Homework load at College Prep

Can anyone give us an idea how much homework the kids do at College Prep?  For example, is it 5 hours every weekend?  I know it’s a great school, just wanting to know the reality of the homework load to ascertain if it’s a potential fit for our teen.

Parent Replies

New responses are no longer being accepted.

RE: Homework load at College Prep ()

Home work load is A LOT.  My student is usually extremely efficient, so much so that in an independent middle school, homework never came home. But at College Prep, if the weekend homework is to be finished in one day, that would be at minimum, 3-4 hours non-stop, highly highly efficient work on average. On weekday night, it was 1 hr average, after the open period in school that was fully devoted to homework.  Most of kids in my student's year spent 2-3 hours every night.  If you ask on your visits, the students and admin will tell you that homework are not busy work and are meaningful.  That is the standard answer (and dare you say otherwise!).  The reality is, a lot of them are busy work (especially Physics and history).  Math homework are meaningful and you do learn a lot.  But other classes give homework for the sake of homework (especially on weekends). To give you an example, Physics would give 40-50 problems a night before a major test--just think how long it will take to just read through them.  My student is extremely strong academically (and is doing extremely well academically) and found these homework very frustrating and take time away from real meaningful learning.  This learning style works well for students who are smart but not very self-motivated and self-disciplined.  If your student is very creative, super smart and motivated, this will kill that passion and love of learning. 

RE: Homework load at College Prep ()

So in reality, the amount of homework someone does while attending College Prep depends upon your kid. Are they disciplined? Do they structure their time well? Or do they get distracted? For my kid, the first year was about an hour a day with more for finals, (she also worked through her free period.) Second year was a little more. Junior year, when every class is honors or AP, there's about 2 to 2 1/2 hours, plus your kid is studying for the SAT/ACT, AP and SAT subject tests, and beginning college searches. It's a lot, but she manages her time well and still has sports and friends in the mix. Most importantly, does your teen want to go to College Prep? It's a fantastic school, but students should be willing and eager to attend. Good luck with your choice!

RE: Homework load at College Prep ()

In my experience as a CPS parent with a recent grad, it's hard to say how much homework - in terms of hours - your kiddo will have. It depends on the kid's strengths how long they will need to work to be successful in this unique environment. The work is hard. History and English are deep, rather than broad. History, in particular, stresses critical thinking and argument over memorization of facts and dates. Math is taught using a socratic method that works for some kids, not others. The kids I saw who were most successful had the capacity for long hours of work. Some kids care more about getting all As than others. If your kid wants As, they will be working long and hard. Great school for certain types of kids. Not a great match for everyone. That said, everyone comes out very well-prepared.

RE: Homework load at College Prep ()

At College Prep, it's not about the amount of the homework assigned but what the student gets out of it. I have one child who graduated and one who is currently attending. From what our family has seen and experienced, the students who are successful at Prep are ones who are organized and highly motivated. The actual homework load is not overwhelming. If your child is efficient and gets down to business, they can keep up with the assignments. But your student needs to want to do the homework and do it well. If they rush through their English reading rather than carefully taking notes, the discussion around the Harkness table in class will not be engaging. If they don't do their math problems fully, the students' presentation of problems on the board in class the next day will difficult to follow. Your student may be one of those who currently gets As on tests in middle school without studying. Those days will be over. It's an adjustment and your child will need to be prepared to put in the effort all through high school. As you are thinking through this, focus on the level of motivation your child has rather than how many hours of homework they can handle. Good luck in your high school search process!

RE: Homework load at College Prep ()

In my experience, it depends on the kid. Some kids load up on classes, which can be time-consuming; and some kids just get through things more quickly than others.

My child is not efficient, so for the majority of time, he would study most of the weekend on top of the long hours he put in during the week. I'm not sure, but my guess is that he's in the relative minority with respect to the amount of time he spends on homework. There are kids who get things done faster and therefore have more time for downtime. Regardless of individual circumstances, my sense is that most, if not all, kids at CPS feel the demanding homework schedule and work really hard year-round. 

The school does a great job of providing a nurturing and supportive environment, however. My child, for example, loves CPS; he likes the fact that there isn't any busywork and that he is constantly learning. My advice is for your child to visit the school. Most likely, he/she will know if it's the right school for him/her.

Good luck!

RE: Homework load at College Prep ()

The homework load is very heavy – at least 5 hours on the weekend and at least 2 hours weekdays. Our son came from a middle school with a reputation for a lot of work. It was nothing to this. There are days when he has to choose which questions to skip or which material to study fully and which not because we require that he get enough sleep, and he simply runs out of time. Our son wanted to go to CPS even though he knew it would be hard. Still, we underestimated the amount of work it would take to keep up.

RE: Homework load at College Prep ()

Students have open periods, and some days only a few classes meet. Our child uses this free time well. Homework can usually be kept to fewer than 2 hours a night, and some nights she hasn't had any homework, making possible her playing in a youth orchestra. Our kid has been in bed by 10:00 pm because her homework is done and because she is exhausted by after-school sports. On the weekends homework can be split over two days, leaving plenty of time for sports, sleepovers, movies, theater, and music.

I have really been happy with our child learning the history of India and China in her first year. She has learned about the conflicts between settled agriculturalists and nomads, the rise of Buddhist ethics, technologies of navigation in the early modern period and the predations of the East India Company. Our younger one saw how excited her older sibling was to learn this history that she had me read to her Peter Frankopan's Illustrated History of the Silk Roads. Moreover, the history teacher has taught our older one how to cite documentary materials and write well. I don't consider it busy work. I consider it to be some of the most meaningful work she is doing. This may go to the question of the value of teaching History at all. I value it, but won't get into that debate. 

Through the math homework she has learned how to write rigorous proofs. Nothing like that is happening in frosh math at Berkeley High. Frosh physics is about retraining the intuition, and doing multiple practice problems achieves that. I don't think it can be done any other way. The teacher has been so outstanding that our daughter was inspired to read on her own Clifford Johnson's The Dialogues: Conversations about the Nature of the Universe.

It seems that there are few complaints about the homework in English classes probably because the books chosen are just excellent, and they are taught by a rather unbelievably talented faculty of scholars. 

All this said, there are tradeoffs. If one wants to go to Julliard or Curtis or play Division I sports, College Prep is probably not the best place, though the great cellist David Requiro is a CPS grad. 

I get the concerns about burn-out. But here's what my wife and I thought when we accepted last year and still think. If our child decides to pursue science in college, the first two years can be brutal, especially at a UC. Without strong preparation it would be easy to get lost in a big lecture class especially if one has a bad draw of lecturer or graduate teaching assistant. We don't think she'll be burned out by the time she gets to college but prepared to do the work with more ease than many of her classmates, and thus more likely to stick with it. Moreover, her writing assignments won't burn her out as she has to take extra time to learn how to write at the college level. 

I like what the school is doing, and don't really want them to change much. I think our daughter is getting excellent preparation for the next level.