The Application Process by Ashley Pelton

As I am approaching the halfway mark of my senior year, I have begun to reflect on the past four years of my life. Each and every one of us has had a wildly different journey at Rice and can share a handful of stories highlighting our experiences. The Owl Chronicles will be a series of posts exploring the lives of Rice undergraduate violists and their growth as musicians and adults since having matriculated at Rice.

It wouldn’t be fair to begin the Owl Chronicles without a post about the application process, especially as application deadlines approach! Before moving to Houston, I too went through the long and arduous process of applying to college. Unfortunately, I would be lying if I said it got easier after April 1. However, with a little self-reflecting, hours and hours of research, and many pros and cons lists, you can make the decision process a little smoother and simpler.

In selecting colleges to apply to, and in April mulling over your acceptances and rejections, I would suggest asking yourself these questions:

• Am I looking for a conservatory, a dual-degree program, a university with a music school, or a university with a music department?

•To what extent are academics important to me, and how much can I honestly balance? How much time do I need and want to practice?

• What kind of extra-curricular activities interest me?

• What qualities am I looking for in a teacher, and will they help me achieve my short- and long-term goals?

• What kind of environment will challenge me and allow me to thrive most?

•Location: How far is it from home? If visiting home is important to you, what is the cost of travelling back and forth? To what extent are the surrounding areas important to me? (Food, cultural events, other schools, work opportunities, etc.)

• What scholarship opportunities and kinds of financial aid are available?

• How much of an emphasis on solo/chamber music/orchestra is important to me?

• Will I be motivated by my peers and the environment around me?

• Could I see myself fitting in here?

• What kinds of resources are available to me?  (Career services, health services, counseling services, physical therapy, etc.)

• Living accommodations? Food? Will I need a car or bike to get around?

This last question is difficult to answer, and I can assure you, how I may have answered this question four years ago is certainly different from how I would answer it now. For most of us, this answer will change and will continue evolving as our lives go on. However, if you have the courage to answer it or already have some ideas in mind, it is worth taking in to consideration:

• What are my long-term career/life goals, and where do I THINK might be the best place to help me achieve these goals?

Most importantly, if you have the opportunity to visit a school, whether it is during an audition or just an ordinary visit, GO!!! I cannot emphasize this more. Your visit to that conservatory or university will tell you infinitely more than any website or brochure you read. At the least, you will be thankful for the insight you gain purely from walking on the campus and interacting with faculty, staff, and students.

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