Finding the right fit for your education is an important step in life. These local institutions have the experience and approach to help shape minds and change lives.
Perhaps one of the most important decisions in life is where to pursue an education. Whether you’re considering options for your child or yourself, it takes time and careful consideration to find the best fit.
Questions about curriculum, social environment and educational philosophies make a tremendous impact on the overall experience one receives at a school. And, those factors can have an outsized impact on the student’s success outside the classroom and well beyond graduation. The classroom, of course, is only the starting point.
Where you go in life, what you earn and how you attain success traces its roots to your education. To assist your family in making this most important choice, our guide to education profiles some of the top institutions available in our region.
UIC College of Nursing: Rockford Campus
1601 Parkview Ave. • Rockford • (815) 395-5648 • nursing.uic.edu
The UIC College of Nursing in Rockford and its campuses in Chicago, Peoria, Quad Cities, Springfield and Urbana have long been providing the highest-quality education for APRNs throughout Illinois.
The program offers 12 advanced practice specialty areas for the doctor of nursing practice (DNP) degree in a hybrid format consisting of online, on-site and blended courses. Students graduate with a mix of clinical, organizational, financial and leadership skills – prepared not only to improve outcomes for their own patients, but also to contribute to the transformation of health care in both urban and rural communities. Students residing in neighboring states can now take advantage of in-state tuition.
As a UIC student, clinical rotations are arranged for you. Students are assigned highly qualified preceptors at desirable clinical sites, selected by knowledgeable program directors. By partnering with skilled preceptors in a variety of health care settings, each student is provided with the best mentorship experiences while learning the necessary clinical practice skills. These rotations, paired with high-quality simulation scenarios also included in the curriculum, combine to give students a broad range of advanced, hands-on patient-management experiences.
The Advanced Generalist Master of Science (AGMS) program provides professional nurses with the clinical leadership skills essential for integrating evidence-based practice and care coordination to improve outcomes. The advanced generalist acts as the care coordinator for a group of clients while providing direct care in complex cases. Not limited to the acute care settings, advanced generalists evaluate client outcomes, assess client risks, and promote client and family advocacy.
Sharing a campus with the University of Illinois at Chicago colleges of Medicine and Pharmacy in Rockford has its interprofessional advantages, from the state-of-the-art Standardized Patient Center to the full-service Crawford Library of the Health Sciences, from sharing a home base with the National Center for Rural Health Professions to enjoying the stellar reputation UIC students have among the region’s health care industry.
As a regional campus of the UIC–College of Nursing, UIC experts are dedicated to providing exemplary international and nationally recognized graduate nursing education for the Rockford area. Students in all three professional programs have opportunities to work together on clinical research projects. The nursing faculty maintains active practices, working in the profession for which they are simultaneously educating students. Located on a tree-lined street with the Rock River near the doorstep, the Rockford Campus offers a beautiful, small-town setting in which to earn a nationally ranked graduate degree.
• Degrees: Doctor of Nursing Practice, Post-DNP certificates,
Advanced Generalist Master of Science
• Programs: 12 Doctor of Nursing Practice focus areas, Post-
Master DNP, Post-DNP certificates, Advanced Generalist
Master of Science, transition program for RNs with a bachelor’s
degree in a non-nursing field, concentration in rural nursing for
Areas of Strength
• Academic Excellence
• Flexible Format
• Arranged clinical placements
• Ranked No. 1 among Midwestern universities for graduate
programs in Colleges of Nursing
• 92 percent of doctors of nursing practice grads pass certification exam on first attempt
• Ranked No. 8 in the nation for National Institutes of Health
• Ranked No. 19 in the nation, our Master of Science program is
tied for best in Illinois
• Opportunities for service abroad
Rock Valley College
3301 N. Mulford Road • Rockford • (815) 921-4250 • rockvalleycollege.edu
The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has changed many things, including how students are educated. Rock Valley College (RVC), like many institutions all over the world, had to abruptly transition most courses to online instruction in the middle of the spring 2020 semester. In addition, in the early fall of that same year, a tornado ripped through their main campus just weeks before inaugurating a new college president. Despite the challenges, RVC has persevered and emerged stronger.
