What the heck is Holistic admission review/Online info and admission

This is another oldie-but-goodie article (I think the link still works, if not let me know) that questions the hot term in admissions, holistic review, as a secret code for affirmative action.

I disagree. Holistic review is really a fancy name for what admissions officers have always done – reading each file individually and taking different student experiences into account in our decisions. There seems little doubt that it could be used to diversify a class (not an issue at Mason where we’re already one of the most diverse schools in the U.S.), but is that any more of an issue than taking legacy into account, or the fact that you have someone interested in a particular major where you have space that year? Question for all readers – how fair do you think the admissions process is/should be?

In other news…my buddy Alex at US News and World Report (we’re buddies because we were on CNN together – although I am confident that Soledad O’Brien liked me best) claims that admissions officers are checking you out online.  Because most admissions deans are still figuring out how to use their cell phones, I’m not sure how true this is, but interesting that the focus on using Google. My suggestion – Google yourself and make sure there isn’t anything floating around that will work against you, but I wouldn’t start paying anyone to put up positive stuff…at least, not yet.

Be seeing you!


4 Responses

  1. After reading this I actually did Google my name, luckily I only came up in a chorus group that I was unaware I was involved in. I believe admissions are hard enough and I strongly think that things like legacy should only be taken into account after review of their application and only if the student is borderline; otherwise whose to say legacy or space should be a factor. I think it’s very important to take each candidate as an individual and without harsh comparison.

  2. Paige – Yes, if admissions was REALLY fair all the time that would make sense, but…If space is limited in some areas, doesn’t it make sense for colleges to not overenroll students there, and leave you without the ability to get the courses you need?And shouldn’t colleges be able to be more generous to children of alumni – who are likely to be more committed to the school, and give their time, energy and eventually money to the institution?Unfortunately, not much of this process is really all that simple, especially since the best data we have (grades and test scores) really don’t tell us enough to be really sure who the “best” students are. So these imperfect admissions officers try to render some kind of decision without being TOO unfair. To paraphrase Churchill on Democracy (although equally applicable to admissions), it’s the worst system possible, except for all the others.Be seeing you.

  3. Dean Flagel – I love your blog. As a parent I am watching the process unfold before my eyes, and seeing kids we know and love (including our own senior) teetering on the edge of confusion. Some know exactly where and what they want, a few are 3 generation legacy students who will of course get their first choice college, and most are searching carefully.

    But what of those students who are on the cusp… they don’t meet a “minority” category, they live with their natural parents who are still married after all these years, they have outstanding GPA’s of over 4.0 and have taken the maximum challenge load, but they blend into the scene? They haven’t produced the winning science fair project, or run the school student government or been president of the ABC clubs.. but what they have done is never miss a day of school, worked their hearts out academically, held down a part time job to make a down payment on a car (parents refused to simply ‘give’ them one”), volunteered with the local nursing home residents because it is fun, and participated in their church and scouting programs.
    Yet to meet the demands of college admissions they find themselves thinking “I am not outstanding enough, no one will notice me.” Any suggestions on how to encourage these students? It saddens me that too many students are doing activities because “it will look good on the college application resume” rather than being motivated from the heart and mind. My senior won’t be a legacy student because she is eager to study fields that are not offered at her parents alums.. but I certainly will encourge her to seek out the information on your blog and to reach for her dreams and goals. Many thanks for making admissions a bit more human!

  4. Dean Flagel, Your blog is a really great idea. I am a high school senior who is just starting out with the application process. I did do a Google search for my name to be sure that there was nothing there that I wouldn’t want. This made me think about other ways that admissions officers could find information about students online. Do you think it is likely that College Admissions officers search for their applicants on sites such as Facebook, Myspace, and/or other networking sites? If so, what are your recommendations for students who are starting the college application process? Is it likely to be of any benefit to a student to close her accounts on networking sites before applying to college?

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