Category: General

Exploring Non-Faculty Careers in Higher Education

When we think of colleges and universities, our minds often gravitate toward faculty members—the professors who impart knowledge in lecture halls. However, behind the scenes, a diverse array of professionals contributes to the smooth functioning of these institutions. If you enjoy the college environment and are considering working in one, here are just some common non-faculty positions with insights into their significance, educational requirements, and career prospects.

Admissions Counselors

Admissions counselors serve as the welcoming face of an institution. They engage with prospective students, evaluate applications, and conduct interviews. Their goal? To attract the best-fit candidates and ensure a vibrant student body.

Most admissions counselors hold a bachelor’s degree, although some institutions prefer candidates with a master’s degree. A background in fields like education, communication, or psychology is valuable.

As colleges compete for enrollment, the demand for skilled admissions professionals remains steady. Their ability to connect with students directly impacts an institution’s success.

Student Affairs Professionals

Student affairs professionals focus on enhancing the overall student experience. They oversee residence halls, student organizations, and campus events. Their work revolves around student well-being, engagement, and personal growth.

A master’s degree in student affairs, counseling, or a related field is common. These professionals often collaborate with faculty, staff, and students to create a supportive environment.

As colleges prioritize holistic student development, student affairs roles continue to be in demand. These professionals play a pivotal role in shaping campus culture.

Development Officers

Development officers are the financial architects of higher education. They cultivate relationships with donors, alumni, and corporations to secure funding for scholarships, research, and infrastructure projects.

While a bachelor’s degree is essential, specialized training in fundraising techniques can enhance career prospects. Some development officers hold advanced degrees or certifications.

As institutions seek resources to thrive, skilled fundraisers remain indispensable. Their ability to connect philanthropy with institutional goals is crucial.

Financial Aid Advisors

Financial aid advisors guide students through the labyrinth of financial assistance. They help students access grants, loans, and scholarships, ensuring that financial barriers don’t hinder educational pursuits.

A bachelor’s degree is typical, often in fields like finance, counseling, or education. Strong communication skills are essential for explaining complex financial concepts to students.

With rising college costs, financial aid advisors play a critical role in making education accessible. Their expertise bridges the gap between aspiration and affordability.

Career Counselors

Career Counselors empower students for life beyond graduation. They provide career counseling, organize workshops, and connect students with employers. Their mission? To foster successful transitions from academia to the workforce.

A bachelor’s degree is common, but some institutions prefer master’s degrees in counseling or career development. These professionals stay abreast of industry trends and job market dynamics.

Career Outlook: As students increasingly prioritize career readiness, career center services remain in high demand. Career Center staff bridge the gap between theory and practice.

Registrar Staff

Registrars are the guardians of academic records. They manage course registration, transcripts, and academic policies. Their meticulous work ensures compliance with regulations and supports student progress.

A bachelor’s degree is usually required, and some positions may necessitate a master’s degree. Attention to detail and organizational skills are paramount.

Steady demand exists due to ongoing administrative needs. Registrars contribute to the academic backbone of an institution.

Academic Advisors

Academic advisors guide students on their educational journey. They assist with course selection, degree planning, and academic success strategies. Their personalized support keeps students on track toward graduation.

A bachelor’s degree is common, often in fields related to education or counseling. Some institutions prefer advisors with master’s degrees.

As colleges focus on student retention and timely graduation, academic advisors remain essential. Their mentorship shapes students’ academic experiences.

Remember that these non-faculty roles collectively shape the fabric of higher education. Whether you’re drawn to admissions, student life, or fundraising, there’s a rewarding career path waiting for you within these vital functions.


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The Art of Auditioning (Part II)

By Abby Atwater ’19


 It’s audition time! I hope my last article provided some valuable information on preparing for the audition. Now the audition is nearing and it is time to really buckle down. This post will focus on the actual audition as well as some additional non-musical preparation and well-being that may not always be taken into consideration as much as the musical aspects.


