This topic is extremely important as failing is not an option when it comes to your future!
Come up with a budget - This will mainly be a nice talk with your parents to discuss their budget. You need to understand their budget, see if you qualify for government grants or loans. ~ Honestly, try not to take out any loans. You do not want to begin your life in debt unless you have a solid plan on making money as soon as you exit college and even then I would reconsider. You also need to give thought to your loan payment along with living expenses. And remember, your parent’s budget also contains their living expenses along with yours and if you have siblings, their college goals as well. That is a lot of money!
Which school meets your budget - If you are planning on going to school full time, this is imperative. And do not feel horrible if your main school seems out of reach (for now). You can always transfer later on or obtain a graduate degree from that university. As a graduate student, you will more easily be able to work as a teaching assistant or researcher to help with your income. Your graduate degree will depend on what you have to offer the school you are planning on attending. So still work hard and create a plan so you can become the “seller” of your skillset not the “buyer” of a university.
Create your own mission statement - This is the easiest way to come to your conclusion of your major and even university decision. The more clear you are about your own goals, the easier it will be to create a plan to get there. So if you haven’t yet, write down where you want to be in 4 years. Write down what you enjoy doing and create a plan to make money and create a life around that. Figure out what do you need to do to create the life you want and then go out and get it.
Research which university matches your mission statement - Every university, college and conservatory has a mission statement. Get onto that website and check it out. Does this school honestly match your own mission statement? Want to find out a bit more about how a university works? Go onto their website and look at who funds the school. Where a college gets their funding will be the main way to look at what the university is all about. In other words, follow the money. Every university, college or conservatory is beholden to their funders. If those funders do not have your same values, I would not even consider attending that school under any circumstances. A university might seem to have a certain mission in mind but behind the scenes will be a different story if their funding comes from someone unscrupulous. Always remember, colleges are businesses.
For Musicians - find that teacher! Is this school primarily a soloist school or an orchestra school? Do they teach contemporary music, jazz, electronic music? Are they an orchestra musician or a soloist or do they work solely as a teacher/professor? Make certain that your next teacher will propel you forward and not just take your money for lessons.
Remember, you can always transfer if you do not get into your first initial pick. You can even transfer in the middle of the semester if you are not happy with your current situation. Here is an interview that I did with a college counselor that I feel is a game changer for everyone.
Feel free to take a listen. The entire interview is less than 30 minutes: https://www.facebook.com/100085308919726/videos/815889353589837
And remember, Failure is not an option! Contact me if you need help. Helping young musicians is what I do: firstname.lastname@example.org