The attitudes and experiences of 13 music students entering a conservatoire were tracked before their entry and throughout their first term at college. Aspirations and apprehensions towards the musical, academic and social aspects of college life were collected in addition to career aims, and the data analysed qualitatively to produce emergent themes. Three pivot points were drawn from the analysis, describing events or factors that appear to shape the development of the students as musicians. The first highlights the importance of the students' first performance at college, and the second focuses on overcoming possible feelings of inadequacy generated from being one of many outstanding musicians. Thirdly, the role of feedback is highlighted as an important part of the students becoming confident in all aspects of their musical work.