How To Get Into Menlo School: Your Ultimate Admissions Guide

Our mission is to provide world-class advising and a holistic admissions process to help you get into Menlo School, whether it’s for high school or for elementary school. Our private school admissions consultants have in-depth knowledge and understanding of the admissions process that nobody else has.

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Located in Atherton, California, Menlo School is an independent, college-preparatory school that is rated in the top 20% of California’s high schools. There are roughly 800 pupils enrolled, with a student-to-teacher ratio of 10:1. The institution is renowned for its excellent academics and an extensive list of courses that help students get ready for higher education. Additionally, Menlo School offers distinctive programs including Menlo Interdisciplinary and Personalized Scholars, Applied Science Research, and BioTech Research Program that provide students with opportunities to explore other areas of learning. The school’s committed and highly qualified faculty encourages pupils to develop as rational thinkers and inquisitive learners. In addition to its academic program, Menlo School is renowned for its extracurricular athletic and artistic pursuits that foster a strong feeling of teamwork among students.

How hard is it to get into Menlo School?

Menlo School admission is highly selective as it seeks to accept only the best, most talented, and most diverse students.  There are many components considered in the evaluation of applicants. Aspiring students are not only assessed by their academic performance but also by their personal character as demonstrated by their ability to express themselves through the interview and the recommendations from their teachers. Writing skills are highly valued and evaluated through essays and the Writing Sample, an online proctored test by Test Innovators.  

Applying to Menlo is a personal journey as you get to reflect on how you have been performing academically and evaluate your values and goals in life. Your desire to get into Menlo demonstrates that you are ready to take on greater challenges. To become successful, you need to know what your strengths and weaknesses are to maximize your potential and improve in other areas. Our holistic admissions process will help take you to the next level by making sure that you are well-prepared. Our educational consultants will design a bespoke package that is built on your experiences, achievements, and interests. 

Menlo School Admissions Process

The Menlo admissions process begins by creating your account at Ravenna where you will be able to find all the necessary documents, requirements, and important dates and deadlines. Remember that all information you provide on your application will be validated by the admissions officers so make sure you only put in relevant information that you will be able to confirm later on in the application. Here are the steps in the admissions process:       

  1. Set up a Ravenna Account and provide all the necessary information. 
  2. Sign up for admission events, information sessions, and preview days.
  3. Delegate teachers who will write recommendation letters. 
  4. Request transcript from current school.
  5. Schedule an admissions interview

Menlo School Application 

Short Answer and Essay Questions for Parents and Students

All applicants and their parents are required to answer essay questions which can be found on Ravenna. For middle school applicants, the parent essay should not exceed 1500 characters while the student essay has a limit of 1200 characters per question. For upper school applicants, the parent essay has the same character limit of 1500, but for the student essay, the answers should not exceed 3000 characters. The short answer questions need simple and direct answers while the essays should provide more information and anecdotes to be interesting. 

Parent statements, personal statements, and admissions essays help admissions officers get to know you and your family better and understand your goals and aspirations.  Your answers should be relevant to the prompts and compelling enough for admissions officers to finish reading and remember you. They will not look only into the content, but also assess your writing skills. How good are you at communicating your thoughts in writing? Were you able to express yourself through your essays? 

Personal experiences and anecdotes will make your essay real and interesting, but not all stories will create the best picture of yourself. With nearly two decades of experience, we know what works and what doesn’t. We will help you choose which life stories you can write about and how to write them powerfully. If you are not a strong writer, we suggest that you take our Program in Writing and Reading where professional writing tutors can teach you how to become a good writer. 

Teacher Recommendations

Students applying to middle school are required to submit recommendation letters from their current fourth or fifth-grade teacher and another from the current principal or counselor. Students applying to upper school should submit recommendations from current teachers in English and math as well as from the principal or counselor.

Recommendation letters are key elements of private school admissions because they contain information about you as a student, your overall academic performance, character, and relationships in school. It should highlight your positive attributes and special skills which must be backed up by your other credentials like GPA, test scores, and participation in extracurricular activities.

How do you get good recommendation letters?

No matter how good a student you think you are, there could be dozens of other applicants with the same GPAs and level of performance in school, so your recommendation letters should set you apart from them. We have strategies in place that will surely secure good recommendations from your counselor, principal, and teachers. Our admissions consultants know exactly how to get good recommendation letters that will get admissions officers to notice your application.  


Admissions officers would want to look at your grades from the previous academic year and also your grades for the first semester of the current year. Numbers matter a lot as they reflect your scholastic abilities and your potential to handle the rigorous academics at Menlo School.

But what if your transcript is not that great? If you begin your private school admissions consulting early, our tutors and academic coaches will help you improve your grades to make sure you meet the requirements. We offer diagnostic tests and tutoring for different subjects which can be done in-person or online. But because we know that improving your grades will not guarantee your success, we offer a more holistic approach through academic coaching where we teach students time management, organizational skills, note-taking skills, study skills, test-taking skills, and writing and reading strategies to make them capable of undertaking challenging tasks and performing well in class.

Admissions Interview

Applicants and parents need to undergo the interview process which may be done in person or online and usually lasts for 30 minutes. 

