In light of the recent admissions scandal, remember, you still have a place.

Don Hunter
Founder, Acceptd

If you’re prepping for a college arts program, or have had the joy of receiving that acceptance letter, the recent scandal about bribery in college admissions probably struck a chord. How could something as manipulative and deceitful as this be so widespread? How can I be sure that when I’m applying to colleges I have a fair shot? Who can I trust in all of this?

We at Acceptd work directly in the college admissions industry, and we want to make our stance clear: we believe that every student–and every artist in particular–should have equal opportunity to follow their dreams. And an important part of that is having access to resources and support throughout their journey. That’s where we come in.

Every artist belongs somewhere, and we want to make sure they are able to discover their perfect fit. If they have to use cheating, bribery, and high-stakes manipulation to be considered for acceptance into a school or program, it probably isn’t the right fit. That’s another aspect of this whole scandal that’s really devastating: students ended up in an institution their parent had to bribe their way in to, when they might’ve been able to thrive and flourish in a different program naturally.

We understand that college admissions is high-stakes. Every day we come to work and help tens of thousands of students search, find, and apply to arts programs so they can achieve their dreams. Some have been preparing for years to showcase their talent to schools, others are just learning what it takes to follow their passion. That’s exactly why we remain committed to partnering with arts programs and coaches in the higher education space that uphold fair and ethical admissions practices.

To solidify our commitment, we’ve turned to two of our dedicated partners for their response. The first, from Chelsea Diehl at My College Audition, provides commentary from the angle of a college coach in the arts. She helps aspiring artists prepare for the competitive college audition process. The next, from Patrick Zylka, Assistant Dean for Admission, Financial Aid and Graduate Services at the Bienen School of Music at Northwestern University, provides perspective from someone deeply entrenched in the college admissions process who is passionate about higher education.

Our ultimate hope is that if you’re preparing for your next step in applying and auditioning for college, you aren’t discouraged by the recent scandal. We at Acceptd still have a lot of faith in the college admissions process, but even more faith that each student and artist who wants to pursue higher education has a place to do so.

What the college admissions scandal means to a college audition coach.

Chelsea Diehl
Founder and College Audition Coach
My College Audition

This week’s news about the admissions scandal felt like a sucker punch to the gut. It is especially unsettling to learn that people who already have every advantage in this world at their fingertips would still decide to stoop to this level, and in the process undermine hardworking and deserving kids that are playing by the rules to achieve their dreams.

The component to this scandal that troubled me most of all is the lack of faith these parents had that their children would find a program that fits them (like all of you wonderful artists) based on their inherent gifts, talents and who they are as a human being. Putting aside the pain and embarrassment that these kids will now have to endure as a result of this scandal, whether they were aware of the scheme or not, their futures have been forever tainted and altered because their parents decided to take this egregious step on their behalf. Imagine arriving to your first ballet class at a top tier, supremely rigorous Musical Theatre program and not knowing what an arabesque is? Sitting in a high-level math course (because you “scored” extremely high in that section on the SATs) and not understanding one term or concept being thrown your way? This may be the reality for these students. Instead of celebrating where they are in their journey to their dream career, they are going to feel less than. Feel like they have to continually prove their worth. Be afraid to take risks and try new things for fear of judgment. It’s one thing to feel challenged, it’s another to feel less than and inferior.

Isn’t that the whole point of college? To take where you are today and nurture, mold and identify the parts of you that need work to be better for tomorrow? College is just the starting point, friends. Not the end game.

But what does that mean for the kids who play by the rules? Who work tirelessly day in and day out to be the best artist, student and human they possibly can be in an honest way? What it means is this: you are going to rightfully earn your spot in a college program meant for YOU. You are going to KNOW that you have been admitted to your program because of the honest, hard work that YOU put in. The temptation to do whatever it takes to get into your “dream” program or your child’s dream program can be overwhelming, I hear you. But I encourage you, instead of looking for shortcuts, take the long way home. Improve your skills, use your resources, mentors and teachers to make a “you” that you are proud to showcase. When you do this, you’ll ultimately find the program that deserves you and that works for you.

And when you do find that special program that deserves you, you are going to care. You are going to care so deeply about your program and all that it has to offer because you know what it took to gain this coveted spot. You are going to get to class on time, soak in all that your professors give you and remain thankful for an opportunity that not everyone is lucky enough to have. You won’t ever take for granted the gift of being able to study what you love. You can’t buy gratitude.

