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The Raider Voice

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The Raider Voice

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Why Holistic College Applications Are Important

Relying on standardized tests and grades isn’t enough: it’s time for all colleges to take a fully holistic approach to undergrad admissions.
Kate Cooper
The home page of Common App is displayed. Becoming more popular over the years, the Common App further facilities the holistic review by allowing applicants to highlight their accomplishments in each individual section. The holistic review utilized by both universities and colleges alike is used to consider the whole individual, taking into account all that the individual has to offer.

With the increasing demand of college applications placed on admissions advisers, college admissions are turning away from the traditional benchmarks of selecting prospective students, including the previous requisite of sending the SAT/ACT. 

There has been a shift in ensuring that the admissions committee takes into consideration all aspects of the applicant. As I applied, I felt that my application showed every part of me as a student, both academically and socially, knowing that schools prefer a well-rounded individual who is capable of balancing a hectic schedule with personal commitments outside the classroom. 

I believe that grades alone do not tell a student’s full potential, and each individual has their own story academically. Test scores can be misleading, especially if they portray a different story than the transcript of the student. For example, if the student is not a particularly strong test-taker, but they have stellar grades, the student should not be penalized for their test scores, especially because it is important to remember that not all students have the same access to SAT/ACT prep materials or have the ability to retake either exam due to the cost. Each ACT is either $63 or $83 depending if the writing portion is included, which can be a financial barrier for many students. However, students with exceptional scores should be acknowledged and encouraged to submit their test scores as it adds an additional layer to their overall application. This can be a way for students to shine on their applications, especially when their grades are not exactly stellar. This can be the case if the teachers do not like them or do not grade fairly. In the end, no matter the circumstance, everyone has their strengths and weaknesses and wants their strengths to be highlighted on their application. 

Personal statement prompts are displayed. Applicants used utilize the personal essay section to their advantage as it is one of the main ways to fully express themselves in front of the admissions committee. Along with the other mini essays, applicants are able to highlight their personal interests, and how they will continue to work hard despite recent obstacles they have faced. If it especially well-written, it make your application shine in front of the admissions officers, and it can a deciding factor. (Kate Cooper)

Essays (like the personal statement and supplements) should be taken as seriously as the other aspects because they are the only way the applicants can directly express themselves, allowing admissions officers to get a sense of the individual in a manner that’s not just through numbers. Additionally, if there is a decline in grades on the transcript, the applicant will be able to explain the situation, and how they were able to remedy the situation and how they will continue to improve. One notable example is in the additional question section of the Common App, where students are able to express how COVID-19 has affected their lives.

One’s own resume is equally as important because it is where individuals are able to highlight their accomplishments, both in the classroom and in the community. Here is where schools would be able to sense who will be an active participant in the school’s community.

As someone who is fresh off the process of applying to colleges, I understand the importance of this shift away from just relying on GPA and test scores in order to determine whether or not the candidate is fit for the school. I utilized the personal essays and resume to the fullest extent as possible because I truly wanted my interests to become visible to the admissions committee, and how I was determined to become a fully integrated member of the school community. 

The traditional method of selecting prospective students based on a set criteria of GPAs, grades, and standardized test scores is old-fashioned, and it is time for schools to fully grasp what the individual has to offer, both in the classroom and outside.

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About the Contributor
Kate Cooper
Kate Cooper, Staff Writer
Kate Cooper is a senior and staff writer of “The Raider Voice”. While this is her first year as staff, Kate previously contributed to “The Raider Voice” as a freshman. This year, Kate is looking forward to writing about current international issues, and highlighting local businesses, especially those related to the food industry. Outside of journalism, Kate is an avid traveler who enjoys immersing herself in the local culture. Within the school community, Kate is vice president of Key Club and a Model UN team member.

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