Parent FAQs - Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy

Parent FAQs

Why does my child have to live on campus? If we live close by, can my student commute to class every day?

IMSA is a unique learning environment where opportunities for education and collaboration exist well beyond the classroom. Whether it’s helping to develop and facilitate leadership education curriculum or collaborating with Student Council to start new campus initiatives around sustainability, our students are constantly learning from hands-on opportunities that make the residential aspect of IMSA essential. Our Residence Life staff also work to prepare students for the “real-world” by teaching them conflict resolution skills, time-management, how to budget their money, and how to live independently in a diverse population of people. Alumni have stated that these skills prepared them for success beyond IMSA just as much as the rigorous academic preparation that they received in the classroom. View Residential Curriculum

How will my child be supervised while they live on campus?

While living at IMSA, your child will have a number of adults checking in with them on a regular basis. Our campus is composed of seven residential halls. Each hall has four wings with 18-24 students living in the wing. Each wing is supervised by a professional staff member called a Resident Counselor (RC) who lives in the wing with the students. Our RCs are adults with at least a Bachelor’s Degree who are trained in Residence Life and background checked by the State of Illinois. Our Resident Counselors help students adjust to life at IMSA, check in with them about their grades, make sure they are managing their time, and facilitate our Residence Life Curriculum. They also work closely with teachers and parents to make sure students have the tools they need to be successful at IMSA. In addition to the RCs, we have two Area Coordinators and two Assistant Directors who also live on campus full time. The Area Coordinators and Assistant Directors serve as Administrators on Call in the evenings, and they are trained to respond to any emergency from student injuries to inclement weather. IMSA also employs around-the-clock security team. Our security officers are here 24/7, 365 days a year monitoring the cameras around campus, doing rounds of the Main Building and Residence Halls, and monitoring the exterior perimeter of campus. Luckily, our most frequent trespassers are usually just the resident family of skunks!

Can my child have a car on campus?

Because safety is our number one priority, we do not allow students to keep cars on campus. Students are allowed to walk to local businesses within a mile of campus with permission from a staff member, and our Resident Counselors frequently take trips to allow students to get off campus and have fun. While we don’t allow students’ personal cars on campus, students can elect to take Driver’s Ed while living on campus. This is facilitated through the Principal’s Office, and Driver’s Ed teachers will come to campus.

Will my student have a roommate?

Yes! At IMSA, all of our students live with roommates. We do not have any single rooms. Incoming sophomores can request a specific roommate if they know someone else attending IMSA. Otherwise, roommates are matched based on survey responses and shared interests indicated in a roommate survey which will be completed after you are accepted. Each roommate pair will have a room with two beds (that can be bunked or un-bunked), two desks, and two wardrobes. Each roommate pair will also share a bathroom. Students are responsible for keeping their room and bathroom clean. Resident Counselors will conduct room inspections twice a month to make sure that students are living in a healthy, clean environment.

When can I pick my student up?

You are welcome to pick your student up whenever they do not have any other required commitments, like classes or mandatory meetings. You will have access to their class schedule through PowerSchool and be notified of any evening meetings well in advance to allow your family to plan accordingly. Outside of that, you are welcome to pick up your child on evenings and weekends. We do ask that when you pick up your child, you check them out with the adult on duty (in the Attendance Office during the academic day and the RC Office during evenings and weekends) and bring a photo ID so we know who your child is leaving with. As stated above, there are quite a few evening events and opportunities during the week for students, so we do ask that you limit evening sign-outs during the week to make sure students are not missing out on opportunities to learn and get involved on campus.

Is there anything to do on campus on the weekends?

Definitely! A number of our students come from all over the State of Illinois, so it is not realistic for them to go home every weekend. Therefore, there are a number of students who stay on campus. On the weekends, you can usually find students participating in a wide range of activities, such as hosting a Super Smash Brother’s video game tournament, completing community service projects, taking trips to the mall, or going to see a movie. Our Residence Life Staff works over the weekend to make sure that there are fun activities and trips available to students.

What sorts of clubs or activities do you offer on campus?

IMSA is a participating member of the Illinois High School Association (IHSA) for sports. View a full list of the athletic teams we offer here.
IMSA also offers a wide range of clubs and co-curricular activities from our State Champion Chess team to K-Pop Club. There is truly an opportunity for every student to get involved in something they’re interested in. Students are also welcomed and encouraged to charter new clubs to continue to provide opportunities for involvement and leadership. View a full list of clubs and organizations here.

How does IMSA promote diversity, equity, and inclusion on campus?

In order to make IMSA feel like home for everyone, we have adopted a Diversity Plan for students and staff at the Academy. The entire plan can be found here. It is important that community members be effective at interacting across cultures, which is essential to IMSA’s vision of “igniting and nurturing creative, ethical scientific minds that advance the human condition”. IMSA’s diverse cultural groups also include the political orientations, statewide regional cultures, and the multiplicity of beliefs, ideas, and visions that are critical to fostering an educational environment where students, faculty, and staff exchange ideas freely, encourage critical thinking and reexamine their personal perspectives. While a student is at IMSA, they can expect to engage in educational opportunities and discussions regarding diversity, equity, and inclusion.  Students who have a passion for equity work have the opportunity to become Peer Multicultural Educators, where they work with our Director of Equity and Inclusion to create, facilitate, and implement educational opportunities surrounding diversity and inclusion for their peers.

Are there research or internship opportunities available?

IMSA has a wide array of personalized learning experiences for students. Through our SIR department, students in good academic standing can conduct advanced-level research on topics of their choosing with the mentorship of a professional in that field. Research typically occurs on Wednesdays which are reserved for Inquiry Days, frequently referred to as “I Days.” On these days, students conducting research off-campus are transported to their research location and spend the entire day researching and gaining hands-on skills while making personal connections with professionals in their field of study. Their year-long research culminates in an event called IMSAloquium, where students formally present their research findings to the IMSA community and the public. Students can also learn about entrepreneurship, business, marketing, web design, and gain real-world professional skills through our internship program. Run through our Center for Innovation and Inquiry (IN2), this program helps match students with working professionals and start-ups in their field of interest. More information about IN2 and their internship program can be found here.

Does IMSA offer AP classes?

Oftentimes, AP class curriculums are focused on teaching material simply to pass the AP Exams. This teaching philosophy directly conflicts with IMSA’s hands-on, problem-based learning approach. Students in IMSA’s classes will be pushed beyond the memorization of facts and will be asked to apply the knowledge that they are learning in classroom activities. However, with that being said, all of our classes are taught at advanced levels, and many of our students go on to take AP Exams to gain college credit. In the 2018-2019 academic year, IMSA administered 597 AP Exams to 278 students. Therefore, while our classes are not labeled as “AP Classes” the content that our students learn will prepare them for the AP Exams and beyond. View a full course catalog here.