Plan Ahead

 Unless it is in a nearby city that you can very easily travel to and from, arrive to the audition city at least one night before the audition. Travelling the day of is quite risky and many auditions will often start rather early in the morning so this just wouldn’t be entirely practical. Remember to pack appropriate clothing, audition materials, money for food, and, of course, your instrument! See if you have a chance to play in the audition space the night before to get an idea for acoustics and make sure everything is sounding good. Realize that you may be spending a full day taking auditions if you advance so remain near the vicinity and don’t plan on leaving until later that night or the next day.

Make sure your instrument is in top playing condition

 A few weeks or maybe a month before the audition, take your instrument in for a tune up. Make sure it’s well oiled, keys and pads are in good shape, and there aren’t damages that could hinder your ability to play well.

Come prepared with repair tools, extra reeds, rosin, etc…

 I don’t want to caution anyone to “expect the worst” when it comes to auditioning, but come prepared with tools and materials in case things do go wrong mechanically. Bring screwdrivers, cork grease, extra reeds (new/unopened and old ones that might work better in a different environment), rosin, valve oil, reed working tools- whatever you may need. A lot could potentially go wrong while traveling and a malfunctioning instrument is one stressor nobody wants to deal with.

Try to stay healthy

 Make sure to take time for yourself and be well-rested for your audition. Get a good night’s sleep, drink lots of water, and eat good foods: bananas help calm nerves, carbs are good to provide energy, and try to avoid greasy, dense food that might not sit well. Possibly take some time between warming up and the audition to meditate or go on a short walk. Try to keep yourself as healthy as you can leading up to the audition. You don’t have complete control over how your immune system functions so it may be a challenge to overcome an illness to deliver a great audition, but try your best and just don’t push yourself too hard.

Warm up the day of

 Although it is tempting to want to show up to the site of your audition on the day of and just run through all your excerpts, this is not an effective way to prepare yourself. Spend time with a meaningful, complete warm up consisting of long tones, scales, thirds, arpeggios, extended range, and articulations exercises. This will help to prepare you both mentally and physically. I have been told numerous times that “it is never too late for slow practice” so spend time slow practicing spots in some of the excerpts and do not just run them carelessly.Dress Properly

 Even though you are behind a screen, you should be dressed as if you are attending an interview. If you win the position, later that day you will probably meet the audition committee and/or the music director so be dressed to impress. Another important, but unfortunate note: do not wear heels. Although orchestras have progressed a lot in this aspect, hearing heels walk into the room can indicate to the audition committee that a woman is about to audition and there can still be some bias held in this field. It is sad to admit this is still a concern today and that the shoes you wear could influence the committee as much as your actual audition does, but wearing flats or even going in barefoot would be the recommended way to go.


Talk behind the screen!

 Similar to the dilemma with wearing heels, you don’t want to give anything away about yourself from behind the screen. Talking and even sneezing or coughing can be a giveaway about your gender. The audition committee uses the blind auditioning process to conceal your identity as best as possible and to not create any bias so your playing is all that they have to consider. Abide to the no speaking rule and only communicate very softly or nonverbally if absolutely necessary to the proctor that will likely be behind the screen with you.

Overdo it the day of/before the audition

 Definitely make sure to warm up and have your chops in good playing condition, but don’t practice 5 hours the day before your audition. You will be exhausted plus you don’t want to psych yourself out with a lengthy practice session.

Be intimidated hearing others warming up

 The day of the audition (and even the night before when staying at your hotel), there is going to be an abundance of very talented musicians present. Sometimes what you hear behind closed doors is not actually as impressive as what you hear in person. You can hear someone play the runs in the cadenza from Dances of Galanta at a wickedly fast speed and doubt yourself for playing it at a slower or more standard tempo, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that musician is any better especially if there is a lack of musicality behind the playing (see my next point about this).

