There are many reasons a student might choose a residential public high school. These schools can provide students with a challenging curriculum at little to no cost to the student’s family. They provide students with extraordinary opportunities to be with intellectual peers and are noted for producing many of the nation’s top scholars.
Residential public high schools can be a good option for gifted students. Each student and their situation should be considered individually; factors such as maturity and personal passions are important. Gifted students can thrive at residential public high schools and gain experience with expectations of higher education. Additionally, these programs are often paired with a university and students have the opportunity to gain college credits.
Not all residential public high schools are created equal. Although many are free, families need to learn about if there are tuition expenses or fees. Families considering this option should expect incidental expenses such as travel costs or special program fees. Students should consider what residential high schools offer in terms of coursework and if diploma or degree granting.
Most residential public high schools have high standards equivalent to college entrance requirements. Admission is based on test scores; grades; extracurricular activities and teacher recommendations.
There are some downsides to residential programs. Some students may not be prepared to live away from home and family; they must want to participate in the program. Most schools have residency requirements; generally requiring students live in the state where the school is located. Residential high schools generally have rigorous coursework; they require dedication. A transcript of this chat can be found on our Storify page.
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Residential Public High Schools
The Alabama School of Mathematics and Science is a public residential high school in the Midtown neighborhood of Mobile, Alabama. ASMS is a member of the National Consortium for Specialized Secondary Schools of Mathematics, Science and Technology.
The Alabama School of Fine Arts is a public, partially residential high school located in downtown Birmingham, Alabama, United States.
The Arkansas School for Mathematics, Sciences, and the Arts is a two-year, public residential high school located in Hot Springs, Arkansas. It is a part of the University of Arkansas administrative system and a member of the NCSSSMST.
The Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy, or IMSA, is a three-year residential public high school in Aurora, Illinois, United States, with an enrollment of approximately 650 students.
The Indiana Academy for Science, Mathematics, and Humanities is a residential school located on the campus of Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana, although it operates independently of the university.
The Kansas Academy of Mathematics and Science (KAMS) is the state’s premier academic high school program for the state’s best and brightest high school students. KAMS is a unique residential learning experience that provides exceptional high school juniors and seniors a potent blend of: college-level instruction by Ph.D. faculty; a high school diploma and 68 hours of college credit; and hands-on research supervised by Ph.D. scientists.
The Gatton Academy is a public academy and an early college entrance program funded by the state of Kentucky and located on the campus of Western Kentucky University.
The Louisiana School for Math, Science, and the Arts is located in Natchitoches, Louisiana on the campus of Northwestern State University. Ranked the best public high school in Louisiana LSMSA’s residential program offers top-ranked faculty and superior academics for the state’s best students.
The Maine School of Science and Mathematics is a residential magnet high school in Limestone, Maine. MSSM serves students from all over the state of Maine, as well as youth from other states and international students.
Mass Academy is a public, co-educational school of excellence that enrolls about 100 academically accelerated 11th and 12th graders. Seniors complete a full year of college, enrolling in classes at WPI, a nationally ranked engineering school, thus making the Academy the only public school in Massachusetts whose students attend a private university full-time as seniors in high school.
The Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science is Mississippi’s only public residential high school for academically gifted students and is located in Columbus, Mississippi on the campus of the Mississippi University for Women.
The Mississippi School of the Arts is an upper high school of literary, visual, and performing arts on the historic Whitworth College Campus in Brookhaven, Mississippi, about sixty miles south of Jackson, Mississippi.
North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics is a two-year, public residential high school located in Durham, North Carolina, US, that focuses on the intensive study of science, mathematics and technology.
The University of North Carolina School of the Arts is a public coeducational arts conservatory in Winston-Salem, North Carolina that grants high school, undergraduate and graduate degrees.
The Oklahoma School of Science and Mathematics is a two-year, public residential high school located in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
The South Carolina Governor’s School for Science and Mathematics is a public, boarding high school for students in grades 11 and 12, located in Hartsville, South Carolina.
The Texas Academy of Leadership in the Humanities is a residential honors program for gifted and talented Texas high school-aged students who seek to develop their full potential as citizens and who show special interest and aptitude for study in the Humanities.
The Texas Academy of Mathematics and Science is a two-year residential early entrance college program serving approximately 375 high school juniors and seniors at the University of North Texas.
Photo of Gatton Academy used with permission. Graphic courtesy of Lisa Conrad.