About the New York State Summer School of the Arts
Frequently Asked Questions
*ANSWERS REFER TO A NORMAL, IN PERSON SEASON. THE 2021 SEASON WILL BE ALL VIRTUAL DUE TO THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC*
What is NYSSSA?
Founded in 1970, the New York State Summer School of the Arts (NYSSSA) is a highly-competitive summer arts residential program funded by the New York State Education Department and student tuition. The four week, pre-professional summer curriculum includes individual and group instruction designed to help each student explore and develop their talents in ballet, choral studies, modern dance, visual arts, media arts, orchestral studies, or theatre. Students live in a college dorm and take classes from performing and visual artists for 6-12 hours a day, six days a week in their area of concentration.
Where are the schools located?
NYSSSA occurs at 4 host campuses: Skidmore College - Schools of Ballet, Dance and Orchestral Studies, SUNY Fredonia - Schools of Visual Arts and Choral Studies, SUNY Delhi - School of Theatre , Alfred State College - School of Media Arts. All students attending NYSSSA must reside at the host campus - a commuter option is not available.
What is a typical day like?
Students are engaged in classes traditionally from 9am to 5pm with a lunch break in the middle of the day. Evening activities vary at each program.
NYSSSA provides many options for afternoon and evening activities which complement and extend the work of classes. For example at the School of Ballet and Orchestral Studies, students may attend New York City Ballet or Philadelphia Orchestra performances at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center. At the School of Choral Studies students may attend a faculty recital or a working opera rehearsal at the Chautauqua Institute. The School of Theatre students will participate in play readings of new works and engage in talk backs with professional artists. School of Dance students will have additional rehearsals and enrichment programs addressing a issues impacting professional dancers such as wellness, nutrition and rehearsal technique. At Visual Arts or Media Arts, students will attend visiting artist lectures, watch films, or participate in open studio hours.
What kinds of recreational and social activities are offered?
Students have free time and can participate in a full recreational program where they can get to know their fellow NYSSSA students. Weekends are fully planned with a wide range of activities both recreational and artistic such as field trips to NYC, art museums, and fairs, and excursions into the beautiful towns of our host colleges. Each afternoon and evening, facilities at our host campuses are open for individual and group recreation. During free time students can participate in social events such as ultimate Frisbee tournaments, capture the flag competitions, and scavenger hunts. For many, the high social moments are our end of program talent shows and dances (the School of Visual Arts costume ball is always a highlight). Others say that their best free moments are spent in the spontaneous conversations, gatherings, and activities that students initiate on the benches of quads and by fountains, at meals, and in dormitory halls.
Is NYSSSA different from regular school?
Students at NYSSSA come from across New York State. They share a common desire to explore their art at a level and pace that may not be possible during the regular school year. NYSSSA faculty and staff provide interesting and challenging artistic experiences that are different than those explored in traditional high schools.
Are grades or credit awarded?
NYSSSA students do not receive grades or transcripts for their participation in the program. Students receive feedback from artistic faculty concerning their development throughout the four weeks. Upon completion of the program, students are awarded one high school credit in the arts, subject to their home district approval. Notification is provided to each student’s school in late fall.
What is expected of me as a student?
You are required to attend and participate in all classes and activities in your daily schedule. While your days are busy, they’re also a lot of fun. You’ll experience things you’ve never done before and make great new friends in the process. While some activities may test your “comfort zone” and cause you to stretch your boundaries, they will be extremely rewarding. You should be prepared to grow intellectually, artistically and personally. NYSSSA can be quite challenging, but many former students describe it as a very transformative and often life-changing experience. The challenge is worth it.
Where do students live?
Students live in dormitories on our host campuses and participate in a full meal plan (breakfast, lunch and dinner) in the campus dining hall. Each campus also hosts other youth programs and is bustling with activities and students. Students may have a roommate, plus access to common areas which are open to the whole NYSSSA program. Accepted students receive a suggested packing list and in depth details about their specific campus. A full counseling staff resides in the dormitories with the students. Counselors administer the recreational program, communicate with artistic faculty about student needs, monitor residence life, and protect student health and safety.
How strict are the rules at NYSSSA?
