Holistic College Admissions - Much more than the metrics

Posted by Neal Schwartz on December 07, 2023


holistic applICATION reviews vs. metric based reviews

 "who moved my cheese?" 


Did They get in?

If you know any high school seniors this holiday season, they are about to learn their fate for their early decision college admissions and maybe even their early action decisions.

The one consistent behavior is overwhelming happiness for those admitted and a range of emotions for those denied or deferred.

Statistically, the admit rates have been dropping precipitously at the most select schools. Students who did not consider the admittance advantages of early decision may have some significant mood swings.

Reminder: once colleges were practically forced to go test optional during Covid, applications increased dramatically, especially at historically selective colleges. Students who would previously have not considered schools due to their below par test scores had become more brazen. Some schools became experts in working through their algorithms to fine tune their yield and even went so far as to lower the actual number of admitted students and not just benefit from the application volume increases that lowered their admit rates.

For those familiar with the metric application review in other countries (or the way it used to be in the U.S. just about a decade ago), the move to holistic application reviews can be upsetting.

A typical metric application view: How can my son/daughter who had a 1550 on the SAT (or 35 on the ACT) with a 3.9 GPA, 6 AP’s and a multitude of extracurricular activities not get into every school that he/she applies to?

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Topics: college preparation, ACT, college admissions, admission advice, college process, college activities plan, SAT prep, ACT prep, college test prep, high school senior, high school junior, college application, holistic college admissions review, extracurriculars, extracurricular activities, AI

Importance of Extracurriculars after Supreme Court Decision

Posted by Neal Schwartz on July 18, 2023


Extracurriculars Still Matter for High School Students

photo courtesy of Byram HIlls High School Facebook page.  

Summer is a great time to get involved with extracurricular activities, a crucial piece of the college application!

There are 3 components that are valued by the most selective colleges:

  1. Metrics – GPA, Rigor, SAT/ACT, Recommendations
  2. Main Character Essays and College Specific Supplements
  3. Extracurricular Activities
    1. School-Sponsored Extracurriculars – Sports, Clubs, Theater, Dance, Debate, Model UN, Band/Orchestra, Math, Chess, Robotics, Science Research, Newspaper, Yearbook, etc.
    2. Other Extracurriculars that are local, but outside of school—volunteer, work, internships, summer courses, research, starting something (business, non-profit or for profit), working on a political campaign.

For rising HS Seniors, summer is the time to start college applications and look back and compile their high school year extracurricular activities. And this time is not wasted as most colleges weigh extracurriculars as a key factor in their college decision.  In fact, most colleges look for student involvement in activities through a lens of longevity and leadership. 

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Topics: college preparation, college admissions, admission advice, college process, college activities plan, SAT prep, ACT prep, college test prep, high school senior, high school junior, high school sophomore, college application, college freshmen, extracurriculars, extracurricular activities, high school freshman

Choosing the right extracurriculars

Posted by Neal Schwartz on July 14, 2021

A post-pandemic approach to choosing the right extracurriculars


When building a college profile, it’s important for students to have well-chosen extracurricular activities. Besides being a good student, college admissions officers care about what students are doing in their free time and outside of the classroom, which shows where their real interests lie. But this year, student athletes, dancers and performers are just some of the groups that were all hit hard during the pandemic when everything was suddenly cancelled.

Now that the world seems to be opening up again, students and parents feel a strong need to make up for lost time and to sign up for everything they couldn’t do before. But the pandemic has forced us to reconsider the role of extracurriculars in a student’s life.

According to a recent New York Times article by Shalini Shankar, students should be wary of returning to their pre-pandemic packed schedules. Why? Because we can’t deny the real toll that the pandemic has taken on mental health, and kids just may need to re-evaluate their values. Here are some important questions to consider when re-building an extracurricular schedule.

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Topics: Community Service, college preparation, college admissions, SAT/ACT, college counseling, high school senior, high school junior, extracurriculars


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