If you can take anything away from this, try to turn the anger you have into sympathy for these students. Remind yourself that rejections make you stronger. Remind yourself that you are exactly where you need to be. Remind yourself that hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.

And if you are one of the brave ones, the honest, hardworking, humble ones – remind yourself most of all to give yourself a pat on the back and your parents a hug. You both deserve it.

Want more? Read the reaction from a college admissions leader passionate about higher education.

Hear from a college admissions leader on the recent bribery scandal.

Patrick Zylka
Assistant Dean for Admission, Financial Aid and Graduate Services
Henry and Leigh Bienen School of Music
Northwestern University

Like many who work in college admissions, I was deeply saddened by the recent news regarding the college advisory scheme. I find it troubling that individuals conspired in this way to cheat a system that I hold so dear. Because celebrities and other people of great wealth and influence are involved, there will be many scandalous newspaper headlines and breaking news alert graphics on cable news. But in all this I do not want the conversation on ethical admissions practices to be lost, nor the conversation that should – and must – occur between college applicants, their families, and professionals engaged to provide assistance in the college admissions process.

The vast majority of us who work in college admissions do so because we firmly believe that there is a perfect institution for each young person who wants to attend college. We see it our role to determine who in our applicant pool will fit best on our campus, thrive in the environment that we offer, and successfully navigate the requirements on their way towards graduation. There are no side doors or back doors – only front doors. There are no “spots” that belong to anyone in advance of the process. We look at each individual applying, and take great care in examining their strengths, while keeping in mind the overall class that we are aiming to enroll. This is critically important to the work that we do. We want our admitted applicants to know that they are being admitted on their own merits. We also want those not offered admission to know that we gave them fair and equal consideration in our process. This week’s news has made it more difficult for everyone in my field right before admissions decisions are to be released by many institutions.

In speaking with thousands, perhaps even tens of thousands, of high school students and their families about college admissions, there are a few themes that remain consistent over time. One of these themes is that all young people need to construct their own ranking of institutions. Colleges and universities are proud of their rankings, and indeed I work for one that is rightfully very proud of the international reputation that we have. But ultimately each individual applying to colleges must determine which institution is the best fit for them as an individual. Perhaps colleges with great name recognition. Perhaps colleges that you’ve never heard of before. By constructing this individualized and personal list, each young person is setting himself or herself up for a successful admissions experience.

I hope that there will be continued conversations on these and other related topics. College is meant to be one of the best times in one’s life – a time of learning, curiosity, growth, and discovery. It is my hope that this will continue to be true, and this will not be tarnished by a small percentage of individuals who have traded their integrity for an unfair advantage.  

Want more? Read the reaction from a college prep and audition coach dedicated to helping young artists.

Ten Generations of Songbook Academy Success –Are you next?

The Songbook Academy Summer Intensive logo
02/06/19

Ten Generations of Songbook Success – Are you next? Songbook Academy alums just like YOU share advice to consider this audition season! 

We’ve shared advice from industry professionals and university educators on selecting the right audition material and making that material your own, but there are some important members of the performing arts community who you haven’t yet heard from – your peers.  Get the inside scoop from the alums who have been in the same situation you find yourself right now – passionate about the Arts and ready to find the right program that can help you pursue your artistic ambitions.  From theatre, to film, to the chem lab, to the circus – these alums have “made it” in their own way, and are here to share just how they did so with you.

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Student Spotlight: Missouri Valley College Art Major Britny Fernandes

02/01/19

Student Spotlight: Missouri Valley College Art Major Britny Fernandes

ACCEPTD: Do you remember what exactly sparked your passion for Art? Was there a particular moment or person who inspired you?
BRITNY: I actually do remember the person and the moment exactly! I was in the first grade, and the whole school was participating in the same art project. My teacher was so impressed with my work as a first grader that she told me it stood out from all of the other students — even among the fifth graders! I’ll never forget that moment. She told me to stick with it and see how far Art could take me in life. In the back of my mind, I always remember that teacher telling me to hold onto my talent. Even when I wasn’t sure what I’d do with Art, her belief in me hit me hard and really stuck with me.

