How to Get Into Nueva School: What You Need To Know

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The Nueva School is recognized as the best private K–12 school in America.  It has two campuses, one in Hillsborough, which houses the lower and middle schools, and one in San Mateo, which caters to the upper school. It has a total population of more than 900 students and more than 200 faculty and staff. With a class size of 15 to 18 students, it has a student-teacher ratio of 6:1, ensuring that each student is given the attention and support they need. Nueva School was founded in 1967 and has been known for its progressive, interdisciplinary, and inquiry-based program. It has been a leader in utilizing cutting-edge techniques and giving extraordinary possibilities to gifted students. For over 50 years, Nueva has remained dedicated to its mission to inspire passion, promote personalized education, and build a collaborative community. Students have a variety of opportunities to further develop their interests and skills, whether in the arts, sports, clubs, or academics. It has a diverse community where students are encouraged to explore and learn to make positive choices that have a significant impact on the world.

How hard is it to get into Nueva School? 

Many parents aspire to send their children to Nueva because of its rigorous curriculum and college prep program, which make admission competitive. Accessibility for gifted students from various socioeconomic backgrounds is a top priority, so other students compete for the few remaining slots. The application process is need-blind, but it is nonetheless extremely selective. Admission to lower and middle school relies heavily on the results of an IQ assessment, such as the Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence, Fourth Edition (WPPSI-IV) and the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children, Fifth Edition (WISC-V). Upper school applicants are evaluated on various application components, including transcripts, essays, a writing sample, an interview, and teacher recommendations. 

The main entry points are PreK, K, and grades 5, 6, and 9. PreK accepts only 14–16 applicants, while kindergarten accepts around 20–22 applicants each year. About 10–20 applicants are admitted to 5th grade, and 20–25 students make it into Grade 6, the main entry point for middle school. For those wanting to get into upper school, only 35–45 students are accepted out of the hundreds that apply. 

Your chances of getting accepted to Nueva will be better if you seek the help of experienced private school admissions consultants who understand the admissions process. They can help you plan and strategize on how to make your child stand out among the rest of the applicants.

The Nueva School Application 

The Nueva application process begins by creating your account at Ravenna where you can sign up for events, fill out and submit application requirements, and monitor your application status. Here are the steps you should follow:

  1. Submit the application.
  2. Complete the parent statement.
  3. Delegate teacher recommendations.
  4. Sign up for the Timed Writing Sample.
  5. Complete the personal statement. 
  6. Sign up for an admissions interview.
  7. Request a transcript. 

The Nueva School Admissions 

Parent Statement

Parents or guardians of middle and upper school applicants are required to answer a parent/guardian questionnaire that is found on Ravenna. There are five questions that need to be answered in less than 1200 characters each. You will be asked to talk about your child and share information about their personality, achievements, and other personal information. The last question asks about your family’s goals and willingness to participate in and be involved in activities that promote the values and mission of Nueva School. 

The parent statement is an integral part of the application process as it will help admissions officers better understand your child’s background and potential to become successful at Nueva. It will also demonstrate your family’s commitment to your child’s education. When choosing what to write about, remember that you have to be honest and authentic. Focus on your child’s strengths and unique characteristics, and provide anecdotes to support your statements. For some tips on how to write a powerful parent statement from experienced educational consultants, click here

Teacher Recommendations/Recommendation Letters

Recommendation letters from the current teachers in English and math, as well as from the principal or counselor, are required from applicants in grades 9-12. The forms are available on Ravenna, and will also be submitted online directly to the admissions committee. 

Teacher recommendations are crucial for admission since they give a more thorough evaluation of your child’s character, personality, and academic aptitude. Because they deal with your child on a daily basis and can confirm your child’s academic success, they can make professional and unbiased observations. Building strong relationships with teachers is crucial if you want them to be able to provide strong recommendations that support other application materials when the time comes for them to do so.

Do letters of recommendation matter?

Yes. Recommendation letters will set your child apart from other applicants with the same GPAs, test scores, and levels of accomplishment in school. Our admissions consultants have strategies in place to guarantee compelling recommendations from the teachers, counselor, and principal that will capture the attention of admissions officers to take notice of your application.

Timed Writing Sample

The Writing Sample is an online test proctored by Test Innovators where students are expected to write an essay in response to a prompt within 30 minutes. Due to the limited time, applicants often have difficulty composing their thoughts and are not able to produce well-written essays. To help your child with this challenging admissions requirement, we offer Proctored Writing Sample (PWS) preparation. Our admissions consultants have a list of common essay prompts that your child can practice on and get trained to organize their ideas and put them into writing. 

To take your child’s writing skills to the next level, enroll in our Program in Writing and Reading (PWR) where our writing tutors will help your child develop skills in reading comprehension and eventually unlock writing skills.

Personal Statement

There are questions on Ravenna that an applicant has to answer within a limited character count. The questions delve into your child’s personality, skills, and interests, as well as their expectations of Nueva. The questions might seem simple and easy to answer, but admissions officers are looking at certain characteristics and values in your child that will determine if they are a good fit at Nueva. 

Our private school admissions consultants can guide your child and give advice on how to best answer the questions truthfully. Our years of experience working with families applying to Nueva have allowed us to understand what they are looking for in applicants. From your child’s personal circumstances, we can identify what traits and characteristics will interest the admissions team and be considered for admission. Here are some useful tips on how to write a compelling personal statement. 


