The arts are certainly a piece of a well-rounded tradition liberal arts education. Most every boarding school requires students to work a step beyond the English, science, math, history and language standards with an arts requirement- be it performing (choir, theater), manual (painting, drawing, ceramics), or a hybrid course of some sort.

The art requirement gives students additional perspective into the connections between the arts, academic divisions and sciences. I have permanently etched memories of the moment students see that drawing and painting enjoyed a particularly strong relationship with mathematics during the renaissance.

While this approach suffices for most of us who need to expand our horizons but, politely put, have tin ear or can't draw, the arts-as-an-elective cafeteria is not the best approach for highly talented, motivated students for whom the arts are a passion not a pastime.

Fame (movie and television series) is pop culture's touchstone of high school students for whom their art is life- students who must practice their talents in order to be full people. Artistically dedicated students practice countless hours and sacrifice other aspects of their lives as they pursue becoming better and more focused in their field.

Extra math, science, history and English requirements serve as the broadening for these students.

A small group of boarding schools- Idyllwild Arts Academy, Interlochen Arts Academy and Walnut Hill School- features programs geared toward talented students for whom the arts serve as the focal point of their pursuits.

These schools provide the structures and opportunities required by students dedicated to pursuit of their chosen art form- rigorous training, performance opportunities, accomplished faculty. In return the school demands the utmost in seriousness from students. A portfolio and/or audition is part and parcel of the admission process into these schools.

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Below are the three schools dedicated to student artistic pursuit in a pre-professional manner. Each description is the school's own:

Idyllwild Arts Academy
Idyllwild, CA

A lifetime in the arts begins here…and we are delighted you are interested in our school. The Idyllwild Arts Academy welcomes talented young artists from around the world to study Dance, Film, Interdisciplinary Arts, Music, Theatre, Visual Art or Creative Writing with renowned teachers in each field. At the same time students are provided with a college preparatory academic education. Our students enjoy a very rich and diverse education in both arts and academics, and go on to some of the top colleges and conservatories in the world.

Walnut Hill School
Natick, MA

Walnut Hill School is a private, coeducational, boarding and day high school for the arts, for grades 9-12 (ages 13-18). In conjunction with intensive arts training in ballet, music, theater, visual art, and creative writing, Walnut Hill offers comprehensive and rigorous academic curriculum in all college-preparatory subjects. Walnut Hill also offers intensive summer study and afternoon and weekend community youth arts instruction. Located 17 miles west of Boston, the beautiful 45-acre Walnut Hill campus is in a residential neighborhood in Natick, Massachusetts.

Interlochen Arts Academy
Interlochen, MI

Located in Michigan, Interlochen Arts Academy visual and performing arts high school is a close-knit community of the world's most talented and motivated student artists. Students immerse themselves in music, theatre, dance, visual arts, creative writing, motion picture arts and rigorous academics in a college-like setting.

The Academy is a fast-paced, creative environment that challenges and inspires. Under the guidance of an exceptional faculty of artists and educators, the Academy offers students the resources they need to achieve the highest possible artistic, intellectual and ethical standards as individuals and as responsible members of a diverse community.