The holistic approach confuses me.

My dad, little sister, and I attended Exploring College Options hoping to understand what colleges really want from an applicant.

We left the hotel conference room more confused than ever. The college representatives repeated such sentences as “We look at more than your test scores.” “We look at your recommendation letters to see that you worked hard for your A.” “We want original essays; don’t talk about your mission trip or about the time you won a game.”

Okay, easy enough. But then with admissions rates of 5-15%, how the hell do they choose? And among 30,000 applicants, does anything seem original? Also, what makes a person with a 27 ACT as worthy of consideration as the many with 33s and great leadership record, when the middle ACT score for many of these colleges is actually a 33? After weeding though all the many qualified students, admissions officers must be left with much more than 3000 worthy choices.

From that point, whatever else they use to choose the final freshman class must be pretty arbitrary.

My dad asked the panel of admissions counselor this: “What kind of student do you reject? And I would like an answer from all of you, please.”

One representative answered, “There are applicants that I particularly like and present to the other admissions counselors, and they vote on the person, and the person isn’t selected as an incoming freshman.” That was his answer.

When the moderator of the conversation asked the other representatives, “Anything else?”

They all shook their heads as if that was a sufficient answer.

Which it wasn’t.

I just read an article on the New York Times website, an insight to admissions based on the wholistic approach.

And I was confused even more.

(I will post the link separately.)


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