The Student News Site of Harvard-Westlake School

The Harvard-Westlake Chronicle

The Student News Site of Harvard-Westlake School

The Harvard-Westlake Chronicle

The Student News Site of Harvard-Westlake School

The Harvard-Westlake Chronicle

Impending dorm

Annabelle Cheung

Levi Schwartz ‘26 sits in his messy room at 11:30 p.m on a Wednesday. There are clothes everywhere but the hamper, a stacked plates of food on his desk and too much homework in his backpack to worry about cleaning any of it up.

“Growing up in Los Angeles has stunted [my ability to take care of myself],” Schwartz said. “I feel like my parents both had very different experiences than I did growing up. They were a lot more independent, just did things for themselves on their own from a younger age and took on responsibilities at 13 or 14 that I’ll have in college.”

Like many students at the school, Schwartz does not have to perform tasks that he will have to do in college such as cooking his own meals or doing his laundry. Schwartz said this will make him more susceptible to difficulties when entering a university environment. It is not just Schwartz, however, that faces the future growing pains that adult life will throw at him. Across America, 8% of parents believe their child could make an appointment with a doctor on their own and 46% think their teen will save money for the future, according to a C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health.

In response to children’s increased lack of personal responsibility in the last few decades, new services such as Concierge Service for Students, a program that provides personal help from a mother in the area with laundry, grocery shopping, banking and other personal needs have become popular according to People Magazine. Sophomore Prefect Sarah Anschell ’26 said that her parents attempted to teach her skills so she wouldn’t need such services, but she has a hard time making meals and wishes she was more prepared to cook for herself in college.

“My parents definitely tried to teach me how to take care of myself, but my skills max out at scrambled eggs,” Anschell said. “There’s definitely room for improvement. I’ve never even touched raw meat before.”

Home Economics classes were required courses of high school curricula in the 1970s, but have largely faded from the American education system, dropping 38% in enrollment from 2003 to 2013, according to Fox News. Given the full schedules of many students at the school, Lily Stambouli ’24 said that she does not think it would be possible to enforce a required Home Economics elective, but that the school could use some of the class-wide seminar periods to train students in basic life skills.

“Any time that I’ve literally ever tried to bake or cook something, I’ve always ended up poisoning someone,” Stambouli said. “I’m just really not good at it, it’s not my expertise. If there was a Home Economics class at [the school] that was able to teach me how to cook and do other things that could better prepare me for actually living, I would love to take it. It should be a requirement within a sophomore seminar. Maybe there’s like a unit where you do a cooking day and like you learn the basics. I know some of the stuff is intuitive to some people, but I think some people could really benefit.”

In terms of managing her workload, Lauren Park ’25 said if she went to a school with a lighter homework schedule, she would be capable of being more responsible .

“ I would be doing my own dishes and doing my laundry if I had less schoolwork to do, but that does end up being a priority which causes me to not do day to day chores,” Park said. “Also, cooking is a really big thing that I really enjoy doing but it’s time consuming. I would rather study for that next math test than cook up one of my grandma’s old recipes”.

As a varsity athlete and older sister of two younger siblings, Ashle Reese ’25 said it can be difficult to manage playing soccer both for club and school, helping to take care of her younger siblings, do her homework and keep her space orderly.

“Most of the time, I’m too exhausted to think about doing things for myself,” Reese said. “Having to make time for a difficult curriculum while also looking after my younger siblings, thinking about doing my own laundry and keeping my room nice can be very overwhelming. I honestly think some of the load will be taken off when I go to college because I will only have to worry about myself, but I would say now the only reason I can’t perform a daily task is not because I’m unable to but just that there aren’t enough hours in the day.”

Students in Junior Seminar were told that the addition of college applications increases the weekly workload in the fall by around five hours. Ryder Katz ’25 said he is committed to making sure that college applications season does not have a negative affect on his independence.

“The period [from] August to November is going to be very hectic,” Katz said. “I want to make sure that I am taking the time to still make my bed and keep a neat space, both for my own peace of mind, and also as practice for when I’m an adult and have to manage a stressful situation with my daily activities.”

Isaiah Carroll ’25 said he is responsible for taking care of himself and his space at home. He said he believes that even students at the school who do not have to complete daily chores are not too far behind students who do, given their experience with working hard at school.

“I make my own bed, wash my own clothes, take care of my own dishes, just stay responsible for myself,” Carroll said. “ [Students who don’t take care of themselves] are at a bit of disadvantage just because they might struggle a bit more than others when it comes to having to take care of themselves when they get older.”

As seniors reach the end of the year, Stambouli said the reality of college and the responsibilities that come with it set in. In coming to terms with the new daily tasks she will have to perform, Stambouli said while she understands the independence that comes with living alone, there are certain things she refuses to do.

“I can’t touch dirty plates,” Stambouli said. “For the rest of my life [I will use] paper plates. I’ve talked to my parents about this and I’m never washing the dishes ever.”

Although certain students are concerned about the independence that comes with going to college, some look forward to the agency. Megan Kim ’24 said that she enjoys doing her own chores and even prefers it to having her parents do them for her.

“I feel very ready because I already do [everything] by myself, so I’m pretty independent and I am looking forward to having that independence of being able to control my tasks,” Kim said. “I don’t like how my parents do my laundry. I like being able to do it by myself.”

The school hosts Senior Transition Day, which focuses on preparing students for the emotional aspect of starting college, discussing the first day of university and the move-in experience. Senior Transition Day is a streamlined version of a week-long program that previously existed at the school in the 1990s where teachers could volunteer to teach life-skills classes like “how to fill out a check” or “how to do your laundry.” Upper School Dean Adam Howard said that while the program was consolidated to a one-day, more emotionally-focused class, he could see the full week being an option in the future if enough students were interested.

“[The transition week] was during the last week of school when seniors were essentially off,” Howard said. “At that point, various faculty could volunteer to teach these workshops. I think one of the English teachers taught students how to change a flat tire. [We taught] the necessary adult stuff that you need to do for college, but you don’t yet have to do for the real world. If [the transition week] was something planned well in advance it could be something for the future.”

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