What is the Meaning of Holistic Admissions?
Most selective colleges and universities in the US offer holistic admissions. They take your grades and scores very seriously; however, they still want to know you as an individual. The ultimate decision on the admission status of candidates is based on numeric and non-numeric data.
Main Point: Holistic Admissions
Schools that employ a holistic admission system evaluate the totality of the applicant and not just their test scores and grades. It encompasses other factors like the challenging courses you took, your recommendation letters, extracurricular activities, indicated interest, and college interviews.
This does not neglect the fact that schools that use a holistic admission approach still consider great grades and fantastic scores in standardized tests as important.
What Does Holistic Admissions Mean?
It is common to hear people in the admissions unit say that they use a holistic admission process, but what does it truly mean to the applicant?
Holistic means an emphasis on an individual’s entirety and not just specific parts of the whole individual.
In a college where the admissions procedures are holistic, the admission officials assess everything about the applicant, not only observed data like the GPA or SAT scores. Colleges that adopt this admission approach do not just seek to gather students with the best grades. They are looking for fascinating students who can significantly contribute to their campus community.
Also, a school with this approach can turn down an applicant who has a GPA of 3.8 and admit an award-winning trumpeter who has a GPA of 3.0. An applicant whose essay was exceptional can be picked over the one with a higher ACT score but a poorly written essay. Generally, a holistic admission considers an applicant’s areas of curiosities, passions, unique talents, and personality.
For instance, the admission officials at the University of Maine, Farmington, clearly explain their holistic policy:
“We care more about who you are and what you have to offer our campus community than how you were able to score in a high-pressure, high-risks standardized test.
We consider your achievements in high school, extracurricular activities, life and work experiences, creative and cultural talents, community services, and lots more. Every special trait that makes up your personality.
When analyzing your application, we carefully and exclusively get to know you as a person, not as a representation of a recorded score or grade.”
Considerations Under a Holistic Admissions Approach
Most people would rather support being treated as an individual than as a number. The challenge lies in communicating your traits to a school. The following factors are considered important in a school with a holistic admission process:
• Powerful academic record with difficult courses: Let your records portray you to be a student that embraces rather than avoids challenges.
• Impeccable recommendation letters: What impression do your mentors and teachers have about you? What characteristics do they believe defines you best? Mostly, a teacher can appropriately describe your capabilities in a manner that is helpful to the colleges you applied to.
• Fascinating extracurricular activities: The energy you apply to an out of class activity is more important than the particular activity you do. Your profoundness and leadership in a specific extracurricular activity will create a better impression than getting involved in a handful of activities.
• A laudable application essay: Be certain that your application essay reflects your personality, your thoughtfulness, and your writing skills. If you are required to write a winning essay, ensure that it is specifically designed for that school, not just any school.
• Indicated Interest: Though not every school considers this, every college wants to offer admission to applicants who will accept it. Candidates can indicate interest in a school by visiting the campus, applying on time, and carefully composing supplemental essays.
• A great college interview: Whether the college considers an interview as mandatory or not, try to arrange one. It is one of the easiest ways the college can get to know you.
Some holistic measures are beyond your control. Because most colleges consider diversity as an enrichment to their community, they strive to enroll students accordingly. Here, diversity would mean gender identity, geographic location, nationality, race, religion, socio-economic background, and others. It is not out of place for a College in the Northeast to preferably select an applicant from Hawaii or Wyoming over one with similar qualifications from Massachusetts in a bid to create diversity in the campus community.
Another factor that can affect the admission process that you can not control is the legacy status. You can not alter the fact that your parents or siblings attended or did not attend the school you are applying to.
Conclusion on Holistic Admissions
Note that colleges that use a holistic admissions approach will still admit students who are prone to succeed academically. The grades you make during your college preparatory classes are the most vital part of your application into most colleges. You cannot make up for a poor academic record with amazing extracurricular involvements or wonderful essays. Although your academic records are more important than the standardized test scores, getting test scores lower than the norm will not guarantee you entry into any of the top colleges in the country.
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