ACCEPTD: How have you grown as an artist since enrolling at Missouri Valley College?
BRITNY: Coming to MVC, I was on a soccer scholarship. But I knew that I wanted to pursue the Art Scholarship because it was what I was truly focused on and what I knew I wanted to do. The Art Director helped me fully dedicate myself to Art – connecting me with the art club, working in the art gallery, and helping me get the Art Scholarship. Now, I fully dedicate my time to the Art Department. I’ve learned so much as an artist, from meeting professional artists in the art gallery and having the opportunity to set up their artwork and talk to them personally. I’ve also learned so much from the professors. I guess I wasn’t expecting everything that I’ve learned and done to take flight in the way that it has. I’ve had my work showcased in museums, I’ve spoken in front of crowds about my work, and I owe all of that to MVC pushing me to this point. Every tiny detail of what I’ve learned here has helped me grow as an artist and pursue bigger things. I love the Art Department so much – I thank them every day for everything that they do.

ACCEPTD: What made you choose MVC?
BRITNY: Originally it was soccer, but I was also looking at the arts opportunities – I made sure to research the details of the classes within the Art Department. I wanted to know how big my classes would be, and I was very interested in the fact that there are so many options and different types of classes here, from ceramics, printmaking, 2D design, stagecraft, sculpture, and puppet design, the diversity of the class offerings was great and I knew I’d love it. I could tell from the moment I stepped on campus that Art was something they took seriously here and that the university encouraged creativity everywhere on campus. Art students are invited to paint murals around campus. I loved everything about it, down to the fact that the stairs squeak in the art building and that there’s student work displayed everywhere.

ACCEPTD: Give us a glimpse into a day in your life at MVC.
BRITNY: For me, Art starts as soon as I wake up. Everything I do is artistic, starting with getting ready for classes — I have a certain style with my hair and my clothes – I express my artistic talents through the way I dress, even the food that I eat and how I arrange it on my plate. In between classes, I take pictures of interesting details throughout my day, something as simple as tree bark can catch my eye, and I capture it in a photo. I spend as much time as I can working on my art projects. My friends know that if I’m not answering my phone, it’s because I’m in the studio. One thing I’ll never forget about my time in the studio here at MVC was the relationship I built with an employee who came to see me every day for about a month while I was working on a project. She didn’t even work on the same floor as the studio, but she took an interest in my Art and wanted to see the progress and final product.  When I go back to my residence hall for the evening, even my room looks like an art gallery – I’ve devoted a whole wall to art projects, and people come in every day to look at it.

ACCEPTD: What’s the best part about being an art major at MVC?
BRITNY:  In a word: expansion — the way I’ve expanded as an artist. In a phrase: personal growth — I’ve grown so much at this school in ways that I don’t think I would have anywhere else. The professors here are so close, and they get to know you and care about you as a person.

ACCEPTD: What would you tell a high school senior who’s considering attending MVC to major in Fine Arts?
BRITNY: I would tell them that coming here will open your mind — by your first year here, you’ll know exactly what you want to do in the future. MVC is determined to help students in any field. You may come here wondering “What am I going to do with Art?” – but I can guarantee you’ll figure it out with the help of your professors and the experiences you’ll gain in your classes. It’s not just about Art here – it’s love, it’s family. It’s more than academic growth – it’s leadership, growing as a person, learning how to manage time and public speak. If I could talk to them in person, they’d see my passion for this school right away.  

ACCEPTD: Where do you hope to be in 5 or 10 years, and how do you envision art being part of that?
BRITNY: Art is not going to be part of my life – it is going to BE my life. I’m going to be an Art Director – I hope to do movies, but I could also do shows, magazines, or business. I even took a class where the professor helped us figure out which cities are the best based on the field we’re pursuing. So even though I’d like to go to California, I know I’ll probably end up in Atlanta because Art Directing for film is really booming there.

So, my main focus is on Art Directing, but there are other things I want to do from there. I want to have my own creative team and my own Art Scholarship here at MVC. I know how the Art Scholarship has impacted my life, and the fact that someone made it possible for me to have this scholarship inspires me to make that happen for someone else. That’s my spark.

Learn more about Missouri Valley College

Careers in the Arts | Artist Spotlight: Matt Wolfe (Otterbein University, Columbus, OH)

01/07/19

By: Kelley Lauginiger

Matt Wolfe Q&A: Administrative Assistant and Coordinator of Recruiting and Advising at Otterbein Theatre and Dance, and Higher Education Liaison for the Ohio Thespians State Board

To understand a bit more about the art school admissions process, we talked to Matt Wolfe, Administrative Assistant and Coordinator of Recruiting and Advising at Otterbein Theatre and Dance. Matt also acts as the Higher Education Liaison for the Ohio Thespians State Board, and is an all-around wealth of information when it comes to studying musical theatre, dance, or anything related.

