What Are Holistic Admissions?

The term “holistic admissions” alternately garners horrified eye rolls and gratified grins. No matter which side of the proverbial table you sit on, you may have some questions about the holistic admissions process and how it impacts your ability to get into the school of your dreams. Below, we will break down the nature of holistic admissions and how you can make it work for you.

The Components of Holistic Admissions

There are four pivotal aspects of a student’s application that are evaluated during the holistic admissions process. These include:

  • Coursework/Grades: While they were once considered the primary consideration in admissions, coursework and grades are only one part of the student’s records that are pored over during the admissions process. The coursework you take in high school will give the admissions team an idea of how prepared you are for your college career.

  • Test Scores/Class Rank: The scores you were awarded after taking the SAT or ACT will be evaluated, as will your rank in your graduating class. These can give the admissions team an idea of how well you work under pressure, and where you sit in a group of peers.

  • Extracurricular Activities: Extracurriculars can give the admissions team a snapshot of your interests and passions, and can let them know what you are most likely to bring to the school in your continued extracurricular pursuits.

  • Personal Values/Essays: Your personality, writing skills, and values will be evaluated during a holistic admissions process, as these parts of your application provide insight into where you will fit on the campus and why the school is valuable to you.

Why Holistic Admissions Matter

Holistic admissions processes are important, because they ensure that college and university campuses are built with an eye on community, engagement, and positive experiences for faculty, staff, and students. Potential new students are evaluated based not only on how skilled they are in a given area, but on their values and goals, and the different interests they bring to the school. In the absence of holistic admissions, you might have a school filled to the brim with intelligent students, but lacking substantially in community outreach, extracurriculars, and a sense of closeness and community. Holistic admissions allow sports, clubs, and more to thrive on college campuses.

How to Make Holistic Admissions Work for You

Holistic admissions processes might seem problematic, or may seem to give an “unfair” advantage to students with less-than-perfect academic scores, but holistic admissions processes are designed to increase diversity and improve the experience of students entering a college or university. Rather than focusing all of your attention on academics and test scores—though these things are certainly valuable—it is best to maintain a balance of academics, extracurricular interests, test scores, and personal touches in your admissions application.

What are Holistic Admissions

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