This timely guest post gives tips and questions to ask before and during college visits to music schools. Being prepared and asking the right questions will help make your choice easier and a better fit for you.
Planning to Visit Music Schools?
by Barbra Weidlein, MajoringInMusic.com
Whether you're a music teacher or parent of a music student, it's a good idea to urge prospective music majors to learn everything possible about the music schools they're interested in before they visit them. Resources like MajoringInMusic.com are designed to provide much-needed insight and support.
Students will get much more out of their college visits if they spend the time beforehand investigating majors offered, faculty, tuition etc. and come up with questions that show they've done their research. Students will be seen as serious prospects, which will work in their favor if they apply.
Considerations before ever leaving home:
1. Do the schools offer what students want to study?
This may sound like a no-brainer, but there are many students who spend time and money to visit music schools several states away from home only to find that they don't actually offer the field of music they really want to major in. Taking the time to investigate majors thoroughly before ever leaving home is essential.
2. Will faculty, administrators, and students be available to talk with?
It's essential to contact the music schools or departments before planning a trip. Look at their academic calendars online to make sure they’re not on spring or fall break, in finals, or celebrating graduation day.
Faculty who are not teaching for their school's summer music program typically take off during the summer to teach elsewhere. In fact, most everyone in the department may be on vacation when prospective students arrive. This happened to my own son when he visited a music school that was high on his list of prospects, and he ended up with little more than a chance to see the campus and take a generic tour.
3. Are lessons available?
By getting a lesson, students will learn a lot about faculty they may spend the better part of four years with. Getting a feel for the chemistry between student and faculty is important. Contacting faculty in advance, to see if they'll be around, is highly encouraged. If they don't respond, waiting a week and recontacting them is recommended.
What to look for once students are on campus:
1. Are there summer classes to sit in on? (At many schools, this may be arranged before ever leaving home.)
2. Is the location of the school appealing? Are there off-campus music venues accessible to students? Is a car necessary?
3. What are the facilities like? Practice rooms? And are the practice rooms open to all students who need them?
4. What's the housing like? Can students spend a night in the dorms?
5. What are the students like? Can the schools help arrange for prospective students to connect with current students majoring in a similar area of music?
When to visit?
Some students don’t visit music schools until they need to make a final decision. Some don’t visit at all. Others visit some schools more than once. There’s no set way to do this.
Visiting schools takes time and can be expensive. Bundling school visits with other travel is useful and students are encouraged to start doing this as soon as they start thinking about majoring in music.
When students are offered acceptance letters, they should consider visiting their top choices before they accept an offer. Students whose families cannot afford to pay for school visits should contact the schools to see if there are funds available for this purpose.
The chance to spend time on the campuses of schools can be very revealing to students before they make their final decision.
- For more information about visiting schools, please see “Tips for Visiting Music Schools” and “10 Considerations for Visiting Music Schools” on MajoringInMusic.com.
- Click here, if you would like to listen to the interview with myself and Barbra on my radio show.
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