Orinda Academy is a Co-Ed, College Preparatory, Independent School for Students in Grades 8-12, and has a Convenient East Bay Location.

"He wants to go to school for the first time in his life." - Orinda Academy Review

"Please check out Orinda Academy for your son. There are many kids that come from Berkeley and surrounding areas as well as east of the tunnel. Your son sounds much like my son. Acalanes high school was way too big and institutionalized for him as well and he would have gotten lost if he went there. Orinda Academy has been a blessing for him. He has made friends, participates and is really coming into his own. He wants to go to school for the first time in his life. It is academically rigorous but with support. They do offer some scholarships."

Review By: Linda B on the Berkeley Parents Network
Jan. 25, 2015

Staff Bio: Laurel Evans

Laurel Evans is our admissions director here at Orinda Academy. This is her fifth year in this position coordinating financial aid, advertising/marketing and the admissions office, in addition to being the student council advisor. Prior to coming to OA she was a first grade teacher for 4 years at a small private school in Oakland. She got her B.A. in film and digital media from U.C. Santa Cruz, and her multiple subject clear credential from Cal State East Bay. She grew up in the Bay Area and currently lives in Concord with her husband and two and a half-year-old son. She enjoys hiking, reading, traveling, watching movies, going to baseball games and taking her son to the park and zoo.

Staff Bio: Peter Hicks

Peter Hicks, a member of Orinda Academy's English Department, teaches Sophomore English, as well as Advanced Composition and AP English Literature and Composition. Peter began working at OA during the 2013-2014 school year. Before OA, Peter taught at numerous other schools and institutions including: Windermere Preparatory School in Orlando FL, Leman-Manhattan in Manhattan, NY, and at the Arabic Language Arts Center in Palestine, Israel. He is passionate about music and literature. He has toured nationally with his band, Inside Switch, and he is currently completing a trilogy of novels he hopes to publish in the next year. Peter loves working at Orinda Academy and attributes the pleasure of his job to hard-working, considerate students and a friendly, compassionate faculty and staff.

How to Write a Winning College Application Essay

Enrolling in a private college prep school is just the first step toward cementing your academic future. If you want to get into the college of your choice, use the following tips to write an exemplary essay:

Find a Way to Make It Personal

The best essays are those that come from a personal point of view. If you want to really wow the college admissions board with your essay, you have to choose a topic about which you feel passionate. Incorporate your personal thoughts and feelings into the essay to ensure that you show off your unique personality.

Choose a Focus

Writing an essay without any real focus puts you at risk for trying to include too much information without making any real statements. Finding a focus for your essay helps you keep your writing short and to the point. This makes it much easier to come up with and stick to a topic for your essay.

Be Descriptive

Instead of writing general expository statements, try to use your words to show what you are saying. You should always try to add specific details and examples that show your audience the point that you are making instead of just telling them.

Write from Your Voice

You should never try to mimic the voice of another writer when you are compiling a personal essay. A college application essay is designed to show an admissions board why you would make a good fit for a certain program. The only way you can truly do that is to write using your own voice so you can share your personal experiences.

If you want to give yourself the best educational opportunities, you have to find a preparatory school that helps you achieve your goals. As one of the top private schools in the East Bay, Orinda Academy is here for you. We start one-on-one college counseling with students starting their junior year. To learn more about our programs and admissions policies, visit us online or call (925) 357-9719.

Staff Bio: Norm Coleman


Norm Coleman is the Academic Dean/Assistant Head of School and College Counselor of Orinda Academy.  Norm is a founding member of the Orinda Academy community beginning in June, 1982 as a mathematics and social science teacher, being credentialed in both areas.  Norm earned a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science at the University of California, Berkeley and his teaching credential at the University of California, Santa Barbara.  Norm has been an integral part of the Orinda Academy Community.  Norm taught every math class from Business Math through Pre-Calculus as well as World Geography, United States History, Civics, Physical Education, Creative Writing, and created the film version of Visual and Performing Arts.  Norm formalized the Student Council and served as their advisor for many years.  Norm helped Mitch Goldman originate the Orinda Academy basketball team and served as Assistant Basketball Coach for ten years.  Norm can still be found operating the scoreboard at home games.  Norm has enjoyed attending a variety of school activities with Orinda Academy students and colleagues from the nearby California Shakespeare Festival to far away venues like Los Cabos, Mexico.  Norm enjoys time with friends and family, movies, music, and sports (particularly baseball).

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