so in my post money, money, money, money, i talked about the financial disparity between musicians of my generation and that of those before us. but there was another part of it that had been on my mind that caused me just as much grief. just how much of a part does money play in getting a good education, or the right one?
here are my experiences and takes on money and higher education:
after the folderol of auditioning for Master’s programs, i sat and waited for the eventual rejections and acceptances. at the end of the day i had three acceptances, one from the Hartt School (University of Hartford), one from Peabody and one from Northwestern. to my parents, the choice was easy: i was to go to Peabody, regardless of the fact that Peabody gave me no money. for me, who has always been focused on finance, it was not so simple. Hartt offered to pay 90% of my tuition (it would have been 100% had i been accepted into their 20/20 program, something i’m still a little bitter about), a bassoon teaching assistantship and a stipend right there on the spot. sounds pretty good, no? that’s a hard set of numbers to turn down, especially considering the huge difference in tuition between Hartt and Peabody (several thousands of dollars). but i knew, deep down, that Hartt wasn’t the school for me. that helped in making the decision but you better believe i agonized over that amount of money.
three years later, i can’t imagine what my life would have been like had i not gone to Peabody and i’m glad that i don’t have to think about it…at all. in the midst of this Ph.D. nonsense, one of my professors told me that “i shouldn’t pick a school based on the money”. had this statement been made when i was finishing my Bachelor’s degree then, yeah, sure but let’s face it. i would be foolish to not think about money at this state in my life. luckily for me, the program into which i’ve been accepted is right for me and the money just happens to be a VERY happy bonus.
so at what point do we take money into consideration? every student does as the price of higher education steadily rises. i’d like to look at it as an acknowledgement of one’s abilities but not to take it personally when a school doesn’t offer you money. when i entered Peabody in 2007, i came in with another Master’s bassoonist student as well as one GPD and one DMA. that’s a lot of graduate bassoonists. and Peabody made it up to me…eventually. and though i was shocked when i recently received my “you’re leaving Peabody, here’s the ridiculous amount of money that you owe” letter, i’ve come to terms with it.
it’s tough to think about families who have to face these decisions where money is the only thing on which they have to go. the world of academia leaves very little option for many. my parents made it clear that they would do everything possible to support me in my education because it mattered that much but not everyone is so lucky. and let’s be clear, the last eight years have been a real struggle for me but i was able to make it through. no one should have to make a less than satisfactory decision because they don’t have the money to go where they would like. we need to educate our students to the world of scholarships, fellowships and responsible lending/borrowing. but sometimes, i just wish America would just man up and make all public institutions free.
a girl can dream, can’t she?