Expect to play a “perfect” audition

 There is no such thing as “perfection” so don’t expect your audition to be perfect. Play the best you can with good rhythm, pitch, and expression. Even if you feel like you messed something up and it wasn’t the best audition you have had, the audition committee might not have even noticed or are impressed and see something in you. This might be the audition you end up winning!

Be defeated and give up if you don’t win the position

 I have heard from so many musicians that it can take 20-30 auditions before landing an orchestral job. You are bound to face rejection while auditioning and it is completely OK. It doesn’t mean you are a bad musician or that you will never land a job so be persistent. Even if at first you don’t succeed, one day you could be playing on a famous stage like those in Carnegie Hall or the Musikverein.

 Consider auditions to be the musician’s equivalent of an interview: you’re displaying your talents in an attempt to impress a selection committee and a great deal of preparation goes into it. The only thing that’s really different is the fact that all the “speaking” is done through your instrument and not verbally. Being a good musician is one thing, but knowing how to nail an audition is a skill of its own.

Feel free to check out some of these other helpful links from musicians who have won orchestral jobs!:






The Art of Auditioning (Part 1)

By Abby Atwater ’19


 Are you an instrumentalist interested in performing in an orchestra one day? Perhaps the Chicago Symphony, or maybe you would like to play in the pit of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra. I aspire to be a professional clarinetist and play in an ensemble like one of these one day. At the moment, I can’t say exactly who/where/what it will be- orchestra, wind band, opera, ballet, chamber ensemble- but I am very determined to succeed in this field. No matter what kind of ensemble, there is always one generally despised process to go through before securing the job: the audition.

 In the past few years, I have become very fascinated with learning about the “art” of auditioning and I would like to share some of that with you. In these two posts, I have compiled a list of the “dos” and “don’ts” when it comes to taking a professional audition that should help improve your chances of landing that esteemed position you are aiming for. This first post will focus on the process throughout the weeks and months leading up to the audition while studying and refining the audition material. The second post will discuss the week or so immediately before the audition, the audition itself, and the audition results.


Turn in a polished, high-quality resume and cover letter

 Many orchestras will require a resume and/or cover letter for you to even be invited to audition. Include performance-specific experience and awards on top of your resume to highlight your musical accomplishments. In the cover letter, explain why you want this position, what you know about it, and why you believe you are well-qualified. Make sure to have an extra set of eyes read over these before submitting them.

Rhythm, intonation, articulation, and tone are everything!

 Really nailing these four aspects of playing are vital in an audition. Practice a ton with a tuner and metronome. Use a drone to tune intervals especially in more lyrical passages where tuning can be most tricky. Make sure to know your tuning tendencies in general and be able to make proper adjustments on the go. Also, tuning varies for ensembles usually between A=440-442 so tune to whatever that orchestra tunes to. When practicing with a metronome, use a variety of subdivisions. For pieces that have contrasting accompanimental rhythms from your own part, like the bassoon eighth notes in the first movement of Beethoven 6 or the cello triplets in the third movement of Beethoven 8, have those rhythms clicking to imitate the orchestra playing. When playing in the actual audition, take time before each excerpt to really internalize pulse and know what is going on in the music. Practice slowly and be very attentive to all aspects of your playing. Record yourself and keep a chart/take notes about practice sessions so you don’t forget what you worked on or need to improve on for next time.

Make sure you have ALL the excerpts prepared and practice in different orders

 Double and triple check the audition requirements to make sure you are preparing all the right works and the specific excerpts they ask for (you don’t want to end up having to do some spontaneous sight-reading at the audition). When practicing and running through all the excerpts, switch up the order in which you play them since you likely won’t know the exact order the committee will ask for the excerpts to be played in. I am not sure if it works this way in most professional auditions, but I have had various auditions where I got to choose the order I play my excerpts. If this occurs, start with your best one to give a strong first impression and make sure to end with another that is also quite strong so you can both start and end on a good note ♫ (got to throw in some musical humor here).

