Idyllwild Arts Academy - Review #4

Read more details about Idyllwild Arts Academy on their 2024 profile page.
Idyllwild Arts Academy

About the Author:

Years Attended Boarding School:
Sports and Activities:
During my time and Idyllwild Arts Academy, I was involved in a lot of projects through the different art departments as well as simultaneously, through a lot of "passion projects" brought on by myself as well as with other friends/students. Essentially, while I already had a good amount of work through the curriculum there was also a lot of work being created solely out of passion. This is naturally very, very fun for someone who enjoys making things and developing their craft. I found that the fact that we were able to use the facilities for our own personal endeavors (as well as those purported by the curriculum) was incredibly rewarding since it gave us a safe space to practice our craft in ways we would like as well as the more "traditional" we were taught.
College Enrolled:
MET Film London
Home Town, State:
Monterrey, México, CA

Reflections and Advice:

1.) What do you think makes your school unique relative to other boarding schools?
One thing that definitely sets Idyllwild Arts apart from other schools I've been to or have heard of, is the fact that while students not only have access to a lot of incredible and very well-kept facilities, they are also in the middle of nature (which also happens to be quite stunning and relatively secluded). The way in which the environment provides a natural sense of "isolation" helps remove distractions for students and, also encourages deeper, more meaningful connections between students as well as teachers. I think that this is due to the fact that you are always bumping into each other within the school even though there is also plenty of space to roam. Naturally, it becomes easier to engage with people you see often (even though, if you wanted - you could also definitely choose to isolate yourself a bit more).
2.) What was the best thing that happened to you in boarding school?
The best thing that happened to me at Idyllwild Arts was less of a specific event but rather, more of an amalgamation of quite a lot of them. While I can recall many particular memories that stick out such as finally understanding what all the pieces of how a film was made were, having a really diverse, engaged and rather large social circle, getting to meet professionals whose work I really admired in a very intimate setting, etc...The truth is that there were just so many individual events that meant so much to me that I sincerely just feel incredibly grateful for all of it.
3.) What might you have done differently during your boarding school experience?
I feel very lucky because I come from a family that has been in education for generations. My whole life I've been aware of the differences between the public and private sectors as well as the differences between boarding, partially-boarding and non-boarding schools. Because of this, before I even attended I was very aware that I had a incredibly rare opportunity to get a head start on things that I was (and still am) very passionate about. Being aware of the rarity of my opportunity helped me actively, as well as somewhat subconsciously, make the best of it.This is kind of hard to communicate with people just going to boarding for the first time because when you are of high school age, you're figuring a lot out and school tends to be just another "thing you have to do" while you figure out all of that other "more important" stuff. And if I'm being honest, I do think that you should sort out all of that other "more important" stuff - that will define you and your character. However, don't underestimate how your mindset about a situation can greatly impact the outcome.It's very understandable (and in fact, quite common) to be nervous about a new, big change in your life. However, if you can find a way to genuinely feel excited about the prospect of an entirely new environment then, you might just pass that on. Enthusiasm, just like cynicism is highly contagious. This being said, don't guilt-trip yourself if you don't feel that way right off the bat but at least think about it cause who knows? Maybe this new environment is a place where you might just be able to finally let yourself be who you've always felt you really are (or come to discover who that might be). And if that's true, I'm so very happy for you. :)
4.) What did you like most about your school?
My time spent at Idyllwild Arts is without a doubt, a time in my life that I treasure quite deeply. There are many reasons for this but it has genuinely taken me quite some time to grow aware of why being a student there was, arguably, one of the biggest blessings I've been fortunate enough to receive.You see, when I was in high school I would've liked to believe that I was truly thinking about my future very, very much. However, the truth is that I just wasn't - because well… I was in high school!! I was insecure as almost all of us tend to be when we're that age, trying to get better at the things that I was passionate about but also (and maybe more importantly), trying to have friends, develop a sense of belonging, and maybe figure out who it was that I wanted to be.Lucky for me, for what seemed like the first time ever, I was surrounded by peers who were also going through the same uncertain journey of pursuing creation and art as a life path.I've been very fortunate in the sense that even before Idyllwild I'd been able to attend good schools. However, when one is artistically inclined there tends to be a pattern that makes them not necessarily gel as well with the status quo. This was a big issue for me growing up - I was deeply interested in things and loved being active by creating or exploring said things. However, those things I would be interested in so deeply were just not really of much interest or concern to most other people I would meet.This ended up always making me feel like a bit of an outsider. While my interests may have been recognized by others, the fact that I was in a pretty small minority made it harder and harder to grow. This would lead to a good deal of seclusion for me - which is not inherently a bad thing but, when you’re young, it’s definitely tougher to deal with.This is why when I found myself at Idyllwild Arts I really felt like a part of me that I didn't even know existed had begun to blossom. Since, for the first time in my life, I realized that I was somewhere where I was not only allowed to be whoever I wanted to be but also, encouraged to do so and surrounded by people who whether they knew it or not, would help me in that process.Now, this is not to say that I was a “kid genius”, “force to be reckoned with” or any sort of “very special person” right out of the gate. On the contrary, I was just a kid who really enjoyed being involved in the process of making art. I also happened to realize that generally speaking, artistically-inclined people were just more my type of people since the certain open-mindedness that comes with art is something I had always strived to surround myself with. Idyllwild Arts is a fantastic place to find just that.Finally, I'd just like to add - There are real, tangible advantages that one can gain from having been given the privilege to explore before going into college (or the working world for that matter). When someone is given the opportunity to have a head start in deciding who they are, what th
5.) Do you have any final words of wisdom for visiting or incoming students to your school?
I would say that while I can certainly give you many words of wisdom about what I think could help you and what I think you could potentially get a lot out of, the truth is that wisdom is usually earned and not given.So, with this, I would just encourage you to go out there and not be afraid to make mistakes since mistakes are what we learn from the most. When we're used to getting things right we usually stagnate quickly and don't push ourselves to do better because we don't really need to. Mistakes, on the other hand, we tend to take quite personally and because of that, are able to reflect deeper on - thus promoting our own inner growth through our own process of self-reflection. This being said, don't linger on your mistakes for too long. ;)No matter what you do, you will mess up at some point. You will make mistakes that will sometimes hurt you and unfortunately sometimes also hurt others. But, after you allow yourself to pass the necessary period of feeling the weight of what your actions have caused. And, you are able to - on your own accord, come around to realizing how you can use those mistakes as lessons to better shape yourself into someone who you might actually admire and respect. You will learn to be grateful for having at least had the audacity (and, in hindsight, ignorance :p) to make those mistakes in the first place.Do your best to be conscious and aware of your actions. The intention behind our actions is fundamental. Never seek to cause harm. Whether you like it or not, at some point you inevitably will cause it anyways. But, if you actively try not to - when you do, the emotions and thoughts that come with the realization that you've messed up will often work as a great mirror to find where your blind spots lay.The better you are at knowing your blind spots and navigating life to make sure you don't repeat mistakes as often - the better you will able to communicate out of a place of inner knowing and thus, the better artist and more importantly, person you will be.When we're making art - perfection is relatively "admirable" but generally kind of boring. We're human and we're prone to making mistakes, but hopefully, we learn from them and live to tell the tale so that someone further on down the line might do better than we did. This is one way in which the artist is able to contribute to culture as opposed to simply creating products that are intended for consumption.This being said, this is just my one, individual perspective - I can't say enough just how much I encourage you to go out and find your own. Take certain pieces of advice that work but don't always take every last piece of advice to heart since sometimes, advice that might work for some might actually work against others.If you do your best to keep a sincerely open mind, stay curious, sharp, and free yourself from clinging to judgment (whether it be your own or that of others) then you will do fine. Everyone is always in the process of getting closer to being who they really are so be kind


