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What do you do in boarding school? Here’s an inside look.

Three students walk together outside during the fall.

This post is from a student, parent, or professional contributor. The opinions expressed by the author are their own and do not necessarily reflect the positions, viewpoints, or policies of Niche.

Picture this: You’re a student with dreams of pursuing a future in the arts. You’re ready to start high school, so you’re looking into the options in your area.

Unfortunately, most of the schools close to you don’t have the faculty, facilities, and rigor you need. You start to wonder where you’ll find the kind of training that will prepare you for the life you want to lead.

Have you ever considered the benefits of a boarding school for the arts? If you do some research, you’ll find that there are many advantages to this route. Students who attend arts boarding schools enjoy social, artistic, academic, and career advantages. 

But it’s not just the numbers that show this. When you’re looking into schools, make sure you consider the perspectives of students, faculty, and staff. They are the ones who can best answer the question: what will you do at boarding school? 

You’ll push your skills to the next level. 

One major difference between a boarding school for the arts and a typical high school is the caliber of artistic instruction you’ll receive. A public high school might offer some classes in the arts, but they’re unlikely to be as in-depth or as highly specialized as the classes you’ll find at boarding schools for the arts. 

Students at an arts boarding school benefit from the attention of expert instructors who help them hone their talents. Instead of seeing arts as an extracurricular, the faculty at an arts boarding school will recognize your passions and help you pursue them through dedicated class and studio time. 

Frequently, faculty members at arts schools are well-known experts in their fields. In addition to teaching, they also travel, perform, and stay involved in their respective art worlds.

Check and see if the schools you’re interested in bring in high-profile guest artists during the academic year—you might be able to meet an artist you admire and get some valuable professional advice. Another benefit: smaller class sizes at boarding schools allow for plenty of personalized attention. 

How Music Boarding Schools Prepare You To Excel

You’ll discover likeminded friendships. 

At an arts boarding school, you’ll share a love of the arts with all of your fellow classmates. You have so much in common already that it will only be a matter of time before you discover just how many other interests you share.

Have a passion for Anglo-Saxon poetry? Wish everyone knew how great Art Deco was? No matter your “thing,” you’re certain to find fellow devotees at an arts school. 

In addition, you’ll broaden your horizons by meeting talented artists across different disciplines. 

“You never feel like you’re boxed into just one group or one place,” says TJ McCarthy, a Musical Theatre major at Interlochen Arts Academy. “You have so many people who are your friends from all different majors, that you get to see every day, because your academics are interdisciplinary.” 

You’ll join an international student body. 

Some boarding schools for the arts welcome students from around the globe. At Interlochen Arts Academy, 16% of the student body comes from countries outside the U.S.—a list that includes students from Afghanistan to Zambia.

If you are an international student considering an arts boarding school in the United States, dedicated departments like International Student Services help to ensure that students from all countries feel welcome and accepted. 

Being surrounded by students from other areas of the world can help open your eyes to the beauty of other countries and cultures. 

“It’s been so informative to my life to go into rehearsal and hear about people’s experiences with theatres in different countries,” says TJ. “That’s what’s so powerful—especially in your major, you find out where other students come from, and you get their whole perspective on whatever art form you do.”

You’ll have the opportunity to join unique clubs and organizations.

One of the most fun aspects of attending a boarding school for the arts is the many unique clubs and organizations available for students. Some examples include Traditional Chinese Art Club, Rock Climbing Club, and Model United Nations. Students can express their faith in various religious groups or pump iron in a Weightlifting and Fitness Club. 

“Our clubs are as varied and inventive as the personalities of our students,” says Megan Walton, Vice Provost of Student Life at Interlochen. “No matter their culture or affinity, we have a great spread of opportunities for kids to show everyone what their interests are.”

Many clubs at boarding schools are student-led, although they frequently rely on adult advisors who are faculty and staff members. If you’re dreaming of a specific club or organization but don’t see it offered, don’t worry. You can likely create it yourself and find like-minded students to join.

You’ll enjoy the time and space to bond with your fellow students. 

One of the main differences between a boarding school and a typical public high school is life outside of the classroom and studio. At a boarding school, you’ll spend more than twice as much time with your fellow students while living with them as well. You’ll get to know your roommate and have plenty of time to relax and hang out with others in residence hall common areas. 

“I don’t think I really understood what a boarding school was until I actually came here,” says TJ. “But I knew that it was a place where people do theatre, work together, and just eat, sleep and breathe the things I love. And that was one of the main reasons why I came.” 

Most boarding schools feature beautiful campuses with plenty of space for building new friendships. Check the websites of the schools you’re interested in to see if they have any unique natural features.

Nearby lakes are perfect for swimming and canoeing, while scenic trails are great for hiking or biking. Depending on what’s important to you, you can find schools with basketball courts, tennis courts, rock climbing walls, and more. At a boarding school, you’ll always have places to meet and have fun with fellow students. 

You’ll prepare for college.

At a high-level arts boarding school, you’ll get the chance to work with expert counselors who can help prepare you for the college admission process. Admissions faculty at top schools view boarding school graduates favorably.

That means that boarding school alumni tend to be more successful in the college search: graduates go on to attend prestigious colleges and universities including Yale University, Stanford University, Princeton University, The Juilliard School, and more. 

Get Interlochen Arts Academy’s 11 things first-time arts boarding school students should know

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