Below are all the Frequently Asked Questions available to you. If these do not answer your question, click here to ask your question.
Please click on the question to view the answer.
Students in grades 7-9 attend school on the Middle School campus located at 700 North Faring Road, tucked in to the neighborhood just north of Sunset and east Beverly Glen in Holmby Hills. (Students in grades 10-12 attend school on the Upper School campus in Studio City, just south of Ventura Boulevard on Coldwater Canyon Avenue.)
At the Middle School, school begins each day, Monday through Friday at 8:00 a.m. On Monday, the school day ends at 3:15 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays, the last class finishes at 3:05 p.m. There are nine periods scheduled each day, and each class is 40 minutes in length. In addition, there is a 30-minute assembly period each Monday when the entire Middle School community meets together. Often, this time is used to showcase student talent or bring an outside speaker/performer to campus. On Tuesdays through Fridays, students have a 25-minute activity period, during which many clubs meet. Clubs range from more academic ones such as MathCounts, Mock Trial, or the Robotics club to special interest clubs such as the Chess, Sudoku, or Knitting Club.
At the Upper School, school begins each day Monday through Friday at 8:00 a.m. On Monday, the school day ends at 3:10 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays, the last class finishes at 2:35 p.m.
Yes. Harvard–Westlake students arrive on campus from all over the Greater Los Angeles area through a daily bus service. All service is provided on a shared-cost, non-profit basis, and we serve all areas that generate ridership sufficient to cover costs. Current Middle School routes serve: Pacific Palisades, San Vicente/Sunset, Los Feliz/Hancock Park, Westchester/Ladera Heights/Cheviot Hills, West San Fernando Valley (Agoura/Calabasas), North San Fernando Valley (Chatsworth/Northridge), and East San Fernando Valley (Arcadia/Pasadena). Additional areas may be served if ridership interest warrants (40 needed to operate a route). Pick-up and drop-off points are located on major arteries to minimize total ride time. Riders have a choice of two afternoon buses each day; the early bus departs after classes and the late bus departs at the conclusion of most after-school sports and activities. Some interscholastic games and events may end later, and parents will have to make alternate transportation arrangements.
Harvard–Westlake has an agreement set forth by students, faculty and administrators that states Middle School students are allowed no more than 30–40 minutes of homework per academic subject per night depending on their grade. While a stated policy, not every teacher gives the maximum amount of homework every night. Students average 1 1 / 2 to 2 1/ 2 hours of homework per night, but most utilize their free periods during the day to complete their homework and meet with teachers, which minimizes their evening workload.
Harvard–Westlake School is larger than most independent schools in the area, with a total enrollment of 730 on the Middle School campus and 850 students on the Upper School campus. 7th and 8th grades have approximately 220 students per grade, and 9th through 12th grades have approximately 290 students each. While the size of each grade is large for an independent school, the number of students in each classroom is small, usually no more than 15–17. The student-teacher ratio is 8:1, and two deans are assigned to each grade in the Middle School. Deans help students both socially and behaviorally while serving as their advocate, encouraging communication between students, teachers and parents and ensuring that they never feel lost. In the Upper School, each student is individually assigned a dean, who will eventually serve as his/her college counselor.
Along with the diversity of the student body, the size of the school allows Harvard–Westlake to provide a range of academic, athletic, artistic, and extra-curricular opportunities. Students can select from an impressive array of subjects and activities which include 32 Advanced Placement courses, 95 teams in 28 different sports, over 60 clubs, and extensive artistic and community service opportunities perhaps only available at a school of our size.
Yes. Munger Library’s extensive collection of approximately 17,000 volumes and 80 periodicals supports the curriculum and the academic work of all departments. The library’s automated catalog allows students to search for books in the collections of Harvard–Westlake’s Middle and Upper School libraries, as well as those of 15 other independent school libraries in Southern California (a total of over 250,000 volumes). Students are able to borrow materials from any of these schools throughinterlibrary loan. The library’s website provides access to the automated catalog as well as to online databases and periodicals, and students can search any one of the resources from the library, student computer labs, and from home.
