by MIT Ivy League and Oxbridge Educated Insiders
Trusted by over tens of thousands online subscribers

Harker School

Student rating 4.8/ 5 by Princeton University student
500 Saratoga Avenue San Jose CA 95129 United States

Academic

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.

College Counseling

The college counseling program at Harker.… Get the real inside story on college couseling at Harker School, LOGIN or SIGN UP

Sample insights on college counseling
  • "They have contacts at most of the major universities and feel perfectly comfortable picking up the phone and advocating for a student to get accepted somewhere they feel is a good fit for that student. However, these counselors are certainly not magic bullets. They cannot guarantee that a student will get into an Ivy League university…"
  • "For those wishing to move on to Oxford or Cambridge, the provision is second-to-none. In the months running up to application and interview, every subject faculty offers classes (often run by former Oxbridge tutors) exploring further areas of their subject as well as offering advice on personal statements, interview technique and more…"

Admissions - Getting Accepted

Over half of the students come.… Get insights and advice on admissions to Harker School, LOGIN or SIGN UP

Sample insights on admissions
  • "Most younger siblings have an easy time in the admissions process. I can only think of one case of a younger sibling not being admitted. About half of the students who entered with me had come from public schools. The remainder came from private K-6 schools, or had transfered from other New York private schools The Elizabeth Morrow School and St. Bernard's were two of the larger feeder schools…"
  • "For the interview, dress conservatively. Try to be very clean and put together. Also, I was a tour guide for two years and at the end of every tour, we were asked to evaluate the candidate so if you think the tour is not apart of the process, you are very wrong. Ask questions and be interested. Also, tip for the parents*the kids speak on the tour. Don't ask their questions for them because their evaluation will be affected by the fact that the guides didn't hear a thing from the kid…"

School Life

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.