The College Preparatory School

The College Preparatory School (CPS or Prep) is a four-year private high school in Oakland, California. The school's motto is mens conscia recti, a Latin phrase adapted from Virgil's Aeneid that means "a mind aware of what is right."

The College Preparatory School
The College Preparatory School logo 2013.gif
6100 Broadway


United States
Coordinates37°50′54.41″N 122°14′23.89″W / 37.8484472°N 122.2399694°W / 37.8484472; -122.2399694Coordinates: 37°50′54.41″N 122°14′23.89″W / 37.8484472°N 122.2399694°W / 37.8484472; -122.2399694
School typePrivate, college preparatory
MottoMens Conscia Recti
(A mind aware of what is right)
Head of SchoolMonique DeVane
Enrollment365 (2017-18)
Student to teacher ratio8:1
Team nameCougars


Founder Mary Harley Jenks at the Groundbreaking Ceremony for the Broadway campus, 10 May 1980

Founded in 1960, College Prep's first campus was located in a house in the Claremont neighborhood of Oakland/Berkeley. The school was founded by Mary Harley Jenks, former head of the Bentley School and Ruth Willis. Miss Jenks, the first Head of School, envisioned a school that valued "high standards of scholarship and conduct."[1] In 1983 College Prep moved to its current campus on Broadway within walking distance from the Rockridge BART station.[citation needed]

College Prep has received accolades for its academic excellence. A 2007 Wall Street Journal article ranked College Prep as the sixth best high school in the United States.[2] In 2010, Forbes magazine ranked College Prep as the seventeenth best private school in the United States.[3] In 2016, ranked College Prep the fourteenth best private school in the nation.[4]. For 2020, ranked College Prep the fourth best private school in the nation.

College Prep's Heads of School have been Mary Harley Jenks (1960-1969), Robert Baldwin, Jr. (1969-1990), Clint Wilkins (1990-1994), Janet Schwartz (1994-1999), Murray Cohen (1999-2011), and Monique DeVane (2011–present).[citation needed]


An illustration of College Prep's new World Languages building. Construction was completed in Fall 2011.

A large central courtyard serves as the center of daily activity to create intimacy and a sense of community between students and faculty.[1] The newest addition to campus is the Scott MacPherson Stapleton World Languages and Cultures Building, dedicated in 2011. A campus master plan was completed in 2014.

College Prep campus, April 2020


Students are not distinguished between enrollment in honors and standard courses, as all classes are taught at the honors level, and are designated as such by the University of California. Students' grade point averages are calculated on an unweighted 4.0 scale. Students are required to take three years of core curricular classes and an extra year of English.[5]


A Harkness table being used in a College Prep freshman English class

In order to facilitate the discursive nature of College Prep's rigorous English curriculum, classes are conducted at Harkness tables: oval, wooden tables popularized by philanthropist Edward Harkness when he presented the tables to Phillips Exeter Academy in the 1930s.[6][7] Harkness believed that the tables encouraged students to actively participate in discussion, and that they constituted a "revolution" in liberal arts education.[8] Because the number of Harkness tables currently available for classes is limited, the second phase of the school's facilities project will put the tables in all English classrooms.[9]

Because of the seminar format, formal Advanced Placement English courses are not offered, but many students still take the exam.[10]


Formal Advanced Placement classes are not offered, but the history department offers extracurricular preparation for interested students. After the mandatory history curriculum has been completed, seniors are offered seminar-format elective classes.[11]

World languagesEdit

College Prep offers four-year programs in French, Spanish, Mandarin Chinese and Latin. Advanced levels of all world language classes are Advanced Placement preparatory.[12]

Latin students win first place at a California Junior Classical League Convention.

