When it comes to choosing the right school, one size doesn’t fit all. Some students thrive in large schools, where they’re able to enjoy a wide variety of class selections, student organizations, and social options. Other students prefer a small school, where they’ll receive more individual attention, lower student-to-teacher ratios, and opportunities to work closely with the same group of classmates. Some schools are liberal; others are conservative. Some are more diverse than others. Students should not only look at tuition, but whether or not a school meets their varied interests, values, and goals. We provide a snapshot of some of the best schools around—both K-12 and post-secondary—to help you narrow your search.
Ages of Kinderberry Hill children: 6 weeks to 5 years
2011-12 tuition: Varies by location and age group
Application deadline: Rolling
Locations: Six locations (Eden Prairie, Woodbury, Roseville, Edina, Plymouth, and downtown Minneapolis).
Unique programs: The SEEDS of School Readiness emergent literacy program is incorporated into the Kinderberry Hill curriculum for infants through pre-kindergarteners.
We encourage our students to… learn through participation in a wide variety of carefully planned activities, customized to meet the unique needs of each child enrolled in the Kinderberry Hill program.
Our school is unique because… we are accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAYEC), the “gold standard” for the assessment of quality in an early childhood learning program.
Lake Country School
Who we are: An independent Montessori school located in south Minneapolis. Founded in 1976, we currently serve approximately 300 children between the ages of 3 and 15.
Our graduates are:
• Passionate and engaged in the world. They are enthusiastic!
• Productive. They know how to work and how to get work done.
• Self-reliant and independent. They know how to initiate and how to follow through.
• Knowledgeable. They can bring a variety of experiences to bear on a problem.
• Problem solvers. They know how to look for solutions.
• Curious and interested in everything. They are lifelong learners.
• Compassionate. They care about others and have a strong sense of justice and responsibility.
• Dreamers who can set and achieve goals. They know how to articulate a dream and make a plan.
• Independent thinkers who aren’t afraid to ask hard questions.
• Seekers who have the confidence and curiosity to go after what they need to know.
Collaborative. They know how to work with others and how to live well in a diverse community.
• Self-confident, sometimes quietly so.
www.lakecountryschool.org • Minneapolis • 612-827-3707
The International School of Minnesota
2011-12 tuition: Varies from $8,450 (half-day preschool) to $16,450 (grades 9-12).
Application deadline: Rolling
Who we are: A private, non-denominational, college-preparatory school for students age 3-18.
Unique programs: World language: Spanish and French are an intrinsic part of the daily curriculum, starting in preschool. Chinese is offered as an elective.
We encourage our students to… participate in a multitude of opportunities. ISM students are encouraged to take part in athletics, performing arts, robotics, debate team, math team, community service, and travel ventures (just to name a few).
Our school is unique because… we are part of the SABIS® School Network; one of 75 schools worldwide whose roots date back to 125 years. We are steeped in a legacy of rigorous academics and multicultural diversity.
One more thing: ISM test scores are consistently higher than local and national averages.
www.internationalschoolmn.com • Eden Prairie • 952-918-1800
2011-12 tuition: $12,000 – $15,000
Our educational philosophy: We are a college preparatory school committed to high quality education, integrating Christian faith and learning. We encourage our students to achieve the highest of academic standards, while discovering and developing their God given talents and gifts.
How does your philosophy shape the daily curriculum and activities? Faith is a vibrant and visible part of life at Minnehaha Academy throughout the curriculum, service learning, athletics, fine arts, and clubs, in addition to being the strongest component in shaping student character. We allow students to ask questions and explore ideas as they grow in their faith.
How is learning encouraged? Recognizing that there are many different ways to learn, we provide activities for auditory, visual, tactile and kinesthetic learners. Small-class sizes allow for students to be individually challenged and encouraged. Each classroom has multiple types of interactive technology, including iPads.
Unique programs: Classroom technology – interactive whiteboards at all age levels; award-winning AP program covering 21 subject exams—chosen as the top school in the state for our advanced placement math and science program 2007-2009; week-long cultural immersion experience program for grades 9-11, Senior Capstone—senior level course examining important matters that integrate academics and faith; elementary school specialists teach Spanish, computer, music, art and physical education; advisory program to support middle school students academically, socially and emotionally; extended day and summer programs.
How does a parent best prepare his/her child for your school? Parents should promote reading and writing activities as much as possible, as they are major focuses throughout all of the grades at Minnehaha Academy. Parents should also encourage students to seek opportunities that emphasize group collaboration and develop independent thinking skills.
www.minnehahaacademy.net • Minneapolis • 612-728-7756
Minnetonka Public Schools
Total full-time enrollment: 8,500
Average class sizes: 22 – elementary and 26 – secondary
Open enrollment: The application deadline for open enrollment is January 15 of each year. The application is available in November.
