The Big 6 Private Elementary Feeder Schools To Harvard- Westlake

There seems to be an endless fascination on the part of us private elementary school types about feeder schools to Harvard-Westlake. Understandable, right? Unclear. The chatter continues…including at a boisterous and fun dinner party at my house last night (eight adults and eight kids). A few of the guests were very “in-the-know” about all things Harvard-Westlake. * Updated May 9, 2019 to add Laurence School. 

Here are the top private elementary schools that serve as “feeders” to Harvard-Westlake:
  • Carlthorp, Santa Monica
  • Curtis School, Bel Air
  • The Center For Early Education, West Hollywood*
  • John Thomas Dye, Bel Air
  • Mirman School For The Gifted, Mulholland
  • Laurence School, Valley Glen
However, Harvard-Westlake accepts students from more than 60 schools, including UCLA Lab School, The Willows, Turning Point, Sinai Akiba, Paul Revere, Lincoln Middle School, and more.


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Christina Simon: Los Angeles, California, United States I'm the mom of two kids who attended The Willows School in Culver City and Viewpoint School in Calabasas. My daughter is a graduate of Northwestern University Medill School of Journalism ('23) and my son is a sophomore at UPenn/Wharton ('26). I live in Coldwater Canyon with my husband, Barry, and our dogs. Contact me at

7 thoughts to “The Big 6 Private Elementary Feeder Schools To Harvard- Westlake”

  1. Parents should not hesitate to apply to the schools where they think their child would thrive. Our son is a graduate of a progressive elementary school and is currently a 9th grader at Harvard Westlake. His school was not one of the feeder schools to HW. He applied to HW without report card grades since none were ever used to evaluate his grade school progress. HW showed itself to be the school which would offer him the academic, athletic and artistic choices that he enjoyed and learned to love at his grade school. He had no connections, but his interviewer was taken by his love for learning and natural curiosity. The interviewer told us that they were looking for more individuals like our son. He did well on the ISEE, is an avid reader and I think the admissions committee recognized that this child, although not prepped for HW admissions was the kind of child they most welcomed. Parents, be true to yourselves and find the best fit for your children at each stage of development.

    1. You said “He did well on the ISEE”. Do you know “what scores are regarded as good” by the admission office?

  2. Keep in mind this list is weighted toward larger elementary schools. I attended Laurence School, and my graduating class was quite small (around 20), but a very large percentage of us matriculated to Harvard-Westlake (8/20-ish).

    I was actually a unique case. I made a three-year stop at a typical public middle-school before attending Harvard-Westlake. My grades in middle-school were excellent, but that's a given; the difference is your interview.

  3. One thing parents need to know is that if their kid has the aptitude to go to a top-tier college and will not be a legacy student, unless they are a top athlete or in the top 3% of HW’s graduating class they are better off graduating elsewhere. It’s very difficult without mega donations to get the support your child will need from HW to get into a top-tier college. If you ask around you will see that most top tier admits are top athletes, mega donors to HW, top 3% geniuses and/or top tier legacy students. Best route is HW for 7-8th then scoot out to a less competitive school for high school. Ask friends with college kids who are not HW parent ambassadors! The only reason to go to HW is if your kid needs contacts they otherwise would not have. If they come from a feeder school they don’t need HW contacts. Save your money and go to the local school. Graduate top of their class and launch to top tier while their HW friends will duke it out and settle for less than their full potential. Save the alleged prestige & energy and tuition for college!

    1. This is very interesting comment, though I think top 3% is a little exaggerated. Harvard-Westlake actually keeps a table of college admit rate in their handbook, they have separate tables; one counting all students, and one counting only non-legacies:

      According to the tables (found at the very end), 225 Harvard-Westlake students were admitted to either an Ivy or Stanford in the past 3 years, but 135 of those were legacies or recruited athletes (or perhaps even major donors à la Jared Kushner), meaning just 90 are “normal” admits. It’s difficult to translate that into exact matriculation rate for HW students as that number counts cross-admits (i.e. one kid getting into multiple ivies), though the school claimed recently 22% end up matriculating to an Ivy or Stanford overall, so going by that ratio it means the “true” rate is more like 8-9% for non-legacy kids. Now this is still obviously very high (it’s most definitely not 3%), but that still leaves over 90% of kids not getting in, despite the lifelong hullabaloo of standardized testing, private school interviews and pricey tuition.

      Having said that, I’m still very happy to send my kids to Harvard-Westlake; they probably aren’t going to end up at an Ivy, but I am pleased with the quality of education and their level of preparedness for whatever college they do end up in. I don’t really believe sending public school is going to increase their odds anyway, your socio-economic status will be apparent on college apps which is what adcoms are *really* looking for when it comes to building a diverse class, not what school they went to (which is merely a rough signal of the former) – two laywers living in Brentwood sending their kids to Pali High (as opposed to Harvard-Westlake) ain’t foolin’ anyone.

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