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Why Independent Schools?

What is an Independent Schools?

Independent schools are “independent” because they have distinct educational missions, are independently governed and incorporated as 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations, and are supported by tuition payments, charitable contributions and endowment revenue rather than by taxes. They share a commitment to achieving excellence and inspiring innovation. As part of the private school community, independent schools include coeducational, single-sex, and special focus institutions, as well as boarding and day schools. Each school meets high accreditation standards and is held accountable by its Board of Trustees.

Independent Schools:

Provide academically challenging environments for students that nurture intellectual curiosity, stimulate personal growth, and encourage critical thinking.

  • Develop and model supportive learning environments, where service learning, athletics, and the arts are as important as classroom lessons.
  • Motivate students to achieve excellence – in and out of the classroom.
  • Create a culture that ensures life-long returns for students including commitment to community involvement, heightened social responsibility, and understanding of what it means to be a global citizen.
  • Graduate students who are more likely to complete a bachelor’s or higher degree.
  • Attract high quality teachers who teach in their areas of expertise and are committed and passionate about their profession.
  • Encourage active participation of parents in their children’s education.
  • Contribute to the economic well being of their local communities.
  • Partner with neighbors, local governments, public schools, and businesses.

What advantages does an Independent School offer my child?

Independent schools are typically smaller than other schools. Among schools that are part of the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS), enrollment average 483, with a student-teacher ratio of nine to one.

Extracurricular participation is strong at independent schools; for instance, 94 percent of independent high school students are on one or more athletic teams.

Students in independent schools have access to the latest technology and continue to use it as adults. According to a follow-up study of students, independent school graduates are more skilled in the use of technology than graduates of other schools and are more likely to use the technology in their careers.

Teachers at independent schools has more accessability to motivate all of their students.

National surveys rate independent schools at the top for encouraging parental involvement.


How do I apply to an Independent School?

Each school will have its own application process; some schools accept a common application. When applying, you or your child may be asked to complete or supply the following:

  • Application
  • Student questionnaire or writing assignment
  • Student transcripts, standardized test scores
  • Interview with parents and student
  • A visit, or shadow day, by student while school is in session
  • Entrance exam

In most cases, a committee will review your child's application and make a decision. The admissions director will call or write to inform you of the decision. Just as parents are looking for a good school match for their child, schools want to do their best to ensure an appropriate match.

What about financing an Independent School education?

Affording a quality education does take some planning, and most families employ several strategies to keep the costs within reach. In this planning, it is important to realize that the family bears the primary responsibility for financing a child's education to the extent that it is able.

Perhaps the best source of information lies with the financial aid officers at the individual schools you're considering. They can explain the full range of options offered by the school and may be able to provide information on the limited outside funding sources available. Understand that each school may offer different strategies and may have different policies. It is important to ask each school about the specifics of their various options and see how these options fit within your financial planning.

For the typical private school, financial aid and tuition assistance come in three forms:

  • Need-based Financial Aid
  • Merit Awards
  • Tuition Payment Plans and Tuition Loan Programs

How do I find the Independent School that best fits the needs of my child?

First, parents must define the child’s needs as distinct from their own. It is paramount to keep the child’s needs in mind throughout the process.

Next, examine each school’s mission. Be sure you understand the mission statement, and ask for specifics as to how that mission is implemented.

Look beyond the school’s reputation when making this important decision. Ask about specific programs and where students go after they graduate or leave the school. What scores did students earn on the SAT or other standardized tests? Schools should publish this summary data.

The child should have the opportunity to visit the school before any final decision is made. Depending on the size of candidate pools, many schools encourage a potential student to come to visit for a day. If your child is accepted, it is reasonable to request a visit, especially if you have doubts.

What are the admission procedures of LMAIS member schools?

Each LMAIS school admits students of any race, color, national and ethnic origin to all the rights, privileges, programs and activities generally made available at the school and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national and ethnic origin or disability in violation of state or federal law or regulation in administration of its educational policies, admission policies, scholarship and loan programs, and athletic and other school-administered programs.

Lake Michigan Association of Independent Schools  •  Contact Information

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