Best Private Schools in the Bay Area – 2024
December 6, 2023
The Bay Area is home to an extraordinary number of excellent private schools. Whether you are looking for a school in Oakland, San Francisco, San Jose, or anywhere in between, there is no shortage of terrific options. Of course, your decision-making process must balance your teen’s academic, emotional, and social needs with financial and logistical considerations. You may be open to boarding schools or may be solely considering high schools with day programs. College Transitions’ list of the Best Bay Area private schools will focus primarily on our area of expertise—college admissions. As such, we will highlight the job that each school fares at sending their graduates on to the region/nation’s premier 4-year schools.
Best Private Schools in the Bay Area
Here’s a quick preview of the best private schools in the Bay Area that made our list. Detailed profiles and stats can be found when you scroll below.
1) The Harker School
2) Bellarmine College Preparatory
3) Castilleja School
4) The College Preparatory School
5) Crystal Springs Uplands School
6) Head-Royce School
7) Menlo School
8) The Branson School
9) The Nueva School
10) The Quarry Lane School
Please note that inclusion on our Best Private Schools in the Bay Area list is a selective and criteria-based process. However, the order in which the schools appear is not representative of any further ranking; the numbering is solely intended to enhance the ease of navigating this resource. All of the schools profiled below have a history of sending graduates to the top colleges in the country. For every institution featured in this blog, College Transitions will provide you with each school’s:
- Tuition (9-12)
- Enrollment (9-12)
- Average SAT Score
- Average ACT Score
- Senior Class Size
- College Admissions Highlights
- Academic Highlights
Without further ado, let’s look at the detailed list:
The Harker School – Bay Area
- 4525 Union Ave, San Jose, CA 95124
College Admissions Highlights: From 2021-2023, numerous grads have attended Stanford (29), Carnegie Mellon (26), USC (24), UCLA (20), NYU (19). UC Berkeley (17), UMich (16), Purdue (13), MIT (12), Columbia (12), Yale (11), Harvard (9), and WashU (9).
Academic Highlights: 91% scored a 4 or better on AP tests. 29 AP courses are offered. There are 54 National Merit Semifinalists in the 2024 class. The upper school performing arts department offers a certificate program to dedicated artists in addition to a diploma. 45% of upper school students are involved in the performing arts. 26 athletic offerings with 14 sports.
Bellarmine College Preparatory – Bay Area
- 960 W Hedding St, San Jose, CA 95126
College Admissions Highlights: 2023 graduates are now attending UC Berkeley, UCLA, CalTech, Fresno, Boston College, Fordham, Georgetown, Gonzaga, Pepperdine, Stanford, Amherst, Brown, Carnegie Mellon, Case Western, Columbia, Dartmouth, GaTech, NYU, Princeton, RPI, University of Michigan, Williams, US Military Academy and US Naval Academy.
Academic Highlights: In 2023, the school produced 16 National Merit Semifinalists and 61 Commended Scholars. 96% immediately enrolled in a 4-year college. 83% of AP test-takers scored a 3 or higher. They offer 23 AP courses as well as 10 Honors courses. 28-acre campus with 13 sports teams. Offer about 100 co-curricular activities for students.
Castilleja School – Bay Area
- 1310 Bryant St, Palo Alto, CA 94301
College Admissions Highlights: In 2023 alone, graduates went on to enroll in Boston College, Brandeis, Brown, Cornell, Duke, Georgetown, Harvard, NYU, Northwestern, Princeton, Rice, Stanford, Tufts, UChicago, Penn, USC, and Yale.
Academic Highlights: An independent school for girls grades 6-12. 69% identify as students of color. 87% of faculty possess advanced degrees. The average class size is 15. 7:1 student to faculty ratio. 74% of students compete on at least one athletic team. Students share in a long history of traditions such as tie ceremony, ringing, rivalry, and founders day to name a few. 97% of 2023 students scored 3 or above in AP Exams, 83% earned a 4 or 5.
The College Preparatory School – Bay Area
- 6100 Broadway, Oakland, CA 94618
College Admissions Highlights: The most popular destinations for recent graduates (2019-23) include: UChicago (48), UCLA (15), NYU (14), Tufts (14), WashU (14), BU (12), Northwestern (12), UC Berkeley (12), Columbia (9), Georgetown (9), Stanford (9), Duke (8), Penn (8), Carnegie Mellon (7), Harvard (7), Yale (7), Wake Forest (5), and Brown (4).
Academic Highlights: Classes of ’22, ’23 & ’24 average National Merit recognition 42%. The two Applied Studies courses have 6 week internships in labs or non-profit organizations. 71% of students identify as students of color. 24 interscholastic teams across ten sports. 74 clubs in multiple disciplines including politics, activism, STEM and arts.
