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Frequently Asked Questions: Arts Academy Boarding High School

General Questions

Why boarding school?  
Boarding schools provide a variety of unique opportunities and experiences that traditional public and non-residential private schools cannot: 

  • Dormitory living provides a safe introduction to critical life skills and helps students develop independence. 
  • Living closely with other students fosters a deep sense of community and helps students learn how to handle themselves in a variety of social situations. 
  • Boarding schools attract students from across the nation and around the world, exposing students to diverse ideas and perspectives that are not generally available at public schools. 
  • Other boarding school advantages include small class sizes; strong, dearly held traditions; and large, engaged alumni communities.

What makes Interlochen Arts Academy different from other high schools? 
Interlochen Arts Academy is different than traditional public and private schools in several ways. First, the arts are treated as a fundamental component of the student’s day, not as electives. Each student spends four hours per day immersed in their chosen artform under the guidance of world-class educators. Second, all teachers—including academic instructors—understand that they are working with young artists, incorporating the arts into their teaching and helping students balance their schedules. Students also receive arts-focused guidance on applying and auditioning for college and conservatory programs from their academic and college counselor.

Am I good enough to get in? How competitive is it?   
There is no simple answer to this question. The best way to find the answer is to visit campus or apply. It is important, however, to note that students are not expected to be "perfect" in order to be accepted. Because Interlochen Arts Academy exists to help young artists develop and improve, it is most important that potential students show eagerness to learn and a capacity for continued growth.

Should I wait until next year or my senior year to attend?
No, take the plunge and be brave. While Interlochen Arts Academy accepts students of every grade level, one-year senior spots are limited. Make sure to ask the Office of Admission & Financial Aid if your program is accepting one-year senior applications. The more time you spend at Interlochen, the more prepared you'll be—artistically, academically, and personally—for both college and your future career. Beginning the Interlochen journey as a freshman or sophomore allows you to develop deeper relationships, spend more time focused on your art, and learn how to think critically and creatively. Learn more about resources for 9th and 10th grade students.

Is the Arts Academy only for students who plan to be professional artists?   
No. Many Arts Academy alumni find success in fields outside the arts.

What kind of academic opportunities are available at Interlochen?   
Interlochen offers a challenging and comprehensive college-preparatory program. The academic curriculum includes courses in math, sciences, English, history, political science and world language. Courses are rigorous and often meet or exceed honors or advanced placement levels.

What is Interlochen's graduation rate?   
Interlochen's graduation rate has been 100% for the past five years.

Where do Interlochen students go to college?   
Interlochen graduates attend leading arts and academic programs in the U.S. and abroad. For a complete and updated list of colleges, universities and conservatories where Academy students have successfully matriculated, please review College Matriculation.

Where is Interlochen Arts Academy located?   
Interlochen is located in the northwest corner of Michigan's lower peninsula. We are a four hour drive from Detroit, and about five hours from Chicago. Our region is served by Cherry Capital Airport (TVC), which offers multiple daily flights to and from Chicago and Detroit, and seasonal service to/from Minneapolis, New York City, and Newark.

Do I have to visit the campus before I can be accepted / enrolled?
Although recommended, a campus visit is not a requirement for acceptance to the Academy.

Does Interlochen consider my academic grades when making a decision on my acceptance?
Yes. Interlochen Arts Academy is committed to academic success. Many students find the academic program at the Academy to be more challenging than academics at their previous schools. Consequently, it is important that students demonstrate proficiency and success in their core academic subjects. Applicants who demonstrate artistic potential but unsatisfactory grades may be asked to improve their academic performance before earning a place at Interlochen.

What factors are considered during the review of admission files?
A committee considers each student's artistic skills, potential for growth, academic performance and overall social and emotional readiness.

Quick Links


When will I receive my enrollment and financial aid decisions?
Enrollment decisions are often accelerated in the summer and may be available as soon as one week after all application materials are received. Enrollment decisions are sent via email and the Education Community; the Office of Admission & Financial Aid will not send a physical letter by mail. Depending on when the financial aid application was completed, financial aid awards may come with the enrollment decision, or may arrive later.

Where do students live?  
Boarding students at Interlochen Arts Academy live in one of six residence halls. Student rooms are small but comfortable and provide space and furnishings for resting and studying. Residence halls also include lounges, laundry facilities, and practice rooms.

How are residence halls supervised?  
The Provost and Dean of Students oversee the residence halls, which are staffed by a Director of Residence Life, Instructors of Residence Life, and a Residence Hall Assistant. Members of the trained residence life staff work closely with students to make the halls welcoming, safe and constructive communities. While students enjoy a great deal of personal freedom, clear rules and guidelines ensure the halls remain a positive and healthy environment for all residents. The campus is served by a security staff that is on duty 24 hours a day.

