Frequently Asked Questions
The Chicago Academy for the Arts application can be up to 90 questions regarding the applicant, family, previous school, and artistic interest. Most applicants will find it to be much shorter. International applications require additional information. Please devote the necessary time to providing the most complete information possible so our admissions office can properly review your application. The good news; you can save the application and return to it later!
Because a goal of The Academy is a student’s conservatory placement in college, it is truly important that students pick one area of concentration. However, we do provide arts electives to junior and seniors. During the six periods of academics, each arts department offers a course (ranging from Studio Art and Acting for Non-Majors to Film Production and Music Theory).
Students may shadow in multiple departments to help aid in their decision.
However, when choosing an arts department, keep these points in mind.
1. Musical Theatre involves elements of singing, acting, and dance. Students will need to display an interest and talent in all three areas. The Theatre Department is primarily concerned with acting, directing, and production.
2. The Music Department has two distinct paths: vocal and instrumental. The Department focuses only on classical and jazz music. Every student takes classes in piano.
3. The Media Arts Department is for writers, filmmakers, and animators looking to tell a story. Applicants concerned over whether to apply to Visual Arts or Media Arts should ask whether they are interested in storytelling. Animation students do take classes in Visual Arts, so they are not giving up drawing if they choose this department. Students interested in fashion should choose the Visual Arts department.
4. While the Dance program is largely focused on ballet, your audition does not need to be in that discipline. Audition with whatever style of dance in which you are most comfortable.
This year, 54% of Academy students commute from outside the city of Chicago. We provide buses from the four major Metra stations (Union, La Salle, Van Buren and Ogilvie). Buses pick up in the morning before school and depart twice at the end of the day (4:40PM and 6:00PM).
The Academy has academic coursework from 8:30AM-1:20PM (six, 45-minute periods of which one is lunch). Students then study exclusively in their arts discipline from 1:30PM – 4:30PM. Students are often at The Academy until 6 p.m. because of rehearsals or by choice! Families often wonder how this compares with a more traditional high school day. We tell them the academic portion of the day includes all of the core academic courses minus electives like PE and shop, and the afternoon is a three-hour immersion in the student's respective arts discipline.
Yes, The Academy does have a need-based tuition assistance program. Families that would like to apply for tuition assistance do so during our traditional applicant timeline by submitting an application to FACTS. Families are eligible to receive a range of assistance based on income, but it is impossible to tell what a family might receive without going through the application process. For an estimate of what your tuition might be, please use our tuition calculator.
Academy graduates attend schools all over the country. They attend top conservatory and university programs in all fields. Please check out our School Profile and Alumni page to learn more about recent college acceptances and graduates.
This year, we have approximately 140 students. We seek to build a freshman class of 40 students. Some general classes tend to be larger, but most classes have 12 to 15 students. Honors and math classes tend to run smaller at about 7 to 10 students.
This year, The Academy accepted 52% of the applicants who applied. Students must be able to fulfill the audition requirements (which are outlined on the website), but that doesn’t mean they necessarily have any experience outside of school or other local organizations. This tends to be more department specific – dancers and musicians usually have a high level of outside experience, while visual artists and media artists have less.
While homework load varies by grade level and class, students can typically expect daily work in each of their academic classes. Academic and Arts faculty work together to account for the large commitment Academy students undertake both academically and artistically.
Yes. The Academy does have a learning resource specialist on campus; however, please speak with the Admissions Office about the specific needs of the prospective student, as there are limits to the assistance that the school is able to provide.
No. The Academy is an independent school and therefore not subject to the laws that apply to the public school system. We do have many stairs, and our students are quite active.
The Academy typically operates as an open-campus. Students are welcome, within limits, to leave during the day to eat lunch around the neighborhood.
Completing the Independent School Entrance Exam (ISEE) is a required part of the application process, but the entire application is considered holistically in making an admissions decision. Most students who are admitted to The Academy have earned a score of 5 or higher on the ISEE. Students may retake the ISEE if they believe they can improve their scores. Students may also submit other standardized test scores with their applications.
Learn more about the ISEE here.
Academy students routinely score above the state and national averages on standardized tests. The ACT is the most commonly taken college entrance exam at The Academy, and the students’ average score was nearly 20% higher than the state average in 2015.
Furthermore, nearly a third of Academy graduates pursue a non-arts major in college. Students find that a robust academic and arts education prepares them for a wide range of academic majors, and recent graduates have gone on to major in engineering, business, psychology, and medicine.