This is a safe place to share your honest opinions of a school, whether good or bad.
Posted January 22, 2015
- a community member
I am a graduate and a parent. I found the education excellent. The school creates an open caring environment. The lower and middle school provide a reasonable academic emphasis - particularly as compared to it's more aggressive counter-parts in the community. The upper school will prepare one for college with a true liberal arts emphasis while providing quality scientific education. There is a true Poly community not found elsewhere.
A single word describes Polytechnic School: complacent. It seems to define itself by what it is not: not developmental, not progressive, not traditional. We find it difficult to figure out what the goals school actually have, although one thing it seems to focus on is teaching children how to follow directions and strive for good grades. The administration provides little guidance or oversight to teachers, which results in inconsistent quality. The administration feels dysfunctional, resulting in poor organizational transparency, poor communication, and inconsistent rule enforcement. Parents have stepped in to provide many administrative activities, including school communication, office work, and all events with little support by the school. We have been impressed with some good teachers but have had an unpleasant experience with what feels like a chaotic, poorly run school with little vision and clarity of mission. It seems to be resting on its laurels and congratulating itself on its high number of applicants.
Poly is fine in the lower grades, but not a school for everyone in the Upper School. The teachers are inconsistent in terms of quality. While some are good, most are just acceptable. The students are pressured by their parents (and the school) to workworkwork. And work some more. If that's what you want, perhaps you should ask your child what she wants. Also, if you want your child to attend a highly selective school (and later college), perhaps you should (again) ask your child. It's her life after all. We regret choosing Poly. Based on many talks with friends who also have kids at Poly, it is clear there are many unhappy folks here.
Poly is a good school & has an excellent reputation in the University community; it does well preparing its upper-tier students for the next level of academia. It's lower school is good, & its middle school is just okay. The lower school Dir. is excellent & she has done an outstanding job improving the curriculum & weeding out the teachers that were not up to snuff. The middle school Dir. is average at best. Many of the Poly "lifers" are the average students in high school: while Poly won't likely be forthright in its admission of this fact, the major of the higher level students that graduate are not those that started in K. Regarding the athletic program: the AD is poor at best, & Poly is successful despite itself b/c the majority of kids have the means for coaching/teams outside the school. Don't expect athletic development here. If your child is interested in being a higher level 'student-athlete' look elsewhere. The consensus amongst teachers & parents is that the departure of the current headmaster, will be most-welcomed. Poly has had many kids leave the last few years b/c the school is rigid, & does not do a good job accommodating different learning styles or personalities.
Poly is an academically strong school, but really only works for kids who learn by traditional methods. Any students with learning disabilities are "counseled out" pretty quickly. We watched them vanish over the years. Teachers vary as in most schools, but we were always surprised that so many weak teachers remained at a school that charges a tremendously high tuition. Kids are expected to fit into a mold, catillion style - many of them actually attend catillion. The economically "diverse" population is really upper class to the richest of the rich with a few token financial aid families and some teachers' children. Cultural diversity is really, really limited. Compare to any public school and you will see that your children will miss out on meeting lots of different types of friends. While there our children were happy, but often stressed by the workload. Left after middle school and a whole new world opened up to them. Glad for the academic foundation from Poly and very glad to have moved onto another view of the world.
Poly is not for everyone, but those that can handle it will end up with a world class education. All of my siblings went to Poly and went on to ivy schools where they found the work challenging but not impossible due to Poly's challenging work load that requires students to be disciplined and self motivated. In general the students that are staying up until 2 am to study are those that do not mange their time and their work well. Poly teacher LOVE to see students succeed and everyone there is capable of doing so as long as they are responsible. Being a student at Poly has opened a lot of doors for me not only in the college application process but because the name precedes itself. Any successful Poly student is bright and motivated to be the best. But like I said, it's not a school for everyone. My parents have shelled out the money for three PK-12 Poly educations, and they would not have done so if it wasn't worth it in the long run.
Polytechnic is not for every kid. I have two children, one at Poly and one at another local school. My son who attends Poly has been there since pre K and is currently in high school. He has excelled in every grade level and is a straight A student. However, he is a fast learner, competitive and self-motivated. He never spends more than 1-2 hours a night on homework. It just comes easy to him. His Poly experience has been wonderful. For my other son, the school is not a good fit. He is not as competitive and needs more time to complete his work. He requires a more nurturing environment. He is also doing well academically because he is at a school that is a good fit for him. Simply put, there are different schools for different kids. Poly is a wonderful school if your kid is up to the challenge. Some kids really struggle with the academics and many parents end up paying thousands of dollars for tutors to help their children get through. The bottom line is that you need to find the school that is the right fit for your child. There are so many wonderful schools in this area. With the right fit, your child will excel!
Pasadena Polytechnic School is a poor fit for most children. The school emphasizes busywork homework to the extreme. The focus on rote learning is disappointing. Bright, creative students don't belong here. It is probably best for the B to B+ level student whose parents are rich workaholics. Be prepared to donate a fortune if you want your child to stay in the good graces of the school administration and faculty.
Poly is by far the best school in the area. I graduated in 2010 and have found the academics of college to be a lot easier for me than for my friends who went to other high schools. Poly prepares us to be successful in later. Some people are giving Poly low ratings because of "more than 4 hours of homework". This rule is a guideline, however in my experience usually followed by the teaching. The only nights I had more than 4 hours were more often than not my fault for either procrastinating or not managing my time right. Poly offers excellent discussion and engagement in almost every class. After coming in 9th grade from a k-8 private school in the area, I find myself better off than my middle school peers and I credit Poly for that. Poly is not for everyone of course, but for students who want a community that supports you and an environment that allows students to grow, Poly is the place without a doubt.