Why You Should Attend a Pre-College Music Program Before Applying to College

Why You Should Attend Pre-College Music Camps & Music Programs

We spend a lot of time on this blog talking about applying to college, what to do while in school, and even what comes after you’ve racked up your fair share of student debt, but for many successful students, the road to the university of their dreams began long before they were ever handed an application. Think about applying to collegiate musical studies programs like applying for a job. If you have an education, great! But what other experience is on your resume and what else can you bring to the table nobody else can?

When you start filling out the many, many forms that are part of the application process, you’ll see, in addition to grades and recommendations from teachers, there will be plenty of room to talk about what else you’ve done relating to your potential major. The more you have to show, the better your chances are of being accepted into whatever degree program it is you want to be a part of.

Sign up for any kind of musical program you can — be it a camp, an honors program, a summer college course for high school students — the list can go on and on. I won’t focus on the what for the moment, but rather the why. Here are several reasons why being a part of a pre-college music program of any kind will be beneficial to your collegiate career.

You’ll Have an Experience that Looks Great When Applying to Schools

Applying for college can be one of the most intimidating and stressful times of a young person’s life. There are upcoming deadlines and hundreds of pages of forms to fill out. There are what may seem like a million little pieces of information required for each application being submitted (and nothing can be forgotten, or else you may ruin your chances of being accepted). Sometimes, the worst part of the entire process is realizing that not enough has been done to be competitive, and by this point, it’s too late.

Kids should absolutely have time to be who they are, have fun, and not worry about the future, but there are plenty of young people who could be doing more to prepare for college. If you are looking to go to school to be a full-time musician, you should be thinking about what will make you a great candidate years before you begin filling out your first application.

Everything and anything you can claim to have done in the years before college will help you look like a more well-rounded, serious, excellent choice for any admissions office. That’s especially true when it comes to schools requiring skills beyond just education.

If you have taken lessons, classes, performed in any way, or really done anything musical in your life, you should find a way to showcase this to the people who will be looking at your transcript and essays, and who will likely look you up online. Advanced courses, whether they are in Performance, Theory, History, or anything else connected to music, will make you look wonderful and they will surely help you stand out among a competitive group that could feature thousands of other students.

Kids should absolutely have time to be who they are, have fun, and not worry about the future, but there are plenty of young people who could be doing more to prepare for college. If you are looking to go to school to be a full-time musician, you should be thinking about what will make you a great candidate years before you begin filling out your first application.

You Might Earn Credits That Count Towards Your College Degree

When I was in high school, I excelled in science. By the time I was a senior, I was eligible for and got accepted into Advanced Placement classes for Environmental Science and Psychology. While they were the most difficult courses offered at my school, I was happy to take them and I remember thoroughly enjoying them.

It wasn’t my intention when I first signed on but I found out later in the year that by choosing those advanced options and doing well I could actually transfer them to my college, which meant I didn’t need to worry about something like science requirements when I got there. I had no plans to study anything even close to science so my college was more than happy to count those small requirements as done and I saved myself several hundred dollars in the process.

I later did something similar by taking a summer math course and transferring the credit after my freshman year. I knew people who did the same thing while they were still technically in high school (and now I wish I had done more of the same). I’m not suggesting you start sitting in on lessons you’re not ready for or spend all your time in classrooms, but there are several ways you can start getting ahead on your college education before you’re even accepted, and they can be extremely beneficial.

You’ll Learn A Lot

Sometimes we get so caught up in wondering what tangible benefits we will accrue from every experience — credits that can be applied to a college degree, certificates, etc. — we forget it’s not all about something we can put down on paper!

When applying to college for something like Musical Performance, you’re going to need to actually play your instrument or sing in your audition and the more experience you have performing in this type of environment, the better.

You can never know too much and you can never practice too much, so keep this in mind as you go forward with your musical life. Just because something doesn’t promise to get you a job or an internship, or just because you might not be able to show exactly how it has furthered your career or your chances of getting into a music program at a college, doesn’t mean it is a waste of time!

You’ll have plenty of opportunities to show those in decision-making positions you may be smarter, more experienced, and all-around better than your competition and it’s not all something you can write down. Any opportunity that allows you to learn more and grow, which is sure to be the case at any musical program you can sign up for while still a young musician is going to benefit you. So don’t be too quick to say no!

You’ll Be Prepared for What’s Next

Many people believe just because they have gone through four years of high school and earned decent grades they are automatically ready for college. Sure, some will do fine, but there are plenty of people who just aren’t quite prepared for the challenges and the requirements demanded of them at a typical university, which are very, very different from high school. It’s tough to explain just how drastically different things can be and by the time some students realize, it’s too late for them.

Depending on the music program you sign up for, it may help you prepare for college not just as a musician but also as a person. Different kinds of classes, courses, camps, and so on can show you how to live on your own, handle simple tasks that otherwise were taken care of for you and even meet new people and make new friends. These aren’t necessarily part of every music program (sometimes a class is just a class), but if you do enough of them over a period of time before you actually arrive at a university you may be happy to find you’ve acquired skill sets others don’t have.

As somebody who has yet to go to college, joining pre-college music programs will put you in rooms with many students your own age and these may be people you end up seeing for years to come, whether it’s in shows, orchestras, symphonies, bands, or even at school. Therefore, it’s in your best interest to meet them and get to know them early on.

You’ll Make Valuable Connections

One of the best reasons to do almost anything in music is because it will be a networking opportunity. You can’t put a price on meeting the right people. I always encourage young musicians just getting started to do whatever they can to introduce themselves to anyone and everyone connected to the music industry and to what they are doing. At parties, concerts, in classes, auditions, and online, getting to know people with the same interests as you and who are involved in many of the same things you are can be extremely beneficial for you (and them!) in many different ways. While it can certainly be exhausting and time-consuming, ultimately, your friends and acquaintances will help advance your career as much as your musical talent will.

As somebody who has yet to go to college, joining pre-college music programs will put you in rooms with many students your own age and these may be people you end up seeing for years to come, whether it’s in shows, orchestras, symphonies, bands, or even at school. Therefore, it’s in your best interest to meet them and get to know them early on. You’ll also be introduced to University Music Teachers, professional Orchestra Performers, and even those who are in charge of some important institutions you’ll one day want to be a part of. Meeting them and getting on well with those kinds of people is always a good thing and you should remember these quick conversations can all one day lead to something exciting.

Networking isn’t everything but it’s a lot of fun and it does matter so feel free to think of every interaction as a step in the right direction. You never know who will go on to suggest you for an audition, or a job, or who will one day become the next superstar in music. This isn’t to say all friendships and acquaintances in music are only to be used to advance your career or get a new gig but you will soon see, as you dive deeper into this business, it sort of is all about who you know. Your friends are the ones who want to see you succeed…so getting to meet new people in a challenging music program is a huge plus.

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