After completing yet another travel season, my favorite part is still doing our “Who Gets in and Why" presentation in various cities across the US. This year, I got to lead them in Nashville, Orange County and Raleigh. Since we cannot visit every town to do this presentation, I figured I would talk about my favorite slide and why it matters in a holistic admissions process.
Think of your end goal in this process as painting a complete picture of yourself for the person reading your application. As admissions officers, it is our job to find an answer to this question- “How would this person add to the campus community?” While this may be daunting for applicants, there are a lot of ways that we can find these “personal qualities” in an application, and we list a few in the presentation. This usually sparks of the question of “How can you fit this all in such a small space?” Let’s work through this…
Point of View/Outlook: Are you optimistic, pessimistic, realistic, idealistic, and so many other "istics." You bring a certain outlook to our classroom, so how do you talk about what you've seen or matters of relevance in your life?
Personality: are you funny, kind, serious, down-to-earth, introverted, and the list goes on and on. If you were to ask your close friends or family members to be brutally honest about your personality, has that personality come out in your writing and extracurricular activities?
Curiosity: Do your topics show exploration of something? Does your extracurricular list (whether long or short) reflect aspects of interest to you? Also, did you pick teachers for your recommendations that paint you as the person seeking new knowledge?
Demographics: so many of our views are shaped by our surroundings (hence why we ask you to "Let your life speak"), so how have these surroundings impacted who you are and how you think? For funzies [yes, I know that’s not a word], check out Erikson's Development Theory, especially the theory/conflict between the ages 12-19.
We don't expect you to have the ideas to heal all of humanity, but we do expect you to have opinions of your own... that's what we're trying to learn by asking you to write essays, share your interests outside the classroom (extracurricular activities), and have your teachers tell us information about you (recommendations). While you and I (as the reader) do not need to agree on your opinions, I'll add one simple check-box to the equation, and let's go back to kindergarten for this one: does this person play well with others? Meaning when you disagree with a classmate, which you will multiple times in college, do you do so in a respectful manner.