By Shane Griffin

After all of your hard work up to this point, it’s time for some pay-off, right? Well, now it’s time. After a couple of months of the infamous waiting game, you will start receiving your audition and application results. Don’t get discouraged if the first letter you receive is declining admission. Remember you applied several places, and if you designed your list properly, some of your schools were challenging and highly competitive auditions. There are other great musicians around the country, so this single letter does not mean you are a bad player. Don’t take it personally. However, the preferred letter is offering you a spot in the studio, and perhaps even a financial aid offer. Often times, your financial aid offer will come separately, as the logistics are handled by a different office. After you’ve got all of your results, a big question still remains: where should I go?

Ideally, you’ve received offers from multiple schools, and now it is time to weigh the pros and cons. You may be asking, “Didn’t I already do this when I made my list?” The answer is both yes and no. The list generally doesn’t take all factors into consideration, it is generally just a ranking of where you’d like to go if the only factor were the music program, percussion studio, and faculty. Now it gets complicated. How much money did each school offer you? Were you offered a TA position, or just a scholarship? TA positions are additional work but look great resume. Scholarships are just money, so that is a factor to take into account. I also encourage you to look at the out of pocekt cost over the course of the degree, not just who offered you a larger dollar amount. If one school costs $40,000 a year and offers you $30,000, you will still pay more than a school that only costs $20,000 and offers you “only” $15,000.

Money is obviously not the only factor, though. In fact, it shouldn’t even be the primary factor. To me, it’s basically the quality and end results of the education weighed against the cost. Sure, school A is offering a full tuition waver, health insurance, and a $2000/month stipend, but do their graduates have jobs? Did they get into good doctoral programs? If so, that’s a cherry gig, but if you end up flipping burgers, was it worth it? Maybe school B, where everyone has jobs, only offers you a $5000 a semester discount and you’ll have to pay some (or much) out of pocket. But you’re more likely to get a job later. Remember to weigh all factors. Also remember to take a look at the community where you’ll be living. Can you stand to live there? How far from home is it, and does this matter to you? Only after weighing ALL factors should you make your final decision, and send in your replies.

After making your decision, there will be some paperwork for all of the schools where you were accepted. You need to take care of all of this in a timely manner. In some situations, there are people who have been placed on waiting lists, and if you decline, they’ll have another offer to consider. I also think it’s a very professional touch to email the professors at schools where you were declined. Even if you didn’t get in, these are important people in the industry, and you want to maintain every connection you make. What if you apply there for a different degree? Or later in your career you are trying to put together a tour in their area? Wouldn’t you rather your name stuck out to them as someone who they remembered, and was very professional, rather than being forgotten with the other 50 applicants who got rejected? You can choose whether or not to do this, but I think it’s a good way to solidify a connection that you have probably already started building throughout the audition process.

I’m sure there are other factors to consider, but quality of education, financial assistance, and the local community were the most important to me. What factors did did you consider when making your choice? Do you have any questions about the process, or other ideas for students experiencing this process? Talk talk about it in the comments.

Originally posted on DrumChattr on October 20, 2010 by Shane Griffin.

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The photo in this post is used under the Creative Commons License: Attribution – NonCommercial – No Derivs 2.0 by KaroliK on Flickr.com.

Dave Gerhart

Dave Gerhart

Dr. Dave Gerhart, Product Manager, Percussion for Yamaha Corporation of America and Lecturer of Percussion at the Bob Cole Conservatory of Music at CSU, Long Beach, is a nationally recognized performer, composer, and educator. Dr. Gerhart, originally from Fairfield, California, holds a D.M.A. from the University of Southern California, M.M. in Percussion Performance and Instrumental Conducting and a B.M. in Music Education from California State University, Long Beach.
Dave Gerhart

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