I have to be honest with myself. Belmont was the first school I considered and was the only school to which I applied. I was accepted at the beginning of my senior year of high school and, with relief at hand, enrolled and never looked back...until october my freshman year. I regret more than anything else not exploring my options. I can from an incredible environment and had many other schools (read NYU, UC Berkley, USC, Davidson, U Chicago) looking to get my attention. I was set on going to a music city which limits your choices to LA, NYC and Nash. Of the schools I considered, Belmont was the absolute easiest to get into. If nothing else, know that the acceptance rate is close to 80%. Your large state university is more selective than that.
As someone who quickly realized my dissatisfaction, I should have gotten out that freshman year. But Belmont has a funny way of making you feel both secure and scarred. The attitude I've oat run into is one of pride and resistance. The student body generally believes that they are going to a world-class school. When I think of world-class, I think at the level of Vanderbilt right down the road, University of Virginia, Carnegie-Mellon, and up, not a regional private university. But it has the local reputation of a fabulous institution, which it is for some people. For most people, this was their reach school, and it earns a place of respect from them for getting in to the school. But you also feel the fear that comes with transferring because you feel that pride from the student body as a whole and wonder if leaving is better.
I realized mid last semester (sophomore year) that I do not want to work in the music industry anymore. This realization substantially deflated the value of Belmont. This place does provide a lot of great opportunities to work in the music industry, and LA people are starting to move to Nashville. In 5 years, wouldn't be surprised to see Nashville on par with LA, musically speaking. Nashville already has the most studio musicians and hours in the world. That new Beyonce album, most of the tracks were recorded in Nashville. So don't get fooled into thinking Nashville is all about country. It's growing, and if you want to work in not-country, don't come here yet. The only other powerful scene as of today is the indie-scene,and my god is it potent. You wonder where the hell all the hipsters come from and why they don't leave. They are either part of an indie group, or three or four as is more likely, or are attracted to the atmosphere the indie music creates.
So how easy is it to make good connections with Belmont students. This was my number on question when I enrolled. It's not that hard. I've found the best way is to go to a few shows and see which bands are popular and see what kind of students are promoting them and small belmont businesses are working with them. Then you contact those people, band members even. It's easiest if you have an idea or thing you want to talk about, not just a "get to know you because I think you are good to know," conversation, but it never hurts to ask for those meetings. At the end of the day, meeting people at Belmont is about confidence. Nobody wants to work with or talk to the scarred kitten in the corner. Just stand up and state your purpose. The new wave of professionals is becoming increasingly concerned with authenticity. The wheeling and dealing, under the table-ness will always be there, but it is not a popular way to approach people and you will find many students uncomfortable with this. They value relationships and honesty, and thats easier to do than fabricating stories.
Food: Nope. Try not to eat there everyday. The Caf (aka dinning hall) does not taste good or feel good. I don't know why Belmont is building a new student cafeteria. They have to improve the food quality, not the facility. Most everything is canned and frozen. All of the vegetables are either canned or frozen, no sauces are made in the kitchen beyond a simple vinegar something or other, and the culinary skills are lacking. Things will be over cooked at every meals, some burnt. Try to make your own meals as often as possible, you'll feel better.
Basketball: I don't really like basketball, but it's a fun thing to go to with friends every now and then. And it you really like the game, it'd fun every time. Belmont has a hard time attracting lots of dance because of the musical/artistic nature of their students. But you can be sure AST (sorority) and ATO (fraternity) will be at every game yelling loudly.
Greek Life: I have not rushed, but I do know that it is nothing like big state school greek life. The chapters do not have houses. ATO has plans to build a house, but it's going to be about 10 years before they have enough money. Instead, chapters have offices in the Beaman student center (the one and only student center on campus) and this means the Beaman is over-run by greeks. Remember that authentic confidence I told you about? That comes in real handy around here. Greeks only make up 10%-15% of the student population, and you don't feel their presence on a daily basis. They have some activities that take over parts of campus every now and then (2-3 times per year, that is) but if you stay away from them, you won't hear about them much. Greek life at Belmont is about brotherhood and sisterhood. There is also a significant emphasis on community service. Trips are taken probably 3 times a semester as a group to perform civic duties like cleaning out a lake, working at a homeless shelter, etc. Also, yes, Phi Delt is gone for now, that is not a rumor, and there is no plan to reinstate the chapter at Belmont currently. Something to do with hazing, which DOES HAPPEN! But it's not abusive. It's more like, hang out with the guys and drink. Paddling is not often or usually, though I hear sororities do some nasty things. But nothing dangerous. No worries. No roof jumping, or extreme binge drinking.
Belmont says: "It is a violation of Belmont?s Community Commitments and its Substance-Free Campus Policy to consume, possess, or be intoxicated by alcohol or drugs or to be in the presence of alcohol or drugs regardless of your own use, possession, or intoxication on campus. Further, it is a violation to have paraphernalia on campus (such as empty bottles, posters, shot glasses, etc.) that supports, promotes, or facilitates usage of alcohol or drugs. Finally, distribution of alcohol or drugs on campus is a violation meriting an escalated disciplinary response."
