Harker School review by California Polytechnic State University student. I've gone to The Harker School since I was in the 3rd grade and graduated from the high school in 2009. The strengths were definitely the teachers and class sizes. The teachers truly did care about what the students had to say, how they learned, and they did everything in their power to ensure that the students were understanding the knowledge. The maximum class sizes were 20, but most were around 12-15, with the smaller classes being around 5-8. Although Harker has a great reputation for math & sciences, I have greatly noticed how much they have helped me in my basics of writing as well. While in high school, I thought my writing was mediocre in comparison to everybody else, but after graduating, I've realized that the standard at Harker was extremely high and I had exemplary writing technique in comparison to my college classmates. Harker does have its high points, but I have to say that their weaknesses are not preparing students for college in the way college is taught. Harker requires a lot of busy work through homework and projects, while in college, it is mostly about reading mass amounts of text. There is also a lot of pressure from the school to exceed, which is great, but at Harker it is very competitive so its difficult on a student if they feel like they are not doing as well as their peers. Harker capitalizes on college admission and their rankings, almost to the point where students will feel an overbearing pressure not only from themselves, their parents, but also their school, to the point where it can be too much.
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Overall, there was an immense amount of pressure on students to succeed. The campus culture was very segregated into cliques divided amongst grades. Although there were cliques, it was great because since Harker was such a small school, people would be friends amongst cliques and intermingle. The student community was forced to be rather conservative, but I have a feeling that many people had liberal thoughts, but were just not allowed to voice them because Harker did usually censor their students through dress code, allowed clubs, and public voice (posters, speeches, etc had to be approved by faculty). In my opinion, I believe Harker's disciplinary system was too rigid: the dress code was ridiculous at times and I feel like I couldn't grow as a person at times because I was censored so much. My other problem with Harker was that the socio-economic background of the students were incredibly wealthy. It is inevitable though because of Harker's pricy tuition. The main problem for me with that was when I went to a public California university and having the culture shock of meeting people without the same luxuries as all Harker students had. Many people called it the "Harker bubble" where kids were kept away from the real world until they went to college because they grew up only knowing other Harker students so they were not exposed to many realities of life.
Harker was solely an academic high school, extracurricular activities were often recommended just for college applications, not for the well-being of a student. That was a downfall of Harker, that they did not create well-rounded students, but wanted them to succeed in academics. So generally, students were not very well-rounded while some did many extracurricular activities, others would not have a life outside of school, which made me worry about them for their future in college. However, I was apart of the 2007 volleyball team who made it to the CA State Championships, and I believe that at least that year and until I graduated, Harker became more involved and supportive of athletics teams. There were weekly sports emails to students and students going on to play college sports were recognized, which was great. Harker also had a great Performing Arts program, Speech & Debate team, and Yearbook/Newspaper program.