college · Life Lessons · Music

Oboe Life: Take 8 – What Is Wrong With The College Application Process?

Why College?

I’m barely an adult, but I feel like I have to question the decisions I have made in the past few years that have brought me to where I am now. Like most recently-graduated-seniors, I went through the process of applying for colleges and struggled for months deciding what I wanted to do with my life. Recently attending Freshmen Orientation for University, I have learned that the average college graduate changes their major about 3 times in their Undergraduate career, so the question is Why do we stress ourselves to figure what we want to do with our lives in a short period of time AND why do we have to be judged from our successes and failures to be accepted?

I know people who have had it worse than me trying to figure out what major they wanted to pursue in college, and there are those who choose a major because they know it will be easier for them to get in with that major OR those who choose a major that they know is really tough to get into and don’t make it into the university (me) OR those who go undecided because they probably know that they need to experience some independence first before deciding what they want to be for the REST OF THEIR LIVES…. It really is tough emotionally for those to go through the college application process.

For me, I went through the process of getting in as a Music Performance and Music Education Majors, and both of them require going through a Pre-Requisite audition that determines whether you get into the University/College you want to attend. I’m the oldest in my family, and the first one to pursue Music as a career (also, out of the 4 years in high school, no one in the music department that I have known went through this process), so I wasn’t given a lot of tips on how to apply for college, especially if music wasn’t going to work out for me. Same goes to my significant other because we practically have an identical resumé, as well as a 5% chance of not wanting to pursue music, so we did the same process. We applied with an intended major of Music Performance, so there were extra steps of applying separately to the school’s music department and scheduling auditions and meeting with the specific teacher before the audition…etc., and the stress just piles on top of each other.

I wasn’t aware of the fact that when you apply to the music school of the University , your audition is one of the most important things they look at to see if they will let you in to the actual school. Unfortunately, I found this out when one of the conductors from UCLA when to guest-conduct for the high school’s district honor band, and me being so oblivious, went to ask him “so if I don’t make it in as a Music Performance major, is it okay to try again when the semester starts?”. He gave me the most confused face ever – and at this point I felt like I asked him “so what’s the number to 911?” – cause then he said “Oh, uh…once  you don’t pass the audition, then you’re not accepted into the school….”, and I just died in the awkward of silence that came afterwards. So, as you can see I didn’t make it into UCLA *cries*, but I did get into my other schools, and I’m actually really happy with where I’m going to go this fall *Go Beach!*

Anyway, I think I can say that there is a lesson to be learned from this and I think every incoming high school senior should know about this.

#1 – Don’t stress so much on deciding what major you should pursue for college. It’s bad enough to take the SATs and ACTs and APs and IBs that are required for college, and then you have all your extracurricular and senior classes you have to take to just graduate, so why add stress to your life in deciding what career you want to pursue when you might end up changing it once you get there. Not all majors help you get into college, some do, but not all. BUT, don’t put undecided/undeclared either. I believe you should probably start listing all the things that interests you and the skills you have right now (the sooner the better), and go through that list and pair it up with a corresponding major. There is an online interest profiler that gives you a report about yourself and a list of careers that go with it; ask your school councilor for a trusting one that will give you honest results. I know that I am an INFJ (Introvert, Intuitive, Feeler, and Judger).

#2 – Don’t worry so much about how much you succeed compared to others. I know to some people who have looked at me as the most successful person they know, but I also see other people who have done way may more than me in my perspective. I think we compare successes based on how much they succeed rather than how they succeeded or what they succeeded. I know that a friend of mine has succeeded way less than what I have done in the music field, but they are attending a UC school in the Honors program for English. I think that is just so awesome for them to be going to one of the prestigious UC schools in California and to be doing what they love doing best, which is writing. I know this French Horn player from this youth orchestra I played in with, and she wasn’t in as many playing ensembles that I have been in, BUT she made it into the EASTMAN SCHOOL OF MUSIC on French Horn at the University of Rochester in New York. That is insane! I applied to that school and did their regional audition in LA, and I didn’t make it in, and I’m so happy for her that she got in, and will be going there this Fall. Hardwork trumps (heh, get it?) everything. I know there are times when I gave up, and it did cost me the schools I wanted to get into, but in the end I was happy.

#3 – Doesn’t matter where you go, but how you go about it. Like I said before, I didn’t make it into UCLA or Eastman or even USC. Heck, I didn’t even make the Music Performance major at SDSU where my private teacher teaches because let’s be honest, I wasn’t ready yet for any of those schools (so they allowed me Music Education). Yeah, I felt kind of sad when I found out I wasn’t getting into those schools and it took me a couple of weeks to see why, and I was honest with myself; I didn’t practice correctly, I worried so much about other things in life, and I just felt lazy at times. I actually started reflecting after my SDSU audition because my private teacher was able to give me immediate results the next day, and so my last audition (Bob Cole Conservatory of Music) wasn’t for another 3 weeks, so it gave me time to fix my mistakes and start doing what I needed to do. So, I got into BCCM with a talent scholarship and was able to do what I wanted to do, which was to express myself and continue my education by double-majoring and just getting to do what I wanted to do. Oh, and being able to be taught by the Oboist who played in Star Wars: The Force Awakens??? Like that’s a dream come true!

#4 – Be Happy. Senioritis is a thing, but you should be happy that you’re graduating high school. Look forward to becoming more independent and doing something you’ve always wanted to do. End you high school career by saying hi to the person you never gotten the chance to talk to or rekindle on past friendships that didn’t work out during high school. Leave with good memories and not regrettable ones. Nice wins over everything. As my high school band director used to say “kill it with niceness”. (may not work with cockroaches or the spiders living in your house, but it does with people).


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