How do I choose a college?                                                                                               BACK

Step one:  Talk to music teachers, guidance counselors, local professionals, and friends who are already in college studying music. Ask them where they would recommend and why.

Step two:  Do research online into the recommended schools as well as any other school that crosses your mind. Send emails and call admissions offices to seek any answer you may need.

Step three:  Make a list. Pick one dream school, two or three solidly interesting schools, and one backup school. At this point, do not worry too much about cost.

Step four:  Contact the bassoon teachers at those schools and set up a private lesson.  Most teachers will be more than happy to do so. Some will charge per hour, others will offer a lesson for free. It is best to ask about this when you set up the lesson time so there are no surprises. Ask the teachers what they’d like you to play.  Also, do not be put off by a longer trip to get to that teacher. This is your future we’re talking about!

Step five:  Take the lessons and visit the campus. Do you like that teacher? Do you get along? Do you respect their opinions? Do you feel you have improved after that lesson? Do you feel that you could spend the next four years studying with them? Do you get a good vibe? 

As for the school itself, do you like the campus? What are the dorms like? Do they let you keep a car there? How is the food? Is there affordable off-campus housing? Ask as many questions as you can and be sure to ask the same questions each place. Pay attention to how they are answered. Take notes! After the fourth or fifth school, details can start to blur together.

Step six:  Remember your list of schools? Revisit it and reorganize. Get rid of schools and teachers that did not work out and add any others that may seem to be good candidates. If you add a school, be sure to visit and take a lesson there as well. Some teachers will not accept students they have never met or spoken with (this is especially applicable to graduate school searches).

Step six and a half:  This is where you begin thinking about the cost of attending certain schools. Do not be discouraged, though. There are many different ways to fund your education. Besides, why give up on a dream before you have even truly begun?

Step seven:  Fill out your applications and secure an audition date. Get to work early so that you have plenty of time to get all of the required information together. Many universities require you to apply to the university as well as the school of music. Also take the required ACT, SAT, or GRE (sometimes required for graduate students) tests early on so that If your test scores need to be higher you have time to retake. Have good writers read over your resume and essays to ensure they show you in the best light.

Step eight:  Fill out the FAFSA. This government form (available online) is what tells schools how much financial aid (loans and grants) they should offer you. It also helps schools determine if you are eligible for work study. If you live with your parents/guardians, then you will need their help (it involves tax stuff).

Step nine:  Take your auditions. Make sure you are overly prepared. Each note is in its place, scales are even and fluid, and you could play it all in your sleep! Be sure all of your paperwork is in order and be courteous to everyone your meet.  Ask any questions you may still have. For more tips on taking an audition, click here.

Step ten:  Wait. Schools all have slightly different time frames for letting students know about their admission status, and sometimes the wait can feel like forever. Also, you will often get separate admissions and scholarship letters from the University and from its school of music (admission to the university does not guarantee admission to the school of music and vice versa).  Scholarship offers typically come with or after admission letters. In any case, do your best to wait to make your final decision until all initial offers come in (unless, of course, your dream school offers you a full ride).

Step eleven:  Weigh options and choose. Here is where you look at your offers and make the decision that works best for you. Consider things such as funding (what percentage of tuition and housing would be covered by scholarships, loans, and/or work study?), and desirability (do you truly want to go to that school?). If you did not receive a large enough offer from your number one pick, do not hesitate to call that school’s admissions office. State your case and ask if there is anything they can do to help you out--there often is. Also, a tactful phone call or email to the bassoon teacher can help considerably. Don’t get greedy though. College is rarely free.

Step twelve: Sign the forms and mail them back. Sign and mail your acceptance letter, but also, as a courtesy, be sure to reply to the schools you are no longer considering. If they are holding scholarship money in your name, they can then apply it to other students who maybe did not receive a scholarship offer in the first round.

Step twelve and a half:  Celebrate...and then get back to work. You want to show up to college ready to learn and to impress.