RVC’s career and technical programs have successfully adapted to a flexible, hybrid model that incorporates a blend of online learning and in-person labs. As a commitment to career and technical education, RVC will open a new facility in 2022 – the Advanced Technology Center located in Belvidere. The new center will provide a state-of-the-art facility for RVC students to train in areas such as welding, mechatronics and CNC machining.
“We are excited to expand and strengthen our career and technical education programming at Rock Valley College,” says President Dr. Howard J. Spearman. “One of the tenants in which our college was founded was occupational education. By embracing our founding principles, we can meet the training and development needs of the workforce pipeline to address critical shortages in our region.”
Now more than ever, students are demanding skilled training that leads to hot jobs in health care, manufacturing, technology, education and more. RVC is here to answer the call. Whether you are just starting your career or you are a career-changer, RVC has something to offer for every point on your journey.
The cost of attending RVC is significantly less than most private colleges or state universities. In fact, students can complete a two-year degree at RVC for under $10,000, compared to $25,000 at a public four-year school, $30,000 at a private for-profit institution, or $58,000 for two years at a private four-year university. There are also many financial aid opportunities to help students pay for college. More than half of RVC students receive some financial assistance, and the RVC Foundation awarded over $250,000 in scholarships last year alone.
RVC encourages anyone in the region thinking about career training or higher education to not put it on hold due to the pandemic. Stay close to home, save significant money, and stay on track to complete by applying now at rockvalleycollege.edu/apply. No matter your destination, your journey continues at Rock Valley College.
• Enrollment: 5,224 (credit students)
• Average Student Age: 24
• Racial/Ethnic Minority Enrollment: 39%
• Programs/Degrees: 3 transfer degrees and over 80 career and technical education degrees or certificates
• On-Campus Housing: No
• Evening/Weekend/Online Classes: Yes
Areas of Strength
• Exceptional online learning environment bolstered by strong
• Broadly transferable credits;
• 50 percent of students receive financial aid;
• Over a 40-year career, an RVC degree graduate can expect to earn $680,000 more than someone not attending community college.
5001 Forest View Ave. • Rockford • (815) 227-8894 • alpineacademyofrockford.com
Tucked into a quiet neighborhood in southeast Rockford, Alpine Academy provides a quality education in a nurturing, family-focused Christian school. Its mission is to enrich and deepen students’ academic knowledge and spiritual faith. Teachers strive to create an environment where students grow intellectually, spiritually, emotionally and physically.
Alpine Academy is a member of the Evangelical Lutheran Education Association (ELEA) and is recognized by the Illinois State Board of Education. Its strong curriculum in reading, mathematics, science, language arts, social studies and religion provides students with a solid academic foundation. Alpine Academy has begun integrating the use of Google Chromebooks into its classrooms. Students receive Spanish, computer and music instruction beginning in preschool and continuing through fifth grade. An in-house speech pathologist provides additional special-needs support.
Alpine Academy is a ministry in partnership with Alpine Lutheran Church. Alpine Academy and the congregation of Alpine Lutheran Church together are one Alpine Family. The school has Chapel service with students weekly to encourage their faith journey.
Three programs spotlighting students’ talents and skills are presented in the gym during the year. Art, band and orchestra instruction begin in third grade. Art education begins in Kindergarten while band and orchestra programs begin in third grade.
Regular physical education class is provided to all students, with upper-grade students participating in unique activities such as cross-country skiing, roller skating, bowling and canoeing at Pierce Lake. Numerous field trips provide students with off-campus learning experiences. Each class takes part in monthly community service projects, and the Academy is active in many charitable programs and organizations.
Alpine Academy has a fenced athletic area with a baseball field and a soccer field. It also has a protected and enclosed play area with slides, monkey bars and climbing areas for all grades. Students compete scholastically in a variety of sports and scholastic events.
Before and After Care programs are available for working parents so that students can interact through play in the gym or playground and work on art projects while parents complete their work day.
