Ok. Let’s see if I can start a flame war.

Nueva vs. Harker? What do you think? What are the pros/cons? Anyone have/had kids in either one?

Just curious :slight_smile:

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Harker is for normal kids. Nueva is for the gifted. If your kid is bored at regular schools and is interested in academic research or technology innovation, Nueva might be a good option. For most kids, Harker might be better in developing a well educated kid with a better chance to succeed financially and socially.


I know few friends whose kids went to Harker. The impression I got is that the monthly fee is just the basic minimum; you need to pay for extra classes and trips etc on top of that. So you are looking at more than $4k a month. Even more concerning is the wealth disparity among parents. Your kid will be socializing with the kids of CEOs. I personally know at least one CEO of a big company whose kid used to go there. Those kids get to start new clubs and do whatever they want because their parents would have donated more than their normal share for school improvements etc. Unless you are rich enough and are willing to pay, your kid may get second class treatment. They also tightly control which students apply to which colleges. That’s probably the most upsetting part.

Sorry if I sounded too negative but that’s what I heard from my friends. But since it’s not firsthand experience, you should verify with others too.


@zensri - I agree, better to be the BIG fish in a small pond where you have first dibs on resources than a small fish in an ocean. Malcolm Gladwell covers this well in his story about Caroline Sacks in his book David and Goliath.

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So stick with public schools in a good district? Or some privates are not as moneyed as Harker?

Really??? Are you certain about that? I’m wondering how that could even be the case since the kid/parents should be managing their application account. Do you have more information on that?

Although, after reading the book “Gatekeepers”, I could see why they might do that. (

Full-price privates will always have wealthy parents, but definitely some privates will have that disparity be more noticable and divisive than others.

@Terri, yes that part I certainly heard multiple times. Basically Harker’s counselors have such good connections to colleges that they almost act like recruiters for them. As you know, even colleges want large donors. So it works well for all parties involved as long as the kids are super talented or the parents have lot of money to donate. If you don’t belong to either of those categories, you can be in a tight spot because recommendation from school counselor is very critical.


Wow. That’s really interesting. I’m glad you shared that.

The kid is super talented, so that’s ok, but I don’t particularly like people controlling his college choices. I like to let him make his own choices about his path in life with input from others, not pressure from others.

@manch, yes, public schools in good school districts are a good bet. In fact, some would argue that slightly inferior public schools are better because kids stand out better. An A-grade is an A no matter how crappy the school is.

Other private schools like Bellarmine (boys only), St.Francis, and Mitty are not so full of rich kids, so they are a lot of like a good public school. But you have better structure and lot more hand holding.

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If the kid is super talented then they may actually guide him better to colleges that are suitable for him. Also, I heard that their science lab is better than what some local colleges have.

I thought of Harker for my kids but gave up for the following reasons:

  1. 4K a month is a lot of money. I could use it for college itself.
  2. Going around with super rich kids has pluses and minuses. On the positive side, you can get motivated by them and want to be like them. Also, they can be great contacts in future. On the negative side, seeing how easy life is for them may make you depressed. These kids brag about front row tickets to NBA finals, charter plane trips etc. I did not want my kids to develop some weird complex because of that.
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I wouldn’t count on that. An inferior public school will not be able to get kids into top colleges because the curriculum isn’t as challenging as other places and colleges know that plus they look at previously accepted students to determine performance of future kids from the school. So if the kids that went before struggled, then a college will not admit any more kids. Some public schools just can’t get kids into the top-notch schools.

For example, for a while, my parents interviewed kids from the best public school in Albuquerque for their alma-mater. They gave up after 10 years of doing this because NO ONE AT ALL EVER got accepted from the public school even when my parents highly recommended them. If you didn’t go to a certain private schools in New Mexico, you just couldn’t get in to their Alma Mater.

I’ve also known someone who was valedictorian at his school (in NM) who applied to MIT and was turned down. His school was simply not of the caliber to admit kids (I feel bad saying this, but realizing that he was a white male who hadn’t had Calculus, I understood that he didn’t stand a chance, but if he was valedictorian, no one else probably stood a chance either).

There is one exception to this which is that whatever your school offers, you are expected to take much of it. If they offer 20 APs, you need to take a lot of them. If they offer 4 years of a language, you need to have 4 years of a language. You only get a pass on some of these things if your school doesn’t offer them.

I was exactly referring to the exception you mentioned. If your crappy school offers no APs there is no way colleges can hold it against you. You are right that if the colleges have interviews then even valedictorian from that school may not make it. But there are colleges that admit you without any interviews. They have no way of judging you based on students from previous years.

Again this is from my limited knowledge of college admissions. I too read the Gatekeepers book and it all seems like a mystery.

  1. We would apply for financial aid.

  2. I agree and yet, I think that he can overcome that. I mean, to be honest, his grandparents are these exact same wealthy people. And my husband wants to live that life and occasionally they pay for things so that he can. And my son is not going to care at all about sports tickets or ski trips. He will care that he can visit friends and spend time with them, so as long as the parents don’t treat us like off-limits, it’ll be ok.

I can’t think of what he might want that we couldn’t one way or another get him if it really mattered…except pay for a full-price college. :frowning: But I think identity-wise, my husband already considers himself one of those people. I don’t know what my kids think, but they’re pretty spoiled overall, and I think my oldest one knows that.

[That said, we really aren’t those people no matter what we believe, so believing we are isn’t going to change the first impressions people are going to get if they visit our house.]

But they can if they need you to have taken what the APs offered. (Ok, I’m contradicting myself, I guess) So for example, if you are not a minority, and you want to apply to MIT and haven’t taken Calculus BC, you will almost certainly not get in, just because there are 100 other people vying for that spot who have. You’d have to be a minority of some sort that they want you badly enough to take you without the prereqs everyone else has.

I’d bet the Ivy’s are similar. White male from California without AP History and AP English and four years of a foreign language because your school didn’t offer it? Don’t think you’ll get more than a minute of anyone’s attention and then you’re in the “reject” pile unless you have something else super special to offer.

Nothing’s for sure, but knowingly accepting a mediocre high school is not a good plan if you want to get into a top-tier school.

All that said, not every kid is a top-tier school kind of kid. So I totally understand that some kids are best off in one of these schools so that they’re appropriately challenged, but not snowed under.

There is a big trend in Cupertino area. Lot of people are moving away from Monta Vista and Lynbrook high schools to next level schools like Cupertino High. That way you can avoid the extreme scenarios that you mentioned and kids can get to sleep for 8 hours. :smile:

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Totally makes sense. I’d rather have a happy healthy kid than a stressed and depressed one. We will probably leave him where he’s at–his current school really wants to avoid that kind of stress and make school a fun learning environment.

Any statistics on the social economics of the students from mediocre high school to Ivy Leagues? There could be a lot of affirmative action admissions.

So it would make more sense to look at stats with your race and maybe income level.

However, UC seems to only care about GPA and SAT, the same kid could get into a better UC if he went to a lesser high school due to better GPA

Yes but he would do badly :slight_smile: They can’t compete with any Fortress kids with lower GPA.

Ooooh. Good point on the UCs.

Our zoned high school doesn’t have very good Ivy stats, but they do have some good UC admissions.

We’re in the white-male category, so yeah, our category isn’t going to cut us any slack.