Interlochen Arts Academy - Review #1

Alumni Reviews
  Review School

About the Author:

College Enrolled St. Olaf College
Home Town, State (Country) Springfield, IL, IL
Years Attended Boarding School 2
Activities During Boarding School Obviously all arts are academics at Interlochen. Extracurriculars usually also center around some sort of creative thinking. There are 15 year old philosophers at this school. More than one. You will always find a receptive audience to any creative endeavor here. This helps many students blossom, but no one will MAKE you work here. If you don't work, you will fail. There is no babysitter to make you study. Luckily, your peers and mentors will help you if you ask for help. You only have to know you need it.

Reflections and Advice:

1.) What do you think makes your school unique relative to other boarding schools?
Interlochen is an intense place. It is a place of much thinking, dreaming, and creating. It is an extremely supportive community. The school shares a campus with the Interlochen Arts Camp, which is a summer program serving thousands of students from age 8-18. The campus is, therefore, huge and dotted with vacant buildings during the school year. It is in the forest of northern Michigan. It snows. It gets cold. And the students at IAA hunker down and CREATE. It is an amazing place. If you go, it will change you and you will carry it with you forever.
2.) What was the best thing that happened to you in boarding school?
I became a real composer at IAA. I had written music before, but at IAA, I was allowed to collaborate with the theatre department. I was encouraged to tutor other students with their music theory. I was encouraged to put on a show. So I did. I put on a full composition recital my senior year which involved almost 40 performers and was about 1:20 long. When I say you can do ANYTHING at Interlochen, I mean it. If it's creative, you will be encouraged and promoted and supported.
3.) What might you have done differently during your boarding school experience?
Going to boarding school is a big step. Don't forget to call home. Do talk to people about big ideas. Wherever you decide to go to school, it has to match YOUR personality. Interlochen is not for everyone. A football player might HATE it there. Or a physics nerd might not find he had enough of the kind of classes she wanted to take. REALLY think about what you want from your school. Really think about what interests you. Then go looking for the school of your dreams, cause it probably exists! I would also say, be careful of schools that have teachers that coach, or no dorm staff other than teachers or coaches. Dorm staff is a VERY DIFFICULT JOB. Someone who is teaching all day cannot be expected to also be responsible for enforcing the rules at night. In my opinion, schools that try to do this are cutting corners and in the end, they are shortchanging everyone involved.
4.) What did you like most about your school?
I liked the supportiveness of Interlochen the best. Interlochen is like a big creative family.
5.) Do you have any final words of wisdom for visiting or incoming students to your school?
I don't think it's called Brahms anymore, I think they changed it to Macwhorter. The BEST DORM EVER!!! But honestly, they have made major improvements to all the facilities since I was there. Just be prepared for the bad food in Stone. That will never change. Its an institution.


1.) Describe the academics at your school - what did you like most about it?
The academics are as inventive as the arts at IAA. The class choices are varied and interesting. When I was there, my math teacher was on the cutting edge of how to teach algebra and had written several books. My physics teacher had us build musical instruments for a class project. My English teachers were the most amazing. The variety of subjects for literature classes was college level. And the expectations were actually higher than at the college I ended up attending.


1.) Describe the athletics at your school - what did you like most about it?
There is no competitive athletics program at Interlochen Arts Academy. Physical Education is required by law for 2 years. When I was there, you could sign up for recreational sports. Or, you could take dance.

Art, Music, and Theatre:

1.) Describe the arts program at your school - what did you like most about it?
World Class. All of the Arts at Interlochen are World Class. The teachers almost all have higher degrees, many of them doctorates. Most of them are world class artists in their own right. You are learning/coaching with the best. The ensembles are better than most college ensembles. The students here go on to be professionals.

Extracurricular Opportunities:

1.) Describe the extracurriculars offered at your school - what did you like most about it?
Again, almost everything revolves around creative thinking. Whether it be a group going in to Traverse City to do eco-biology, or an pick up musical theatre ensemble (usually consisting totally of students!), you can do ANYTHING. And Interlochen, because of the summer program facilities, usually has the facilities to accommodate anything you can thing up, from the big green buses that take us around northern Michigan, to a huge performance space. Because they are also forward-thinkers, usually faculty is on-board for anything you can think up, too.

Dorm Life:

1.) Describe the dorm life in your school - what did you like most about it?
The dorms at Interlochen are average. No going down the hall to the bathroom, though, which is nice. Boys and Girls are segregated by dorm. When I was there, there were visiting hours in the evening, door always open, feet on the floor!


1.) Describe the dining arrangements at your school.
Nothing, Stone cafeteria has a worldwide reputation for being terrible. But what can you do? Maybe you won't gain weight like most people do when they leave home for the first time. Expect to live on salad bar and cereal. There are worse things.

Social and Town Life:

1.) Describe the school's town and surrounding area.
Interlochen is barely a town. I hear there is actually a fast food joint now. But even Interlochen center is at least a mile and a half away from campus. Not really a walk you want to do in February with 3 feet of snow. Buses will take you to town on Sunday or Monday (weekends at IAA are different). You can go to the mall where there is a movie theatre or downtown where there are cutesy shops and a salvation army store. Downtime is pretty chill in northern Michigan. In more ways than one!
2.) Describe the social life at your school - what did you like most about it?
You will meet interesting people. People you will remember all your life. The friends and bonds you make here will be forever. There is not really a "cool clique" at Interlochen. Everyone is there for one reason. We are all Music Geeks or Art Geeks or Dancers or Theatre Geeks.....etc. So we make our own social structure. Most people at IAA have been picked on out in the real world. You will not find that here. Truly.

Daily Schedule:

7:30 AMget up go to breakfast
8:00 AMclasses/lessons (its set up like college, where you have an individual schedule.)
12:00 AMlunch, then back to class
4:00 PMtime to study/create/etc
5:00 PMdinner....
5:00 PMsocial, creative, study time (visitation hours)
10:00 PMback in dorm (Mandatory)
12:00 PMbed
9:00 AMwake up
10:00 AMvariety of worship options
1:00 PMbusses to Traverse City (again, weekend at IAA is Sunday/Monday)
6:00 PMBack to campus
10:00 PMBack in dorm (mandatory)
1:00 AMSleep
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