Re: G.P.A. for college

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Posted by A Little Reality on October 29, 2003 at 14:51:02:

In Reply to: G.P.A. for college posted by Chris Barrett on October 29, 2003 at 00:26:37:

You need a little straight talk. I have one daughter who is a college freshman (St. Olaf - flutist, made the St. Olaf Band) and one who is a junior (trumpet, now at Manhattan School of Music Prep), planning to apply to top conservatories and music schools at major universities.

Based on our experience with our older daughter and what we've learned so far:

Unless your high school does not have weighted grading, and your 3.0 was mostly earned in honors or AP classes, even if you have stellar SAT/ACT scores, you will be foreclosed from almost all of the top colleges and universities.

While your audition alone may get you into a pure conservatory, for the better university (and liberal arts college) schools of music, you need to meet the university's standards for admission, not just the music school's.

So, the first thing to do, is look at the school's websites or in the guidebooks, and determine the median SAT/ACT ranges and GPA ranges for the schools you're interested in. Unless you fall within the 50% band, it will be tough. For some schools, the music school will tell you the median test scores of their admittees, others won't. Example: Rice U. has average SATs well over 1400, but for the music school the averate is "only" 1375. Northwestern U is similar.

If you're below the 50% band, you'd better be one of the best tuba players they've ever seen. And, the availability of merit money will be negatively affected by low relative grades and test scores.

We were at a performing arts college fair last week in NYC, and a lot of the conservatories and schools of music were there. If there is one in your area, you should go and talk to the places you're interested in. It may be too late for this year though.

I did talk to USC, and I think you'd need to be in the top 10-15% of your high school class, with commensurate grades and test scores AND a good audition to get in. Similarly, I think you would not be competitive at Rice, Northwestern, Oberlin, Vanderbuilt, UCLA, Boston or similar schools. Possibilities might include Indiana (but you'd need to be very very good), Lawrence, Ithaca College, Maryland (it's incredibly hard to get in for trumpet since Chris Gekker only takes 2 students, but I'm not sure about the tuba studio - nice people, though) and, maybe, St. Olaf.

The dilemma you face, of course, is whether to go conservatory or college/university school of music. I don't think most conservatories would be especially concerned about grades, but you would have fewer options if things did not work out for a playing career.

Good Luck!

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