More about the Middle School library
More about the Upper School library
Lunch periods are not scheduled for students. Instead, students eat during one of their free periods . 7th and 8th graders are encouraged to use their free period after their Physical Education class to eat lunch. Students may bring their lunches or purchase hot food, sandwiches, salads, drinks and snacks at the cafeteria. The cafeteria is open from 7:30 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. Students purchase food with their ID cards, and charges are billed monthly to their parents.
Harvard–Westlake hosts an optional summer program called Fast Start for all 7th graders and all new 9th graders during the last week of August, a week before school starts. About 95% of the students participate. During the program, students can set up their class schedules if they have not already done so, and they take mini-classes to get a feel of what a typical day would be like at Harvard–Westlake. Fast Start also serves as a great opportunity for new students to make friends, meet their classmates, teachers and deans, and become comfortable with the campus surroundings before the entire Middle School returns to campus.
Furthermore, during a week in October, each grade takes a week off from school to attend a class retreat. 7th graders visit local sites in and around Los Angeles and spend one night camping at a local campsite, 8th graders camp overnight at Pali Mountain, and 9th graders camp and canoe down the Colorado River. Retreats provide another opportunity for students to make friends and get to know teachers as well as encourage team building and class unity.
A free period is a period during which no class has been scheduled. The Middle School schedule follows a six-day cycle where academic classes—English, history, math, language, and science—meet on five days each cycle. The period when an academic class does not meet is called an X (free) Period. The X Period is first and foremost a learning period. During this time, students may be asked to meet with their teachers to work on projects or work in the library. Once academic responsibilities have been met, students may use their X Period as a time during which they may choose the activity in which they will engage.
Harvard–Westlake does not require its students to wear a uniform. There is an informal dress code to the extent that students are expected to be appropriately and neatly attired. Clothing must be clean, tidy, in good repair, and in good taste.
Harvard-Westlake is a nondenominational independent institution. There are both a Rabbi and Episcopal Chaplain on the faculty who are available to students. Both lead religious activities for interested students and faculty.
Although Harvard–Westlake has two separate campuses, we are one school. If a current Harvard–Westlake student’s academic and behavioral record is acceptable, he/she will automatically be enrolled in the Upper School.
7th and 9th grades are the two main entry points into Harvard–Westlake. 220 spaces are available in the 7th grade, and approximately 75 new students are accepted into the 9th grade as we add to the class. We do not anticipate having any openings in the 8th grade for the 2014-2015 school year. Depending upon total school enrollment, between 10 and 15 students are admitted into the 10th grade. Applications for admission to the 11th and 12th grades are only considered in special circumstances, such as a student’s family moving from out of state or a foreign student’s participation in an official exchange program.
Harvard–Westlake prides itself on the diversity of its student body. We seek to enroll students from a variety of schools and backgrounds. This past year, we offered places to students from nearly 110 different schools, including public, religious, independent, and foreign schools.
The number varies from year to year, but we usually anticipate three to four applicants for each opening in the 7th grade and approximately four to five applicants for every 9th or 10th grade opening.
Admission to Harvard–Westlake is competitive. We are looking for bright and active students who have the ability to contribute to the school community and have the potential to be successful and happy at Harvard–Westlake. We consider the following: the information given on the application; the student’s academic records, essay, and test scores; the teachers’ and school’s recommendations; the student’s talents, character, and leadership qualities; and information gathered during the interview at Harvard–Westlake.
Each applicant is reviewed by at least two faculty members and discussed by the Admission Committee, which is comprised of deans, school administrators, faculty and members of the admission staff. No one factor is weighted more than another as the Admission Committee considers whether an applicant is a good fit for Harvard–Westlake. The school seeks to create a diverse community of engaged learners.
Test scores are only one aspect of a student’s file. A broad range of test scores exists among those students accepted by Harvard–Westlake, and we do not have a cutoff point for admission. Because we accept children from so many different elementary and junior high schools, these scores illuminate a child’s academic record and provide a standardized measure for the Admission Committee. Our experience has shown, for example, that students who routinely score below the median on standardized tests, normed for independent schools, are likely to struggle with the Harvard–Westlake curriculum.