Grades 9-12 applicants are required to submit their transcripts from the previous school year as well as from the first semester of the current one. The release and confidentiality forms may be downloaded from Ravenna and submitted to your child’s current school. 

The transcript will demonstrate your child’s readiness to handle Nueva’s rigorous curriculum. But what if your child’s grades aren’t all that outstanding? Start private school admissions consulting early! Our tutors and academic coaches will work with your child to improve grades and achieve scores that meet the requirements. We provide online or in-person tutoring for a variety of courses as well as diagnostic testing. But because we are aware that boosting GPA won’t guarantee success, we provide academic coaching that teaches executive function skills as a more holistic strategy. 

Admissions Interview

Applicants will be scheduled to participate in My Nueva Day, a hands-on collaborative activity where your child will have a chance to interact with faculty, students, and other applicants. 

Parents or guardians of applicants are invited to an optional virtual conversation that lasts for approximately 30 minutes. You will have a chance to meet members of the admissions team and the faculty and learn more about Nueva. You will also have a chance to ask questions so you may gain more insight into the school’s culture and academic structure. 

Both of these activities are indirect and non-formal interviews where you and your child will be assessed and evaluated based on how you carry yourselves during those occasions. They will determine if your family will be a good fit for the school community. With nearly 20 years of experience in the industry and helping numerous families get into The Nueva School, we know what they are looking for. With informed interview preparation, our admissions consultants will introduce you to common interview questions and how to answer them truthfully while adhering to their values.

The Nueva School Alumni

  • Lisa Brennan-Jobs – a writer and the daughter of Steve Jobs
  • Olga Wilhelmine Munding – an American New Orleans-based blues musician, producer, and actress
  • Jesse Thorn – an American radio personality and the host and producer of the radio show and podcast Bullseye (formerly The Sound of Young America)
  • Erik Goeddel – an American professional baseball pitcher who played in Major League Baseball (MLB) for the New York Mets, Seattle Mariners, and Los Angeles Dodgers
  • Marc Yu – an American musical child prodigy best known for playing the piano and the cello
  • Adam Klein – an American television personality best known for competing on the American reality show Survivor
  • Tyler Goeddel – an American professional baseball outfielder who made his MLB debut with the Philadelphia Phillies
  • Jon Fisher – a Silicon Valley entrepreneur, investor, author, speaker, philanthropist, and inventor
  • Michaela Shiloh – an American songwriter and recording artist best known as Mickey Shiloh
  • Will Harvey – an American software developer and Silicon Valley entrepreneur who wrote Music Construction Set (1984) for the Apple II

Student Life at Nueva

Students at Nueva are given a wide range of possibilities that encourage them to follow their interests and passions. In athletics, more than half of students participate in sports. There are art programs, clubs, student publications, enrichment classes, weekend events, and summer camps where students can develop their skills. During Nueva Trips Week, grades 5 to 12 students get to participate in 27 different virtual trip experiences across four continents. To further expose students to broader opportunities, Nueva connects its upper school students to partner organizations for summer internships in different disciplines.

Nueva School Academics

The Nueva School utilizes a dynamic educational approach that is authentic and rigorous, where students do hands-on work on various projects. In addition to the core subjects, the Nueva curriculum includes courses in design, engineering, computer science, humanities, social justice, equity & inclusion, environmental citizenship, social-emotional learning, and world languages. Along with being diverse, Nueva’s community also fosters social and emotional intelligence and the cultivation of the creative mind. Students at Nueva learn to grapple with the unknown, recognize other viewpoints, and develop innovative solutions while discovering and mastering fundamental skills in traditional academic disciplines.

Nueva School Athletics

The Nueva athletics program offers four seasons and 11 different sports in the Middle School and three seasons and 10 different sports in the Upper School. Its conducive environment emphasizes student growth, access, and team building. Nueva offers  Cross Country, Flag Football, Golf, Swimming & Diving, Basketball, Soccer, Track & Field, Tennis, and Volleyball.

Nueva School Arts

Arts at Nueva goes beyond learning technical skills. Through arts, students develop an understanding of life and learn how to contribute artistically to the world. The Nueva School offers multiple opportunities for students to delve deeper into a variety of art disciplines, like a visual arts program, music, and performing arts. In addition, there are also special programs for students who want to pursue a more in-depth study in music, such as private music instruction and the Menuhin-Dowling Music program where students learn how to play different musical instruments.

Activities at Nueva

In order to cultivate new interests and connect with peers of the same interest, The Nueva School has affinity groups, activist groups, shared-interest groups, competition-focused groups, and fitness-oriented clubs. The school also offers various programs that extend learning beyond the classroom, such as Nueva enrichment classes, weekend events, summer camps, and the Internship Program. The Nueva Summer’s Expedition program is available for students of good academic standing, where they may register for one-week programs in literature, debate, engineering, art, and design thinking.

Did You Know?

Nuts are prohibited at Nueva! 

Client Testimonial

“With their expert advice and personalized approach, they helped my daughter navigate the competitive admissions process at Nueva. Their complete understanding of the requirements played a significant role in her acceptance.”

Mother of 9th grader