Research the orchestra you’re applying for

 Orchestras around the world have drastically different sounds from one another and their conductors take many different approaches to the music. The Philadelphia Orchestra sounds very different from the Los Angeles Philharmonic which is also remarkably different from orchestras across the sea such as the Berlin Philharmonic or London Symphony. Attend concerts and/or listen to recordings of the orchestra you are applying for to get an idea of the sound they are looking for especially from the other musicians currently in the orchestra who play your instrument. Also get familiar with the kind of repertoire the orchestra tends to program or perform frequently to get an idea of what you are in for.

Play in front of others, take lessons, and receive advice on the material

 It is always good to have feedback from other people especially other musicians that might be in the same boat as you preparing for auditions. Get some family and friends together to play through your audition repertoire (blind or not) to get some feedback, get yourself out of practice mode and into performance mode, and calm your nerves. Take lessons from other professionals who have gone through this process. It is definitely beneficial to study with someone who plays in an orchestra and it is especially helpful to study with someone who has recently (I would say in the last five years or so) won an orchestral job. Since the art of auditioning has changed over time, it is good to hear from someone who has experience winning a modern-day audition.

Mental practice

 Sometimes you don’t always need to physically practice with your instrument to get a lot accomplished. Set aside some time to mentally practice/ practice parts of the music away from your instrument: score study, sing the music to yourself, or vividly imagine yourself performing. These can all be effective ways to be purposefully thinking about the music in a less strenuous way than playing it (this is also great to do to spend time while traveling).


Only know the excerpts

 It is important that you know the full works for the excerpts you are playing and not just those 20 or so bars of the piece you are required to play. Members of audition committees will be able to tell if you know them- at my ensemble audition this year, one faculty member actually thanked me for knowing the full works just based on what he heard from my excerpts so that was a pretty proud moment for me! Also be familiar with when you are melody or accompaniment and what other instruments play during the excerpts: know that second clarinet and bassoons are also playing in the second movement of Brahms 3 and that flutes have the melody in the beginning of the Mendelssohn Scherzo, not first clarinet. Listen to a variety of recordings and even try to look up master classes for each excerpt to get a better understanding for interpretation.

Forget to play musically

While you should be particularly concerned about playing with very precise rhythms, pitch, and dynamics, be sure to play expressively and musically. This can be a determining aspect when it comes down to selecting between players that play these other elements wonderfully. When you are practicing, try recording yourself once playing the excerpts rather conservatory, adhering to all the “rules” of the music. Then challenge yourself to take some risks with the music, but still keep it contained and nail the essential aspects. Exaggerate dynamics, spin the long notes, and try different tempi. Be prepared for the committee to ask you to change something and demonstrate your flexibility on the spot at the audition!

Put off practicing to the last minute

 There are dozens of commonly asked for excerpts in nearly all auditions, excerpts you will be working on for essentially your entire life. Don’t take for granted the fact that you know these excerpts well and can pull them off with just a week or two of practicing them. Start (re)learning them as soon as you find out the audition requirements- I would recommend at least eight to ten weeks in advance. Try to approach each excerpt like it’s your first time working on it: listen to a variety of recordings to get an idea for style/tempi and break it down to its basics with slow practice and thorough tuner/metronome work.

Fail to understand theory and history of the pieces

Do some research on your pieces to know historical events at the time they were written, backgrounds of the composers, and any other relevant information. This information as well as being familiar with other works by the composers and their contemporaries can highly influence the ways they are played. Also, have a general understanding behind some music theory aspects of the music. A full harmonic analysis probably isn’t necessary, but at least have an idea when chords are changing and the importance of what scale degree you play.

