The college admissions process can be stressful, especially if you’re hoping to study in a competitive field such as music. Fortunately, careful planning can help make the task of finding the right music school a bit easier.
Narrowing Down Your Options
Most experts recommend selecting three to five music schools for the application process. You should choose a mix of schools that includes ones you are likely to be admitted to as well as schools that are your “reach” options.
It is a common misconception that academics are not important if you want to study music. However, music majors who attend four-year colleges or universities must meet the same minimum entrance requirements as all other students. This means having completed all of the prerequisite courses in English, science, and mathematics as well as having an appropriate high school GPA and sufficient test scores from the ACT or SAT. Without a solid academic background, even the most talented music student will not be offered admission to the program of his choice.
If you have questions regarding whether or not your academic background makes you a good candidate for particular music school, you can usually find information regarding the average GPA and test scores of admitted freshman on the school’s website.
The Admissions Process
Plan to begin the admissions process early in your senior year of high school. You do not want to wait too long to apply, since you will likely need to allow time for campus visits and auditions. Some schools also have early admission or early decision programs which you can use if you are positive you want to attend a specific program and do not need to compare financial aid packages from multiple music schools.
Admissions policies vary according to the music school you want to attend, but the general procedure is as follows:
- Fill out an application on the school’s website.
- Collect supporting documentation, such as letters of recommendation, a personal essay, and transcripts.
- Submit your prescreening recording.
- Audition on campus.
If you are a home-schooled student or have international transcripts for your high school coursework, there may be special forms that are required as part of the application process. Contact an admissions officer at the school you wish to attend for further information.
Applying for Financial Aid
Applying for financial aid is separate from the college admissions process. If you are seeking financial aid for music school, you will need to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) in addition to your college applications. This form is used to determine eligibility for grants and federal student loans based on financial need. Unless you meet the criteria to be determined an “independent student,” you will need to report income and assets for both you and your parents.
You will list the code for each school you are considering on your FAFSA, so the form only needs to be completed once. Each school will receive a Student Aid Report (SAR) to use in determining whether or not you may be offered additional, program-specific financial aid.