What to expect at private art schools


Highly creative children often show their gifts early in life, prompting parents to seek out creative solutions to support this …

Highly creative children often show their gifts early in life, prompting parents to seek creative solutions to support this talent. By the time they reach high school, this research often includes private art schools.

“If a child cannot walk past a mirror without spinning or is constantly beating beats on their desk, the parent needs to assess their child’s love for the arts,” says Tia Powell Harris, arts evangelist and former CEO of Duke Ellington School of the Arts in Washington, DC “The decision to send them to arts high school really depends on the kid and where their heart is. ”

Many art schools are private and others are public magnetic schools, the main difference being the cost. The field of arts-focused high schools nationwide is not vast, but it is diverse, with schools supporting music, dance, theater, film, and the visual arts – and often all of that. who is before.

“Art schools across the country are very different,” says Harris, who is now vice president of education and community engagement at the New York City Center. “They range from enriching the arts and improving academics through the arts, to Ellington: a pre-professional training program with the seriousness, rigor and commitment required in this. spectrum of arts. ”

Inside an arts-oriented high school

Art schools often attract teenagers who are fiercely focused on their passion. Many devote countless hours to fostering their creative vision, extending the traditional school day to practice, rehearse and work on their craft.

Many put the same effort into their college education, a juggling that requires – and builds – excellent time management skills, says Sheryl Oring, an arts professor at Wayne State University in Michigan.

[READ: Is Private School Tuition Tax Deductible?]

“They typically graduate from high school arts as goal-oriented young adults, passionate about their artistic vision and very adept at managing their time to meet academic demands,” she says.

One of the most well-known and arts-focused boarding schools in the United States is the Interlochen Academy of the Arts, which draws students from 40 countries to a wooded 1,200-acre campus in northwest Michigan. The school is buzzing with activity, with 92% of students living on campus while juggling intensive studies in music, dance, drama, writing, and other art forms.

“Our kids really jump out of bed in the morning,” says Trey Devey, president of Interlochen. “For many young people, the traditional school experience is not filled with passion. But here, they nourish their passion on a daily basis and this love of learning is reflected in their artistic and academic studies.

Interlochen’s room and board cost more than $ 73,000 for the current school year, with about three-quarters of students receiving financial aid, Devey says. Students have access to extraordinary experiences. In the days leading up to the pandemic, Interlochen high school students had the opportunity to perform on iconic stages, including Carnegie Hall in New York and the New World Center in Miami Beach.

Harris says attending artsy high school gives kids “an edge” when applying to arts-focused colleges.

“In my experience, whether these kids attended private high schools or high school magnetic arts, they were always the best prepared students in my college classes,” says Oring. “They come with a higher level of preparation because they had to be motivated to enter high school in the first place.”

What motivates art students?

Many parents and children are motivated by factors other than securing a place at a prestigious arts college or building a career in a theater troupe or symphony. On the contrary, they see the arts as the key to a fulfilling and fulfilling life, fueled by passion and intellectual curiosity.

“Some people expose their children to the arts without expecting to produce artists who will change the world,” Harris said. “They want their children to be citizens of the world and an art school is a place where that can start.”

The Idyllwild Arts Academy in California, for example, states on its website that the vision of its founders was to form a creative collective to “promote intercultural understanding and peace while rethinking the artist’s responsibility to society.” . Art, says the school, is “humanity’s greatest teacher”.

“High art schools encourage creativity no matter what the child does when they step out into the world,” Oring says. “Creativity is an extremely important factor in being successful in life. ”

Diversity is another reason art schools are popular.

“There are parents for whom diversity is a consideration, and they want their child to go to art school because it can be more diverse,” says Harris. “They want their child to appreciate the diversity and range of cultures in a city.”

Enter a private art school

Admission paths to private art schools vary, but often include an audition or a process for sharing a portfolio of artistic work. Some schools also require a standardized essay and test scores. Education experts say developing a relationship with the school before admission can also help.

[READ: Process Art for Kids: What Parents Should Know.]

At Interlochen, Devey says families who think their child might be suitable should consider attending one of the school’s summer camps. This allows the child and the family to find out what the school has to offer and helps teachers get to know the child better. “This can be a way to connect with faculty members and for them to meet the student,” says Devey. It also encourages families who are applying to consider the early decision option.

“That’s when we’ll usually have more flexibility, more availability,” he says. “If we see this interest early on, it’s important to us.

Academic life at the School of the Arts

When considering an art-focused high school, parents often ask questions about the program and how it compares to that of traditional public or private high schools. The answer, experts say, depends on the school.

Ellington, a magnetic school in the Washington, DC public school system, is free for those living in the district, but charges tuition fees for families who come from outside. It offers students a full academic program of study and a major in arts such as dance, drama, instrumental or vocal music, literary arts and communications, visual arts, technical design and production or studies. museums.

Students have long days, often starting at 8:15 a.m. and extending until 5:00 p.m. or later, to accommodate academic and artistic development. The school requires students to maintain a minimum grade point average, and upon graduation, the school appoints a promotion major and a Salvatorian based on grades.

At Interlochen, academics are also taken seriously. Devey says the school has produced 48 US Presidential Fellows, more than any other high school. About half of Interlochen’s high school graduates attend a traditional college or university, with the remainder typically heading to an arts-focused conservatory or college.

Devey says that highly creative education helps differentiate students in the eyes of more traditional universities. “Year after year, they succeed in the path they want to take,” he says. “Here, we double the idea of ​​being different.”

It is difficult to dispute the result. Interlochen alumni have received 14 MacArthur Fellows “engineering grants” and 139 Grammy Awards.

A sample of art schools

For parents interested in an arts-focused high school, it may be helpful to browse some websites. Here is a list of well known private art schools:

– The Chicago Academy of the Arts in Chicago, Illinois.

– Crossroads School for the Arts and Sciences in Santa Monica, California.

– Manlius Pebble Hill School in Syracuse, New York.

– Oakwood School in North Hollywood, California.

– École Sainte-Anne in Brooklyn, New York.

– The Walnut Hill School for the Arts in Natick, Massachusetts.

Looking for a school? Explore our K-12 repertoire.

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What to expect at private art schools originally appeared on usnews.com


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