Pursuing Passion: Mila Mincy’s Path to USC as a Music Major


For Mila Mincy, even at 8 years old, singing “just felt right.” With a firm resolve that music was her true means of self-expression and the encouragement of her extraordinary parents, Mila vigorously pursued her passion. She immersed herself in a variety of styles and took advantage of every opportunity inside and outside of the classroom. Ultimately, it was pop music and vocal performance that captured her focus. 

Next stop: turning that passion into a music career.

Inspired by USC to Aim High

In the spring of her sophomore year, Mila’s parents gave her a gift that would set the course for her college career — a pop music info session at the University of Southern California (USC). She recalls sitting in the session thinking, “Is this real? I wish this college experience could be possible for me.” 

Mila says, “I left that experience very inspired but also feeling defeated. It was difficult for me to see that being accepted into a prestigious college as a music major was possible.” 

Facing the Music (and Questions) of the College Music Admissions Process

While Mila was confident in her choice to pursue music as a career, getting accepted into a school of her choice seemed impossible. Not unlike most other music major hopefuls, just thinking about the admissions process made her feel anxious. While she had her heart set on a couple of particular, well-known schools, the rest . . . well, it wasn’t quite clear. 

  • How could she know that what she had to offer was what a school wanted/needed?
  • Berklee College of Music was on a large scale. What could she bring to their already extensive program?
  • USC had a more holistic admissions process. What unique aspects could she showcase to add to their cohort?
  • What was the best way to present all she’d worked so hard for?

The whole idea was scary. 

Mila’s journey toward acceptance into one of the top music schools in the country would require confidence and trust in herself. Thankfully, a connection with Inside Music Schools (IMS) helped her find that footing, becoming the catalyst to making her dream come true.

Starting the College Application Process — in Senior Year

By mid-September of her senior year, Mila found herself in a bit of a panic. There was so much to do to apply to music school. Not only was the process intimidating, but quite frankly, overwhelming — and it all had to be done while maintaining expectations at a highly academic high school. So when a friend’s mother introduced her to Steve Lipman at Inside Music Schools, she felt relieved.

Grounded in Affirmation and Confidence

“Even in my first conversation with Steve, he made me feel good about where I was starting. He knew I was behind the optimal timeline, and he also recognized the passion and goals I had — some of which I didn’t even see. It was comforting to hear for both myself and my parents. He reassured me that I was already on track by underscoring the importance of my passion and commitment and helping me feel confident in my experience, creativity, and the resume I’d already built.”

Selecting a List of Schools

After discussing her goals and a few options for music schools, Steve laid out a list of music programs to consider. They worked through the list together, trimming it to Mila’s specifications. Ultimately, Mila decided to apply to Berklee, University of Southern California Thornton School of Music, the University of Miami Frost School of Music, the New School in New York City, and New York University (NYU).

Crafting and Submitting an Application Mila was Proud of

With Steve’s guidance, encouragement, practical advice, and a timeline to assist her in preparing a resume and application, Mila felt empowered to press on. Crafting an application that would stand out in a sea of music majors was critical.

“I actually was scared of submitting applications.” Mila laughed. It was a daunting idea. IMS made the process doable by helping her sort through the overwhelm and push through the items on her to-do list one by one. “They helped me identify the right things to include and how to best format my resume, molding it into a solid application that I was proud to submit.” 

RESUME & PORTFOLIO TIP: Logic Pro from Apple is the perfect tool for recording your voice or instrument for submission to college music schools. Mila used Logic Pro and was pleased with the outcome.

The Mock Interview and Audition — a Transformative Experience

One of Inside Music School’s specialties as a part of their college admissions consulting services is the mock interview. For students seeking advice regarding music auditions, the mock interview and audition gives them the opportunity to prepare by experiencing the process firsthand.

Mila found the mock audition to be a truly transformative experience. “I formed a rapport with the auditioning professor. The panel provided advice specific to my major and helped me gain an understanding of things I should already be able to show to the auditioning faculty.”

The panel also gave Mila tips regarding presentation skills, making an audition video, and what to do (and not to do!) with her hands — a big point for a singer/performer. “They even prepped me to learn and know the name of every person in the room!”

Steve also attended Mila’s mock audition. “He presented additional questions that I had not thought to prepare answers for, so by the time the real audition came along, I had a real sense of what would actually happen. Karen Kerr also helped me sort through financial aid to know how to discuss that aspect of my education with the audition and admissions faculty.”

Consultation to Guide and Keep Confidence in Herself

Mila never felt alone during the admissions process. IMS answered her questions, gave her insights into each music program she was applying to, and supported her decisions.

“They talked through the songs I planned to submit and saw the variety I had to share. At one point, I realized I had to stop overthinking and simply trust what Steve and IMS Special Advisor, Bob Mulvey, saw in me. Also, maintaining a high GPA is exhausting. They helped me move past what I couldn’t control to focus on what I could do.”

Acceptance Granted

By mid-December, Mila received her first acceptance letter from Berklee. At that point, she opted to discontinue the process with some of the other schools, but her heart was set on her dream school. Could she hit the right note with USC?

In January 2024, Mila received an invitation to audition at USC. “It utterly destroyed my sense of ‘that’s not possible!’” And by mid-March, she had her acceptance letter in hand.

She was going to USC as a vocal performance and pop music major!

How Inside Music Schools Helped Mila Most

“What I love about IMS is that they want you to succeed. Steve and Karen are very realistic. He knows what schools want to hear and don’t want to hear. They helped me stay focused — not on the outcome, but on what I needed to do that day or that week to keep working toward my goal.”

When it comes to advice for other up-and-coming music majors, Mila’s top tips include:

  1. Start early! Start early! Start early! Preparation fuels your confidence
  2. Find the people you need to talk to
  3. Ask all the questions
  4. Forget about the stress and just do it!
  5. Reach out to contacts — student advisors, students at your desired schools. Have a ton of open discussions and don’t do it alone!

As a sophomore, Mila didn’t think her dream of attending USC was possible. But she did it. With the help of Inside Music School’s college admissions consulting and mock interview and audition coaching, she’s launching her music career at her top school of choice!

Ready to start your college music application process?

Reach out to Inside Music Schools today!

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Inside Music Schools

With decades of experience in music school admissions, Inside Music Schools is the premiere partner for students and families navigating the admissions process. We take away the stress and break down each step into manageable pieces while guiding students toward the best school to meet their goals.