You have so many factors to think about when deciding where to attend music school. One of the key questions is whether to commute to a local school or attend one outside your area.
There's no universally right or wrong answer to this question. The right answer for you is the right answer for you – and one best reached after careful consideration. Here's a list of pros and cons to going away to music school, rather than commute, to get you started.
Why going away to attend music school will be awesome!
Biggest pro of all: The world is your oyster.
Being willing to go away for music school means you can pick and choose from the widest choice of options to find the music schools that will best meet your aspirations. The chances that there's more than one music school commuter distance from where you live is low, unless you live in a major city. Even then, you'll still only have a few choices. When you can look globally, you can prioritize school decision factors like the prestige of the school, the faculty in your field of study, and their professional development programs.
Another pro related to your wide choice of music school options, is the increased chance you'll end up at a music school that draws most of its students from outside its local area. That means you'll enjoy a more diverse student body. Surrounded by peers from different states and countries, different musical and personal backgrounds can spark your own creativity. It also sets you up for a broader professional network that you can call on over the course of your career.
Leaving home for school also provides you the opportunity to step out of the well-worn role you have at home. Our families, friends, schools, and local communities all have their immutable ways of seeing us – especially if we've lived in the same place for a long time. Those mantles can be hard to shed in place. Moving to a new city where no one knows you gets you out of your comfort zone and lets you reframe your identity.
Last, leaving the nest will help you learn valuable life skills and foster independence. "Adulting" doesn't just happen anymore. If you want to get there faster, you're going to have to work for it.
Why commuting to music school from home can be the solid foundation that will let you soar
Biggest pro of commuting to music school: Lower, if no, student debt.
If you're attending your state's music school, your in-state tuition should be as low as tuition to music school will likely get. Even if the tuition fees of your local, private music school are comparable to those you'd pay at other private or out-of-state music schools, living expenses add up quickly. If you are committed to going away to music, there are ways to mitigate your costs. One option, albeit risky, may be to begin at your local music school, but then transfer later on.
The biggest con of going away to school: Feeling isolated from your best support network. You can, and should, take steps to build a support network in your city. Yet nothing is quite like family, and being far away from them can take its toll.
If you stay at home while in music school, the lack of financial burden coupled with benefiting from strong, unshakeable support, can free you to take advantage of any opportunity that comes after graduation.
Which school can help you reach your aspirations and what's the financial impact of attending?
This is really the crux of the decision-making process. When you create your shortlist of the best music schools for you, then you can start assessing the financial impact of attending each one compared to what they offer. You may even find your local music school will provide the best opportunity on its own merit.