 Like

Thanks. So practices would be held on SUNY(?) I’m assuming? I’m looking to audition for their 2023 season, but the age requirement thing is confusing me. When they are referring to the 16-19 age limit, does it apply to when the thing starts in 2023? I turn 16 in November and I’m not sure if I have to be 16 for the deadline. And thanks for the suggestion, I’ll also take a look at that.

Short answer is no. Just make sure your ECs show tenure and accomplishment, which they do.

Also, it’s affect, not effect. Make sure your essays have the proper word choice.

Good luck.


so this is about the residence
and this is the age requirement
For 2022, this means your birthdate must be between July 1, 2002, and June 30, 2006, without exception
for 2023 it would mean your birthday must be between July1 2003 and June 30, 2007 so you have to be 16 by the time they start, NYO2 starts at 14

1 Like

Thank you so much. And do you know anything about the tours? Are the expenses for those covered (sorry for so many questions!!!)

1 Like

Check out the website! It is all covered except for the trip to NYC! That is also why it is so competitive. Good luck, there are lots of options, there will be a thread in the music forum about summer programs in a month or two, lots of info there!

1 Like

Thanks so much for the help!

1 Like

btw - lots of great schools out there that just look at transcripts and test score (and some not even that) - so while your ECs are FANTASTIC for any major, even if you had none, you’d still find a strong CS program.

Best of luck.

1 Like

College counselor here. Having unrelated ECs like you have will be great on your application no matter what you major in. ECs do not have to relate to the major. Colleges also want students who will contribute to the activities on the college campus.

That said, for a CS major, I would try to add an activity outside the classroom that is related to CS, revealing dedication and exploration of this field beyond classwork.

Your ECs are great. If you enjoy it, absolutely keep going with the music. If there is a strong pre-college program at a good conservatory in your area, you could/should audition for that - colleges can find these very impressive. If you can add in sax, doubling gives you great versatility and makes you even more impressive and desirable. It’s common for sax and clarinet to go together for doubling. Consider trying jazz and klezmer, if you like that sort of thing. Colleges like students who they think are going to contribute to the arts on campus - play in pit orchestras, ensembles, etc.

It’s totally fine that you’re doing other ECs, too. In fact, it is helpful. Great to have very high achievement in one area, and participation in others.

Do you have a private clarinet teacher? Speak with him/her about summer programs. It might not be too late for one week summer intensives even this summer. Audition for NYO2 and NYO, BUTI, Interlochen, My kid LOVED Kinhaven. At your age, they have a 6 week summer session, but it is below the level of NYO2 or NYO.

Look into competitions specific to your instrument. These can look very prestigious to colleges.

Very high achievement in music absolutely does make you a more attractive candidate. If you’re planning for Comp Sci, I would encourage you to also have BC Calc and AP Comp Sci, and any other comp sci accomplishments that you can put into your resume, such as further comp sci classes at your local state college, perhaps over a summer.

1 Like

While Calc Bc and AP comp sci would be great, most students will do neither and OP can still get into a fine program.

If OP wants to study CS, they will have no shortage of fine schools.

I think that this is a great choice for ECs. I do not see a problem here at all.

I was a math major at a “top 10” university, and have worked in high tech for my entire career. Quite a few of my coworkers (who were mostly CS majors) are also good at music. There seems to be some overlap between whatever needs to be in your brain to be good at both math and music. Of course math is also important for computer science.

Several times in my life I have attended some music event (in one case where I was playing myself) and had people I knew from work get up on stage and play. This was a complete surprise to me and was quite a bit of fun at the time. I still have the CD that one of them gave me after their gig was over.

This shows an ability to focus on an EC that takes commitment and effort and talent over an extended period of time. The same ability can be very valuable for a software engineer.

Do what is right for you, and do it very well. This sounds like exactly what you are doing.

1 Like

Just want to add that you should submit a music supplement with recording/video, music resume and one or two letters of recommendation related to music.

Music requires hard work, discipline, commitment and working well with others, all qualities that transfer to other areas. I know of quite a few young people whose music accomplishments helped with admission, regardless of intended major.

ps there is some intersection of music and CS that you might want to explore.

1 Like