Choosing a school

My first year back at school (2010 – 2011) went very well and this past fall I decided that I wanted to continue on to a 4 year school. The first thing was to look at which schools on Long Island had decent music departments, were affordable, and not more than an hour’s drive from my house. I whittled down my choices to two schools – State University of New York (SUNY) at Stony Brook and Long Island University, Post Campus. (Formerly known as C.W. Post.) Post is a private school and would be way out of the ‘affordable’ range except that they offer great scholarships based on merit which I qualified for.

The next step was to apply, write the dreaded “why do I want to go to this school” essay, send in transcripts and then wait to hear if I got in. First I had to get accepted into the school and then audition for the music department. Fortunately I got into both schools and I survived the auditions and got into both music departments as well.

So now I had to decide which school to go to. Stony Brook is about 20 minutes from my house and Post is an hour from my house not counting the misery of driving during rush hour. That easily adds another half hour to the trip. So clearly, Stony Brook wins when it comes to commuting to school.  The required curriculum is similar, though Post doesn’t require a language and Post accepted all of my transfer credits from back in 1972. They also accepted all my music credits from Suffolk. Stony Brook was putting me back a year for theory and aural skills. Hmm. Suffolk and Stony Brook are both SUNY schools and I had a 4.0 in Suffolk. I found that odd. Post wins for credit acceptance.

Post has a program called ‘spend a day with a music student’ which I attended. I enjoyed the day except for the junior level theory class which I found bizarre. We spent the entire class singing and I felt it was much closer to an aural skills class than a theory class. I was very concerned because aural skills is by far my weakest subject. So that one class tipped the scales toward Stony Brook.

Financially, Post wins the tuition battle because of the scholarships I received. The tuition is around $31K and I got $27K in scholarships. However, I had to add the cost of gas and mileage on my car which did get the cost of the two schools closer together.

So at this point, Stony Brook is ahead on commuting (which is a big deal) and their more normal theory class. Post is ahead financially and for accepting all my credits. They are also ahead because they are so nice. Every time I visited the school, no matter who I was seeing, I felt like they genuinely cared about me. I felt much more like a number when dealing with Stony Brook. Even so, I was leaning toward Stony Brook until I finally realized that the most important reason for choosing a school was the horn teacher. And in that category, Post wins hands down. Sharon Moe has great credentials, but more importantly, I’ve had more than a few lessons with her and we get along really well and we communicate well. At Stony Brook, I’d be stuck with a TA. So, despite the commute, the likely hood that I’ll probably spend more than a few nights in a hotel because of late night rehearsals, and that weird theory class, I’ve picked Post.

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