1.) Describe the academics at your school - what did you like most about it?
Honestly, I chose to go to an art school because I knew that I leaned more toward the arts than traditional academics (even though I often use parts of typical subjects within my works - math, languages, etc...). I loved the fact that while we did have academics, the majority of our school day was spent focusing on arts. That is not to say that the academics were lacking but, in fact, is a testament to say that the academic classes were also taught by teachers who were also artistically inclined and could therefore be better suited to understand the often restless, creative mind of a high school student (and help tie those two different worlds together).


1.) Describe the athletics at your school - what did you like most about it?
I've honestly never been very into sports. However, I do remember the athletics program being the most fun of any school I had ever been in. This is largely due to the fact that we had a lot of space to roam and because of that, the fact that we were able to do activities that you would normally not get to do in a traditional school setting. These would be activities like going on hikes, playing all sorts of games in large fields, etc...I'd also like to add that it can't be understated how, because you were surrounded by more artistically inclined students - the often, very competitive nature that comes with sports was taken more lightly and thus one could more easily be sporty for "the sake of the game" and enjoy oneself. That to me is a way healthier approach to being active than the traditional methods used by schools since more often than not, these methods are inadvertently used to find the players for the school teams while generally holding all of the students to that same standard.This is not to say that there is anything inherently wrong with investing a good amount into developing athletes but, generally speaking, one doesn't go to art school to become an athlete.

Art, Music, and Theatre:

1.) Describe the arts program at your school - what did you like most about it?
Personally, I originally went to Idyllwild Arts Academy as an interdisciplinary (Which I believe is now called "InterArts") major because I had mixed passions for both music and film/photography. Because I was originally an interdisciplinary student I got to take classes from many different majors. While my ability to take classes from a wide array of different majors helped me expand my "artistic palette" to fields I did not know I was interested in - I was coincidentally also not allowed to participate in the "main event" of each major since precisely, the InterArts major, also has it's own "main event". This being said, after about a year I came to understand which major I gravitated most toward and was able to easily transition into it. To this date, I still make use of many techniques I learned from many classes that were separate from my own major.

