Originally published to MajoringInMusic.com
I’ve spoken with many music school admission directors and faculty, and they’ve all said the same thing: they want to know you’re interested in their schools before you apply. Presenting yourself as a serious music school candidate before it’s time for them to make their decisions can work well in your favor, especially when they have two or more candidates with equally strong auditions, grades, accolades, and recommendations.
The following 6 tips will guide you in how to best contact admission folks and faculty.
1. Check websites first.
Learn all you can about schools by going to their websites. You don’t want to waste anyone’s time by asking questions that are clearly answered online. Sometimes, the answers are buried and it may take 6 or 8 clicks to get there. Stay the course until you find what you’re looking for OR until you discover what questions you need to ask.
2. Be brief.
Plan to be brief when you do email or call a music school. Use Twitter as your guide — think in terms of the shortest amount of words to get your questions across. Take notes and make sure you’ve understood the responses you get.
3. Keep trying.
If you don’t hear back from a phone call within a week, try email. And vice-versa. Note that the people you’re trying to reach also travel frequently for recruitment purposes or gigs, and get plenty of calls and emails in the meantime. So don’t take a non-response personally, just keep trying.
4. Keep your cool.
Your gracious manner will take you far. Even when you’re frustrated by people who don’t respond right away, or who are brusque when they do, you’re wise not to let your annoyance show. The people you’re trying to reach will remember you when it’s time to decide whether to admit you to their schools. They may even turn out to be in a position to hire you for a gig. Maintaining a friendly manner and keeping your cool will serve you well.
5. Thank those who respond.
Send an email with “thank you” in the subject line to anyone who takes the time to respond to you. They’ve gone out of their way to try to help, and they deserve your appreciation. This will also serve you when decision time comes.
6. Be sure to make these contacts yourself.
If you’ve seen the recent Tina Fey/Paul Rudd movie “Admission”, you may remember the line about parents who contact admission offices — and how schools DO NOT appreciate that. As a student, you are the person these schools will be in contact with on the day-to-day basis, should they admit you. So it is no surprise that you’re the only one they want to communicate with.