Unique programs: Rigorous advanced placement courses and a college counselor at the high school help 92 percent of students advance onto college. The middle school is one of the few schools in the state that offers accelerated courses in every core subject. And Chinese or Spanish immersion is offered on the elementary level along with the Navigators program for the exceptionally gifted beginning in third grade.
We encourage our students to… find and pursue their passion for excellence.
Our schools are unique because... we’re a national leader in using technology to accelerate learning and the results are clear.
One more thing: we know that each child is unique and we know that every parent wants the best education for their child. So do we.
Step By Step Montessori
Who we are: We started out in 1991 as a group of Montessori schools and child care centers with four locations. Since then we have grown to include four additional schools and eight locations in the Minneapolis metro.
Ages of Step by Step children: 6 weeks to 6 years
Locations: Brooklyn Park, Chaska, Corcoran, Maple Grove, Plymouth, Southdale, St. Anthony, and Wayzata
We believe in… using Montessori materials to allow children to explore practical life, sensory perception, reading and writing abilities, mathematical skills, geographical areas, and elements of botany and zoology as well as enrichment programs in music and foreign language. We believe fine arts are a part of the classroom curriculum and this strengthens the child’s awareness of their own creativity and the diversity of others.
Unique programs: In addition to the regular school day, families may elect to have their children participate in dance, computer, or field trips.
www.stepbystepmontessori.com • 763-557-6777
Gustavus Adolphus College
Total full-time enrollment: 2,393 (fall 2010)
2011-12 tuition: $44,597 (includes tuition, room & board and fees)
Majors offered: 71 majors in 24 academic departments and three interdisciplinary programs (including 15 honors majors).
Most popular majors: Biology, communication studies, political science, psychology, and management.
You might not realize: We are fully accredited and known for strong science, writing, music, athletics, study-abroad, and service-learning programs, we host a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa and we are internationally recognized for our annual Nobel Conference. (“The Brain and Being Human,” Oct. 4-5, 2011.) We celebrate our Sesquicentennial (150 years) in 2011–12.
www.gustavus.edu • Saint Peter • 507-933-8000
Total full-time enrollment: Approximately 2,500
2011-12 tuition: $40,585 (includes tuition, room & board)
Majors offered: More than 60 majors/minors and 11 special/preprofessional programs (premedicine, prelaw, preengineering, etc.) Most popular majors = biology, business management, elementary education, music, nursing, political science, and psychology.
How is your school distinctive? Before graduation, over 80 percent of our students will have studied abroad. Many students go overseas during January term, a one-month interim semester.
Our professors are… accessible. Over 90 percent of Luther faculty live near campus, and are readily available both in and out of the classroom.
Our students are… involved. With over 140 student organizations and activities, Luther students have an uncommonly high level of involvement on campus.
You might not realize: Students attend Luther not just to gain a highly competitive education, but also to be members of a community of faith and learning that will impact the rest of their lives.
www.luther.edu • Decorah, Iowa • 1-800-4-LUTHER
Total full-time enrollment: Approximately 600
2011-12 tuition: $25,725
Our educational philosophy: We are a very high quality, integrated liberal arts and sciences college with a unique environmental mission. Graduates receive practical, career-oriented skills that prepare them well for graduate study and the world of work.
We are distinctive because… we adopted our environmental mission in 1971, making us one of the first colleges or universities in the country to do so. Over the past 40 years, we have remained in the forefront of innovation in the integration of environmental concerns in its academic and co-curricular programs as well as energy efficiency, sustainability and reuse standards in our facilities and operations.
Most popular majors: Biology, teacher and outdoor education, natural resources, sociology/social justice, and business.
You might not realize: We were named the fourth most bike-friendly campus of 2011 by onlineuniversities.com; Sierra magazine named us the seventh “coolest” school for our efforts to stop global warming and operate sustainably; and FORBES magazine listed us as one of America’s greenest colleges and universities.
www.northland.edu • Ashland, Wis. • 1-800-753-1840
University of Minnesota, Crookston
Total full-time enrollment: 1,462 undergrads (fall 2010)
2011-12 tuition: $7,936 tuition + $2,691 in fees (includes the laptop computer and related technology) *85 percent of our students receive some type of scholarship or financial aid
We are distinctive because… students learn by doing. Instruction is provided by student-centered faculty in an environment focusing on personal interaction and hands-on learning with direct application of theory to real-world situations.
