Harker Schoolreview by Princeton University student. The academic program at the Harker School is robust, especially in the sciences. There are two to three levels of most classes. For example, for Chemistry, there is a "regular" class, an "honors" class, and an "AP" class. You can skip right to AP, and 95% of Harker students consistently get 4s or 5s on every subject in over 20 AP Courses. While there was a considerable amount of work, I rarely found it unreasonable. Class sizes were small, between 10 and 18 students, and I was able to develop great relationships with my teachers. The student body is intense and very focused on being accepted to top schools, predominantly the Ivy Leagues, Stanford, and top UCs. One serious complaint I have about the academics is that they are largely focused on testing "to the AP." The humanities certainly need some work. I was not asked to construct serious arguments in my English or social science classes until college. I never wrote a paper over two pages long in my AP English class. This is very effective for achieving great results on standardized tests, but it left me disappointed with the quality of my writing when compared to my peers at Princeton.
The overall quality of life is definitely very high. Dining is excellent. They bring in interns from culinary schools who make a variety of exotic dishes. The facilities have improved dramatically since I've left, but they are also top notch. Especially notable is how technologically advanced the school is, billing itself as "Silicon Valley's high school." The area around campus is not suburban--we are right off the highway, but in my 8 years there I never heard of a student being mugged or even running into any bad characters. Spirit events, homecoming rallies, and dances are comparable to other schools. In terms of the diversity of the background, Harker is overwhelmingly Asian and Indian. This is largely because it is considered the best math and science school in the area (and the best school overall), but it means the overall diversity is not very high, though it is largely made up of minorities. In my senior year, there were only TWO wholly black students, and one Hispanic student. I believe those numbers are slightly better now, though.
Since Harker is a relatively new and small school, the quality of the athletic programs has varied. However, the campus has improved dramatically since I left, and all the teams--football, basketball, volleyball, have been extremely competitive. Volleyball had an amazing season and went to the state championships this past year. Boys basketball and football are also great programs. The debate team is also particularly notable. Personally, I played varsity basketball and football and found both programs to be very rewarding. Both work incredibly hard and have made remarkable strides over the past few years. Junior Statesmen of America is also a great politically oriented organization. Harker's JSA chapter won "State Chapter of the Year" last year, and was my introduction to politics.