College Prep is the strongest prep school in NorCal with regards to education and college placement. I graduated in '12 and landed at my first-choice school. Pros (facts): -Three of my classes senior year had 5 or fewer students. The school is willing to hold classes for the sake of its students, even with limited interest. -~25% of the class is admitted to Ivy League/MIT/Stanford/Caltech every year. College counseling is excellent. -Weakest presence of drugs/alcohol of any school in a 25-mile radius. Cons: -Lack of flexibility in curriculum. Every student, more or less, takes the same track with regards to science and history through his first three years. AP classes outside of language classes are typically not taken until senior year, so scores can't be sent to colleges. -Student body divide: On one side of the spectrum you have rich kids driving BMW and Mercedes to school; on the other side you have poor kids who are experiencing private education for the first time. BUT, the "snobbery/elitism" referred to by other comments is not very prevalent, and is honestly a small price to pay for top-notch education/college placement. There are far worse influences at other schools.
This school changed my life. My parents pulled me out of the Oakland Public Schools, where I could sleep through class and get straight-As, and put me in Prep. I'll never forget getting my first English paper back with a C- on it. This school opened my eyes to what academic excellence, hard work and challenging yourself mean. It was not easy, and I was one of the "outsiders" who didn't come from a private school or moneyed background. But I found the school and the students to be welcoming, open-minded, supportive and diverse. I went on to an Ivy League university, but I can honestly say I learned more in my four years at Prep than even at a top college. I can't recommend this school enough for students who are academically-oriented.
The jury is still out on this school for me. My student loves it but the lack of diversity in the faculty and staff population, as well as the student body population is a real concern for me, especially when it comes to the male students. Additionally, a lot of the students come from the same private middle schools or have siblings already in attendance. If your student comes from the "outside" it is a little difficult to break into some of the cliques that are already established. Academically, the school is extremely rigorous and time management and organizational skills are a definite "must have" if you plan on sending your student here. However, the courses are challenging and the instructors are great. They encourage the students to request assistance from them and have an open door policy for assisting the students. As far as the school community is concerned, so far the parents that I have met have been nothing but wonderful. There is some snobbery and elitism as described by a previous reviewer, but so far from my experience, it does not represent the school as a whole. My recommendation: CAREFULLY weigh your options before selecting this school...
The snobbery and elitism that my son experienced in his two years at CPS made a huge dent on his ideas of self-worth. I am very glad we got him out of there.
It has been one year since my daughter graduated from College-Prep and has moved on to her first choice college. The school has prepared her well not only academically but was instrumental in helping her "find her voice" through various opportunities and programs the school offers. At College-Prep, your child will be able to gauge him or herself against other high achieving students to discover his/her true strengths and passion. If it hadn't been for College-Prep, I doubt my daughter will be where she is now in terms of her personal development. Although I can't say that the school was a very friendly place for the parents, it created an excellent social environment for the students. If your child gets accepted, don't hesitate to send him/her.
this school is extremely hard to get into. even more so if you don't have a sibling who is / has attended College Prep. they give top priority to siblings and so you really really must be an A+++++ student to have a realistic shot. beware though, some students who were A+ students at their middle school became B students at College Prep. the demanding rigor of the curriculum knows no comparison. also, a downside to the math department is that you won't be able to take AP Calculus in your senior year unless you place into Math 2 or beyond as a freshman, when you take your placement tests. and Math 2 is VERY VERY hard to place into. rarely any freshmen gets in without being required to do summer work. also, as CPS alumni, i feel that CPS did not prepare enough for the 'real' world
Our child graduated from College Prep a few years ago and is now in college at a very top Ivy. Her college is renowned for the quality of it's teaching yet it does not compare to the intellectual rigor and inspiration that she found at CPS. Personal tutorials , stimulating classroom debates and demanding standards made a lasting impression on our student. Yet, despite the very high intellectual standards our child really did not feel pressure at all or competition from her fellow students. In fact the defining memory she has taken with her is the very close and supportive relationships she had with her CPS classmates. A real surprise from CPS was the very high quality of the athletic programs. CPS has a VERY undeserved nick name... 'Can't Play Sports'. Coaches were extremely skilled, dedicated and inspirational and many teams had great success.
College Prep has been an overwhelmingly positive influence on my four years of high school there. As a college student now, I find that I am very well prepared in academia, and I use a lot of information that I learned at Prep and apply it to my day to day experiences. However, CPS is not for the faint hearted. You have to come to school every day with an urge to learn and wanting to enjoy a challenge. The teachers are amazing, and everyone is very understanding and kind. The math and science programmes are extremely well organised and the way the curriculum is structured is very helpful to my current education in the non liberal arts subjects. However, there could be better teachers at the school who should not have been hired because they are not very well qualified for their positions.
I think this school is only for those with gastro-intestinal issues, and I mean that in the best way possible.
this is one of the best schools out there. all the teachers are amazing, and the students are driven and great people.
