University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music Assistant Dean for Enrollment Services Andrea M. Fitzgerald knows what post-secondary programs are looking for in student applicants. From the perks of attending an arts focused schools like Interlochen Arts Academy to tips on the college application and audition process, Fitzgerald offers her advice on how to position yourself ahead of the competitive pack of college and conservatory applicants.
What are some of the things that the College-Conservatory of Music looks for in a prospective student?
The admissions process at CCM is holistic. While we are a conservatory, and that means the audition is the most important part of the process for applicants, we also look at academics to make sure we are setting our students up for success at the University of Cincinnati. Our faculty are very well trained to view the audition process and know what specifically to look for—not only in the performance aspect, but the potential and “teachability” of the applicant.
From an admissions perspective, what are the advantages of attending a dedicated arts academy in high school?
Attending a performing arts high school sets you up for a strong audition. You go into this whole process with an advantage of having already “been there and done that,” in a sense.
Performing arts high schools also provide lots of performing opportunities. The more performance opportunities you have, the stronger your audition will be. Performing arts high schools will also give you a leg up in the music theory classes by either placing you into a higher section, or making the regular sequence seem a bit easier to learn.
What types of programs or experiences stand out on an application?
We look at the complete application. The more varied experiences you have, the stronger of an applicant you will be. However, our admissions process is primarily based on the audition itself.
Once that is complete, the undergraduate admissions committee will review all the rest of the materials submitted to make sure the student will fit in the University of Cincinnati profile.
What about Interlochen? What stands out to you and your team about Interlochen students, and what type of weight does Camp or Academy participation carry on an application?
We love applicants from Interlochen. When we see the name “Interlochen” on an application, we can be assured the student is coming to us with a strong work ethic, an understanding of what it really takes to be a music student, and a love for the craft.
Lots of colleges worry about admitting the “right” student, because if we don’t, and the student leaves before graduating, it’s a negative mark against our reputation. Students from Interlochen come to us with knowledge and desire, with a clear picture of where they see their future. Interlochen students are also well-trained, professional, and tend to excel in our major-academic classes, such as theory and history.
How can students have the best possible audition experience?
It’s a matter of trying, as best as you can, to have fun. The faculty want the best for each student, and that is important—but hard—to remember.
If you have already visited the campus, it takes some of the stress out of the audition day and allows for a more relaxed environment. Also, it is so important to make sure you have the correct repertoire for the correct school, as it is not a great experience to walk into an audition and have faculty ask you for something you don’t have prepared. Create some kind of document to help you keep it all straight.
What are some things that younger students (like freshmen and sophomores) can do to be a stronger applicant come junior/senior year?
Perform! The more opportunities you can take advantage of, the better. I also highly recommend doing the “college campus tour” to visit campuses and take sample private lessons with various faculty. It really is a matter of finding the best fit for each individual student. There is not a “one size fits all” model.
What do you, personally, gain from doing high school visits?
Visiting with high school students is one of my favorite parts of my job. We learn a lot about what you want when we sit down listen. You as students are not looking for the same educational experience that previous generations had. We, as music schools, have a responsibility to you to adjust what we do accordingly. At CCM, we want to set individual goals for each student to help you get closer to your life goals. Our advising staff will assist you with all that, but it is great for us to know some ahead of time.
Also, the students at performing arts high schools are generally so dedicated, prepared, and such hard workers, which makes them awesome places to visit.