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Program Spotlight: West Chester University Music Alumnus Dr. Austin Glatthorn Q&A

West Chester University School of Music students playing as an orchestra
12/06/18

Program Spotlight: West Chester University Music 

Interview performed by Acceptd Marketing’s Amy Overturf and Larissa Bateman

Nestled in the heart of Pennsylvania’s Brandywine Valley, West Chester University is a picturesque and historic community that offers small-town charm with cosmopolitan flair due to its close proximity to Philadelphia. The West Chester University Wells School of Music offers students an opportunity to perform weekly under the direction of world-class teachers and musicians. With 16 undergraduate programs and over 24 ensembles to choose from, you can find your perfect fit.

This week, we sat down with WCU alumnus, Dr. Austin Glatthorn. Dr. Glatthorn graduated from WCU in 2011 with a B.M. in Music Education. From there, he pursued his Masters in Music and Ph.D. in Musicology from the University of Southampton in the United Kingdom. He currently serves as Assistant Professor of Musicology at the Oberlin College and Conservatory of Music.

Q&A with Dr. Glatthorn:

Acceptd:  How did you first discover your love of music? Were there early influences or experiences that shaped your path?
Dr. Glatthorn: To be honest, I don’t really know when it began or who put that seed in my head. I didn’t come from a particularly musical family, but one early memory I do have of classical music was when my father returned from a business trip and brought me a classical music CD. I loved it — I played it over and over again. It wasn’t music that he listened to, but it had a big impact on me. My parents were always supportive of my interest in music, but they didn’t push it.

I started playing saxophone in the third grade. I actually almost left music entirely in middle school because I wanted freedom from the stand and notes. That’s when I started playing guitar, and honestly, I think that saved my interest in music. I continued playing saxophone, and by high school, I was playing in more ensembles. I had the support I needed to take my interest in music to the next level. The teachers were able to guide my interest in music in a way that my parents couldn’t — they were unconditionally supportive but just didn’t have the training or knowledge to point me in the direction that my music teachers could. I was playing classical music and participated in the jazz band when I became interested in composition — I’m not a composer, but I wanted to know more about the building blocks of music.

Acceptd: Think back to when you were 18 and deciding where to study for your undergraduate program. What were some of the major factors that helped you choose West Chester?
Dr. Glatthorn: For me, the location of West Chester was ideal. It has somewhat of a small town feel to it while having all of the advantages that come with its proximity to Philadelphia. I loved the beautiful, historic campus, but perhaps most important of all was the quality of the facilities. I believe I was part of the first full class of students to enjoy the new Swope Music Building — it was great to know that I’d be spending the majority of my time in this innovative, aesthetically appealing building.

Additionally, the audition process at West Chester was phenomenal — it was intense like any audition, but the professors made it feel more like a lesson, which was great. Everyone seemed so friendly; the way the professors interacted with students made what is normally a very stressful situation feel much calmer. It was apparent to me right away that the professors were interested in you, not just as a potential student, but as a person. That made a big impression on me as a prospective student.

Acceptd: How would you describe your experience at West Chester? Were there any particularly important/special professors, groups, or activities that enriched your experience?
Dr. Glatthorn: In a word, I’d describe my experience at West Chester as “formative.” It allowed me to investigate things I wouldn’t have otherwise explored, largely because of the academic opportunities and the Applied Music faculty. I was involved in the Marching Band all four years and served as a student director in my final year, and that provided a sense of camaraderie, especially among the incoming freshmen.

One aspect I very much enjoyed about West Chester was how much music you heard all the time. Concerts, recitals, and performances by students and professors alike were always a source of inspiration for me to get into the practice room. This intense concert life also fueled my musicological interests – I constantly wanted to know more about what my peers and professors were playing, and I wanted to understand more about the historical periods in which those pieces were created.

I’m still in touch with many of the great professors who were so helpful in that formative period of my life. I keep in touch with them and, on occasion, seek out their advice. They were the kind of people who went out of their way to help you out, and that really impacted me.

Acceptd: How has your interest in music evolved over the years, from a Music Major at West Chester to a Musicology Professor at Oberlin?
Dr. Glatthorn: I started at West Chester as a saxophone player and Music Education major — I knew I wanted to teach. When It came time to decide what I wanted to do as a senior in high school, I had a hard time making up my mind between history and music.

