By Saj Sri-Kumar
The school will not be running a college tour for juniors to the northeastern states this spring break.
Upper School Dean Jon Wimbish said that the school elected to run a tour through the Midwest, nicknamed the Bison Tour, and one through the South, nicknamed the Spider Tour, instead of one tour to the Northeast and one tour to the Midwest.
Wimbish said that the school decided to discontinue the tour for a few reasons.
First, he said that the decision was partly based on the deans’ philosophy on finding appropriate schools for students.
The deans believe that students should first start with attributes of a school they may like, such as size, location, etc., and then find colleges or universities that have a lot of those characteristics, rather than looking at particular schools initially.
Wimbish said that he felt that students could get an accurate representation of the wide variety of schools on either tour.
Second, Wimbish said that in past years the chaperones of the Northeast college tour had received comments from students that said that they would prefer to see colleges where they were more likely to get in, since many of the schools in the Northeast are highly selective schools.
Third, Wimbish said that the school was aiming to create a tour that was not as easy for families to replicate. He said that tours of the Northeast were easier for students and their parents to go on their own and he felt that the tour itineraries they had compiled would have cost two to three times as much for families if they had gone on their own.
Wimbish said that they had decided to cancel the Northeast tour even though it was the most popular tour and often had a waiting list.
He said that schools in the Northeast “sell well” and were able to attract a lot of interest from students but that distracted from the deans’ philosophy of finding what types of schools a student would like to go to before matching them to a particular college or university.
Upper School Dean Beth Slattery said that the deans have not received many complaints from families since they released the new tour itineraries.
“I think there were only one or two parents that even questioned not having a Northeast tour, and once they heard the rationale, they were fine,” she said.
Both tours this year will start in Philadelphia.
The Bison Tour will tour Bucknell University, Carnegie Mellon University, Case Western Reserve University, the University of Chicago, Denison University, Haverford College, Kenyon College, the University of Michigan, Northwestern University, the University of Notre Dame, the University of Pennsylvania, Villanova University and Washington University.
The Spider Tour will visit American University, the College of William and Mary, Davidson College, Duke University, Elon University, Emory University, Haverford College, George Washington University, Georgetown University, Haverford College, the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Richmond, Vanderbilt University, Villanova University and the University of Virginia.
During the tour, students will be able to meet with Harvard-Westlake alumni who attend the schools.
At some schools, students will be able to talk with their admission department’s Southern California representative who reads applications from Harvard-Westlake students.
The tours, which carry a fee of $2,300, are open to all juniors.
After the application deadline, the deans will conduct a lottery of the students who have submitted their applications to select the students that will fill the 30 spots on each trip.