The Atlantic

The Irony of Specialized High Schools

Partaking in an intensive arts education as a teenager can have the unintended effect of pushing some toward a more traditional university path.
Source: Mark Lennihan / AP

For all four years of high school I spent half of every day dancing. And not just casual, because-I-felt-like-it dancing (although that did happen every now and then), but full-out, pre-professional ballet and modern dancing. Pink or black tights, leotards, and ballet buns were a requirement, not a suggestion.

So, it would make sense to assume that I’m writing this as a dancer. But alas, a dancer I am not. (Unless you include the times I catch myself in another bout of because-I-felt-like-it boogieing.)

The truth is, it isn’t uncommon for kids who attend the type of intensive performing-arts high school I did to disavow the field after leaving. I can count on one hand the number of my fellow classmates who actually went to college to pursue a degree in the art form they studied or became a professional in the same field. And while college counselors

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