Crystal Springs Uplands School – Bay Area
- 400 Uplands Dr, Hillsborough, CA 94010
College Admissions Highlights: From 2020-2023 college acceptances include Amherst, Brown, Carnegie Mellon, Colby, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Duke, Emory, Georgetown, Harvard, MIT, Middlebury, NYU, Northwestern, Pomona, Rice, Stanford, Swarthmore, Tufts, UChicago, UNC Chapel Hill, Notre Dame, USC, Wesleyan, and Yale.
Academic Highlights: This school has only a 21% acceptance rate. Over half the student body identifies as students of color. 58 clubs in the upper school. The average class size is 14 students. 85% of the faculty hold advanced degrees. 9:1 student-to-teacher ratio. 9 National Merit Semi-Finalists. 29 Honors level courses offered. 100% of graduates are admitted to 4-year colleges and universities. 935 solar panels provide 25% of the school’s electricity.
Head-Royce School – Bay Area
- 4315 Lincoln Ave, Oakland, CA 94602
College Admissions Highlights: From 2019-2023, the following number of students enrolled in prominent universities: UCLA (16), Brown (13), UChicago (13), NYU (12), USC (11), Northeastern (11), WashU (10), Claremont McKenna (9), Penn (9), UMich (8), Wesleyan (8), Emory (7), & Howard (7).
Academic Highlights: 60% of faculty members hold advanced degrees. 49 Athletes committed D1/D3 in the last 5 years. 67% consider themselves students of color. The average tenure of faculty 18 years. 8:1 Student to Teacher Ratio; 18 average class size. 56 Honors classes. The Class of 2024 included 6 National Merit Semifinalists.
Menlo School – Bay Area
- 50 Valparaiso Ave, Atherton, CA 94027
College Admissions Highlights: Members of the classes of 2021-2023, have gone on to enter some of the nation’s top colleges including Bates (3), Brown (6), Cornell (14), Duke (8), Harvard (5), Northwestern (6), Princeton (5), Stanford (24), UC Berkeley (18), UCLA (7), UMich (8), Penn (8), USC (5), Wake Forest (7), WashU (10), Williams (3), and Yale (4).
Academic Highlights: The Class of 2024 included 12 National Merit Semifinalists. 73% of teachers hold advanced degrees. 100% of students participate in Creative Arts during high school. 41 upper school sports teams. 10:1 student-to-teacher ratio; average class size is 18. 40 advanced courses are offered, 10 AP Courses. Menlo offers an Applied Science Research and Biotech Research capstone class. Offers a Menlo Abroad and Borderlands study opportunities to students.
The Branson School – Bay Area
- 39 Fernhill Ave, Ross, CA 94957
College Admissions Highlights: Two or more students from the Classes of 2021-2023 went on to matriculate into UCLA (13), Middlebury (10), UC Berkeley (10), Stanford (9), UChicago (9), Brown (7), Tufts (7), Duke (7), Georgetown (5), NYU (3), Penn (3), MIT (2), and Yale (2).
Academic Highlights: 49% are students of color. 7:1 student-to-teacher ratio. The average class size is 13. 88% of faculty hold advanced degrees. Offers 9 AP courses. Sustainability is integral part of school community: unused food to homeless, reducing single use plastics, community garden, has a Platinum LEED Certified building, transportation initiatives like staff driven buses, E-bike and carpool, solar panel energy, and composting.
The Nueva School – Bay Area
- 6565 CA-35, Hillsborough, CA 94010
College Admissions Highlights: Multiple students from 2018-2022 matriculated into Brown, Columbia, Northeastern, Stanford, UC Berkeley, UChicago, Penn, USC, Carnegie Mellon, Cornell, Dartmouth, Duke, Harvard, Harvey Mudd, Tufts, UMich, Princeton, Yale, MIT, and Wellesley.
Academic Highlights: 64% are students of color. The average class size is 16 students. 6:1 student-to-teacher ratio. 100% are admitted to 4-year colleges. 62% of the Class of 2023 received National Merit recognition. Nueva offers two programs: Quest, a four year opportunity to pursue in-depth interest in a passion with mentors; and Intersession, a 2 week intensive mid-year to expose students to diverse fields through hands-on lessons.
The Quarry Lane School – Bay Area
- 6363 Tassajara Rd, Dublin, CA 94568
College Admissions Highlights: In recent years, Quarry Lane grads entered schools such as: BU, Brown, Carnegie Mellon, UChicago, GaTech, UC Berkeley, Cornell, Johns Hopkins, Northeastern, UMich, NYU, Stanford, UCLA, USC, Case Western, and Yale.
Academic Highlights: The average class size is 20 students. 7:1 student-to-teacher ratio. Offers International Baccalaureate Diploma and 14 AP courses. 70% of faculty members possess advanced degrees. 36 countries are represented in the student body.
We hope you found our blog on private schools in the Bay Area to be helpful. All high school students and families may wish to explore further information regarding the college search and admissions process at our Dataverse, Blog, and List-Building Tool.