The Holistic Review Process
As you’re preparing to apply to Illinois this fall, you’re probably wondering, how does the admissions review process work? Well, we use a holistic review process, which means that we look at and consider many factors when making an admission decision. The term “holistic” can be a bit confusing to some, so in this post I am going to discuss different areas of the review process to help you understand what we are looking at when reading applications.
Let’s get started…
First off, we take into account your academic record, which includes your grades and the courses you have taken. At the time of application, you will self-report your grades from years 9 through 11. You will include the name of the course, the grade you received, and the type of course. The type of course could include regular, honors, AP, IB, college prep, or dual enrollment. We want you to take advantage of the opportunities given to you by enrolling in rigorous courses, but we also recognize that each high school offers different levels of opportunity. So you won’t be at a disadvantage if your high school does not offer rigorous courses. You will also include the courses you are enrolled in for your 12th grade year, so it is important to continue to take challenging classes your senior year. We look at grades from all academic courses, so you want to work toward consistently strong grades, especially in required courses.
Send us your test scores!
The next part of the review process includes your test scores—either ACT or SAT. There is no preference given to either test format, so either one will work! We do not combine scores to create a superscore. We will, however, use the highest composite and highest sub-scores, even if they are from different test dates. In other words, if you receive a higher composite the first time you take the test but a higher sub-score the second time you take the test, we will use those higher numbers when we review. It can only benefit you to submit multiple test scores!
When you apply to Illinois, you will apply directly to a program that you want to major in, so we consider why you’re applying to that program. You will submit an essay that discusses your interest in the major you have selected. We want to know why you have chosen that major, and if you have any experience related to it. Take a look at our essay prompt so that you can start drafting it now. Your essay needs to be memorable and professional. If you select a second-choice major, you will also have to write an essay about why you are in interested in that major.
So, what’s a second-choice major?
Speaking of second-choice major, let me explain why we recommend selecting a second-choice major during the application. At Illinois, we have over 150 different majors, so there are many programs that can lead you to the career you want. If you know Illinois is where you want to call home, choosing a second choice will ensure that we consider you for all avenues of admission. We will consider you for your first-choice major, but if you are not admissible to that major, you’ll be considered for your second-choice major. If you are not admissible to either one, you’ll be considered for any other avenue of admission, including the Division of General Studies. You can still be considered for your first choice since you will automatically be waitlisted.
We also look at your achievements outside of the classroom. We want to see that you are involved in activities because we are looking for students who have the personal qualities to succeed. Your involvement can be at school through sports or clubs, volunteer work in the community, or part-time jobs. Anything that you do outside the classroom helps to demonstrate your strengths and skills, and you will be able to tell us the activities, time commitment, and your role. We love to see leadership experience, as we want students to come on campus prepared to take charge of their education and get involved.
We want your story!
At Illinois, we listen and consider you as an individual with unique experiences and opportunities. You will have the chance to tell us your story and provide as much detail as you feel is necessary to make sure we know all about who you are. Remember, the only person who can recommend you to Illinois is YOU!