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Part One of Two

Class of 2018: decked out in college wear for their choices

Class of 2018: decked out in college wear for their choices

The college choices of Harley graduates reflect the academic strength of our students and the school. Throughout the college search, our college counseling staff offers information, structure, and support to students—and their families.


Our SAT*, AP, and college admission successes show our strength in college preparation quantitatively, but the heart of the matter is, “What do we do differently?”


Here are thoughts on that question from Larry Frye, our Head of Upper School, Kim McDowell, our Director of College Counseling, and Lars Kuelling, our Academic Dean.



When you read the Harley Mission, the word “college” does not appear. Our sights are actually set on “lives of great purpose” not “getting your kid into college.”  We provide an education that inherently revolves around: fostering intellectual curiosity and passion, facing an array of real-life challenges, critical thinking, communication (strong and frequent writers, speaking skills, ability to present), and much more.



It turns out these qualities above—really the core of college preparedness—are also the qualities that college admission offices seek in candidates. Obviously, the benefits of these skills can be seen in college settings and beyond. In fact, when our recent graduates come back to visit, they talk about how they’re ahead of their classmates when it comes to:

  • Writing
  • Lab design
  • Taking advantage of access to faculty
  • Doing research
  • Securing internships
  • Employment advantages



As a school we do these things every day. Just look at this short video about two of our students who are automating the solar chimneys in our Commons building. This is a real mix of engineering, computer science, and entrepreneurialism.


We cultivate students who think, stretch, and challenge themselves to “Become What Thou Art.” We encourage students to focus on their own development and learning, rather than solely building a resume.

Because a Harley education results in critical thinkers who are both engaged and focused, our students fare well in the college process.


* According to the Rochester Business Journal’s The Book of Lists, Harley’s average score of 1855 on the SAT was the highest in the Greater Rochester area.


College Acceptances

Looking at national trends in college acceptance rates, our students are accepted at a significantly higher percentage than national averages. US News and World report publishes these data in several categories. Here is how we stack up:

 Type of School  Harley Accept Rate National Accept Rate 
 National Liberal Arts Colleges  43.3%  21%
 New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) 37.5%  24% 
15 Leading National Research Universities 22.5% 0.4%
 Ivy League  20%  9%


The college admissions process at The Harley School is an engaging and collaborative effort that includes students, families, faculty, and staff. We’ll explore our process in part two of our posts on this topic.