Preparing for College

Musical Talent and College Admissions

Question: I am an 8th grade student who is wondering if musical involvement, such as orchestra and concert band, will help me get into a good college.

Having musical talent is certainly a plus in the admission process, but when you’re talking about the most selective colleges (e.g., the Ivy League, Stanford, MIT, Swarthmore, Amherst, and other equivalents) there are so many applicants with musical accomplishments on their applications that yours will have to be truly outstanding to make a real difference in your admission decisions. For instance, admission committees at the top schools are accustomed to candidates who have been selected for regional and state orchestras, and some have even won national competitions.


Of course, if you are thinking of applying to a music college or to a “school of music” or of performing arts within a large university, then it will certainly be helpful (and probably necessary) to have had both music performance and music theory experience.

If you love music or have been told that you are talented, you should definitely pursue your passion and not worry about whether your achievements will affect your applications. At the same time, you might want to think about some very different activities that you might enjoy that will look a bit more unusual on an application and will give you pleasure as well.