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May 28, 2020

Is Dropping Orchestra Okay?

Question: I was in the Honors Orchestra at my school freshman year, but am not sure I am interested in continuing for the rest of high school. How important is it for college admissions that I stick with orchestra for all four years? Though I am a good musician, I am by no means outstanding and probably would not be participating in programs such as the All-County Honors Orchestra.


It's not at all important that you stick with orchestra. Colleges just want to see that you have interests (or, better yet, passions) outside of the classroom, but it matters little what they are. In fact, the top schools tend to have tons of applicants who list orchestra high on their lists of extracurricular activities, and thus admission folks actually welcome more uncommon pursuits. So, don't feel guilty about bailing on your musical career but do find something meaningful to do with the time you free up.

Written by

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone knows the competitive and often convoluted college admission process inside out: From the first time the topic of college comes up at the dinner table until the last duffel bag is unloaded on a dorm room floor. She is the co-author of Panicked Parents' Guide to College Admissions; The Transfer Student's Guide to Changing Colleges and The International Student's Guide to Going to College in America. Sally has appeared on NBC's Today program and has been quoted in countless publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Weekend, USA Today, U.S. News & World Report, Newsweek, People and Seventeen. Sally has viewed the admissions world from many angles: As a Smith College admission counselor for 15 years, an independent college counselor serving students from a wide range of backgrounds and the author of College Confidential's "Ask the Dean" column. She also taught language arts, social studies, study skills and test preparation in 10 schools, including American international schools in London, Paris, Geneva, Athens and Tel Aviv. As senior advisor to College Confidential since 2002, Sally has helped hundreds of students and parents navigate the college admissions maze. In 2008, she co-founded College Karma, a private college consulting firm, with her College Confidential colleague Dave Berry, and she continues to serve as a College Confidential advisor. Sally and her husband, Chris Petrides, became first-time parents in 1997 at the ripe-old age of 45. So Sally was nearly an official senior citizen when her son Jack began the college selection process, and when she was finally able to practice what she had preached for more than three decades.

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