College Prep's Latin curriculum places emphasis on ancient Roman literature and history. All Latin students take the National Latin Exam annually.[12]


College Prep follows an integrated curriculum that combines numerous topics and strands of mathematics throughout the year. Despite the integrated format, each section does maintain a concentration on a core mathematical field; Math I (algebra), Math II (geometry), Math III (trigonometry), Math IV (applied mathematics and analysis), Math V (AB & BC calculus), and Math VI (multivariable calculus).[13]

The school's Math Club competes in American Mathematics Competitions and sometimes the American Invitational Mathematics Examination and United States of America Mathematical Olympiad.[13]


College Prep's science program establishes a foundation in scientific principles by requiring interdisciplinary study. While most public high schools teach introductory biology courses to freshmen, College Prep follows the Physics First model of teaching basic concepts of physics to ninth grade students within an integrated laboratory format. After completing courses in chemistry and molecular and environmental biology, students often elect to take Advanced Placement Physics, Chemistry, and Environmental Science courses. Elective classes are offered in astronomy, science ethics, animal behavior, and organic chemistry.[14]

Members of the science department operate a "Green Council" devoted to environmental sustainability initiatives and facilitating the "greening" of the College Prep campus.[15]


College Prep students are required to fulfill the University of California Visual and Performing Arts education requirement by completing two semesters of arts classes within two disciplines. The Arts department therefore offers courses in visual arts, drama, music and dance, and conducts collaborative productions between disciplines, such as musical theatre shows, and concert arts tours around California.[16] A dedicated teaching space and performing arts center is planned as part of the school's ongoing facilities modernization.[9]

The Visual Arts department teaches foundation- and advanced-level classes on creative and technical skills in drawing and design. College Prep also has a dedicated darkroom for photography students, who study film development and digital image making. Students who pass a portfolio review by the Visual Arts faculty are allowed to prepare individually for the Advanced Placement Studio Art examination.[17]

The Drama program is centered around its Acting class and conducts two major drama productions each year, and is supported by stagecraft, drama tech, and digital video production classes.[18] Drama at College Prep was recently recognized as one of the top drama programs in the country, and students were invited to perform in the American High School Theatre Festival in 2007, part of the Edinburgh Festival in Scotland.[citation needed]

Students in the Music program often perform in instrumental ensembles, performing both standard and "pop" repertoire. The orchestra, jazz band, and chamber music group organize regular concerts and attend the biennial music tour of California with the other Arts programs. The school also has a dedicated chorus and vocal ensemble. Many students participate in the non-audition Chorus class, but advanced singers can audition for an Advanced Vocal Ensemble. Members of the A.V.E. are regularly selected to perform in the prestigious National Honor Choir organized by the American Choral Directors Association.[19] Alumni of the A.V.E. also often participate in popular collegiate singing groups, such as the Harvard Din & Tonics.[20]

Dance classes are offered at all levels, and students perform in high school dance festivals, senior centers, and in theaters throughout the Bay Area. The dance program focuses on modern dance with an emphasis on African American choreographers, and teaches the techniques of Lester Horton, José Limón, Martha Graham, Katherine Dunham, and Alvin Ailey. Guest choreographers regularly visit the school to teach students. Dance is highly popular at College Prep, and the program usually has around 70 dancers at one time.[21]

Student lifeEdit


On-campus clubs usually meet weekly. Though each has a faculty advisor, they are mainly student facilitated. Clubs range from hobbies and interests (Disney Club, Poetry Club, Knitting Club), to activism and social justice (Gender Sexuality Awareness, Feminist Union, Latinos Unidos, Asian American Association, Black Student Faculty Union, South Asian Association), to academia (Current Events Club, the Forum, Latin Club, Math Club, French Club). CAT, or Community Action Team, is a branch of StuCo (Student Council), and is more supervised by school administrators.[22]

The school newspaper is the College Prep Radar.[23]


The school has a competitive policy debate team, which has reached elimination rounds at multiple national tournaments, including winning the national Tournament of Champions in 2003 and reaching the final round of the National Speech and Debate Tournament in 2004 and 2012.[24] Alumni of the College Prep debate program have gone on to win the prestigious Rex Copeland Award for the top-ranked college policy debate team in the country as well as reach late elimination rounds of the National Debate Tournament.[25] In 2010, the debate program qualified three teams to both the Tournament of Champions and the National Speech and Debate Tournament.[26][27] In 2014, a novice CPS Policy debate team won the Western Novice & JV National Championship.[28]

College Prep's former Lincoln-Douglas debate team used to regularly compete at the Tournament of Champions, the National Speech and Debate Tournament, and the California State Championship. In 2008, a College Prep Lincoln-Douglas debater placed third in the California State Championship.[29]