Professional Music Organizations

Americana Music Association (AMA)

American Bandmasters Association

American Choral Directors Association (ACDA)

American Composers Alliance (ACA)

American Composers Forum

American Guild of Musical Arts (AGMA)

American Guild of Organists

American Harp Society

American Musicological Society

American Pianists Association

American Recorder Society (ARS)

American Viola Society (AVS)

Associated Chamber Music Players (ACMP)

Association of Concert Bands


College Band Directors National Association (CBDNA)

College Orchestra Directors Association (CODA)

Conductors Guild

Drum Corps International

Early Music America

El Sistema

International Alliance for Women in Music

International Clarinet Association (ICA)

International Double Reed Society (IDRS)

International Horn Society

International Society of Bassists (ISB)

International Society for Contemporary Music (ISCM)

International Society for the Performing Arts (ISPA)

International Trombone Association (ITA)

International Trumpet Guild (ITG)

International Tuba and Euphonium Association (ITEA)

Internet Cello Society

League of American Orchestras

Music Teachers national Association (MTNA)

National Association of Church Musicians

National Association of College Wind and Percussion Instructors                                             

National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS)

National Band Association 

National Endowment for the Arts (NEA)

National Federation of Music Clubs

National Flute Association (NFA)

National Opera Association

National Piano Foundation                                

North American Saxophone Alliance (NASA)

Percussive Arts Society

Society of Composers

Suzuki Violin

United Sound

Violin Society of America (VSA)

World Flute Society

Wisconsin Music Educators Association (WMEA)

World Association for Symphonic Bands and Ensembles (WASBE)

Grad school degree options for artists of all types

For those interested in the Visual & Performing Arts, graduate school may be something to consider. Whether you are pursuing studio art, film, theater or music there are two main degree programs you can think about considering; The Master of Fine Arts (MFA) and the Master of Arts (MA). Whereas with music, one often pursues a Master of Music (MM). Each degree can be further categorized depending on your area of interest. For example, if you’re pursuing Film you can pursue an MFA or MA in Filmmaking, Visual Arts can receive a MFA or MA in Visual Arts, Music Education can receive an MM in Music Education, etc. However, what are the big differences between these degree programs? 

Let’s start with the Master of Fine Arts. The MFA is often more rigorous than the MA program since it offers much more hands-on course work. This is because the MFA program is often thought of as terminal, or as the last degree someone earns for their career. The MFA often takes 2-3 years to complete. 

The Master of Arts on the other hand is a little less rigorous when it comes to hands-on course work. The degree program can be completed in 2 years, and often features more seminars and is much more academic in design. Unlike the MFA, the MA is often not terminal. This means it is used as a stepping-stone to achieve high degrees, such as a Doctorate.  

The Master of Music is the main Masters degree for those studying Music Education, Performance, Composition etc. There are of course MA programs for those interested in pursuing music as well, but it is often designed to have a broad overlook of the topic of music rather than specializing in just one area like the MM programs. 

Want to know more about an MFA, MA, of MM in your career path? Check out these sources below:  

By Marissa Lake ’22. I am a sophomore Vocal Performance major. I am also the curator for the #ECE and #VPA Career Communities. I love performing as well as music education, and I hope to one day become an established vocalist.

Grad School for Social Work

All positions in Social Work require at least a Bachelor’s Degree. However, many positions often require higher degrees in order to achieve them.  

For those interested in Social Work there is one main Master’s degree one can pursue; the Master’s of Social Work (MSW). Almost all social worker positions require at least a Bachelors, however, if you wish to become a licensed clinical social worker you must also have an MSW.  

There are also two Doctorates one can pursue in the area of Social Work. These are the Doctor of Social Work (DSW) and the Doctor of Philosophy in Social Work (PhD). The DSW is beneficial for those wishing to continue their education as a clinical social worker in hopes of become agency heads and other positions of administration, whereas the PhD is for those considering being educators in social work.

Want to know more? Check out these sources below:

Do I Need a Masters Degree to be a Social Worker? (via)

Should I pursue a Ph.D in Social Work? (via)

By Marissa Lake ’22. I am a sophomore Vocal Performance major. I am also the curator for the #ECE and #VPA Career Communities. I love performing as well as music education, and I hope to one day become an established vocalist.