El Cerrito High School vs. St. Mary's

My daughter is interested in El Cerrito High School and St. Mary's, and she would like to talk to someone who is familiar with both and can offer an unbiased comparison.  She is very interested in the strong speech and debate program at ECHS -- St. Mary's does not appear to have much of a program in that area.  (She is not applying to any other private schools.)  She is a very focused and capable student, and thinks that St. Mary's will offer stronger academics (better preparation for college?), but we have also heard that high-achieving students at ECHS have great success in applying to colleges, especially UCs.  She would love to meet with a college consultant who could talk with her about her interests and activities, and help her weigh the pros and cons of her high school decision and help her think about extracurricular activities.  If you can suggest a consultant who might be helpful, we would appreciate it!  We also welcome any comments or suggestions you may have based on your own family's experience with either or both of these high schools.  Thanks!

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My daughter is a junior at ECHS and has several friends attending St. Mary's. I would say that for motivated students the academics are equal. At ECHS there are probably more students who are not motivated because it is a public school and they have to accept everyone while St. Mary's does not, which makes the "average" student a better student. Really unless you are seeking the religious component, I don't see the point of attending St. Mary's rather than ECHS.

Hi - my daughter is captain of the debate/speech team at El Cerrito High School.  If your daughter would like to speak with her, you can be in touch.

Best - Lee

For the 2016 all-UC's freshman class, ECHS had 63 students admitted, and St. Mary's had 60. All the data is here https://www.universityofcalifornia.edu/infocenter

I have a freshman at St Mary's and a freshman at UCSC who went to St Mary's. We are Jewish and non-religious but both have genuinely enjoyed the religious aspect as they are learning about it in a critical thinking, philosophical, world citizen approach. However the required religious classes plus smaller size do mean far fewer electives than at a public school, and extracurriculars other than sports are much smaller as well. The debate team is successful but very small. My younger daughter was interested and was welcomed but felt it is more suited to someone coming in with experience, they basically just had kids sign up for debate events at the first meeting and she didn't get a sense she would learn what to do unless she figured it out on her own. My older daughter feels highly prepared at UCSC. The people she knows from EC high feel prepared too. Anecdotally a lot more skipping classes, chaos, and "doing nothing all day" happens even within AP & Honors at EC. The percentage of UC applicants admitted from St Mary's is higher than from EC according to the UC link someone else posted. But that may be because it would be really hard, maybe impossible, to graduate from St M without being "UC eligible" whereas at EC that is less controlled.