School Scoop: Top Bay Area High Schools

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Harrison Yee
Harrison Yee

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There are numerous high schools in throughout the California Bay Area that continue to deserve recognition. At Empowerly, we have worked with many students originating in this geographical area. We notice that these schools possess outstanding academics, and strengths in specific niches. Here are some of our top standouts for Bay Area high schools, below. 

Peninsula High Schools 

Aragon High School

  • Public school in San Mateo, CA
  • Aragon appears to be the most well-rounded standout in its district. Though there are many resources available, students often have to take the initiative to discover what their interests lie in. The faculty and staff support an environment balanced and relatively stable in terms of academics, athletics, and performing arts. Overall, Aragon would provide a solid experience for any high schooler.

Gunn High School

  • Public school in Palo Alto, CA
  • Due to its academic rigor and social selectiveness, Gunn is often deemed as a private school, disguised as a public school. Gunn is not a superstar in sports, but instead boasts a four-year program that greatly hones students so that they are able to craft very competitive college applications. Though the overall experience is very stressful, students often are thankful for the intensity that prepares them for top-notch universities.

Lowell High School

  • Public magnet school in San Francisco, CA
  • Lowell is known for its high expectations of students to perform well. It is particularly rigorous in its STEM classes, and is far above the state measurement in pretty much every academic category. The school also does an excellent job incorporating low-income students into the driven and inclusive culture fostered there.

Sacred Heart Preparatory

  • Private school in Atherton, CA
  • Sacred Heart is outstanding in athletics, academics, and performing arts. Though the tuition is pricey, the school invests in its program; and as a result, students often come out of SHP very thankful for their experience. Students transform with the abundant amount of opportunities (not to mention, school spirit is HIGH) and caring staff. For graduates, the most popular destinations are USC and UCLA.

East Bay High Schools

There are a few high schools in the East Bay section of the Bay Area that deserve recognition. Though they may be physically distant from the centralized Bay Area, families in the East Bay should definitely check out these options!

Amador Valley High School 

  • Public School in Pleasanton, CA
  • Associated with its consistently outstanding test scores among its students; but at times, the administration prioritizes its reputation over the health of the students. Students often become overly stressed when participating in outside extracurricular programs. Nevertheless graduates come out feeling very well-prepared for college. On the bright side, the school fosters a very safe environment where there is a lack of peer pressure.

Miramonte High School 

  • Public school in Orinda, CA
  • Particularly recognized for its rigorous academic workload and competition. It is an overall great experience for students who enjoy involving themselves in a variety of activities, and students have altogether done well in taking the initiative to develop their clubs. However, one downside is that the school has struggled to incorporate diversity into its culture. As a result, the social scene has become relatively divided over the years.

The College Preparatory School

  • Private school in Oakland, CA
  • With such a small population and selective enrollment size, freshmen have access to mentorship groups immediately. Due to this, they become folded into the school’s spirit. It earns status as one of the top private schools in the Bay Area; partially attributable to the extreme care on every teacher’s behalf. Students at this school commonly strive to attend Stanford or other Ivy League universities.

South Bay High Schools

The South Bay is home to high schools that have received national recognition. The public and private schools in this region consist of students who exemplify academic excellence, innovative leadership, and interpersonal relationships.

Monta Vista High School

  • Public school in Cupertino, CA
  • Monta Vista ranks among the best high schools in the nation. Located in the hub of growing Silicon Valley powerhouses, students at Monta Vista are driven, competitive, and continue to challenge themselves on a daily basis. Students, while on top of their academics, have notably high school spirit, and often reminisce about the events that made their four-year experience unforgettable and life-changing.  On the flip side, the school severely falters in terms of diversity, which contributes to students’ inability to drastically distinguish themselves from one another. Lastly, the pressure to outperform one another is of a high degree, and not receiving solely “As” troubles the mentality of many students. 
  • Most of this can also be said about its direct rival in Lynbrook High School.

Saint Francis High School

  • Private school in Mountain View, CA
  • Saint Francis is very well-rounded school that focuses on the aspect of community. While academic and athletics are strongly steady, there is an emphasis on building strong relationships  with fellow classmates and teachers. Additionally, the idea of diversity is highly encouraged in both the educational and social scenes. On the other hand, one factor that students may experience conflict with is the strict dress code.

The Harker School

  • Private school in San Jose, CA
  • The Harker School is recognized for its students’ exceptionally high test scores, which usually results in a large portion of each class attending elite colleges across the nation. Harker offers many opportunities that are not a reality in most public schools (for example, its specialization in STEM), and represents a great balance of academic rigor and educational support among the teachers and administration. However, there are a couple downsides – the athletic program is not prioritized, and the yearly tuition exceeds most public universities.


Not sure what high school your child should attend? Many of our college counselors are Bay Area natives and can help you make the best choice for your child. Schedule a free consultation below!

Questions? Let us know!