Student say: HAHAHA. There hasn't been day in my dorm room that some kind go alcohol hasn't been in the fridge. It's college, and all you puritan people are looking at the wrong school if you thinking the students feel as strongly about the substance as Belmont. It's not a state school, but there are raters and plenty of opportunites to get waster every day of the week. But word to the wise, don't get drunk on campus. That doesn't work well for you because you can hear outside the door when someone yells "Hold ma dick! hahahahah" Of campus is fine and expected. Belmont also performs a "health and safety" room check each semester. It's nothing more than your RA and RD searching your room for alcohol. So if you want to keep alcohol in your room, but a safe. They won't ask you to open it as long as they don't find anything in the room. But if they see a bottle cap, or empty bottle, they go hard on that paint to find the rest, and they will go through EVERYTHING if they find evidence. So clean your room well the day before (you will hear through the grapevine about room checks, though they're supposed to be surprises), and you'll be fine. As far as drugs, what can I say. This is a musicians paradise. Weed is plentiful, and still very illegal in Tennessee, so be smart. The harder stuff is hard to find and not very popular at all, so don't get too excited, Dopey. Also, most people do not approve of anything other than weed, and about half the population is ok with weed.
Religion: Now, to atone for you sins after reading my blurs on alcohol. Belmont requires religion classes, but you may chose the kind of class. You can take the very traditional understanding the old testament, or take "Jesus in Film." yes this is a real class that I have taken, and it's much better for people that don't like reading the bible. Real Talk, I have never read more than a chapter or two of the bible at one time and I've never read the entire thing. I have no idea how people can pull those "In Mark 3:16" references out of their heads. Belmont students like to bond by going to church together. There are traditionalists that go to a presbyterian church or lutheran church or methodist church, but WAAAYYYY more people go to those new age churches where they sing all the time, blast you with blue lights, and raise their hands in the air as if surrendering. If that's your thing, Welcome To Belmont! I am not religious at all. I've not be comfortable with Jesus and organized religion. I am not atheist, but I believe my path is my own to create and value, and as someone who does their own thing, I've felt the influence of christianity. I haven't meet a single Jewish person here, or hindu, or muslim. It's 90% christian, with the rest being either atheist or undecided like me. It gets a little annoying to see "I'm so blessed" all over your Facebook feed. I'm not going to go off on why I don't like it, I promised I wouldn't, but it is a very popular thing to attribute your success to God at the old Belmont U. And if you are in that boat, the majority of students here are with you. If you are not, you'll find a core of people who agree with you. It's what you make of it really.
Girls/Boys: There are some attractive people here. There are more girls than boys here, I think the ratio is 60 something to 30 something. There are your very traditional southern women who are all to proud to tell you about themselves, and there are some hipster girls who are very nice, and some who should just leave. Guys are easy to talk to for the most part. There are douche bags at every school, but Belmont does not tolerate douchey guys well. Bitchy girls are more prevalent, but still not common. There are some attractive girls here, but then you realize they're from California and you wonder why you didn't go to UCLA. You'll find a lot of quirky, strange, and down right dirty guys here, and plenty of nice christian men, and normal guys like me with no more of an idea of what they want than the girl they are talking to, if that makes you feel better.
Parking: It's free.......if you can find a space you're allowed to park in. If not, tickets start at $50 dollars and it's a matter of time before you get one. They'll ticker you for not parking bumper out, within the lines, or in restricted areas. You know what really grinds my gears, the amount of visitor parking. There are two completely empty levels of parking garages after 5:30 on most nights and 3 completely full levels of resident parking. I have to park at the south eastern end of campus and walk .5 miles past literally hundreds of empty spaces to get to my class after work. They will not budge and they do not care. BPO (campus security) is very responsive, but they aren't very forgiving. However, it's Vandy Police you need to be nice to. Belmont is not a police force, it's private security, so they can't pull you over for running a sop sign, or ticket you for parking poorly on the street. Vandy can and will, and they aren't nice.
Dorms: Maddox is a hidden gem of freshman dorms. Patton/Bear/Maple is the newest freshman dorm, but there is no community and no common area for each floor. And the doors don't stay open so the place is like a hotel. The older dorms are really the way to go. Let's be honest, if you think you are going to live you fabulous life with your 4 racks of clothing and makeup and shoes, while sharing a room 16X16 with a mother human being, you are in for a surprise. You are much better off living in the older dorms and meeting a bunch of people your first year at school. It's the easiest way to get to know people and you have marginally less room than Patton or Maple.
Professors: Mostly good, though not inspiring. I've only found one that I keep in touch with. At a school where the average class size is 20, I expect to make more teacher friends. Professors are helpful, yes, and most are willing to accommodate when you have problems, but boy oh boy when you get that one canker-sore of a teacher, you'll wake right up. Every school has crappy teachers, Belmont is no different. Belmont does not have "the most amazing professors" as the tour guide will tell you. There aren't many schools in the world than can claim that title, and the ones that do will not talk about it themselves.