Where do students eat? What kind of food is available?  
The Stone Dining Hall serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. A variety of choices are available at each meal, including vegetarian dishes. For breakfast, students can choose between a hot option such as eggs, pancakes or a breakfast sandwich and cold options like cereal, bagels or toast. A typical lunch might include a hot sandwich, a pasta, or pizza and vegetables. A standard dinner offers a main entree, side dishes and vegetables. At lunch and dinner, additional options include soup, deli sandwich or a salad from the salad bar.

Do students wear a uniform?  
No. Interlochen Arts Academy students do not wear uniforms. Depending on their major, students may be required to purchase approved performance attire.

Are students able to attend religious services?  
Interlochen provides transportation for students who wish to attend religious services in nearby Traverse City. Attendance at religious services is voluntary. Interlochen Center for the Arts does not have a religious affiliation.

Are there organized sports teams? Opportunities for exercise?  
Interlochen sponsors teams for women's volleyball, women's basketball, men's basketball, and cross country. In addition, many students regularly participate in informal sports activities including soccer, basketball, volleyball and Ultimate Frisbee. The large campus is an ideal setting for walking, jogging, cross country skiing or snowshoeing. Students have access to an indoor fitness center, which includes a variety of fitness and exercise equipment.

What kind of health care is available to students?  
Interlochen employs a staff of health professionals who provide information, promote overall wellness and respond in case of sickness or injury. The on-campus health clinic is typically open 16 hours a day and is staffed by registered nurses. Students who require supervised medical care or observation are housed in the Health Services Clinic. For any medical emergency, nurses are on-call 24-hours a day and the Interlochen campus is served by the Green Lake Township Emergency Medical Service and fire station, which is located less than one mile from campus. Munson Hospital, which has been recognized as one of the top 100 hospitals in the United States, is located in nearby Traverse City. In addition to physical health care, Health Services provides individual or group counseling to assist students with personal issues in a confidential setting. The personal counselor may refer students to mental health professionals as needed.

Can Interlochen accommodate students with special medical needs?  
Parents and students with specific medical concerns should ask their enrollment counselor to arrange a consultation with the Health Services staff.

Do students have a social life?  
Despite challenging schedules, Academy students enjoy an active social life that draws on shared artistic interests and talent. The residence life staff regularly plans and provides recreational and social opportunities both on and off campus. In classrooms, rehearsals, studios, coffee houses and over meals, students spend a great deal of time with each other developing friendships that will last a lifetime.  

Is the campus safe and secure?  
The safety and security of students is the foremost priority of faculty and staff. Campus policies, personnel and infrastructure have been put in place to ensure students' well-being. Background checks are conducted for all faculty and staff as part of the hiring process. Interlochen faculty, staff and students wear Interlochen-issued photo ID tags. Interlochen also employs security and safety professionals, many of whom have previous law enforcement experience. Campus safety features include a public address system and all-campus electrical generators.

What is the weather like during the winter? 
Northern Michigan winters are brisk. The region receives about 120 inches of snow per year. Students should bring warm coats, long pants, hats and gloves, scarves, and winter boots to Interlochen Arts Academy.

What kind of academics are offered? 
Interlochen Arts Academy offers comprehensive college-preparatory academic courses in math, science, history, English, literature, Spanish, French, and more. Learn more about academics at Interlochen.

What is the average class size?  
The average academic class size is approximately 13. Arts classes vary as needed ranging from personal instruction to large groups.

How does the school balance arts and academics?  
Students must successfully complete a core academic curriculum in order to graduate. Unlike most schools, however, arts and academics at Interlochen Arts Academy often overlap. Academic classes frequently draw upon the arts and vice versa.

Do students receive help with the college search and application process?  
Academy students receive help and support from faculty members and a staff of college and academic counselors who have years of experience helping students find and apply to the right programs. Additionally, students have the advantage of learning from other students who are going through the audition/portfolio review process.

Does the Academy offer Advanced Placement (AP) courses?  
While Interlochen offers a limited number of AP courses, Academy students take AP exams in many subject areas and traditionally perform very well.

Furthermore, thanks to our partnership with Indiana University’s Advance College Project, you can earn college credit on Interlochen's campus while taking select academic courses. These credits are transferable to any college or university. When you enroll in IU courses in English, History, and Science through ACP at the Academy, you receive both high school and college credit. Courses are taught by Interlochen faculty members on campus so there is no need to travel to IU or use an online platform.