As summer presses on and application season ramps up, our Student Services team is continuing to work with rising seniors on their college applications.

A common question I get every year from both students and parents is “How does a college evaluate an application for admission?” For many colleges, a holistic review is the answer. That word can be intimidating. Holistic. What does that mean?

To put it simply, a holistic review looks at the whole you.

I like to remind my students at this time of year that there are so many various pieces of their applications—and each one matters. Sure there are things that hold more weight than others. Grades and test scores top the list, as a college needs to know that you are able to succeed as a student on their campus!

Another very important piece of the puzzle is your academic rigor. Colleges want students who are willing and able to push themselves in the classroom, which often means taking advantage of some of the tougher, more rigorous classes offered by your high school.

Beyond your academic profile, however, who you are as a person and what you do outside of the classroom matters, too.

Right now, in the summer before our seniors head back to school, we are hard at work on college essays, brainstorming topics and working on rough drafts. The essay is one of the most powerful tools that you have to show a college who you really are. This is your opportunity to highlight something unique about yourself that goes beyond your long list of activities and academic achievements in the classroom. What’s your story? What makes you, you?

Of course, your activities are also important, as again, colleges are interested in knowing what keeps you busy outside of school. Certainly strong volunteer activities and extracurricular commitments matter a great deal, but you also want to make sure you find your strongest hook—that thing that makes you stand out. What are you passionate about? How have you pursued those passions through your extracurricular activities? Remember, the quality of your activities far outweighs the quantity. Commitment in the activities section is key.

Next on the list are your letters of recommendation. How your teachers, bosses, mentors, and coaches describe you can hold some substantial weight in the review of your application. Who better to describe you to a college admissions counselor than those who know you best?

At College Dream Builder, we work every day with our students to make sure they are presenting themselves in the strongest possible ways for all aspects of the holistic review.

Until next time!

Molly Monet

Director of College Admissions

P.S. Do you want to give your student the help they need to take the stress out of the admissions process? Then be sure to schedule a free college plan review with one of our advisors. In the meeting you will learn the most efficient way to send your children to college. Click here to schedule your free meeting!

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