College Preparatory School review by University of California - Santa Barbara student. The teaching at College Prep was bar none. I really can not emphasize enough the amazing experiences I had with my teachers here. Even in the subjects I wasn't good at (I always struggled more in the maths and sciences) the teachers were always available to me for help. Additionally, they reached out to me when they saw I wasn't doing well. I was always successful academically before I came to College Prep, but it was challenging at first. They expect a lot from you, but they also give a lot back. I hadn't had to work exceptionally hard before attending CPS, and so it really was a challenge. In my four years, however, I really learned how to study. More than anything, CPS taught me how to be an excellent student. In college, the biggest difference between my peers and I was my understanding of how to read efficiently, study efficiently, time manage, etcetera. It's rare that I have to pull "all-nighters" or feel stressed out to an overwhelming degree in college because I was prepared for an immense workload and challenging situations. The school has incredible teachers- I particularly loved the english department- but I rarely had a teacher that I didn't like. At least when I attended (I graduated three years ago), english and math were probably their best subjects. However, science, history, and language were also pretty consistently excellent. The only areas that were sub-par were art (fine arts, dance, drama) and athletics. It is slightly hard to be in college classes after the experiences I had at CPS, however. At CPS, classes were never more than 20 students (and that's a high number). Discussion was encouraged and expected, and always added to my learning experience. One thing I found incredible about classes there was that I learned so much from my fellow students. It's inspiring to be in a group of people who are excited to contribute and participate. I didn't feel as though people participated (say, in english classes, which were some of my favorite) because they had to for a grade, but because they genuinely found something in the text illuminating or curious and wanted to discuss it. Even the classes that had to be more lecture based in nature (like history) were frequently broken up with group activity and discussion. Math classes spent at least half the time working example problems, so it wasn't just conceptual. It made it possible to grasp concepts and gave time to ask questions right away if something was confusing. Similarly, we sat in groups of four, and would frequently work on harder problems with our table.
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I had a wonderful experience at CPS socially. Although it would get occasionally boring, and somewhat repetitive, as the school is very small, I feel that I gained a confidence and assuredness in myself and my social skills that I would have at a more "traditional" high school. Most students are incredibly accepting and it was the first place I didn't stand out as nerdy, so I think it really helps people gain self-esteem. I saw a lot of people really come into themselves over the four year period, and there was really almost no issues with bullying or similar behavior. The campus is overwhelming liberal (that was definitely the voiced viewpoint, I know there were conservatives but they were in the minority. Although that partly has to do with the school's location in Oakland). Peers and certainly willing to help each other, I always felt supported. Sometimes, school took over a bit, and I did find that I missed out a little bit on the more carefree attitude that many highschoolers have. I liked working hard and I wouldn't have wanted to go anywhere else, but the rigors of coursework could get overwhelming and take over your life a bit. I thought the discipline was at times a bit ridiculous, but it wasn't too "rigid" per se. I expected a lot of it, but it is almost comical to think back on some of the things we got punished for (one of my friends had her car keys taken away because they heard she didn't have her license yet- I always wondered why the school felt it was there place to interfere in something that was not really related to the school and more related to her private life). That was the only time I got irritated- I felt that sometimes, they tried to interfere in our lives outside of campus in a way that I felt was inappropriate (however, it wasn't excessive; I imagine they wanted to make sure we didn't tarnish their image, but it could be a bit ridiculous at times).
Many students were well-rounded and participated in lot of activities. One really nice thing about the sports at CPS was because we weren't exceptional, anyone could get a chance to play. Not necessarily on varsity, but it was possible to play a sport merely because you were interested in it. I personally participated in extracurricular art activities, which were fine. The one major complaint i have about CPS in that the emphasis on the arts as very week. Stephanie, the dance teacher, is wonderful, but is not given nearly enough support. The fine arts are also somewhat shifted to the side and are not taken seriously. I found that disappointing.