This is a great school. My son has found many friends, and is wonderfully challenged by the academic program. Before he attended cps i was a little worried about his social development, but CPS took care of that. Now he invites people over to our house in Oakland all the time. Our au pair is so busy ferrying him and his friends around that she hardily has time to make dinner anymore! I would particularly like to highlight the efforts of Murry Cohen as a leader of this school. His vision has had a dramatic effect for my son.
I rate CPS 'above average' because the academics are clearly outstanding, and if a student is motivated enough, he or she will be successful and be granted admission to a great college. Because each student at CPS is incredibly academically oriented, however, there is an excessive focus on grades and achievement in relation to one's peers. My experience at CPS was not the 'high school experience' I anticipated, and in retrospect I wish I had attended a more conventional high school. Simultaneously, I am better prepared for college courses than I may have been had I attended another school.
Our child is a now a senior at CPS. It's been an overwhelmingly positive experience. She will put extra effort into an essay because the teacher has engaged her so much. She was afraid that you would have to be 'crazy smart' to be here - not true - smart will do. She didn't connect well with one teacher; others ranged from very good to absolutely inspiring. It is a more rarefied atmosphere economically than I would like. The students are very supportive of each other - I see much more collaboration and deep friendships than competition. We were amazed at the involvement and quality of extracurriculars. On a given day, there can be 150 kids at various sports. Concerts feature a third of the student body. Dance program was a revelation.
My child just graduated from CPS. Following is my perspective on two aspects of our CPS experience: academics and money. CPS academics are tough and the teachers are demanding. While the kids are incredibly kind to each other, these are high achieving students. CPS students do well on AP exams and are well-prepared for college. A student doesn t have to be a genius to have a successful CPS experience, but he/she should be comfortable running with the big dogs. Like all private schools, CPS runs on money. Tuition does not cover the total cost of CPS exceptional palette of educational resources. Additional fund raising is a fact of life. Many families are well-to-do; almost all the rich folks we met were gracious and generous. CPS is somewhat diverse economically; families receive financial assistance.
My son is in the current (2007) graduating class. He has had an exceptional experience at CPS. From individual tutoring by his teachers, to performing on the music tour, to playing sports, this school has done it all. There are prior comments regarding the academic quality of the school which surprise me. There are endless opportunities for students to expand their learning and to challenge themselves. Parents who expect their children to be spoonfed facts, and 'taught to the test' without learning to think, will be disappointed in CPS. But if you want your child to learn, to think, and to become an independent, well-prepared college student, then CPS is for you.
Our daughter started in Fall 06 as a 9th grader. On the whole, we like the school -- the kids are really nice. But our daughter has discovered the class consciousness of the rich for the first time. We could not afford to send her on the annual snow trip. She is tough and resilient, but this was an unnecessary annoyance. Social sciences and English are great, but math and science are weak. Our girl loves fencing and Japanese, but has grown to hate math and science -- and her parents are engineers! Our two biggest gripes are (1) classes start at 8 a.m. and on random days let out by 2 p.m., apparently to accommodate those who do team sports. (2)junk food in vending machines.Yuck!
The school is a far cry from what they purport it to be. In spite of the claims of an academically rigorous environment, I feel short-changed by the lack of SAT preparation and attention within certain departments to the students. The Math department is weak and only appeals to those with a natural aptitude for the subject. Those who are weak or are intimidated by the subject will find themselves in a deeper hole with a disorganized curriculum and didactic method. I don't feel like I'm getting my money's worth. The administration does not accept constructive criticism and is too focused on making the school more diverse(a good thing mind you) rather than making sure the academics live up to the claims. Overall, I cannot say I'd recommend this school and urge people to check out their options well.
We love this school! The rigorous academics, the high levels of expectation and the truly great kids make it a wonderful -- though challenging -- experience. While some think the academics aren't as rigorous as they expect as freshman, the level of difficulty and expected performance ramps up rapidly, achieving college level by Junior year. The school draws from a wide geographical area and, contrary to another review, is not a school of rich people. Fully 25% of the population receives some sort of financial aid, and kids from all backgrounds attend. The only thing they all have in common is that they are all incredibly smart. Most have to adjust to no longer being the smartest kid in their class. Not a bad adjustment to make if you're going to be in the real world!
I attended this school and enthusiastically recommend it to anyone with a child who is self-motivated and serious about learning. The teachers are generally good and occasionally outstanding.
Our child is a sophomore. The school has a very rigorous academic program and talented instructors. The administrative staff of the school is supportive and very engaged with the kids. There are lots of extracurricular activities, though its hit and miss on some of the sports programs, as its more an academic place than anything else. Parents are quite involved. Overall, a very good community for the right child. The one downside -- its a place of wealthy families largely. There's diversity in a number of ways, but the range of the socio-economics informing the culture is quite limited. Its also seems a bit competitive academically -- your child needs to be a motivated student who wants to learn, or they can get caught up some in the competition in ways that are not always emotionally healthy.
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