Four formative years: Lukas’s story

Visual arts senior Lukas shares his top tips for prospective freshmen—from keeping in touch with your family to finding a healthy work-life balance.

Lukas Drysdale and his mother at a gallery opening in the Dow Center for Visual Arts

Lukas Drysdale (left) and his mother at the opening of “Seek - Don't Hide” at the Dow Center for Visual Arts Gallery on Oct. 7, 2023.

For many families, sending their high school freshman to a boarding school 1,500 miles away from home is a daunting thought. But for visual arts major Lukas, the transition between middle and high school was the ideal moment to enroll at Interlochen Arts Academy.

“The goal was for me to change schools after eighth grade,” Lukas says. “Knowing that I was going to be attending a new school with new people–no matter which school I chose–made choosing Interlochen a much easier decision.”

Lukas and his family were also encouraged by the school’s reputation and COVID-19 protocols.

“We had learned about Interlochen from an alum, and we knew it was a great school,” Lukas says. “COVID-19 was another big factor in our decision: Being able to attend in-person was super important to us.”

Now a fourth-year senior, the Florida resident has enjoyed rich opportunities to work with acclaimed guest artists—including museum consultants Elaine Gurian and James Volkert— showcase his work, and participate in interdisciplinary collaborations. He recently contributed to MUKTI, an original multidisciplinary performance which premiered at David Geffen Hall in New York City, and has received several prestigious awards, including two Gold Keys in the 2023 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards.

Below, Lukas shares his advice for prospective incoming freshmen—including how to handle homesickness, keep in touch with your family, and foster a healthy work-life balance.

What types of academic, personal, or artistic resources did you find most helpful in adjusting to life at Interlochen?
The teachers—especially the academic teachers, who really go out of their way to help us—helped me the most. They are so understanding and really do give us every chance to succeed in their classes. Office hours are super helpful, and if you can, you should definitely make use of them.

Did you ever feel homesick or overwhelmed by living away from home during your first year? How did you overcome those challenges?
As someone who is super close with their mom, it was hard for me to be away from her. A couple things that really helped me were making sure to call, creating a comfortable environment in my room, and leaning on my friends for help. Most of your friends are probably experiencing homesickness as well, so you can support each other in that time.

The counselors are also extremely helpful. I found that Dr. [Michael] Kern was a great person to talk to during my freshman year, but all the counselors—and your Instructors of Residence Life—are also there to help.

How can students keep in touch with their families while at school?
One of the best pieces of advice that I got was setting up a schedule to call home. Students at Interlochen are so busy with work and social life that we don’t always have time to call. Making sure that time is set aside ahead of time really helps.

What advice would you give to prospective students who are considering enrolling at Interlochen as a freshman?
One thing I wish someone would have told me during my freshman year is to have a good work-life balance. Having a good work ethic looks great to your teachers, but you shouldn’t overwork yourself, especially as a freshman.

On the other hand, you don’t need to hang out with your friends 24/7. My freshman friend group and I had a hard time taking space apart from each other. We always wanted to be together, and though it was fun, it sometimes created stress for us.

It’s really valuable to learn that you sometimes need to take some space and go do homework—or need to take a break from work and go hang out with friends.

What do you like most about attending Interlochen?
I love the people. The friends I’ve made here over the course of my four years have been some of the most incredible and influential people in my life. These are people that I know I will continue to talk to and have in my life for a very long time.

Want to begin your own Interlochen Arts Academy journey? Start your application today.