College Prep hosts an annual round-robin policy debate tournament known as the "California Round Robin" every February, where top policy debate teams in the country are invited to participate. Rounds are held on the school campus and in conference rooms provided by the Oakland office of the Reed Smith law firm.[30] The California Round Robin is unique from traditional tournaments in that the school invites experts on the year's resolution to judge the final round. Because the final round is held the night before the popular California Invitational tournament at UC Berkeley, it is usually well attended by the invitational's competitors.[30]

The debate team is supported by an endowment from the Julia Burke Foundation, and the foundation offers a scholarship to both the "Debater of the Year" at College Prep and the Julia Burke Flame for Excellence scholarship at the national policy debate Tournament of Champions.[31]


In an attempt to combine technology and student life, the school operates three full-service computer labs and four classrooms fully equipped with laptop computers.[32] Each faculty member is provided a laptop for classroom instruction. Beginning with the Class of 2014, every incoming student is provided an Apple MacBook Pro computer, with the aim of universally integrating technology into the curriculum. The program is financed by a supplementary "technology fee" to the tuition. Families may opt out of the school-purchase plan if they purchase their own equipment. When students graduate, the computers belong to them.[33]


Academics center around an advisor system that matches each student with a faculty member who help students to organize their schedules and provide guidance, while serving as a liaison between students' parents and the school. Senior mentors help freshmen facilitate their transition into high school. College Prep also offers counseling and health education programs conducted by a full-time health educator and counselor, a trained child psychologist, who provides comprehensive support to students and conducts a mandatory health program for sophomores intended to introduce them to health topics and encourage them to make healthful choices.[34]

College counselingEdit

College Prep has an intensive and individualized counseling process for college admissions - two counselors are staffed full-time, and students begin regularly meeting with their assigned counselor beginning in the middle of their junior year. Individual meetings take place weekly, and students are required to attend periodic workshops regarding the admissions process.[35]

Community serviceEdit

College Prep students participate in service efforts as a class, wherein sophomores and seniors are involved in maintenance projects at Point Reyes, and juniors cooperate with Rebuilding Together to assist in various projects around the Bay Area. Students also cook for men's and women's shelters in Oakland. Schoolwide participation in Oxfam and Amnesty International is common.[36]


The school organizes a number of special retreats for each class. Freshman retreat is conducted at the Headlands campus of the Yosemite Institute, north of the Golden Gate Bridge, and is designed to help students adjust to high school. Sophomores retreat on the American River and participate in a whitewater rafting trip. Junior retreat is an exercise in leadership training and involves extensive group discussion and activities on an outdoor ropes course. Seniors discuss the transition from high school to college, providing an informal setting to say goodbye before graduation.[37]


A Diversity Coordinator facilitates discussion of diversity among faculty, staff, and students. Students attend the yearly conference for People of Color in Independent Schools and stage regular events such as forums, guest speakers, and classroom discussions. The Diversity Center also heads a "Freshman Foundations" program that introduces students to challenges of diversity that occur in high school. Students also participate in the school's various cultural diversity organizations.[38]


An Intraterm period takes place in the week before spring break, and consists of special courses, field studies and internships offered to students outside of the regular curriculum. Juniors may opt out of Intraterm classes or trips in order to visit colleges. Annual participation in Intraterm is a graduation requirement.[39]


College Prep has a variety of interscholastic teams. Because of the school's small size, and the school policy of exempting students from Physical Education classes during a semester of participation, the percentage of students who join sports teams is exceptionally high: 65% of Prep students play team sports.[40] The school's mascot is the Cougar, and the school colors are blue, maroon, and white.

College Prep is one of ten schools in the Bay Counties League - East. The school has won twenty-one League titles since 2010, namely:[40]

  • 7 NCS Championships
  • 12 NCS Second Place Finishes
  • 64 League Championships
  • 4 League Sportsmanship Awards (by vote of the schools in the BCL East)
  • Sent 90 student-athletes on to play at the collegiate level

As a separate component of the school's modernization and expansion project, the Board also negotiated the unrestricted use of the Tom Bates Fields, an athletic compound adjacent to the Golden Gate Fields, for use by College Prep athletics.[9]

Tuition and endowmentEdit

Tuition for the 2020-2021 school year is $48,300.[41] In 2019-2020, 24 percent of the student body received need-based grants.

College Prep's endowment is currently $19 million, or about $52,000 per student.