More information about the ISEE Test...
Harvard–Westlake recognizes the desirability of enrolling brothers and sisters. However, what is right for one child may not be the right school for his or her sibling. Siblings will only be admitted if they have demonstrated qualities likely to lead to their success at Harvard–Westlake. Siblings of current students and children of alumni and legacy families who have sustained a positive relationship with the school since graduating will be given preference when all other factors are equal. In addition to applying to Harvard–Westlake, it is strongly recommended that all families apply to other schools because admission to Harvard–Westlake is not guaranteed. As a result of the increased competitiveness for both 7th and 9th grade spaces, every year more sibling/legacy families are disappointed as their applications have not been equal to others.
Sibling and legacy applicants are encouraged to attend the first Family Visiting Day scheduled for their grade and are strongly encouraged to take the ISEE by December. Sibling/legacy families should refer to the information sheet for sibling/legacy applicants and call the Admission Office if they have further questions.
Although Harvard-Westlake has two separate campuses, we are one school. If a student's academic and behavioral record is acceptable, he/she will automatically be enrolled in the Upper School.
The application deadline is January 17, 2014. Decision letters will be mailed on March 14, 2014, to those 7th grade applicants whose files are completed by the deadline. Decision letters will be mailed on March 7, 2014, to those 9th and 10th grade applicants whose files are completed by the deadline.
We strongly recommend that you apply to another school where your child will be happy should he or she not be admitted to Harvard–Westlake. Admission is not guaranteed, and each year some families are surprised and disappointed with the decision.
Most spaces at Harvard–Westlake will be filled by students who apply by the deadline of January 17, 2014. Applicants who complete their applications after this date will only be considered for the waiting list.
Harvard–Westlake admits international students who intend to complete their secondary education through the 12th grade in our academic program. Students move here with their parents. Since we do not offer a program in English as a Second Language (ESL), students need to be completely fluent in English for reading, speaking, and composition.
Tuition for the 2013-14 school year is $32,300, with a new student fee of $2,000. Other expenses – which include books, transportation, meals, and class activities -- typically average $2,000 - $4,000 (the latter for those who avail themselves of the school’s comprehensive bus service). 2014-15 tuition and new student fees will be set by the Board of Trustees and announced in the acceptance letters.
Absolutely. For the 2013-14 academic year, a total of almost $8 million, representing more than 12% of the school’s entire operating budget, has been committed to aid. Approximately 290 students, nearly 18% of the student body, will be served, with average grants just under $25,000. Harvard-Westlake awards grants to families who demonstrate financial need. Grants are awarded on the basis of the Parents' Financial Statement and the Harvard-Westlake School Financial Aid Committee's review.
Harvard-Westlake has a strong commitment to students with diverse socioeconomic backgrounds. Families who do not apply for aid at the time of their application will be much less likely to receive aid in a subsequent year.
Please click here for more information about tuition and financial aid.
First, consider the true cost of an independent school education. Tuition in 2013-14 is $32,300. This means roughly $38,000 including books, lunches, transportation, and other costs.
Calculate your ability to cover these costs. If you cannot cover expenses out of income and judicious use of assets, consider your other options: If you are counting on gifts from relatives, it is important to discuss with them whether or not they can maintain that help over the course of your child’s career at Harvard-Westlake. Loans can be difficult to obtain in the current economic climate and drawing heavily on equity is risky.
If you need financial aid, now is the time to apply. This is critical. Please see following question/answer.
The school strongly discourages this approach. When a family submits a “full-pay” application to the school, this communicates that the family will be capable of covering all educational costs for the upcoming year and the foreseeable future. The School budgets in reliance upon this and commits its limited financial aid funds to other families.
Although the School maintains modest emergency funds for families that request aid subsequent to admission, those funds are strictly reserved for families that encounter dramatic, unforeseeable financial reversals after Harvard-Westlake matriculation. (Modest aid may also be available for families whose income growth has not kept pace with that of tuition and other school expenses.)
