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Vol. 4 No. 2
Strategic National Arts Alumni Project
DataBrief provides arts educators and arts policy makers
with highlights of SNAAP data and insights
into the value of arts-school education.
Contact us for more information.

Arts high schools are eligible to participate in the 2016 SNAAP survey. Registration is now open. Arts Schools Network members receive a special discount. For more information: 2016 Invitation to Participate

Spotlight On: Arts High School Alumni

Arts-intensive high schools can vary in their specific characteristics: public or private, day or residential, admission through lottery or audition, a focus on performing arts or fine arts, and urban, suburban, or rural. However, they all provide a unique atmosphere for high school students through customized learning experiences.

This DataBrief looks at the long-term impacts of attending an arts high school. From 2011-13, thirteen arts high schools* participated in SNAAP and nearly 4,000 high school alumni responded to the survey. The median age of the respondents was 32 (ranging from 17 – 90), and 42% were 29 or younger.

The top arts concentrations while at their arts high schools:

  • 41% Music Performance
  • 17% Theater
  • 15% Fine & Studio Arts
  • 13% Dance
  • 5% Creative and Other Writing

Further Education

A key indicator of success for any high school is the number of graduates who pursue further education. Nearly all respondents indicated that they pursued some kind of further education after graduating from their arts high schools, and 95% said their school prepared them well for further education.

  • 98% pursued further education at some point (although not necessarily a traditional Bachelor's degree- some pursued certificates, Associate's degrees, or other training)
  • 71% of alumni immediately pursued further education after graduating
  • 95% said their institution prepared them "very" or "fairly" well for further education
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Career Satisfaction

Arts high school graduates were generally satisfied with their current careers. The following data signifies those who answered "extremely satisfied" and "somewhat satisfied" with various aspects:

  • Work that reflects personality, interests, and values (76%)
  • Opportunity to contribute to the greater good (75%)
  • Opportunity to be creative (74%)
  • Job security (72%)
  • Work/non-work life balance (68%)
  • Opportunity for career advancement (67%)
  • Income (62%)
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Careers In And Out Of The Arts

Do alumni of arts-intensive high schools continue with careers in the arts?

  • 62% have been or currently were professional artists
  • 51% were currently working at least one arts-related job
  • 45% spent a majority of their work time in an arts-related occupation
  • Only 3% were unemployed and looking for work

In terms of the relevance of their intensive arts training to their current work outside the arts, respondents made a number of connections, including the following:

  • "Art helps keep me stable and as a clinical social worker that is essential. I am very aware of the healing aspects of doing art and encourage clients to participate in some creative activity."
  • "I work with spreadsheets primarily. When designing a new sheet or a report for a layman, I consider how eyes follow information and how easily the reader can get lost in the details presented. I consider my work on reports to be artistic because apparently many others in my field lack the ability to present data in a way that is easy to understand and clearly organized."
  • "My theatre arts training made me a better communicator and a more well-rounded, empathetic human being with the ability to work with others across a broad range of socio-economic and frankly, intelligence levels. In my current career as a training specialist with a finance company, these skills have been vital."
  • "Performance has helped me in every aspect of my life. I have to give presentations in meetings internally in my organization, and also to customers. The poise and nerve-control I learned for performing helps a lot in my presentations!"

Since more than a third of arts high school graduates said they have never been a professional artist, exposure to a variety of careers is important. Schools could consider expanding internship opportunities or courses exploring potential careers. Career exploration for arts high school students can include discussions about how the arts can be beneficial in multiple careers and across disciplines.

This DataBrief is adapted from:
Miller, A.L., & Dumford, A.D. (2015, November). Arts and the real world: Career and lifestyle outcomes of artistically gifted high school students. Paper presented at the Annual Convention of the National Association for Gifted Children, Phoenix, Arizona.

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Arts High School Participants, 2011-2013

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