it’s that time of year when college music teachers, at least those of who teach applied music, are in heavy recruiting mode. Yes, just like athletic coaches. I’ve just finished an hour and a half or so of calls to the cellists we’ve admitted this year. We have six majors continuing next year, and I’m hoping that we’ll enroll at least two. The official target here at DePauw (yes, music schools have enrollment targets) is eight majors, and two would bring us up to that number. (An all-undergraduate program, we are small by design.)
I used to feel very shy about calling–like a salesman. In recent years, I’ve found I look forward to it. I really like all the high school seniors we’ve admitted, and each of them would make a fine addition to the cello studio. I’d love for each of them to enroll, but if all of them did we’d be swamped with cello majors. I wouldn’t mind that, of course!
Why I look forward to the calls I make to admitted students is because I don’t feel I have to “sell” them anything. We have a great School of Music, and the question is more if we are the right school for that student. I want the students to know I am enthusiastic about them and enthusiastic about DePauw. The rest is up to them. And it’s, well, fun to talk to these bright and talented young people.
Universities are like airlines who overbook, knowing that not everyone shows up for a flight. We know we’ll “yield” a certain ratio of students, so we admit more than we actually want to enroll. How many students actually enroll depends on a variety of circumstances (merit scholarships, need-based financial-aid packages, etc., each student’s sense of fit with the institution, etc.). This year, the economy is a big factor. Whle DePauw’s a very expensive private school, but we’re well endowed, have raised tuition by less than originally planned, and continue to give generous merit scholarships. Sometimes a private school such as DePauw can end up costing less than a state school because of that.
Some years we (and I’m speaking about both the School of Music and the university as a whole) are surprised–fewer students enroll than we had expected, or a lot more do. To my thinking, too many is better than too few–but the people in housing services don’t always feel that way if they are scrambling to find places for everyone to sleep.
So we’ll see.