Extracurricular Opportunities:

1.) Describe the extracurriculars offered at your school - what did you like most about it?
There were plenty of student-led clubs available to join. However, I personally was never a part of them since I had my hands full with plenty of projects already. This being said there were also plenty of extracurricular opportunities to go on field trips, to visit masters at the craft and sit in and learn with them, go to museums, screenings, etc.. – I did get a quite lot from those experiences in the long run.

Dorm Life:

1.) Describe the dorm life in your school - what did you like most about it?
While once you become an adult dorm life becomes somewhat laughable, I have to say that at a place like Idyllwild Arts being in a dorm definitely has its benefits. While often, students might be jealous of those that get to live outside of the dorms because they might have certain liberties that dorm students don't, the truth is that I would still be a dorm student over an off-campus student if I had to do it all over again. The reason for this is that when you live in a dorm, you develop a sense of camaraderie whether you like it or not. By necessity, you are put in a position to socialize in a way that is often not necessary for traditional high school students. Since, because you live with people and you see them a lot you find a way to get along or, at the very least try and maintain a sense of peace with those whom you live with. In the long run, I realized that this exposed me to many different cultures in a more "homey" way and thus helped form me into someone who is more attuned to different cultural sensitivities and more easily able to bridge the gap between them.


1.) Describe the dining arrangements at your school.
Cafeteria food is generally cafeteria food. This being said, having been to different schools I always found that the diversity of what was available at the dining hall was really high. There was always a rotating menu with a couple of staples that were crowd favorites on certain days/meals. But, there was also always a very large salad bar to choose from - so, if you weren't feeling what was being offered on any particular day, (which, I should also mention - there were always different plates to choose from anyway), you could always fix yourself something more to your liking.

Social and Town Life:

1.) Describe the school's town and surrounding area.
Because I was a dorm student I only ever really went into town on the weekends when we didn't have school. The school would provide rides to and from the town within a designated time and honestly, having the town be fairly small was pretty nice. Generally speaking, me and my friends would not do much other than go get food, maybe buy some snacks from the grocery store and, from time to time, maybe have a nicer meal or even go to the movies. I like the fact that we were able to be off campus even though the campus was also massive because it is nice to have a change of pace from time to time.
2.) Describe the social life at your school - what did you like most about it?
I mean, in my opinion, the social life at Idyllwild Arts is second to none. You're already in a place that is geared towards artistically-inclined individuals. With this comes the certain open-mindedness that artists generally have. And, because of that I personally found the social atmosphere to be very lighthearted, encouraging, and mostly fun.Of course, as with any high school, there's bound to be drama from time to time (trust me, I should know) but, because you all live pretty close to each other you generally find ways to get over yourselves and make peace. Something that might generally be harder at a more traditional school where you're not necessarily forced to interact with one another outside of the classroom.To this date, I still remain in touch with many of my friends from Idyllwild Arts. In fact, at the time of writing this, I literally just had a former classmate of mine who was briefly in town stay with me. Obviously, it's hard to stay in touch and maintain friendships with everyone you were once friends with. But, I do think that generally, I made a lot of friends, created many memories I will treasure for the reast of my life, and got to meet a lot of people I will always hold dear to my heart.

Daily Schedule:

7:00 AM
Breakfast (Dining hall would serve breakfast starting at 7 or 8 (I can't really remember which)
8:00 AM
Academic classes would generally start around 8 or 9 and go until 12 or 1 PM (Admittedly, I've forgotten exactly which is correct)
1:00 PM
Then from 1 PM afterwards it would arts classes (some days would go longer than others depending on schedule)
8:00 AM
Weekends were truly weekends. You could sleep in, you could wake up early, you could go out, stay in - totally up to you! :)
Read more details about Idyllwild Arts Academy on their 2024 profile page.

Alumni Reviews Review School

Idyllwild Arts Academy Alumni #1
Class of 2020
5.00 1/19/2024
Idyllwild Arts Academy
Idyllwild Arts Academy's focus on the arts is well-known. Intensive training in a variety of artistic disciplines, such as dance, music, theater, visual arts, and creative writing, is integrated into the curriculum. Along with intensive. . .
Idyllwild Arts Academy Alumni #2
Class of 2016
5.00 8/11/2023
Idyllwild Arts Academy
Comprehensive Arts Education: Idyllwild Arts Academy's dedication to providing a comprehensive arts education is one of its standout features. The academy offers a wide variety of artistic disciplines, including music, dance, visual arts, drama, film. . .
Idyllwild Arts Academy Alumni #3
Class of 2018
5.00 8/5/2023
Idyllwild Arts Academy
The academy lays a lot of emphasis on encouraging its students' creativity, focus, and artistic expression. A strong academic program is combined with a demanding arts curriculum to give children a well-rounded education. Students are. . .
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Quick Stats (2024)

  • Enrollment: 280 students
  • Yearly Tuition (Boarding Students): $75,900
  • Yearly Tuition (Day Students): $34,000
  • Acceptance rate: 65%
  • Average class size: 12 students
  • Application Deadline: None / Rolling
  • Source: Verified school update