We recently moved to the area and enrolled our eldest in K5 at USM. We were happy with the quality of the education and a little concerned about the lack of diversity and culture but our child seemed content and happy! After a month of enrollment we were informed that even though the state of WI allows for personal exemptions, USM, until recently, didn't allow for personal exemptions and that we needed to address that in regard to our child. We WOULD NOT have considered a school that didn't allow fo personal exemptions and we expressed our disappointment and frustration to the leadership and asked them why they hadn't informed us of that at the onset and time of application and to reconsider. But they came back and said that they will not accept the personal exemption and that we would need to remove our child. No apologies, no exceptions. We quickly removed our child.
As a follow up, we contacted the WI State Health Department and they informed us this was the first time they had known of this and that USM will be the ONLY school in the entire state of WI that that didn't accept personal exemptions and that they should make it known to every potential applicant.
Too bad as the school lost several children in our family who would've attended from k-12! Buyer beware!
Academically the school is absolutely paramount to any school in the state; brilliant teachers and committed students/parents (to academics). Unfortunately if you are in a certain income bracket and don't live in a gated-mansion - don't expect your child to ever have any form of social life whatsoever. We ended up withdrawing our child within a year because we couldn't even buy a play-date - on evenings, weekends or vacations. Our child felt isolated, excluded and inferior. This of course is no-fault of the school, but the utter snobbery on the part of the parents is overwhelming.
The University School provides easily the best college preparatory education in Wisconsin, and does so while cultivating a community that is unusually mature and supportive in any context, but exceptionally so for one that's built around children and young adults. The school is build around the Common Trust Doctrine, which challenges young people to be active and responsible members of a community that acts with honest, integrity, and compassion. The teaching is top shelf--in a conspicuous number of cases, in fact, life changing. (Between us, my wife and I have 4 graduate degrees, and she is an educator, so we know a few things about teaching.) The athletic offerings are sometimes uneven, but generally credible, and occasionally excellent. This community treasures learning and cherishes the young people who are placed in its care. It is expensive, but the aid packages make it accessible to many students of modest means. It emphatically is NOT cliquish or exclusionary, and indeed you will find some phenomenal human beings among families old and new.
I truly hate USM. As soon as the new head of school came in, everything has gone downhill. While USM (constantly) brags about their above average academics and teachers, as a student, I can say that this is simply not true. The USM curriculum is the same as other public high schools in the area, and most of the teachers are nothing special. Not to mention, USM is filled with rich, snobby kids who are not afraid to rub their wealth in your face and belittle you. If you want to send your kids here because you think they won't be bullied, think again. Instead of investing $20,000 a year into this waste of money, go get yourself something nice. USM is not worth it.
My son has attended University School since the first grade, and he is not in the fifth grade, which is considered middle school. I would say that the school is good in terms of academics; however, the price tag is significant. We recently hit a rough patch economically. When we asked admin to work with us for the sixth grade, they refused. We provided documentation to prove our current situation. To our dismay, the financial committee did not want to work with us at all. This was extremely disappointing for us, especially since we've been at the school for a few years. As far as the teachers go, it's like most schools. Some teachers are exceptional while others are nothing special. I can say this because we have had a combination of both. Overall, the school is good as I mentioned prior, yet for the expensive price tag----I feel that ALL teachers should be exceptional. Lastly, getting help for your child is an additional cost. It comes across to me that USM is all about the money and not the welfare of the students who attend there. Instead of you walking through the doors of the school, your wallet always walks in first. I ALWAYS felt this way, unfortunately....
USM is the best pre-K through 12 School in the Milwaukee area. We have three children in the lower school and our experience has been exceptional. USM has great teachers and small classes. The teachers take the time to get to know each child as an individual. The facilities are wonderful and the place is well run. In general, the USM community has been a big plus for us. We have met a bunch of great engaged parents. I understand the concern about snootiness that others have remarked upon. However, can you show me any school in which you will click with every other parent? The vast majority of USM parents are great! The only real negative about USM is that it is really expensive -- starting around $15,000 in the early years and pushing $20,000 per year by high school. Paying the tuition bill each year is no fun, but USM does deliver the value. This is a great school!