Can average kids get into CPS? (59% of the class 2016 are national merit recognized!!)

Hi all,

We are starting to look at the SF/East Bay private high schools for our middle school son. Anyway, we came across College Prep's website and noticed the incredibly high number of students who are national merit recognized. Is it even possible to have this many (53 out of 90!!) in ONE class?! Wow! Now, this must mean that in the application process, CPS probably put a significant emphasis on the applicants' ISEE/SSAT scores, in order to get this kind of result. I read somewhere on this forum that CPS is looking for applicants with scores that are north of 85% tile. Is this still true? Sounds like the scores need to be at least 95% to get this kind result.

Finally, are there any average kids at CPS? Or, is it possible to get an average kid into CPS?

Parent Replies

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I have two kids who went to College Prep, one who graduated in 2009 and one in 2013. So my information is a bit dated, but I am quite sure it is still accurate. College Prep is a very selective school, and successful applicants tend to be straight-A students, or close. I don't think College Prep seeks kids with high ISEE/SSAT scores specifically to get kids who receive national merit recognition; they seek bright and engaged kids and give them a superb education, which leads to kids who tend to test well.

You ask if "there are any average kids at CPS" and whether it is possible to get an "average kid" into CPS. If your child is average, the issue is not so much whether he can get in as whether it is the right place for him. There are no average kids at CPS. All the kids at CPS are smart, and some are crazy smart. Like the smartest-person-you've-ever-met kind of smart. Being in that environment is not necessarily easy even for extremely bright kids, who are used to excelling without too much effort in middle school. One of my sons was deflated by working hard for Bs at CPS; it undermined his confidence and made him feel inadequate. He is still glad he went there, but it was a very hard way to do high school for him. The other was exhilarated by being in a class of brilliant peers and relished every second. If my son were an average student in middle school I would not send him to CPS, where he would likely be overwhelmed and unhappy.

I have one child attending CPS now and I can say after entry (although I did not know it at the time of application) that it was a competitive process. Having said that, there is a mix of all kinds of kids, from brainiacs to artsy to well-rounded arts and sciences, etc. It is also a soft place to attend if you are gender questioning, LGBTQ, etc. The process seems to involve a hand-picking of students that are all academically-motivated but not necessarily A-achieving at the school. The standards are high, the curriculum interesting and challenging, but with a lot of fun days - spirit, multicultural, pride, no homework weekends, and days off every now and then to reduce the pressure. You would have to enjoy school work - no question, but we LOVE the school, the students, and the community. It is like a small liberal arts college in a high school.