The Charter School Program

The charter school model was established in the 1990s with the purpose of providing parents greater choice for the education of their children. Although this freedom leads to more independence for the school and its leaders, charter schools must maintain high standards of achievement and progress, as mandated by the State of Michigan. Additionally, similar to traditional public schools, charter schools are tuition-free and must uphold open admission standards.

In 1998, Will Carleton Academy was founded by a group of mothers looking for a better educational choice for their children. The school is dedicated to presenting students with a strong understanding of the world around them, while also forming the character of each student.

Admissions Process


Michigan law requires charter schools to advertise for grade-level openings for a two-week period prior to Open Enrollment. The number of available openings is determined by letters of intent to return for currently enrolled students, compared with grade-level enrollment caps, as determined by the Board of Directors. School information packets may be obtained from the School Office at this time, as well.

Open Enrollment

The Open Enrollment period will be for two weeks (as determined by the Board of Directors), our Open Enrollment period for this year will be April 18th until May 2nd. During this period, applications will be accepted during school business hours (7:45 am—4:30 pm) each day. Additionally, there will be two (2) two-hour evening sessions and one (1) two-hour weekend session where applications will be accepted in the school office.

If necessary, a lottery will be conducted at the close of business on the fourteenth (14th) day of the Open Enrollment period to determine accepted students, as well as a second lottery to determine the order of the Wait List.

Materials Needed

A completed application file will contain the following:

  • One page application
  • Birth certificate
  • Updated immunization record
  • Special Education paperwork (if applicable)

Next Steps

  • Setup a time for a tour & meeting by filling out the form on the right
  • Submit a new student enrollment form. Click button below to download form
  • We will communicate with you on the status of your child's enrollment & next steps

Admissions Application

A few notes:

  • All mid-year admissions are subject to availability. (i.e. if a class is below its maximum size)
  • Students in grades 7-12 typically are interviewed, and transcripts and disciplinary records are reviewed.
  • Mid-year enrollments are typically limited to the period prior to the Letter of Intent deadline. Please call our office at 517.437.2000 for current deadlines

Ask A Question Or Schedule A Tour

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some ways Will Carleton Academy is different from a traditional public school?

  • Classes are smaller at WCA—the vast majority have fewer than 20 students in a classroom
  • All of our students—grades K-12—cross paths with each other every day, creating a unique community of learning.
  • We wear uniforms each day, too.

What about those uniforms; why do you wear them?

By wearing uniforms, students are able to focus on the reason they are at school: to learn. They don’t need to be too worried about what they have on, or comparing themselves to what someone else may have. Everyone dresses the same. Besides, many people have told us that the uniforms look great!

You’re a charter school; are all your teachers certified?

Yes! Will Carleton Academy employs certified, highly-qualified teachers at every grade level.

Can I play sports?

Yes, WCA is an MHSAA-sanctioned school with a full complement of interscholastic athletics. See the Athletics page for more information.

What if I’m a musician or artist? Is there opportunity for me?

WCA sponsors K-12 music and art education, including two required years at the high school level. Our music ensembles—instrumental and vocal—have several performance opportunities during the year, as well as state-level competitions.

Technology these days is so important; what does WCA do with that?

WCA has a modern wireless network, as well as several mobile computer labs for use in the classroom. All teachers have laptop computers and access to modern technological teaching tools. Students have access to both Windows-based laptops and Chromebooks.

Will I have to do homework?

WCA believes homework is an integral part of the learning process. As laid out in the WCA Handbook, the required amount varies with grade level, ranging from a few minutes a night in lower elementary school to two hours in grades 9-12.

Is WCA a lot harder than other schools?

We believe every student is able to learn, and we also believe in setting a high bar of expectations for all of our students. We tailor every child’s learning plan to them personally, allowing the greatest chance for success.

Do you have a lunch program?

We do not have a hot lunch program at this time. Students are to bring a sack lunch each day. Our Parent Forum does sponsor a Pizza Day once a month, typically on the second Wednesday of the month.

Can I ride a school bus to WCA?

WCA does not provide transportation, and family members bring the vast majority of our students to school. We do have a drop-off and pick-up arrangement with Dial-A-Ride for families that prefer that option.

Do you take field trips?

Yes, our students are given opportunities to travel near and far. From trips to the Hillsdale County Fair, Adrian Symphony, and Sauder Village to journeys to Mackinac Island, Washington, D.C., Montreal, and Paris, (and everywhere in between), the field trip experience is valued at WCA.

How much is tuition per year?


charter school, there is no tuition for students. The “cost” for attending WCA is simply a uniform, daily lunch, and transportation.

What do your graduates end up doing? Can they get into a good college?

  • WCA graduates are presently enrolled at Hillsdale College, Adrian College, Albion College, Spring Arbor University, Grand Valley State University, Western Michigan University, Siena Heights University, and Jackson College, to name a few. Past WCA alumni are graduates of the U.S. Naval Academy, Cornell University, the University of Michigan, and Michigan State University, among others.
  • Many other graduates choose to enter the work force, military, or trade/technical school. The goal of our high school program is to give each of our graduates a “plan” they can successfully execute after leaving these halls.

What will my high school schedule look like?

Our first two years are full of required core classes (English, History, Math, Science, P.E., Art/Music, and French). The junior and senior years are more flexible, as our students are able to enroll in Advanced Placement courses, the Hillsdale Area Career Center, and Hillsdale County Early/Middle College Program.