Avoid College Application Mistakes!

Music Student Edition:

Image of student making common mistake

At Inside Music Schools we are always looking for a way to give our readers, and our students, an edge when it comes to college applications and auditions. After working with hundreds of students, and hearing the testimonials of hundreds more, we’ve compiled a list of some common college application mistakes that we’d like our readers to avoid. Hopefully, after reviewing this blog, you won’t repeat common college mistakes on your applications when the time comes.

Mistake #1: Organization Matters

As far as college application mistakes are concerned, we’ve heard from a lot of our students that they wished they were more organized. We’ve heard it all. Some students keep information in different Word Documents, in notebooks in their room, and on their cell phones. All of their important information (audition pieces, schedules, emails, and other time-sensitive information) is spread out and disorganized. How are you supposed to keep track of yourself if your information isn’t consolidated into one central location?

We tell our students to keep it simple. Create a master document and follow your own directions religiously. College Application due dates, requirements for each individual music school or conservatory you’re applying to, correspondence with the schools you’ve been in contact with, tour dates, and any other time-sensitive or monetary information should be featured. No more clutter, no more disorganized files, and no more missing due dates.

Organization Matters.

Mistake #2: Pay Attention to the Specific Audition Requirements for each College

Each music college or conservatory you apply to will undoubtedly have a unique audition process. Some schools create scenarios that they expect you to read, and then perform according to those specific instructions on audition day. Others will give you a specific piece of music to play. Some will allow you to freestyle. It is imperative that we remind and instruct our students to pay attention (remember mistake #1?) and get organized before performing their audition piece.

Talented musicians, and aspiring musicians with a lot of raw talent, have been turned away by top schools for not following directions accordingly.

Follow directions.

Mistake #3: Don’t “fluff” up your Resume

Another common college application mistake our students tend to make involves the construction of their college resume. Most Highschool Seniors that we’ve worked with tend to try and inflate their resumes; finding any excuse to include even the most minute accomplishment or achievement to stand out. We understand that our students want to sell themselves, but sometimes too much fluff can have the opposite effect on a college admissions officer.

We think 1-2 pages is more than enough to showcase your accomplishments. Include a brief rundown of your achievements, background, performance experience, and academic accolades. That’s all you really need to stand out. Anything else and you might find yourself in the wrong stack of applications at the end of the day.

Mistake #4: Virtual Auditions can be complicated

We recently published a blog entitled, “A short guide to the perfect undergraduate audition.” This blog is a must-read for those interested in pursuing a virtual audition. Whether the audition is recorded ahead of time, or simply performed live over Zoom, this blog chronicles a lot of the “Do’s and Don’ts” when faced with this audition process.

For the sake of avoiding redundancy, we’ll sum up that article right here. DO NOT simply set up an iPhone and expect your sound and performance to record flawlessly. We recommend considering everything from your location to the placement of the microphone, and the distance between you and the camera. Consider how you’re framed in the video. Consider the quality of the audio. Give that blog a read and prepare for your virtual audition in the most thorough way possible.

We’ve heard of iPhone horror stories and want our students to avoid making such costly mistakes.

Mistake #5: Slow it Down

We know how exciting this moment is. Don’t let your eagerness to complete an application cost you a successful submission. Take a breath and read each prompt and piece of information presented to you carefully. Each school will have their own nuances printed on their College Applications, and each school will want you to treat THEIR applications like they are the only school you are applying to.

Fill in each section carefully. Proofread your work. Don’t copy/paste generic responses into the written components. Try to tailor each response to the specific school you are applying to.

These are simple fixes, but to the over-eager applicant, these can be costly. Don’t submit the answer you prepared for Vanderbilt in the text box for Berklee. Proofread all work before submission.

It’s simple advice, but we’ve found our students occasionally need to hear it.

Contact Us:

Of course, when you work with Inside Music Schools we will tailor our consulting to the specific schools you are applying to. This is important to us, as the lessons learned in this blog are valuable but vague. Advice of this nature can still save many from making silly mistakes, but when we work with our students, we prepare them for THEIR admissions experiences. Our consultations are curated for our individual students.

If you are interested in pursuing a career in music or have a loved one interested in a music college or conservatory, give our experts a call to see how Inside Music Schools can help!