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Are You Making Your Application Shine?

By Naomi Levine, Director, NMH Admission

Independent schools choose students as if they are choosing someone to join their “team.”

Your application is how you can showcase your skills and aptitude — how you demonstrate that you’ll be a valuable member of the team. When you discover a school that’s a good fit for you, prepare an application that shows the admission counselors that you are a good fit for them, too.



The application is a story, so make it a good one. People will be carefully reading what you write, investing their time to understand who you are, and to consider why you should be selected for admission. Don’t worry, though. Here are some tips to help you create the best possible application.

  • Be thorough. Each part of the application tells something about you. It is important to share as much as possible about yourself.

  • Take your time, but don’t wait until the last minute to complete applications. Waiting too long will only create anxiety for you and friction between you and your parents.

  • Answer the application questions thoughtfully, whether the format is short-answer format or essay. This is your opportunity to get your story out there.

  • Know the deadline date. If possible, submit each application two weeks before the deadline. Early applications get more attention because admission committees are at their freshest.

  • Determine your “hook.” This is the thing you do or are interested in that will make your application rise to the top, or at least be interesting and unique. If you are struggling to identify your “hook,” ask someone to help you. Make sure you explain or demonstrate it in your application. Every school is looking for it.

  • Do some research about each school you apply to. Is there something about yourself that will seem relevant to a particular school?

  • Make sure the right people are writing your recommendations, particularly the one supplied by the person of your choice. Do they know about your special “hook”? Did you supply them with the appropriate form in a timely fashion? You don’t want them to rush as they explain how great you are.

  • Standardized test scores are weighted differently from one school to the next. Take a practice test if you are not used to this kind of testing — don’t think scores won’t matter. Be prepared, and try your best.

  • Be honest and stay true to your personality, interests, and skills.

  • Don’t overdo it. Strive to be succinct at the same time you are being thorough. No one wants to read an encyclopedia from an applicant.

  • Proofread your entire application, not just the essay. Ask someone else to proofread it, too. Does it read well and look presentable? This is definitely not the time for illegible handwriting or typos.

  • Double-check that you have fulfilled all the requirements, including supplementary forms and optional forms that might help you stand out. Don’t complete an optional form if it doesn’t help you stand out. It’s all about quality — not quantity.


If you have any questions about your application, contact a teacher or counselor at your current school or — even better — contact your NMH admission counselor. They will always be willing to help.

With more than 100 combined years of experience, the staff in the NMH Admission Office is ready to assist you with the process of applying to private school. Our admission counselors work with students and families every day and can answer your questions about every step of the process. We offer many opportunities to connect, and admission counselors can set up tours and interviews so you can get a better look at what NMH has to offer.

Here’s an overview of the application process, and in future posts, we will get into more details with tips on how to get the best teacher recommendations, how students can stand out during the interview, and how to write an essay that shines.