Chronicles of a College Kid: Which School Should I Choose?
The end of high school/beginning of college is one of the weirdest and scariest and most fun times in your life. We asked LOTV (which stands for Lord of the Violists, btw) to blog about her experiences. She'll keep us posted as she picks a school, shops for extra-long twin sheets, and heads off to college. —SparkNotes editors
On March 30, 2010, an amazing thing happened to me. I was accepted to Juilliard.
Of course, one would expect my reaction to be nothing but pure, unadulterated bliss!!!! And I did feel all the crazy bliss, but it was adulterated. With what, you ask? That is what my first blog post will explore. But first, don’t you wanna get to know me? …Too bad, you’re getting to know me anyway!
I’m 17. I’m six feet tall (longness is perfect for the viola!). I started playing the violin when I was five, and two and a half years ago I switched to the viola. I am homeschooled and a senior. I skipped kindergarten, and will therefore graduate a year before (most of) my peers. I have three younger brothers, ages seven, nine (he insists he’s 10; his birthday’s close), and 14. My parents are still married, and we all live in a little three-bedroom house, happy to be around each other. I think they will have a hard time saying goodbye when I go to college. I love to organize, so much so that I made a Facebook group about my passion for it. Someday, I’d like to teach the Suzuki Method of music, but that’ll be after graduate school. I auditioned at nine schools, all for viola performance major: Curtis, Juilliard, Peabody, Oberlin, Cleveland Institute of Music, University of North Carolina, Temple, University of Delaware, and West Chester. Yep. That brings us back to the subject of this blog.
When you talk to adults about colleges, why is their first question, “What’s your top choice?” What if you haven’t decided yet?
Choices, choices, choices. That is the main problem for me as I ponder my acceptance to Juilliard. I guess it’s the main problem for everyone. There are so many factors affecting my college choice.
1. Money! My family is not rich. This is a fact. Taking out loans that I will have to pay off for, like, ever is probably not a good option. I don't know yet if I'll get scholarship money or financial aid from Juilliard. Unless they give me quite a lot, I won't be able to go. You can see why hearing, "YOU GOT INTO JUILLIARD! ...Never mind, you can't pay for it," would be disappointing.
Admission to Curtis is free. (Curtis is the hardest school in the country, or maybe the world, to get into. As the musician saying goes: If you ask a non-musician to name the best music school in the world, she will probably name Juilliard. If you ask a musician, she will probably name Curtis.) I'm pretty certain I was not accepted to Curtis, but I'll find out for sure in a few days.
The University of North Carolina School of the Arts (UNCSA) offered me a full scholarship, covering room and board and even fees. Really great, huh?? I am excited about this.
I won't be able to go to many of the other schools I applied to, since they did not offer enough aid. We might be able to bargain about the aid situation, but you can’t beg every school for more money. You have to pick one and stick with it, or risk offending everyone that you wind up turning down.
Choice: From a money standpoint, UNCSA is my first choice.
2. School environment! Students at Curtis and Juilliard might be cutthroat. Also, many of the musicians going to those schools will already know each other and come in pre-packed groups of friends. I might have trouble meeting people. Oberlin and Peabody sound like competitive yet friendly schools to me. I get a great feeling about the UNCSA campus. It seems like everyone there is friendly. Plus, everyone there is an arts student—a photographer, painter, cinematographer, ballet dancer, opera singer... There are no science majors, math majors, etc. like at West Chester, University of Delaware, Temple, or even Oberlin.
Choice: UNCSA seems to have the friendliest environment.
3. Lesson frequency/consistency! At Curtis and Juilliard, the teachers travel a lot. They are active musicians, and many teach at more than one school. This would mean that multiple teachers would share me as a student, which is an inconsistent situation. At every other school, I would get the same teacher at almost every lesson.
Choice: Curtis and Juilliard would give me the least consistency.
4. Location! Curtis is 40 minutes from my house. West Chester, Temple, and University of Delaware are close by, too. If I went to any of these schools, I would almost definitely live at home to save money. But to me, this is a con. I'm looking forward to enjoying dorm life! Not that I won’t miss my family, but I am excited to get out there beyond the homeschooling world and socialize with a new group of people. UNCSA is far from home, but the plane fare is cheap, the trip is short, and my dad sometimes travels close to the school for work. Oberlin and CIM are the farthest schools from my house, and my family would drive me back and forth to them (9-hour drive... ouch.). Peabody and Juilliard are both about two hours away.
Choice: Before, I would’ve said Peabody. Nice easy 2-hour drive. But now that I’ve been to UNCSA, I would say UNCSA and Peabody are tied.
5. Teacher! One of the biggest factors is the teacher I would be studying with. I really planned ahead and had a lesson with just about every single prospective teacher I wanted to study with. One of my top choice teachers taught at both Curtis and Juilliard. But I'm almost positive I didn't get into Curtis, and I don't think I got into this teacher's studio at Juilliard. I also like the teachers at Oberlin and Peabody.
Choice: After taking a lesson with the teacher at Curtis and Juilliard, I think either of those schools would win this category. It was hard for me to imagine studying with any other teacher. Realizing that I might not get to study with my top choice teacher is one of my main disappointments about my Juilliard acceptance.
6. Prestige! Of course, Curtis and Juilliard are big-name schools. Oberlin, Cleveland, and Peabody are well-known in the music world. But the rest of my schools are not as famous. I am well aware that prestige doesn’t necessarily affect the quality of schooling or lessons. But sometimes it does.
Choice: Curtis and Juilliard are the most prestigious schools I auditioned for. But even if I don't attend one of them as an undergrad, I have a second shot when I'm applying to grad school.
Now, to you, the choice may seem clear. On the other hand, it may seem devastatingly complicated. Either way, it will alllll be over soon. I will decide where I’m going in about a week. And just before I started this sentence, I found out about another acceptance: Peabody! I am eight for eight!
If you read all that, I am impressed with your concentration skills. Now that the nasty official business is out of the way, I promise that my future posts will be as funny as Dan's or Ashley's and as adviceful as Miss Marm's or Auntie Sparknotes'. No more mopey Bella Swan! (“My life’s so harrrrd, waaa…”) Because the truth is, I am PUMPED about college, no matter where I go. I am ready to start a new life, to learn as much as I can, to push myself to the limit, to get my first kiss… anything and everything that could happen. And you’ll hear all about it. Boo-yeah!!
Where do you think LOTV should go? How's your decision-making process going?
Related post: The Diary of Ashley Spencer: Man, I Loved College