Students speak: Is Interlochen a good school?
Two Interlochen Arts Academy seniors weigh in on academic classes, instructor quality, and more.
When it comes to choosing a boarding school, there’s a lot to consider. Parents and students spend time digging deep into questions of academic excellence and artistic quality. To answer these questions, you can turn to statistics and reviews, like Interlochen's ranking in Best High Schools for the Arts in America on Niche.com. You can examine course offerings, or even consider graduate placement. But perhaps the most personal and authentic insights come from the students themselves. Kaydance and Vince, two seniors at Interlochen Arts Academy, share their experiences and perspectives on this crucial question: "Is Interlochen a good school?"
How good are the academics at Interlochen?
Interlochen Arts Academy is not just a haven for artistic development; it also offers a strong academic foundation. The school offers a rigorous academic curriculum that encourages intellectual growth and creativity across various subjects. Arts and scholarship integrate smoothly, enabling students to pursue their passions while also achieving high academic standards.
According to Vince, the healthy balance between academics and arts education made Interlochen the ideal place for him to flourish in a community of like-minded young artists. It was a striking contrast to the environment at the other schools he considered.
“The main reason why I really chose Interlochen was the 50/50 balance between dance and academics,” he says. “I wanted to get the high school diploma while also getting the dance education that I wanted, and not split it at a 25/75 ratio. Other schools focus a lot more on dance, and sometimes they only offer online school programs. Here, it's an in-person education with honors-level courses for half of your day, and then for the other half, you get to study dance in gorgeous studios with amazing faculty, great training, and great performance opportunities.”
Interlochen is dedicated to helping students nurture their intellectual capacity, helping to lay a broad and strong foundation for wherever their future endeavors may take them.
How good is the arts instruction at Interlochen?
Interlochen Arts Academy's reputation for outstanding arts programs is well-deserved. Through instructor expertise, outstanding guest artists, and opportunities to showcase their work, students receive everything they need to excel in their chosen paths.
Experienced arts instructors
So much of your experience at an arts school is shaped by the quality of instructors. Both Kaydance and Vince have appreciated the chance to work with faculty members who have extensive professional experience, giving them a wealth of insight to share with their students.
When asked about the quality of instructors at Interlochen, Kaydance mentions Brittany Cavallaro, Instructor of Creative Writing at Interlochen—who happens to be a New York Times bestselling novelist.
“Everyone talks about how Bri’s classes are life-changing. It’s like you walk into a class and you suddenly become a whole different writer in that process,” says Kaydance. “She has her own fan base! It’s kind of crazy to see all the people who are really invested in her work.”
Vince likes knowing that his dance instructors have international experience. He gives the example of Joseph Morrissey, Director of Dance.
“He went to Boston Ballet, he went to the Hong Kong Ballet, he went to the Bavarian State Ballet in Germany… he’s traveled the world,” says Vince. “It really does show when he's fine tuning our technique and getting those little itty bitty details perfected.”
Professional guest artists
Every year, Interlochen invites many professional guest artists to work with students. These artists bring fresh perspectives and real-world insights which can be invaluable for students. Guest artists expose students to different artistic genres, styles, and cultural influences, broadening their horizons and encouraging creativity.
In the creative writing division, past guest writers have included Poetry magazine editor Adrian Matejka and multi-genre writer Anne-Marie Oomen. Kaydance recalls meeting one of her favorite authors last year.
“Carmen Maria Machado visited and that was pretty much the best day of my life. It was exceptional,” says Kaydance. “She is one of my favorite writers of all time and is absolutely amazing. We have a lot of very famous people come in and talk to us about craft for hours straight and it’s so cool.”
Guest artists also give students a chance to get a vital insider’s perspective on the industry.
“We have professors come in, people who work with nonprofits, and people from the editorial industry,” says Kaydance. “Seeing the different ways that you can succeed in the writing world is really beneficial.”
Working with guest artists provides students with a more well-rounded and realistic understanding of the artistic world beyond the classroom. These interactions can foster networking opportunities and connections that may prove essential for students as they embark on their own artistic journeys after graduation.
The chance to showcase your art
When students have the chance to showcase, perform, or publish their art, they gain confidence and refine their skills. Both Kaydance and Vince have enjoyed plenty of opportunities to share their work with others while at Interlochen Arts Academy.
“We have several literary publications which give you the opportunities to explore how things get published. It makes that process so much less intimidating,” says Kaydance. “There's also a document full of different submission opportunities that our current department head makes for us. I always tell all the new students that it’s the most valuable thing about being a creative writing major.”
Vince enjoys the chance to perform in two fully-produced ballets each year, and even go on tour. “The performance opportunities that we have here are unmatched compared to any other preprofessional program,” he says. “We have costumes, lighting, and a full stage.”
Public performances and exhibitions are an invaluable way to prepare students for the demands of a professional career in the arts. They also contribute to building a portfolio and resume, which can be crucial when applying for colleges, scholarships, or pursuing artistic careers.
What are the results?
If you’re asking whether Interlochen is a good school, perhaps the best measure of that is the lives that have been changed. Students at Interlochen grow their skills, discover talents they didn’t know they had, and develop the discipline to thrive professionally. Many go on to attend prestigious colleges and universities, further preparing them to make their marks on the world around them.
Is Interlochen a good school? For Vince and Kaydance, the answer is a resounding yes.
“This place has changed my life academically, artistically, physically, and mentally,” says Vince. “I don't recognize the person that I was before this, in a good way. I don't think I could ever have gotten to the place I am right now without Interlochen.”