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Upper School Deans and The College Process

By Alice ’21

When everyone enters high school, “the college application” is like a looming presence in our daily lives. Whether it is in school academics or extracurriculars, there is always a small part of us that is concerned about how they will look on the application. Although it is often a stressful subject, the deans in our middle and upper school ensure that all the students are on the right track.

Everyone is taken care of by a dean as soon as they enrolled in HW. In 7th, 8th and 9th grade, two to three deans are in charge of the entire grade. They help with course selection, scheduling, and are a source of both academic and emotional support to the student.

The upper school deans play an even more crucial role in the students’ lives. At the beginning of sophomore year, each student is paired with one of the nine deans for the duration of high school. The deans do academic and personal counseling, but more importantly, they provide key assistance to students’ college application process.

In 10th grade, the deans help students to find out more about themselves. To figure out their interests and possible major directions, the deans provide personality tests and interest forms for students to fill out. Moreover, Lifelab is a course led by the dean and another teacher with the goal of helping sophomores to get to know themselves better and provide help navigating high school life. Through the year-long course, the students get more familiar with the upper school pace and also develop a close relationship with the deans. The deans also help each student to develop a basic Three-Year Plan, which lays out future directions for courses as well as extracurriculars.

In junior year, the deans play an even bigger role in student life. As the college process nears, one of the main missions for the deans is to guide students with their college research. The deans meet with their students once per cycle in Junior Class Meeting to offer resources for college research, as well as advice to determining the school that “fits” for each student. Moreover, the deans also familiarize the students with the college admission process. Through inviting admission officers to explain their selection process and even demonstrating through looking at sample applications, the students get a clear view of how an admission officer chooses a student and therefore get a better sense of how to arrange their application. Lastly, the deans will take interested students on college tours in the spring, visiting colleges around the nation for about two weeks.

Finally, senior year. The intense year officially starts with college essay workshops at the end of summer as deans and teachers help students with their personal statements. As everyone officially enters the school year, the deans not only continue to help students with their essays but also guide them through other logistics such as applying for financial aid and choosing an Early Decision school. Moreover, the deans arrange college representative visits and different info sessions. This year, all the information sessions transferred online, and there can be more than ten school information sessions per week.

The deans are with you all the way: from helping you determine your direction to submitting your recommendations and reports to the colleges. They are all extremely kind, dedicated, and they do their best to help the students get into the school of their dreams. No matter the decision, you can always schedule a meeting with your dean and talk it out. Harvard-Westlake truly has an amazing team of deans that work tirelessly to help each student to get through the college admission process. With them by your side, applying to college is no longer a daunting process, but a fruitful one.

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Tags: , Last modified: January 6, 2021