Can Allyson Get There From Here?

by Judge Josh on October 13, 2014

Judge Josh,

I read your column pretty much religiously. You give great advice, and you’re entertaining!

Awww, shucks…thanks!

Here’s my dilemma: I am a 20 year old junior going to a state school in New York. I started college at a community college on the other end of the county, and graduated there this past May with an A.S. in Fine Arts – Music. Music has been a passion of mine since I was 11 years old, and I always dreamed of being a chorus teacher, like the woman who inspired me to fall in love with music in the first place.

Awesome – go after what you love to do!

However, When I lined up auditions at my dream school, as well as two other backup schools only 3 1/2 months before graduation, I was rejected…from all three. I has devastated and heartbroken, because music is the only thing I’ve ever loved. When I called my first choice school to see if they would re-evaluate my application for acceptance, they insisted I declare a major right then and there. I had no idea what to say. It’s not like I’d had 8 years to think about a second choice liek I had to think about my first. On the spot, the only thing that popped into my head was the only other class I was enjoying at the time: Psychology. Two weeks later, I was accepted as a Psychology major, and now…here I am.

I guess I’m a bit confused as to why you just didn’t say “music” when they asked you to declare a major?  And why couldn’t you just change your major once you were enrolled?  Is it a school rule or something?

No matter now I guess, I was just curious.

I’m still enjoying Psychology, and I think it is a good fit for me, but now I’m required to declare a minor. Logically, I’m considering minoring in music because…well, I have a lot of experience, and a LOT of transfer credits. But I have NO idea what I want to do with my degree when I graduate. I’ve been forced into a new path in a matter of months, and I haven’t had time to really consider what I’d do with a B.A. in Psychology with a minor in Music. I had considered music therapy, but that is a specific degree program at my school, and one that requires an audition. I can’t face any more rejections. The first one was bad enough. Do you have any career suggestions for me? I’m really feeling the pressure to decide, and I don’t have a lot of time left. What would you do? – Allyson

Well, the first thing I would do is take the audition.  You’re gonna have to get used to rejection if you want to get anywhere.  I know it sucks – I’ve been rejected numerous times in numerous walks of life, and it stings just the same each time.  But it’s a part of life, and the sooner you learn to deal with it, the better.

But let’s assume you get rejected again, or choose not to take the audition – can you get a double major from your school?  Maybe now that you’ve proven to be a good student, you could ask if you could double up and add that music major?

I also did a little research and read that it’s now possible to get into the career of music therapy without a music therapy (or even a music) degree.  Most AMTA (American Music Therapy Association) accredited schools have a music therapy equivalency program, in which people who have bachelor’s degrees in other fields can take the coursework and clinical training to meet the requirements, and then they can sit for the board exam.  Check with your school – this could be your way into a career in music therapy.

What do you all think?  What should Allyson do with herself, now that she finds herself in this unusual situation?  Let us know!

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Belinda October 13, 2014 at 11:23 am

I agree that Allyson should take the audition but she should also try to get some feedback on where she can improve before she does. Maybe she can email the department chair or another music department professor whose background she admires, explain her situation, and ask for tips on how she can make herself a more competitive applicant. She might even get lucky and gain a mentor. Information on department professors’ academic and professional background is usually available on the university website. She should try to find a professor with a specialization in the area I music she performs in.

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Judge Josh October 14, 2014 at 8:57 am

Good advice, Belinda – I completely agree!

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Allyson November 6, 2014 at 9:33 pm

I was so surprised to see this posted on your site since I wrote it about 4 years ago. I guess I wasn’t really clear. I had to declare a new major because I was rejected as a music major after my auditions. But it meant that I was rejected from the college altogether. I couldn’t declare my major as music because that was the major I wasn’t accepted to in the first place.
My story actually has a strange but happy ending. I did wind up declaring music as my minor (since you don’t need to audition for the music school to minor in music). But it turns out that psychology wasn’t the right major for me either and I wound up switching my major to English in the fall semester of what would have been my senior year of college. I wound up graduating with a B.A. In English in May of 2013–a year later than I originally planned to graduate from college.
Choosing English was the best choice I made for myself, because for the first time since I was 19 years old, I felt truely at home in a classroom. I am thankful every day that the road I was on took a sudden and unexpected turn in March of 2010. I wouldn’t change a thing.

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