Unique programs: Agronomy, aviation, biology, criminal justice, environmental sciences, equine science, marketing, software engineering, and urban forestry in horticulture. We have a proven record of infusing technology and innovation in our curriculum.
You might not realize: We offer 10 bachelor’s programs online as well as on campus. Our online degree in business management was recently ranked among the “Top 10 Online Bachelor of Business Administration Degree Programs of 2011” by The Best Colleges.
www.umcrookston.edu • Crookston • 1-800-862-6466
University of Minnesota, Morris
Total enrollment: 1,705
How should students prepare for the upcoming school year? High school seniors should apply to college early for admission, write essays for scholarship opportunities, and sign-up to visit college campuses.
Name an accomplished alum and what he or she has done: Lorie Skjerven Gildea ’83 is the Minnesota Supreme Court chief justice. A UMM political science major, Gildea holds a juris doctorate from Georgetown University Law Center, from which she graduated in 1986. She has served as an associate justice on the Minnesota Supreme Court since 2006.
You might not realize: Powered by on-site wind turbines and a biomass facility, our campus frequently produces more power than it uses. It is unlikely that there is another place in the world where such a full array of clean, renewable energy production, research, demonstration, and educational platforms can be found. Individuals, organizations, and businesses in and around Morris are making a difference in the way Minnesotans live, leading the state and the nation by example.
www.morris.umn.edu • Morris (three hours from the twin cities metro) • 1-888-866-3382
University of St. Thomas
Total full-time enrollment: 10,839 total, undergraduate and graduate (fall 2010)
2011-12 undergraduate tuition: $31,504 (tuition for graduate and professional programs is charged on a per credit basis and varies based on selected program of study).
Our educational philosophy: Inspired by Catholic intellectual tradition, the University of St. Thomas educates students to be morally responsible leaders who think critically, act wisely, and work skillfully to advance the common good.
Unique programs: Center for Irish Studies: (one of only a few in the nation), master’s degree program in Catholic Studies (oldest such program in the country), Center for Ethical Business Cultures, and the National Institute for Health Policy.
We are distinctive because… of our tradition of student-centered experiences. We offer an intimate, small-college feeling while providing an education that benefits from a larger university structure.
www.stthomas.edu • St. Paul (and campuses in Minneapolis, Owatonna and Rome, Italy) • 651-962-5000
University of Minnesota Duluth
Our mission: Nestled on the shores of Lake Superior, UMD provides nearly 11,800 students with a world-class education. Faculty and staff are dedicated to excellence in teaching and learning and to making the campus a welcoming environment. Founded in 1895, UMD provides an alternative to both large research universities and small liberal arts colleges. Active learning through internships, honors programs, research, and community service promotes the development of skills, critical thinking and maturity.
Taking the lead: We are a leader in the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP). UROPs provide opportunities for students to explore their fields of interest in a research situation and experience discoveries outside the classroom. In addition, the entire student body benefits as UROP students make presentations and discuss their projects with friends and classmates. Research engages students as they learn to state a problem, look for a solution, and then, defend that solution. While most UROPs are in the sciences and engineering, students come from all colleges, and undergraduates are matched to faculty scholars in nearly every field of knowledge.
At a glance: Our campus consists of more than 50 buildings on 244 acres overlooking Lake Superior. Undergraduate students can choose from 13 bachelor degrees in 78 majors. In addition to the two-year program at the school of medicine and a College of Pharmacy program, UMD offers graduate programs in 21 different fields, and participates in seven Ph.D. programs.
www.d.umn.edu • Duluth • 218-726-8000
Stand Out in the Admissions Process
To help get through to the college admissions boards at your “dream” school, here’s some advice:
• Don’t even think about coasting during your senior year. When deciding whether or not to accept an applicant, grades count. Good grades in challenging classes look even better.
• Study up for the ACT or SAT. It’s not “just a test.” If you don’t get the score you want the first time, hire a tutor.
• Stand out from the crowd by addressing each school directly. Personalize your admissions letter and resumé by finding your “selling point.” Take the time to craft a well-written, insightful, personal essay. Elaborate with specific examples.
• Do your research by looking at the school’s admissions website. Does it seem to emphasize extracurricular activities? Let the admissions people know if you’d like to participate in sports or clubs.
• Make sure your letters of recommendation introduce new information about you while reinforcing your personality and character.
• Leave a lasting impression in your college admissions essay by concluding with a strong personal statement about why you’d be a good fit. Reveal something about yourself.
• Don’t over-inflate your accomplishments. Be genuine and modest while promoting yourself. Your integrity will come across loud and clear.
• If you don’t get accepted, don’t consider it a personal rejection. Each application is one of thousands. Where one door closes; another one opens.