No funds are available for families with pre-existing needs not disclosed at the time of admission. Such undisclosed need can thus lead to student withdrawal and should be avoided at all costs.
The Admission Committee reviews candidates for admission without knowing whether or not they are applying for aid. This is therefore called a “need-blind” meeting. The Financial Aid Committee then meets to consider those who have been rated highly by the full committee, accepting as many compelling candidates into the class as possible. We again consider those candidates on the basis of qualities, but also try to spread our grants across a wide spectrum of families with different levels of need. While there is a sizeable aid budget, in the end there is a finite amount of aid available. Because financial aid students must also be selected in this second round, the reality is that it is more difficult to be admitted with financial aid.
In addition to the tuition grant, a Harvard-Westlake financial aid package automatically includes coverage of most of the necessary expenses that your child will incur at the school. The school covers 100% of required expenses for any course. This would include items such as books and materials for a class, required sports equipment or team travel expense, or perhaps a costume for a dance performance. The school helps with other expenses such as transportation cost or attendance at our summer programs. Many students participate in our travel study programs in both the US and foreign countries with school assistance. Each student receives a moderate draw account that they can use to help pay for bookstore or cafeteria expenses. Our goal is to help parents with expenses, but also to enable financial aid recipients to participate fully in school life and feel comfortable in their environment.
Email Marian McCorry in the Financial Aid Office at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will need to determine if your family's income level qualifies for a fee waiver. If so, we will send you a code that you can enter on the PFS site in lieu of a check. Because our supply of waivers is limited, we may not be able to honor all requests.
Yes. We will ask you to file a new PFS and submit your tax declarations each year. The school will continue to award a level of aid appropriate for your level of demonstrated need until your child graduates.
We consider that both parents have an obligation to contribute to the extent they can to their children’s educational expenses. We take into account the assets and income of both natural parents. We cannot be bound by the assertion that one parent has disclaimed legally or otherwise any responsibility for educational expenses. If either parent has remarried we will consider the income of the step-parent, keeping in mind the obligation of that step-parent to his or her natural children. If either parent lives in a household with another adult, we may consider the assets and income of that person, depending on circumstances. In view of this, both natural parents and their current spouses need to fill out a separate PFS form.
Requests to consider extenuating circumstances (such as a missing parent or one who has not provided support and has not been in contact with the family for a lengthy period should be explained in writing in a letter to the Financial Aid Office.
You must apply for aid at the time the younger sibling applies for admission. The financial aid application must be for both children, and if the younger child is admitted and you qualify for aid, both children will receive the same tuition grant.
Other K-12 tuitions you pay are figured into our calculations of need, but in order to receive aid from us you must apply for aid at all schools your children attend. You should note that college tuition money is regarded as investment rather than educational expense, in that it rapidly pays for itself in higher income levels. With this in mind, both parents and students frequently take out federally subsidized loans, in addition to the direct aid that is available at the college level.
Admission decisions will be sent out in March. Tuition grants will be announced at that time.
The school has a plan that allows financial aid families to spread the cost over ten payments at no additional charge.
Answer: Personally, I love attending a school with a large student body. With the size of the student body, it makes it so easy to make friends. It is inevitable that you're going to find someone with the same interests as you. -- Teddy '15
Answer: I think having a large student body offers more opportunity to branch out and meet more people and experience more, so yes, I like it. -- Hana '14
Answer: I enjoy the aspect of the larger student body at Harvard-Westlake as compared to a small school because I believe it allows everyone to find friends with similar interests. -- Liam '14
Answer: Each class develops its own personality with a feeling of a small family-like community where you grow closer with other kids who you might not have known before. Sometimes, a class will go out together for dinner or an activity at the end of the year. For example, some chemistry classes go out to dinner after school ends and my 8th grade English class planned a paint ball trip for the summer.
