Gabrielle - Furman University - Class of 2014

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It is not every day that you open a letter telling you that you have a full ride. I felt welcome before I even signed a commitment letter!

As a music major, not only did I go through the application wringer, but I had to prepare audition material and then survive four high-stakes performances in front of the very professors who would decide my fate!

Hometown: Marietta GA

High School: Public

GPA: 3.95 / 4.26 (weighted)

SAT: 2150

ACT: 33

Major: Trumpet performance

Goal: Get into the best grad school possible



Furman University Attending
Indiana University Bloomington Denied
Northwestern UniversityDenied
University of Georgia (EA)Accepted
Yale UniversityDenied
Freshman Year Update

I am a naturally shy person, so I was slow to make friends when I first arrived. Finally, one of my bandmates told me he, too, had been shy and that I should loosen up. I took his advice and fell in with a wonderful group of friends. We get together to play cards and adventure through the dorms. We randomly write on people's whiteboards and pretend we are on missions. I feel like I fit in here better than I did in high school, and sometimes I don't want to go home.

At the beginning of the year, I was placed in the lowest band ensemble. At first I was torn apart inside, but then I decided it was simply time to get to work. After the most recent audition, I was placed in the middle of the top ensemble. I obviously have improved a lot over the year, which makes me very happy.

Sophomore Year Update

My health was an issue this year. I ended up having ankle surgery. Luckily, the band directors found a place for me in the orchestra pit, so I didn't have to march in the marching band and could maintain my scholarship. I also discovered I had depression, and treatment has greatly improved my quality of life. As for my studies, I am continuing in music history, so I am taking German. I love the language and am excelling at it. As for the future, I am excited to report that I will be among 14 students studying in Arezzo, Italy, next fall!

Senior Year Update

I am graduating in May and will walk with honors. Thanks to careful planning, I was able to take fewer classes this year and spend more time with my friends before we scatter across the country. This is something I highly suggest doing if possible.

After graduation, I am moving to Boston to be a Ph.D. candidate in musicology at Brandeis University, and I cannot wait! At this point, I wouldn't change anything about my college experience. I found out about Furman because a friend went here. I applied on a whim, but it turned out that this is where I was meant to be.

Northwestern breaks my heart, then Furman wins it

Although every school I applied to had a top trumpet program, I had been planning on attending Northwestern for my entire high school career. It has the best trumpet studio in the world. At my audition I thought I had succeeded. I had even received a compliment from one of its best teachers. When I received the e-mail with a link to the denial, I believed it was simply a mistake. They had sent me the wrong link! When the letter arrived confirming the denial, my feeling of heartbreak was overwhelming. For a few days, I floated about in agony over where I would go. I called up my trumpet teacher, and she reminded me that I had two schools who had accepted me academically and musically. She gave me a much-needed pep talk.

What really brought me out of the slump was receiving my financial aid letter from Furman. It is not every day that you open a letter telling you that you have a full ride! Here was a college that really wanted me. Then the Furman trumpet teacher e-mailed me asking if I had made my decision. I felt welcome before I had even signed a commitment letter!

I have visited Furman three times since my audition and I cannot wait to be a member of the trumpet studio in the fall. I will be in marching band as part of my scholarship. That means I get to arrive on campus early, set up my room, and start making friends during band camp!

You are majoring in ... trumpet?

It might seem odd to go to college in order to study trumpet performance. In fact, I almost chose to go in a math or science direction a few years ago. However, I have felt more comfortable in music than anything else since I was in elementary school. Of course, few people get spots in professional music groups. I do hope to continue a career in music, possibly as a college professor. But I am toying with the idea of obtaining a second degree in an academic field such as neuroscience or music history.

Hopefully by the end of my four years I will understand better what I am meant to do. If not, I will simply wing it, as if I am sight-reading a new music piece where I do not understand half the rhythms on the page. It seems every time I plan my life, something happens, so I might as well improvise and see where the path leads.

My ups and downs

There were times I was so stressed I wanted to cry. Audition dates crept up on me quickly. A week before my audition at Northwestern, I had only prepared two pieces. I will admit, on most days I was a nervous wreck. I was taking a very rigorous academic course load as well as traveling to these auditions. As soon as the auditions were over, I could not focus one bit. I wanted to know the results instantly, even though I feared what I might hear!

What I learned

Musicians! Keep those GPAs and test scores high! Some of the best music schools are located in highly academic colleges. Yale and Northwestern are top universities with world-class music programs. Before you can be accepted to a university for music, you must also be accepted into the school academically.

The money factor

We are not taking loans. My EFC is low and the money I get from my job will help cover spending money. On top of that, I am participating in work-study to help save some money.

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