More Con Applicants Accept Admission Than Ever
The Oberlin Conservatory has been spreading itself thin recently: Winter Term 2006 saw the Oberlin Orchestra complete a successful concert tour in China and Winter Term 2007 saw an outstanding Carnegie Hall performance. In addition, plans for the jazz building have been creating a buzz both on and off campus. This fall is no different: The Conservatory’s entering student body of 173 is “larger than we anticipated,” according to Director of Conservatory Admissions Michael Manderen, OC ’76. More students than expected accepted the institution’s invitation to enroll.
“We had a historic all-time high this year,” Manderen said of the increased number of applications.
The Conservatory received a record of 1,403 applications this year, showing a significant increase of approximately 200 since last year. While the number of applications has been steadily growing, this is the most notable and largest change in recent years. This may in part be due to Generation Y, also known as Echo Boom, terms which refer to the generation born between the late 1980s and the early 1990s. For the first time since 1964, the number of live births reached over four million in one year during that period. Now, Generation Y has grown up, and its population peak is going to college.
For prospective students, however, a higher number of applications makes for heftier competition. It becomes more and more difficult to stand out from the crowd. According to Manderen, this year is “the most selective we’ve ever been.”
Or Oberlin may simply be climbing even higher among the ranks in the international music scene, drawing in more hopeful musicians.
“Oberlin has always been visible…in the national and international stage…[it] is at the top of the musical food chain,” said Manderen.
With Conservatory alumni constantly making headlines with their active endeavors — just last spring, new-music group eighth blackbird (lowercase lettering intentional; the group takes its name from the poem “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird” by Wallace Stevens) was praised in Gramophone magazine, and tenor Alek Shrader, OC ’07, won the 2007 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions in New York — the institution has further established itself in the public eye as a top-notch training facility for aspiring professional musicians.
The number of international students has also increased, with more and more coming from China. This comes as no surprise, since the Conservatory has been strengthening its relationship with China for years now. In fact, auditions were held in Beijing for the first time this past year.
Some changes were made to accommodate the unusually large class, such as the shuffling of music theory classes. The Conservatory mandates that all students enroll in music theory courses, although each major may have slightly different requirements as students advance. Some private studios have also gained in numbers. Despite an increase in the number of students, the high level of education offered in the Conservatory is likely to be maintained this year.