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Excellence in Harvard-Westlake’s Education

By Margaret ’23

Coming from a public school, my experience at Harvard-Westlake (HW), an independent school, has been a big change. One of the key differences is the relationships I built, derived from the smaller class sizes. At a public school, there are at least thirty other classmates and only one teacher. When class sizes are too big, it can be hard to befriend fellow classmates and teachers. Teachers don’t have the time to attend and aid students during class time. Smaller classes are beneficial because the teacher is able to provide more one-on-one attention. At HW, smaller class sizes result in more student participation and communication. Teachers at HW encourage one-on-one meetings during breaks or after school, and are always there to help. HW is committed to developing strong relationships between the teachers and the students, creating a positive learning environment. These relationships help build confidence and comfort within the students, allowing them to take risks inside and outside the classroom. Although classes are currently online, teachers at HW never hesitate to help. Students at HW can schedule Zoom meetings or email their teachers for additional aid. Overall, smaller class sizes at Harvard-Westlake provide more support from the teachers. 

Classes at Harvard-Westlake are already planned with structure. Since classes at the Upper School are 75 minutes, we get a lot of time to learn the material and work. At my old public school, our classes were only 50 minutes, which didn’t offer much time to learn new material or review older concepts. The lecture and lesson were maybe 20 minutes, and 30 minutes was allotted to do work. We didn’t get much time to learn the material in order to be successful in the exercises. At HW, the lesson is much longer, with an equal amount of time to work on follow-up material. Although classes are currently online, HW still provides small group or one-on-one activities. We get to interact and work with others on our assignments. At my old public school, we didn’t get the chance to work on group projects online. There weren’t opportunities to practice what we learned, or collaborate with classmates. A student’s learning process is better because of Harvard-Westlake’s class structure and schedule. 

Some people think of Harvard-Westlake as only a highly academic focused school. But, there are so many extracurricular activities outside of the classroom to be a part of. Not only does HW have many sports teams, but there are also many clubs to choose from. Students can join clubs that interest them, or can create one if necessary.  Although public schools have clubs, the list is limited. Being Freshman Class President at my old school, we often had to vote for which clubs we had a budget for. Every quarter or semester, clubs would be disbanded, requiring us to vote for replacements. The number of clubs at my old school were restricted, with only 30 to choose from.

Harvard-Westlake’s tight-knit and diverse community is a result of the wide radius of students. The HW community consists of students living all around California. At public schools, students are usually from your neighborhood. Being located in Studio City, students can either ride with their family or ride on the HW bus. At my old public school, there was no bus service because most people lived within two miles of the school. Although I haven’t personally ridden the bus yet, many students enjoy their time commuting to school. Students are able to meet and connect with others before the school day officially starts. The bus program at HW provides another location for students to interact. 

Overall, Harvard-Westlake is a different experience from a public school. HW provides smaller class sizes, stronger student-teacher relationships, longer class periods, various extracurricular activities, and a diverse community of students.

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Tags: , , , Last modified: December 2, 2020