I took a keen interest in Baroque Music, and it was only a matter of time before I switched instruments to oboe. I had been performing Baroque Music on saxophone and decided I would be better off playing it on an instrument the music was originally written for. This was a key moment for me — switching to oboe opened up the ensembles that were otherwise off-limits to me as a saxophonist. I joined the Chamber Winds, Orchestra, and of course, kept playing in the band.

As time went on, I became more and more interested in the repertoire of the Baroque era — I wanted to know more about the history behind the music, and as a senior at West Chester, I thought to myself “maybe there’s more to this.” I knew I was still passionate about teaching, but I didn’t want to sell myself short in terms of my interests. I wanted to explore the intersections between music and the world in which it was created. I love discovering how music reflects culture, and how culture gives rise to music. That’s when I decided to pursue musicology.

Acceptd: At Acceptd, we work to connect artists with opportunities and communities. Keeping that in mind — what advice would you give to a high school student choosing an undergraduate program? To an undergraduate student deciding on a specialty within music or on their next step as a musician, whether that be as a graduate student or professional?
Dr. Glatthorn: I’ve always thought it was a bit ridiculous, and certainly unnecessarily stressful, to try to decide what you want to do for the rest of your life when you’re 18 years old. I’d tell a high school student this instead: do what you want. Do what you enjoy, and always keep your options open. Your interests may change — be open to that change, and be open to trying new things. Try not to be too stressed about making a decision, because that decision isn’t final. Be sure to explore lots of different avenues – you may be pleasantly surprised.

Regardless of where you are in your journey as a musician, make sure you have a mentor who has had a successful career in the field that interests you. Ask them for advice, and do so often. If I can consider myself successful today, it’s because I’ve had great training and haven’t been afraid to ask for advice and have had mentors who were there to help.

For an undergraduate student, I’d say this: when it comes to your time at university, you get out of it what you put into it. Take advantage of all of the resources around you — both within your music department and outside of it. This is such a great time to learn many different things and make connections between music and the related arts. You’ll probably never be in such an intellectual and performative community again unless you decide to work in a college setting, so be active and take advantage of every single opportunity.

Click here to learn more about West Chester University’s School of Music.

Careers in the Arts | Artist Spotlight: Karina Rykman (New York, NY)

Karina Rykman
11/02/18

By: Kelley Lauginiger | All photos by Vic Brazen (@wnwmedia)

Staying Busy: A Key to Success in the Arts

At Acceptd, we’ve interviewed lots of artists over the past year or so. No matter their disciplines, everyone divulges a similar story when discussing their unique formula to success in the arts: you have to stay busy.

Strategically using all the time in the day to create culture they’re passionate about including touring the world performing live music, performing on stilts as part of a circus troupeteaching students to sing and perform, or writing and performing stand-up comedy, each craft requires dedicated, hard work. You can’t be lazy or expect anything to come to you if you want to be successful in the arts. Sure, you could make it a hobby or a part-time gig, but if you want it to be your life, you truly have to earn it.

Karina Rykman: Touring Bassist and Concert Promoter Extraordinaire

It’s fair to expect a high school student’s eyes to instinctively roll when given life tips from adults two to three times their age. But take it from someone who is 24, successful, and living her dreams: busy is key. Karina Rykman tours the country as a professional bassist with the eclectically talented keyboard and piano virtuoso, Marco Benevento’s band, while simultaneously booking NYC concert cruises from her tour-bus while out on the road.

“You get one life. One chance to do what it is you want to do,” Karina said about staying busy and working on simultaneous projects. “My main advice is kind of cliche but its true: follow your heart, do what you love. But, just don’t wait. Go do it now!”

Karina Rykman by WnW Media

Photo by Vic Brazen, @WnWMedia

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Standing Out and Taking Your Place in the Spotlight!

09/17/18 by Jeri Gaile

We all want to be accepted, loved, admired, popular….and the list could go on and on, right? We want to fit in with others and basically…be liked! It’s a ton of pressure to wake up every day and have to think about whether your clothes, hair, intelligence, talent, etc. will stand up against the judgy eyes of other kids. And that’s just if you’re a normal average teen! What if you’re a singer, dancer, artist, actor, or musician? How do you fit in with other students and at the same time, stand out?

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Musicians Institute: 7 Benefits of Going to College in L.A. for Music

08/28/18

Is the West Coast Best for You?

If the thought of going to school in Hollywood makes you (or your parents) feel excited, overwhelmed, or all of the above: have no fear! You’re not alone. Read on to learn why studying music in L.A. at Musicians Institute may be the best choice for you. Read more