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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Academic advice for high school dancers at year round programs

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baltroj, yes it does get very difficult to work out if the academic qualifications from a "foreign" institution will be accepted by a University in the future. The ideal high school qualification would be the International bacclaureate (IB) but it is very rigorous and requires a huge commitment which would not have been possible for my DD with her dance schedule.

To my knowledge, the IB is the only worldwide universally accepted higher education qualification and it is highly regarded by Universities.

In regards to high school educational qualifications for dancers, I think it is vitally important that they get the best well rounded education possible which is not at the expense of their dance training. Students who have successfully completed their high school education are looked upon favourably by further training institutions in our experience, although talent always wins out.

I think it is better that a student completes their high schooling, then goes on to 2-3 years of pre-professional dance training and starts auditioning for companies at 19-20 years of age than going straight into pre-professional training at 15/16 years without having completed their high school training even if they are a "prodigy". It doesn't matter how brilliant a dancer you are, there are unfortunately a huge number of obstacles to achieving the goal of a paid contract as a dancer, particularly in ballet. Much easier and cheaper to complete your high schooling whilst you are a teenager, supported by teachers and family than when you have just had a career ending injury.

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When attending school out of state, do students follow graduation requirements in their home state (since we parents can still claim them as dependents/residents) or in their "adopted" state?


Also, is there any type of consensus on the transferability and/or academic credit of high-school credits earned before high school? (I'm thinking math, science and foreign language here)

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Students use the graduation requirements of the institution that is granting the diploma, regardless of the state they are in. Every high school institution has its own rules regarding credit transfers, but in general if the credits were earned at an accredited institution, then it shouldn't matter what grade level those credits were earned.

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Unless it has changed, when DD attended high school out-of-state at a residential ballet school and a bricks-and-mortar high school, she had to follow that state's graduation requirements. Although all of her previous high school credits (from our state high school) showed up on her out-of-state transcript, she did not get actual credit for having taken an AP course because the out-of-state school did not offer that particular AP course. Her transferred credits were not factored into her GPA


When she finished high school on-line with another out-of-state school, she had to follow their requirements set by that state. Her previous credits appeared on her transcript, but were never factored into a GPA. We made sure she graduated with all the courses we would have expected her to take if she had followed our original school plan in our home state.

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Thanks! The AP credit is interesting - will have to keep an eye out on that one. Also, probably best to keep to the core subjects at first and save the fun electives for the end!

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I highly recommend North Star Academy! It is an online school with flexible due dates. Courses just have to be completed in 12 months. The teachers are really friendly and are always there to help.

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  • 6 years later...

My daughter is getting year round offers and we are having a really hard time understanding if it is necessary.  We have researched to understand what are the real chances she would go into a second company or get an apprentice offer?  We also don't know about online school.  Would an online school really prepare her for applying to college if the year round program does not result in a contract of some sort?  What are some good online programs providing solid academic rigor? We have so many questions and I may not be in the correct forum.  We are just looking for some suggestions.  

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Yes, online schools can provide strong preparation for college, but it will depend on the school and the actual classes chosen. For ex, my daughter used Keystone for a short while where they had everything from very basic classes to AP classes.  But balancing a full day 9-5 program plus weekends plus a demanding school schedule can be difficult. Your dancer will need to make sure she doesn’t bite off more than she can chew. There are so many online schools there now and there are many threads on that topic so I will leave specific recommendations to those.

The size of many year round programs will prevent many from getting a contract. You need to look at the odds realistically. 25 female trainees and 3 female second company members alone tells you the odds are not favorable on average.  Don’t only look at the numbers, look at bios and research dancers. Do those second company members or apprentices usually come from the school or are they just as or more likely to come from elsewhere? 

Not moving up the next level doesn’t have to be the end of the line. A good program for that level should also be helping those students prepare for the next step in the professional journey. They should be teaching them about resumes, helping with audition videos, and more. That’s something to keep in mind as well when choosing where to go year round.  Additionally, if there is anything living in a pandemic has taught us all is that not everything has to happen on a specific timeline. You don’t have to start college the second you finish high school. It can be a year later or even a decade later. If a dancer doesn’t get a job the next year, they can start with some community college classes to get their feet wet as they figure out what comes next. Have seen many dancers of a wide range of ages and experiences taking college classes lately . 

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You have given me a lot of information to consider.  So much talent out there and I want to ensure that my daughter has a realistic plan B if her initial plan does not work out.   Its good to know there has been success with online school.  We are online now, as a result of the pandemic, and she has thrived which has been a good indication for me that she would be fine in that type of learning environment.  

We just declined one offer after speaking with parents with that program.  Many of the second company slots have been filled with dancers outside of the school. This led me to doing more research and really trying to determine if this was the case for most schools. 

Thank you!


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My dancer used Keystone from middle school all the way through graduation of high school and was awarded merit scholarships from her university. Her brother who attended a very nice prep school, did not, so I can say that a online school like Keystone can do a good job getting your dancer prepared for higher ed. I will say that my dancer took two years off as a trainee before applying to college at the last minute. She entered her university at 20, and had no problems academically. She graduated in 3 years, and has danced professionally since graduation. She also decided during the Covid to apply to graduate school due to the unknown. She is finishing up her first year in grad school while she has managed to continue dancing with her company. 

School was not something she was "good" at as a child, which is how she fell in love with ballet. She would rather have danced her days away as a teenager. She is so grateful she went to school, got  her B.S.  in Ballet and found her way as a student while in school those 3 years. I do think that there are plenty of good on-line options including Laurel Springs which my other dancer has taken a few classes through. We know plenty of dancers who used LS and all went straight to college after high school and were accepted to selective schools.

When looking at how few dancers companies hire from their trainee and second company ranks, it's important to keep school as a very likely backup plan. 


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Thank you for sharing your experience.  We do think a back up plan is necessary and it's great to hear that your daughter was able to obtain her degree and dance professionally!  We want our daughter to continue striving towards a professional career but we also want to ensure she is ready for plan B if things don't go as she plans.  

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  • 2 weeks later...

Homeschooler here (always a homeschooler, not due to dance) 

One thing to consider with potential year round is dual enrollment.  There are many online options these days  and dual enrollment would allow a student to earn a full year high school credit AND a college credit, in only 1 semester.  

One option is Study.com, which I use some with my homeschoolers. They are completing their course work with the homeschool plan and then will switch to the college plan (and submit their work) when it's time for exams.  This is the guideline provided by study.com  Only some of their classes will be for both high school and college credit. Others are simply high school only.  

Another option is dual enrolling though colleges and universities.  I personally would look for colleges/universities that had a strong online program prior do Covid.

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