We are the parents of a talented young violinist. She has been accepted to 5 colleges. Her top choices are NEC and Lamont at Denver University.
According to souces NEC is a high stress enviroment where she will be at the lower end of skilled students.
Lamont on the other hand, she will be one of the top violinists as a freshman.
What is your opinion?
I know nothing of either college (or, in fact, anything about any college regarding music), but I'd say that depends entirely on her personality and desires.
Being on the low end in a high pressure school will cause a certain type of personality to really ramp it up, and improve dramatically. It will cause others to collapse, losing all faith in themselves and a total loss of interest in whatever was causing the stress. If she's that type, she might very well drop out of college entirely, as well as violin, and if you forced her into it, you'd have a quite rocky relationship with her for a while. (Possibly a long while.)
On the flip side, being the best is not likely to improve her much, nor is she likely to be pushed by competition from her classmates. She'll enjoy it more, but probably not progress as far. (Depends on how self-driven she is.)
If she has never experienced fairly long term high stress, I'd recommend trying to create such a situation (with her knowledge and consent, of course) to find out. Some people thrive on it, some endure it, some fold or break under it.
If she has her heart set on a career as a violinist, she'll probably pick NEC. If that's one of many options, it might not be best. The best school for violin is not necessarily the best school, and if she ends up being anything except a professional violinist, the better school overall will be the better bet.
If she is considering (or out and out wanting) to be a profession violinist (in an orchestra - you don't need credentials to play in small bands, just play well enough), have her talk to some people doing that, and if possible sit and watch a rehearsal or three. From what I've heard, playing in an orchestra is not for everybody (I wouldn't like it even slightly), and she should know what she'd be getting into. It also pays the bills, but not much more. It's like most music. A few top talents rake in big bucks, most people make somewhere between a subsistence living and a modest one.
I was too young to go to the college of my choice, accepted for the following year - so I went to my 2nd choice, and was going to move after the first year. I thought it would so super easy but everyone there was so out of my league and I felt so small, after a few weeks I made some friends and the teachers were awesome.....taught me stuff I still use to this day. I did, luckily, graduate with honors and walk into a dream job.
My youngest daughter is off to college this year, she had 3 scholarship offers, she is going with the nearest one to our home, the same one her brother went to, we visited them all and she felt the people and the environment were more important than the name of the school.
It was not what I expected, I wanted the prestige of the big school and her degree with the schools name on it - but I know that she will flourish wherever she is, and make friendships that last a lifetime. She said she didn't want to feel pressured, she just wants to learn and feel comfortable, also knowing we can get there within a couple hours and that she can come home weekends if she wants.....and the dorm room they offered her at this one was amazing! (I personally think that was the decision making factor!).... funny how kids think different to us.
If she has been the best for a while in her studies, it might be time to let her have some competition... if she has worked her butt off, then give her the reward of being the best for a while. It is kinda like a reward after a long journey...besides other issues in college that are not music related can be stressful. I believe freshman college life should be challenging just only a little and then also a way for them to find a happy groove.
Vibrato Desperato.... Desperately seeking vibrato