Alpine Academy now has a mobile application to help parents stay organized through calendars, newsletters and online forms.
Annual events include the Easter Egg Hunt, Trunk or Treat, and Alpine Academy Carnival, which are excellent opportunities to interact with the Alpine Family.
Students also participate in various programs each year, including the veterans program, Christmas program and Easter program. Students are also involved in Alpine Lutheran Church services periodically during the school year.
Alpine Academy offers a Summer Day Camp that provides a fun, safe place for students during the summer months. Registration for this year’s Summer Day Camp begins June 6.
At Alpine Academy, educators and parents work as a family to promote each student’s self-esteem, academic skills, and Christian knowledge and values to create children who are enriched spiritually and academically, who have a dedication to lifelong learning and who are well prepared for their journey toward a successful adulthood.
• Established: 2007
• Grades: Pre-K through 5
• Enrollment: 110
• Student/Teacher Ratio: 12:1
• Church Affiliation: Alpine Lutheran Church
• Tuition (per year): Pre-K Full Day, $5,550; Grades K-6, $5,775
• Scholarships/Tuition Assistance: Yes
• Dress Code/Uniforms: Yes
• School Mascot: Purple Thunder
Concordia Lutheran School
7424 N. Second St. • Machesney Park, Ill. • (815) 633-6450 • ConcordiaMP.com
If half the battle is showing up, half the battle of showing up is knowing you are going to the right place. There is a good chance that Concordia Lutheran School is a place where your child will love to show up.
Not every school has a culture where the kids talk about the fun they have in their classrooms. Concordia truly has a family feel. A premium is placed on ensuring students see learning as an exciting experience of wonder and discovery. The small classrooms are a launching pad for children who travel these halls from Pre-K through fifth grade.
Students enjoy Art, Music and Spanish in all grades. Instruments enter the experience in third grade, and songs fill the air in chapel and concerts. Concordia is a place where kids show up to try new things and to be sure they will find acceptance in an environment that values each child as His child.
Our students represent a wonderful segment of our community. They bring different talents, skills and expectations. We offer small classrooms where kids receive personal attention. A variety of teaching styles are employed because students learn differently. We offer support services for students in need of a little special attention. A spacious gym and an expansive riverside campus provide ample space for exercise and exploration. A speech therapist visits the school one day each week to work with students who require special services.
The families who send their children to Concordia have a range of top priorities in their lives. Some are attracted to before- and after-school care programs that allow parents to work knowing their child is safe and in a stimulating setting. The location is very convenient. This Christian education, subsidized by the the Concordia Lutheran Church congregation, is affordable. We have tuition assistance and participate in the Invest in Kids Tax Credit Scholarship program. Many parents are looking for a place where they can be an active part of planning for the family events that enrich our education. An active group of parents serves at evening events that bring families together.
Quality academics are essential to any top-notch school program. At Concordia, qualified teachers are not confined by a Common Core curriculum. We use the Measure of Academic Progress (MAP) Test to monitor growth and to help diagnose any weaknesses in a program or performance. Personal learning goals help parents to get an important return on the investment they make in their child’s education. Parent-teacher conferences become friendly gatherings where a child’s progress is the single focus.
Words don’t do justice to the “feel” of a school that values a child’s spiritual needs above all else. In how many schools can kids gather around God’s word at weekly chapel sessions and gain peace from knowing that they are His child? Concordia Lutheran School is such a place.
• Established: 1962
• Grades: Pre-K through 5
• Enrollment: 85
• Student/Teacher Ratio: 12:1
• Church Affiliation: Lutheran, but open to all faiths
• Tuition: Pre-K, $2,400-$5,500; K-5, $6,600
• Tuition Assistance: Yes. Available to families of all sizes.
• Dress Code: Yes
Immanuel Lutheran School
1225 E. Second St. • Belvidere • (815) 547-5346 • immanuelknights.org
Immanuel Lutheran School (ILS) is committed to providing a Christ-centered education to children Pre-K3 through eighth grade. The faculty and staff at Immanuel are dedicated to helping children reach their physical, spiritual, social, academic and emotional potential in a Christ-centered environment. Immanuel Lutheran School has received State of Illinois Non-Public School Recognition and is accredited through the National Lutheran School Accreditation process. The school is a ministry of Immanuel Lutheran Church in Belvidere.