Test scoresEdit

The mean SAT Reasoning Test scores (on a scale of 200-800) for the College Prep Class of 2019 were 731 (evidence-based reading and writing) and 761 (math). In 2018-19, 161 students took 348 Advanced Placement exams with 88% of the scores fours or fives.[42]

Notable alumniEdit


  1. ^ a b Becoming A Real School 1960-1990 : The Story of The College Preparatory School by Robert Baldwin, Jr. Berkeley, California: Regent Press, 2004.
  2. ^ "How the Schools Stack Up", Wall Street Journal, 20 November 2007
  3. ^ "America's Best Prep Schools" Forbes, 29 April 2010
  4. ^ "Best Private High Schools In America"
  5. ^ "Academics" The College Preparatory School, no date.
  6. ^ Conversations With Great Teachers by Bill Smoot. Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University Press, 2010.
  7. ^ "English (Overview)" The College Preparatory School, no date.
  8. ^ Christophe G. Courchesne, "'A Suggestion of a Fundamental Nature': Imagining a Legal Education of Solely Electives Taught as Discussions", Rutgers Law Record 29, no. 21 (2005): 26.
  9. ^ a b c "Strategic Plan" The College Preparatory School, no date.
  10. ^ "English (Seminars)" The College Preparatory School, no date.
  11. ^ "History (Overview)"The College Preparatory School, no date.
  12. ^ a b "World Languages"The College Preparatory School, no date.
  13. ^ a b "Math"The College Preparatory School", no date.
  14. ^ "Science" The College Preparatory School, no date.
  15. ^ "Where to Begin..."CPS Green Council, 17 November 2008.
  16. ^ "The Arts"The College Preparatory School, no date.
  17. ^ "Visual Arts"The College Preparatory School, no date.
  18. ^ "Drama"The College Preparatory School, no date.
  19. ^ "2009 National Honor Choir Concerts"American Choral Directors Association, 7 March 2009.
  20. ^ "The Harvard Din & Tonics"The Harvard Din & Tonics, 2009-2010.
  21. ^ "Dance"The College Preparatory School, no date.
  22. ^ "College Prep | Clubs & Spirit". Retrieved 26 September 2015.
  23. ^ "Home | Student newspaper of the College Preparatory School". The Radar. Retrieved 26 September 2015.
  24. ^ "National Winners"National Forensic League Rostrum, September 2004.
  25. ^ "Copeland Award for Top First Round At-Large Team"National Debate Tournament – American Forensic Association, no date.
  26. ^ "Field Report: TOC"Victory Briefs Daily, 16 April 2010
  27. ^ "College Prep Debate Team"Give Youth a Voice, 2010.
  28. ^ "2014 Western Novice & JV National Championship"
  29. ^ "State Tournament"California High School Speech Association"
  30. ^ a b "Pine Crest, Glenbrook North in California Round Robin Exhibition Round"Victory Briefs Daily, 21 February 2007.
  31. ^ "Julia Burke Foundation". Julia Burke Foundation. Retrieved 13 December 2010.
  32. ^ "Technology" The College Preparatory School, no date.
  33. ^ "One-to-One Student Laptop Program" The College Preparatory School, no date.
  34. ^ "Advising & Counseling" The College Preparatory School, no date.
  35. ^ "College Counseling" The College Preparatory School, no date.
  36. ^ "Service and Community Based Learning" The College Preparatory School, no date.
  37. ^ "Retreat Program" The College Preparatory School, no date.
  38. ^ "Diversity and Inclusion" The College Preparatory School, no date.
  39. ^ "Intraterm" The College Preparatory School, no date.
  40. ^ a b "Athletics", The College Preparatory School, no date.
  41. ^ The College Preparatory School: Tuitions and Fees
  42. ^ "Prep at a Glance"
  43. ^ "Kat Foster" Superior Pics, no date.
  44. ^ "David M. Marchick" The Carlyle Group, no date.
  45. ^ "Carlye Group Names David Marchick Global Head Regulatory Affairs" Fierce Finance, 26 September 2007
  46. ^ "Interfaith Center for Sustainable Development"
  47. ^ "Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz leaves for start-up" Los Angeles Times, 3 October 2008
  48. ^ "Shankland Nears GM Norm in Berkeley!"
  49. ^ “With Smartphones, Cher Wang Made Her Own Fortune” New York Times, 26 October 2008.

External linksEdit