Music Majors: What are you doing with your life, seriously? You major in classical voice. Wow, and what happens when statistics catch up to you and you never make more than 30K a year and struggle. That struggle will take the magic right out of your singing career. If you think you have the x-factor, you need to shop for a manager and agent, not go to school to be taught a virtually unteachable skill. Get a journalism degree, then you can write about this stuff and have an excuse to meet all those fascinating people you want to network with. But ask yourself what you'll do after 4 years of intense music theory in a school that does not have the performance reputation of Berkely. This is a real concern, and I don't think it's worth $160K. You are better off going to a cheaper school in the city in which you want to try to make it, and use the money that would otherwise be spent at Belmont on those expensive private lessons and new gear. Private lessons from a professionals are many cuts above the best you can get at Belmont. Belmont does not create Carrie Underwoods, it creates her backup singers. I say this because I care, not because I dislike Belmont.
Registration: Have you heard of the hunger games? I would kill people if I could to register for my classes. If you lucky, you only have to change 2-3 classes you need, if you're not lucky like me this past period, you sit, locked out of the system, for 10 minutes and have to complete redesign your schedule with classes you don't need to take. Also, they won't override you, that's a myth. Music majors, again, you have it the worst. You have to take an average of 20 hours, while only getting credit for 15 or so, and you have to compete with about 1000 other people to get those classes. May the odds be ever in your favor.
Off campus housing: You will have to live on campus 2 years, UNLESS you know this trick. Around late february, as a freshman, as to be put on the off campus waiting list. Belmont fills up their on campus housing complete and then lets people move off campus in the oder in which they are on this waiting list. So, the sooner you ask to get on this list, the better your odds are. Come april, It's not worth it and it's too late. The best part is that you don't even have to give them a reason and they won't ask for one. This is how you can get out of on campus housing guaranteed. But saying "I have old allergies" or "I didn't have a positive living experience" is as believable of a resin to get off campus to Res Life as it is to you.
Financial Aid and Scholarships: I'm disappointed. I had a 3.6 something GPA, 2 5's on the only APs I took, attended what is essentially Harvard of the South East for private schools, started my own business, band for 7 years, instrument for 12, other extra curricula's, and was awarded 3 ultra competitive scholarship awards over my high school career. I say this to prepare you. After all of that , I was being given $10-$20K offers from other schools. Belmont gave my $5K per year. I have a full ride offer from another school. All this to say, Belmont doesn't have very much money to give out. A lot of what should be invested in scholarship funds is put into the 4, read it FOUR new multi-million dollar buildings to bed completed in2 years, 6 if you make that 3 years. So you won't have a good time getting those merit scholarships.
I'm not sure how financial aid is at this school. I don't qualify for any or need any, which I think is a factor, though unmentioned, if merit scholarship selection.
Nashville: It's a city. It's not a big city, but it is a city. Those of you from anything larger than Phoeniz, AZ, will be in a smaller city. But the things going on in this city are great. I've seen Hayden Panettiere at lunch across the street from Belmont, and the black keys, and Taylor Swift, and numerous other Nashville Artists. I saw Ke$ha at whole foods, and Carrie Underwood at a hockey game. And yes, Taylor Swift did date a Belmont student a few years ago.
Get an internship. No really, GET. AN. INTERNSHIP. They aren't that hard to get. You have to contact a few places, but say you want experience and are a Belmont student. The paid internship is elusive and extremely rare. Even Sony doesn't pay all their interns, so don't use that a deciding factor. If you need money, an internship is not the place to look for that. Split you time between Starbucks and the internship, or get an encamp job. Belmont will pay you to sit at a desk, ask people to sign a sheet, and watch Netflix on your computer the other 80% of the time.
Administration: Not very good at the BU. There is a serious breakdown of communication here. The top end administrators care about the students, they really do, but they must delegate their ideas and projects to the mid level people, who are not very smart or helpful on a whole. You will not get anything important done by meeting with these people. You have to go to the top to get attention and a response. This is the most disappointing thing about Belmont. You'll hear a lot about the student center environment, but that feeling stops when you leave class. I was not treated as an intelligent college student. I was treated like a summer camp visitor who knew nothing about college or Belmont. There is minimal respect for you, and if you have a problem or complain, you will get nowhere with these people. The community of Belmont is lacking. This translates from the administration down, not the student body up.
Transferring: It's not hard at all, or scary. The hardest part of decide which college you want to transfer to. All you need to do on Belmont's end is request online that Belmont send a transcript to the new school. Everything else is up to you. If you get to Belmont and realize you don't like it, immediately focus on two things: your grades and relationships with college professors. Many transfer applications ask for letters of reconditions from a teacher that taught you at Belmont, not you high school councilor or family friend. Showing you can focus when you realize a goal is what those transfer applications are looking for most. They want to see that you learned from you mistake or grew from the experience. And if it makes you feel better, about 1 out of 7 of my friends transferred after freshman year. Full disclosure, I am looking to transfer as we speak, or type.