NYSSSA is a program of the New York State Education Department. As such, it is also governed by a number of rules and regulations associated with residential life for high school students. The rules are to promote student health and safety, while creating a secure and welcoming environment where the student can fully participate in their designated art. Rules and expectations are provided upon acceptance into the program and must be signed and acknowledged by both student and parent/guardian. Failure to adhere to NYSSSA’s rules will result in dismissal from the school without refund of tuition.
Do students have to attend NYSSSA for the full 4 week period?
Yes. If a student accepts the invitation to attend NYSSSA, he/she must make the commitment to attend the entire session. (NOTE: Any student who is dismissed prior to the conclusion of the program will not receive a NYSSSA certificate, nor be permitted to cite NYSSSA on college and scholarship applications.) Students with conflicts should reconsider auditioning for the program. Students are not excused to attend school, family, or community events (i.e., camps, competitions, reunions, etc.). On rare occasions students may be excused for events of great urgency that cannot be rescheduled (ie: a College Orientation that cannot be rescheduled and does not conflict with program activities such as a performance). Such requests may only be submitted after the student is accepted as soon as the conflict is identified and are subject to NYSSSA and Artistic approval.
May students go home on weekends?
No. Students must remain at NYSSSA through the weekends as classes, activities and recreational programs occur seven days a week. Brief pre-approved visits by families which do not conflict with program activities are allowed.
Who is eligible to audition for NYSSSA?
To be eligible to attend NYSSSA a student MUST be currently in grades 8-12 (students in grades 6 and 7 may apply for the School of Ballet) and a full time resident of New York State (Summer or occasional residency does not meet residency qualifications). Students who are not currently in the required grades or who reside out-of-state are not eligible to audition for NYSSSA.
How are students selected to attend NYSSSA?
The selection process varies, depending on the School for which the student is applying. All students must audition and fully complete the application process to be selected for NYSSSA. No exceptions are permitted. Selections are determined by Artistic Faculty.
May a student audition for more than one school?
What are the odds of being selected?
Due to limited funding, each program has a specific number of student positions allocated. Approximately 33% of applicants are selected each year. This selection rate tends to vary across disciplines, according to the number of applicants received in a particular discipline in a given year.
When/how are students notified about selection?
Upon conclusion of all auditions or adjudications for each program, faculty review applicants and provide acceptance determinations. Please do not call the NYSSSA office for audition results. Once notified by NYSSSA, accepted students must submit their deposit to NYSSSA to secure their spot in the program. If a student misses this deadline, another qualified student who was placed on the alternate list will be selected in their place.
I was placed on the Alternate List- what does this mean?
Some auditioning students are identified as Alternate (or wait-listed) students. Students are placed on the alternate list because the faculty believes they could benefit from a summer at NYSSSA, but cannot be accepted due to the limited number of accepted spots allocated for each program. Acceptances are extended to students from the alternate list as space becomes available. The number of students admitted from the alternate list varies from year to year and students will be contacted directly should a space open up. NYSSSA does not provide a student with their location on the alternate list. Students who will be unable to accept a position should one become available are encouraged to notify NYSSSA to remove their name from the alternate list.
May students attend a NYSSSA school more than one time?
Yes, however students may only attend the School of Theatre for one year. Those students may subsequently audition for other NYSSSA programs. Students across all programs must audition and apply for acceptance each year. There is no preference for returning students.
What is the cost to attend NYSSSA?
In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, NYSSSA will not be charging tuition for 2021 virtual programs.
The following two questions apply to future, in-person programming.
Is tuition assistance available?
Yes. Tuition Assistance information is provided to accepted students. Applications may be submitted once a student receives notice of their acceptance to NYSSSA. NYSSSA awards tuition assistance based upon demonstrated economic need as indicated by the student’s reported family income. Please note every student attending NYSSSA is on a partial scholarship, as state dollars keep tuition costs far below the actual costs of administering the program. A student’s tuition assistance determination will not be made until a fully completed application with supporting documentation is received by NYSSSA. Please note, a student should be listed as a dependent under the supporting New York State Income Tax Documentation submitted. If the student is not, the application will be returned until the appropriate supporting documents are presented. Where a parent/guardian is filing as “married filing separately” both parent/guardians’ New York State Income Tax documents will be required to complete the application for assistance. If a family does not file New York State Income Tax, appropriate social services documentation must accompany the application for tuition assistance. All information provided to NYSSSA remains confidential.
Is tuition refundable?
Tuition is not refundable.