Holistic Application Review


Going beyond test scores

We are often asked by students how to make their applications stand out. Students want to know the magic number of test scores, GPA, or AP/IB classes that they need to take to get admitted to Emory University.

Some people think that we have a fixed equation, determined by a computer program, to assess admissibility. Perhaps it would look something like this:

Well, thankfully Emory doesn’t work that way. Let’s take a few minutes to set the record straight.

At Emory University, there is no magic formula. There is not a secret computer stashed away in a dark, dank administration building where a student’s academic record is plugged in, and it spits out an “admit” or “deny” decision. This is 2018 after all!

So if there’s no formula, what are we looking for?

When Emory University admission staff read applications, we always have the campus community—both inside and outside the classroom—in mind.

For us, this primarily means finding students who can thrive in our rigorous academic environment. The applicant’s high school class choices gives us the best indication of whether they’re a good fit for the university. We ask ourselves, “Did the they take the most challenging classes offered at their school? How did they do?”

Beyond that, we are also looking for character traits, educational pursuits, and community awareness that would compliment and blend into this campus community. Most Emory University students, regardless of major, have multiple interests and passions—whether it’s the arts, community service, medical research, theater, entrepreneurship, or athletics. We want to know what makes you happy and how your community/family/school has benefited from who you are as a person.

When all that is said, done, and read, then we’re finally looking at a student’s test scores. Normally these confirm what we already see in a transcript, letters of recommendations, or short answer responses.

Take the Deans’ word for it

John Latting, dean of admission for Emory University, continually encourages us as an admission staff to think about the person behind each application. Kelley Lips, dean of enrollment services for Oxford College, encourages us to look at the big picture of the applicant in the moment of their high school experience.

We want to identify who each student is as a learner in academia and also who they are in their community.  Is the student fully-engaged with their world—wherever that might be and whomever that might include? Is the student determined? Courageous? Intentional? Ethical?

We are looking for students who will be challenging for the faculty, exciting in the classroom, and a catalyst in the community.

So, we see our jobs as admission staff not only to evaluate high school performance (those high level classes, test scores, and out-of-school activities or commitments), but also do our best to predict college success and fit with the Emory University ethos—performing at a high level and aimed at doing good in the global community.

Don’t hesitate to connect with us by posting a comment to this blog, tweeting us @emoryadmission, or emailing us at admission@emory.edu. We look forward to hearing from you!

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  1. Brandon Lo

    Hello Jessica, I’m determined to go to this school as my primary choice so I have a few questions to ask.
    1. According to the Collegeboard application, there was a emphasis on the essay from the common app. I’d like to know exactly what that means as I wrote a really personal essay that explains my background.
    2. There was also a implication that ethnucify affects the application process, could you expand upon that?
    3. There is also a generation emphasis. My parents and them before, have never gone to college. I am the first born American Chinese that will attend a college. Therefore, I’m wondering if that will impact my application as well.

    Thanks for your time!

    1. Author
      Jessica Miller

      Hi Brandon,

      Congrats on being the first in your family to attend college! So, I’m unable to comment on your chances of admission or provide specific advice on what it takes to be admitted. There is no standard of race, ethnicity, or background that we have for admitting students. Here are some materials for further reading that might answer your questions more thoroughly:

      Our most recent admission statistics: Emory’s Admission Stats

      Application process: Emory’s Application Info

      Holistic application review: Emory Admission Blog Tag: Holistic App Review

      Applications are reviewed by several admission committee members on the basis of many attributes – academic record, extracurricular achievements and/or a part-time job, demonstrated community contributions, personal statements and short answers, and letters of recommendation. Admission decisions are comprehensive, and there is no special formula for deciding the perfect Emory University student.

      Hope this helps!
      -Jessica M.

  2. Teja karkare

    Hi there,
    I am considering an Early Decision/Early Action to Emory as I have always wanted to go to Emory. My GPA is 4.6 (weighted by a full IB curriculum), straight A’s transcript, Varsity and Club soccer, and numerous other volunteer activities. However, I read that the minimum SAT is 1450 – what are the realistic chances for someone who is strong academically and otherwise, but not the best standard test taker?
    Thanks for your anticipated honest response.

    1. Author
      Jessica Miller

      Hi Teja,

      It sounds like you have been working very hard! While I won’t be able to give you or anyone an answer to the question of whether you’re likely to be admitted, I can tell you that one of the last things the Application Committee considers are your standardized test scores. They are much more concerned with finding high-achieving students who have shown a track record of both extracurricular and academic engagement. They’re also looking for students who would both contribute to and benefit from the Emory community. The Personal Statement and Short Answer Questions part of your application will tell them a lot about you in this regard. If you’d like any more help, feel free to contact an Emory Admission Counselor by visiting https://apply.emory.edu/contact.php.

      Hope that helps!
      -Jessica M.

  3. temp

    My score is 361 open category Gujarat Domicile AIR 110592 Gen Merit 3272 I am getting admission in MQ in round 1 will be applying for 2nd round of admission. Where all can I get admission in general category in gujarat and India?

    1. Author
      Jessica Miller

      Hi and thanks for your question! While we won’t be able to give you specifics about admission to Emory based on your test scores, I encourage you to look at our Holistic Application Review policy on the admission website (you can navigate using this address – https://apply.emory.edu/apply/). If you have further questions about test scores, our admission process, or the application process please contact us directly at admission@emory.edu.

      -Jessica M.

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