Also, a big school allows for more diverse classes and activities which smaller schools might not be able to create. For example, Harvard-Westlake has tons of different sciences to choose from and also very specific classes, such as Cinema Studies, which cannot be possible in schools which don't have enough students to make the class viable. This also applies to clubs and sports which use the larger student body to create teams or clubs which couldn't have been possible otherwise. I personally have found it easy to find classes and activities which suit my personality which I wouldn't have discovered without the opportunities Harvard-Westlake is able to provide. -- Sophie '13
Answer: I chose to go to a coeducational school because I wanted to experience an academic environment that was balanced in all aspects. Different genders tend to have different mentalities, so in class, during class discussions in any subject, I am able to get a number of different insights, observations, and perhaps understand the material more because boys sometimes see things differently than I would. I had also gone to a coeducational school for elementary school, and I was used to it. -- Annie ’13
Answer: I chose a co-ed school for two main reasons. First, going to a co-ed school prepares you for the real world; working with the opposite sex is the most realistic situation. Secondly, I went to a co-ed elementary school so it would seem the most normal to go to a co-ed middle and high school. To this day I have best friends that are girls. -- Teddy ’15
Answer: My decision to attend a coeducational school came after many talks with my parents. I felt that I would benefit the most out of a coed school rather than a single sex one. There are many people who could easily attend both types, however, I wanted to be exposed to different experiences that I believed I could really only get at a coeducational school. I wanted to learn how to deal with school and the normal teenager life simultaneously. -- Wesley ’12
Answer: I wanted to go to school in an environment that is open and welcoming to all different kinds of people, and that includes boys. -- Mila ’15
Answer: The deans at Harvard-Westlake are trained to help you with problems. They are understanding and will help you make the correct decision. Also, the deans will keep things private if it is a personal matter. They are great, and they want you to thrive at HW. -- Teddy ’15
Answer: Yes I would feel comfortable going to all my teachers and deans but if I had an issue I would most likely go to Mr. Newhart, my history teacher. I feel completely comfortable talking to him about anything and he listens and understands. -- Lucy ’14
Answer: I always feel comfortable going to my deans for advice, but also because they are super nice and friendly. Their offices are open to everyone, and they really look out for your best interests. -- Mila ’15
Answer: At school, I feel comfortable to approach any of my teachers because I know that they will help me. I don’t usually ask advice from adults I don’t know because I am shy. Otherwise, I would ask any adult for help. -- Andrew ’16
Answer: I am the kind of person who thrives under having a busy schedule, and I can even find it helpful. If I have a day at school where I have no frees or have a few tests, I love letting off steam at rehearsals for performing arts or admissions events. -- Jensen ’15
Answer: I find it easy to participate in activities because there are so many that Harvard-Westlake offers. The Harvard-Westlake scheduling system allows for you to explore numerous activities and find your true passion. I think that people find it hard because finding the time to do everything can be a challenge. My advice would be to manage your time well. I think that is the most important thing to know when coming to Harvard-Westlake. If you are prompt, efficient and organized, almost nothing stands in your way of participating in any activity you want. -- Annie ’13
Answer: Since the start of 7th grade, Harvard-Westlake has made clubs, sports, and other extra-curricular activities open to all of the student body. There are so many activities to do at HW and each one of them is advertised so well. Whether it's through the daily bulletin or an announcement from the dean, extra-curricular activities are easy to participate in. -- Teddy ’15
Answer: I don’t find it hard to join school activities because all are really open and willing to accept new members. Each group is unique and fun so joining a group that you like won’t be hard. -- Andrew ’16
Answer: Getting involved is one of the easiest things to do at Harvard-Westlake simply because there is so much to do. Clubs are easy to make and join and create and cover all interests. Also, I was never an athletic kid and never in my wildest dreams thought I would play a sport. Somehow, by the end of seventh grade, I was on two sports teams, as there is guaranteed at least one no cut sport per season.
I find myself wishing there were more hours in a day to fit in every last thing I want to do, and as corny as it sounds, I always think that choosing what clubs to join, what sports to play, and even which classes to take, is never the lesser of two evils, but instead the greater of two goods. -- Sophie ’13