Immanuel’s tuition rate is one of the lowest in the area, while students’ test scores rank in the top tier of area schools. Immanuel’s students consistently score well above the national average on standardized tests.
Classrooms are equipped with SMART boards and wireless Internet access, while the school additionally has Chromebooks, a science lab, two gymnasiums (one of which is high school-sized), a new playground, a soccer field, an outdoor basketball court, a music/choir/band room, a native prairie area and a motor lab activities center for PreK-K students.
Athletic programs in volleyball, soccer, basketball, cheerleading and track are available to students, as well as an abundance of clubs, such as Prairie Pals and sewing club.
In addition, students can take advantage of many service opportunities, such as preparing programs for area health centers, collecting school supplies for students in Liberia, serving meals to the guests at Carpenter’s Place and collecting supplies for area organizations such as the Rockford Rescue Mission and Walter Lawson Children’s Home.
Immanuel offers unique programs, activities and field trips to its students. The Big Friend/Little Friend program pairs older students with younger students for monthly activities to help them learn responsibility and care for each other.
Field trips to Springfield, Ill., a YMCA team-building camp in Potosi, Mo., trips to Madison, Wis., Hannibal, Mo., and other unique places help students to grow in their knowledge outside of the classroom.
Finally, students can interact with the school’s “on staff” comfort dogs, Kye and Bekah, who greet the students on school days, make hospital visits and aid in disaster response situations.
Immanuel offers a combination of strong academics with high expectations and reasonable tuition. Immanuel’s students leave the program well-prepared for high school. Faculty members are committed to student success and offer study and review sessions after school.
• Established: 1953
• Grades: Pre-K3 through 8
• Enrollment: 270
• Church Affiliation: Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod
• Student/Teacher Ratio: From 16:1 to 24:1
• Tuition: $3,500
• Tuition Assistance: Yes
• Dress Code: Uniforms K-8
• School Mascot: Knights
• Athletics: Cross Country, Soccer, Volleyball, Basketball, Track, Cheerleading
• Tuition rates are among the lowest in the region.
• Immanuel Lutheran School’s achievement test scores are
among the highest in the region.
• Before- and after-school care.
• SMART boards & wireless internet.
• Fully equipped science lab.
• Music and band.
• Athletic program.
• Immanuel Lutheran is conveniently located near Interstate
90, in Belvidere.
Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Academy
3445 Elmwood Road • Rockford • (815) 399-3021 • olsha.org
Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Academy is an independent, Pre-K through 12th grade preparatory school that passes on Catholic and Western heritage through the classical liberal arts.
The academy challenges its students to pursue excellence in academics and perfection in holiness. The school’s objectives are to impart a Catholic philosophy, to serve students in the primary and secondary levels of education and to form model American citizens. Students learn to direct all their actions toward the honor and glory of God.
In 2006, the Acton Institute named Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Academy one of the top 50 Catholic high schools in the nation. In 2009, the academy earned the Salvatori Award for Teaching Excellence from Hillsdale College. The academy is recognized by the Illinois State Board of Education and the IHSA, and it’s accredited by the National Association of Private Catholic and Independent Schools, by AdvancED, and by the NCAA.
High school courses at the academy concentrate on theology, history, literature, science, math and Latin, in addition to physical education and choir requirements. Most courses are taught at the honors or advanced level and include seven authorized Advanced Placement (AP) classes. The courses are designed to form students into future leaders and saints, prepare them for academic success in college, and most importantly, lead them to a knowledge and love of God. Students read the same works that formed the saints and instructed our Founding Fathers.
“Our motto, ‘Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Holiness’ encapsulates the elements of our mission,” says Evan Williams, Headmaster. “We strive to teach the value of life and the art of living well, the right use of freedom and that lasting happiness is to be found only in God.”
Tuition at the academy ranges from $4,000 to $6,000, with discounts offered for siblings. Financial aid is available based on economic need.
