The Arkansas School for Mathematics, Sciences and the Arts has officially opened the search for the Classes of 2023 and 2024 while taking a new approach to recruiting students during the COVID-19 pandemic.

ASMSA is a public residential high school serving academically and artistically motivated students of all background from throughout the state of Arkansas. A cohort of 230 students in 10th, 11th and 12th grades attend classes and live on Hot Springs campus in a community of learning unlike any other in the state. The school was established by the Arkansas General Assembly in 1991 and opened in 1993.

This year offers a challenge unlike any other that the school has experienced. As is the case across the state, nation and world, ASMSA is adapting to living through a global pandemic.

While members of the Office of Admissions would normally be on the road meeting students at their schools and in their communities across the state, the COVID-19 pandemic has made it unsafe do to so in the present circumstances.

“Our passion for connecting young Arkansans to the opportunities available to them at ASMSA remains as bright as ever,” said Charlie Feick, director of admissions. “The way we connect just has to be a little bit different this year. We are using the additional time we have in the office to expand the ways prospective students are able to interact with ASMSA.

“We have broadened our online information session offerings, digitized our annual Science and Arts Cafes, rolled out new multidisciplinary workshops, and are prioritizing personal and direct engagement with students utilizing phone calls and personalized mail.”

Just as its students persevere and adapt to changing and adverse circumstances, ASMSA has launched new approaches to admissions recruitment in light of the pandemic. While the institution has offered online information sessions previously, it has expanded the number of opportunities to allow students and their families to connect directly from their home with admissions representative, current students and ASMSA faculty members. Online information sessions will be offered throughout the fall and early spring semesters.

In addition of the introductory Life and Learning at ASMSA online information sessions, more than a dozen sessions with specific topics will be provided. Some of the topics covered include science at ASMSA; arts and music; world languages and global learning; humanities; math, computer science and entrepreneurship opportunities; research; residence life; and other topics. Two sessions will focus on the application process.

During these sessions, current ASMSA students as well as members of the faculty and staff will

be available to answer questions in addition to admissions representatives. For a full list of online sessions and registration, go to visit.asmsa.org.

In place of physically visiting schools throughout the state, admissions recruiters will conduct video conferencing sessions with students at their current schools. Information with details on how to arrange the video campus visits will be sent to guidance counselors and Gifted and Talented coordinators at schools statewide.

ASMSA will continue to offer opportunities to visit campus through the traditional Preview Days and Focus Weekends. These events present the chance for prospective applicants and their families to meet with current ASMSA students, tour the campus and gain a better understanding of student life at ASMSA. Focus Weekends further allow participants to engage in a two-hour workshop in a subject of interest to them.

“Visiting campus affords families the opportunity to engage directly with current students, faculty, and staff,” Feick said. “Students will spend their remaining years of high school here; it is important they get a sense of the campus culture first-hand in order to envision themselves living, learning, and growing here.”

The format of all on-campus sessions has been adjusted in light of COVID-19 as ASMSA takes the safety and well-being of our current and future students seriously. The number of visitors allowed at one time have been reduced as well as the areas of campus included in the tours.

Appropriate social distancing and face coverings are required to help protect our visitors and the students residing on campus.

Following these requirements for campus visitors, current students, faculty and staff has allowed the campus to remain COVID-19 free with zero positive student or employee cases reported to date.

Another positive change ASMSA has made is developing a more user-friendly application portal. Interested students will be able to complete all parts of the application packet within the portal. The checklist allows students to see what components of the application ASMSA has received as well as what still needs to be completed.

Students apply to ASMSA through a competitive admissions process that evaluates high school coursework, ACT/SAT scores, responses to essay questions, recommendation forms and other accomplishments. Finalist candidates are invited to attend Interview Weekends in April. The process is similar to application at selective colleges and universities.

The rigorous applications process assists ASMSA in identifying for admission well-rounded young Arkansans who possess a strong sense of character, actively give to their communities and seek out the most challenging coursework available to them while applying themselves to the best of their abilities.

Students must submit their completed application packet no later than March 1, 2021. To learn more about ASMSA’s application process and the requirements for admission, visit asmsa.org/admissions, call 501.622.5235 or email admissions@asmsa.org.

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