Harvard-Westlake School review by Cornell University student: Academics at Harvard-Westlake are notoriously rigorous, with particular strengths in the math, science, and history departments. That's not to say that other departments are lacking in any way, but these departments generally gain national recognition year after year. Scores in AP classes are among the highest in the nation, and students regularly participate in independent studies with teachers once they have exhausted all of the normally taught curriculum. Teaching is mostly traditional and is founded on question-based lectures. While some may favor a discussion based format, Harvard-Westlake's style prepares students for a similar college environment. While students are competitive, they become very close after years of work at Harvard-Westlake. Students are forced into close contact in small classes, hovering around 15 people. For students who struggle at Harvard-Westlake, and almost all do at some point, teachers and peer tutors are there to help. Students usually balance school with an extracurricular activity, followed by hours of homework. Ultimately, the ordeal is worth it. Nearly every student who returns to Los Angeles after a year at school says the same thing: "College is so much easier than Harvard-Westlake."
Extracurricular activities at Harvard-Westlake are arguably as big a part of the school as academics. It is not uncommon for students to participate in an after-school sport, multiple clubs, and a community service project. Community service is compulsory, but it has become less emphasized in recent years. Athletics are extremely strong at Harvard-Westlake, some teams are contenders for league, division and state titles year after year (tennis, water polo, basketball). An average student will typically spend about 10 hours a week on extracurriculars, part of the reason why Harvard-Westlake is known for its workload. Although balancing extracurriculars with work is sometimes difficult, it is an environment that breeds time management skills essential to success in later life.
Students at Harvard-Westlake enjoy one of the most independent campus atmospheres imaginable. Students are given free periods that allow them the chance to socialize or go off campus if they are seniors. There are plenty of quiet places to study, but most students choose to relax during free periods. The neighborhood is safe and great for students, with a variety of food choices within walking distance. Campus facilities rival those of some colleges, especially in the science department. Much can be said about a school that has an electron microscope in a biology classroom. In such a stressful environment, students usually reach out to the Peer Support program, another student, or a faculty member they are close with. There are no "defining" events at Harvard-Westlake, but Prom, Semiformal and Ring Ceremony are the most noticeable campus-wide events. Some will find the social scene to be full of cliques, but others will have a wide group of friends. By senior year, the class is much more cohesive and the attitude towards schoolwork brightens noticeably. Multiple years of work at Harvard-Westlake can make any student weary, but the average Wolverine emerges well-rounded and disciplined.
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