Students of all grade levels at the academy can become involved in a variety of sports and clubs, from volleyball and soccer to chess club and rosary making. In addition, the school annually organizes a Christmas pageant and a golf outing.
As its motto says, the Academy challenges students to rebuild the culture through truth, faith and service.
• Established: 2000
• Grades: PreK-12
• Enrollment: 88
• Student/Teacher Ratio: 10:1
• Church Affiliation: Catholic
• Tuition: PreK-8 $4,990; 9-12 $5,990 plus fees
• Tuition Assistance: Available
• Dress Code: Uniforms
• School Mascot: Guardians
•Average Postgraduate/Experience Level: College (post secondary)
• Athletic Conference: Northeastern Athletic Conference
Rockford Lutheran School
3411 N. Alpine Road • Rockford • (815) 877-9551 • rockfordlutheran.org
The meaning of a word depends on so many factors. Part of the meaning is tied to the person who uses the word. The meaning is often based on how the word is used. When we use the word also colors its meaning. Take the word “choice” and its cousin, “choose.” I’m sure you have been in line at McDonald’s behind someone who can’t choose their order. “Hey, you have been here 100 times or more and the menu doesn’t change; choose and move on.” Have you seen the soapy movie where the love interest says the words “I choose happiness”?
In politics, both sides use the word choice. So, let’s talk about “school choice.”
For many people “school choice” is not an option. They live in a ZIP code that feeds into state-funded schools and their address negates choice. In the this region, many families have sacrificed to have a choice. They select a school that reflects the values of the family; administrators listen and respond to the aspirations of parents who are investing in their child’s future.
Rockford Lutheran is a choice school. Those who bring their students to our school have chosen a Christ-Centered education where students learn that a well-lived life is a fitting response to God’s gifts to us. Rockford Lutheran is a place where parents understand their child will be encouraged to pursue excellence today, not just to prepare for an uncertain tomorrow.
As you walk our halls looking into classes that serve children from preschool through high school graduation, you will appreciate that students are taught to own their education, to shape their future, and to prepare for the choices ahead of them. As preschoolers learn to “stand on the blue line” and teens explore the purpose of their lives, our teachers guide students on a path of their own choosing.
Experiences shape the adults we become. Learning your lines in a school drama, engaging in an academic competition, working hard on the athletic fields or making music with an instrument or your voice will expose young minds to lessons that can’t be learned in the classroom.
Much of our strength comes from a faculty that has chosen to work in a place where harmony is celebrated. There is a joy that comes from serving people who have made the commitment to join a school community that has a common understanding of success. Our directors, coaches and advisors train and direct our students to set goals and commit to a shared vision.
The list of reasons to choose Rockford Lutheran is long. We offer college-credit courses. We have a strong international language program and teach our students to be good writers. Our graduation rate is outstanding. We are recognized for consistently strong music programs. Our 3rd graders read above the national norm, and students encounter Jesus in the halls and classrooms daily.
For those who feel they don’t have the resources to make a choice, or for those who believe a Christian education is beyond their means, we encourage you to learn about our program of tuition assistance. We are committed to make choice a reality by granting $2 million in scholarships and grants to our 2022/23 student body.
Contact us today and learn why so many families have seen Rockford Lutheran School as the right choice for their student’s journey.
• Established: 1964
• Grades: Pre-K through 12
• Enrollment: 750
• Student/Teacher Ratio: 15:1
• Church Affiliation: Lutheran (open to all faiths)
• Tuition: From $2,385 (Pre-K) to $8,522 (High School)
• Tuition Assistance: Program Available, and participating in the Empower Illinois Tax Credit scholarship granting organization
• Dress Code: Yes
• School Mascot: Crusader
• Sr. High School Athletics: Big Northern Conference
• Sports: Co-ed: Bass Fishing, Cheerleading. Boys & Girls: Basketball, Bowling, Cross Country, Golf, Soccer, Tennis, Track, Wrestling. Boys: Baseball, Football. Girls: Powder Puff, Softball, Swimming, Volleyball.