How you carry yourself at the interview is an indicator of how well you will do at Menlo. Yes, they are interested in your academic performance, but they also want to see if you are a good fit for their culture and values. You will be asked about your background, experiences, interests, and goals, as well as the reasons why you want to study at Menlo. Your answers should be truthful and interesting. Personal anecdotes will be really helpful because they will give admissions officers a glimpse of you that is not in your application. Articulate your answers well and make sure you are answering the questions and not beating around the bush. Practice. Practice. Practice. Take an interview preparation to help you gain confidence and answer questions meaningfully. Our admissions consultants know what interview questions will be asked and how to answer them. We have helped many students get into Menlo by giving them the differentiation they need to stand out from other applicants. 

Writing Sample (Proctored Writing Sample)

The Writing Sample is an online test proctored by Test Innovators. Students are given 30 minutes to answer a prompt. Because of the time limit, many applicants find this challenging and they are not able to craft well-written essays. We are the experts in Proctored Writing Sample. Our Proctored Writing Sample preparation allows students to compose their thoughts and practice writing under time pressure. We have helped many families applying to Menlo with the Proctored Writing Sample and many more come to us every year.   

Menlo School Famous Alumni

Many Menlo graduates have pursued different careers and become successful in their own respective fields. Some notable alumni from Menlo School include: 

  • Jon Beekhuis – a former American race car driver and current pit reporter for NBC Sports 
  • Mike Bordin – a professional drummer who played for Ozzy Osbourne and later on co-founded Faith No More
  • Allison Brennan – a recognized New York Times bestselling author of thrillers
  • Maria Fadiman – an ethnobotanist and named as National Geographic Society Emerging Explorer in 2006
  • Jon Fogarty – a professional racecar driver
  • Brad Greenspan – an internet entrepreneur who co-founded  Myspace
  • Gary Johnson – a veteran of the Anaheim Angels
  • Robbie Krieger – guitarist and songwriter for the famous band, The Doors
  • John Matteson – a biographer and 2008 Pulitzer Prize winner
  • Chris Paine – a filmmaker, writer,  and director.
  • John Paye – a former Stanford starting quarterback and basketball point guard drafted by the San Francisco 49ers.
  • Eric Reveno – a former Stanford basketball player and current Head Basketball Coach of the University of Portland.
  • Nick Woodman – the founder and CEO of GoPro.

Student Life at Menlo School

Menlo School is committed to the development of each child. Faculty and other staff go out of their way to build healthy and supportive relationships with students to create a community that provides a safe place to explore and grow as individuals. School counselors provide the emotional support teenagers need to ensure that they are able to handle the changes that happen in their lives as they experience the realities of life. Adults, teachers, coaches, counselors, and staff, play significant roles in the lives of the students through the Advocacy Program and the Menlo Mentor Program. They serve as advocates, guides, facilitators, and mentors who provide support in all academic and social situations. No student is left behind and unsupported at Menlo.

Menlo School Academics

Menlo School provides a rigorous curriculum with diverse academic electives. The school offers a challenging academic program including courses in applied science and engineering, creative arts, history, social sciences, math, computer science, natural sciences, and world language. The Menlo Interdisciplinary and Personalized Scholars Program (Menlo IP) is for students who are interested in building and creating projects according to their interests. There are four fields of study in Menlo IP: Arts & Letters, Civic Leadership, Community Engagement, and The Global Scholars. The members of the faculty are highly qualified and experienced educators who encourage students to think critically and creatively. Menlo offers various co-curricular programs providing students with a well-rounded educational experience. There are also different electives such as journalism, publication design, and computer science that students can participate in to deepen their learning and develop their skills. 

Menlo School Clubs

There are plenty of activities that students can engage in where they learn and have fun outside of the classroom. Homecoming parades, student assemblies, and retreats build new friendships and strengthen relationships. There are various clubs and organizations where students can develop and improve their skills such as the book club, debate club, robotics, Model UN, cooking club, K-Pop club, drama club, climate coalition, and many more. At Menlo, there is something for everyone. 

Regular activities and gatherings bring the students together to foster camaraderie and build friendships. The whole school community celebrates and has fun during Homecoming parades and festivals where they get the chance to display their talents and ingenuity. Students spend time together during retreats where they form even deeper bonds as they discover and share experiences with one another. There is a variety of clubs of different interests for students to hone their skills and pursue their passions.

Menlo School Athletics

At Menlo School, students get to participate in different athletic activities where they develop skills and learn sportsmanship. Menlo Knights, the most competitive varsity team in Northern California has played and won different regionals and state championships over the years. Boys and girls have the opportunity to play basketball, cross country, golf, lacrosse, soccer, swimming, tennis, track & field, volleyball, baseball, football, and water polo. Some students who are really excellent players get into prestigious colleges and universities through athletic recruitment. Menlo School football, Menlo School lacrosse, and Menlo School basketball are extremely famous among students.

Menlo School Arts

There is a wide range of creative art programs where students are able to hone their artistic skills and express themselves in various mediums. Students learn the basics and fundamentals of various art forms both in visual arts and performing arts. As early as Middle School, they took part in different classes such as Visual Art, Chorus, Dance, Drama, and Music. In Upper School, they take more challenging and advanced classes in Vocal Music, Instrumental Music, Moviemaking, Photography, Animation, and Studio Art. All these experiences make Menlo students confident as they shine on stage.    

Did You Know?

Menlo School started as a military school, the William Warren School in 1915 with 13 male students. 

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