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College Admission Explained

College admission and the Holistic Process:

The admissions process can seem complicated, unfair, and random, especially when students with exceptionally high grades receive rejection letters from their top-choice universities. But trust us, there is a reasoning behind the process.

Grades are just one factor the admission office considers when reviewing applications. Aside from your academic potential, which is based on your coursework history, admission officers also consider:

  • Culture, fit, and potential to contribute to college life: Emory has more than 375 student organizations. More than 80% of our students volunteer or participate in campus activities. Learn more about campus life at Emory
  • Your particular context: admission officers try to understand what excellence means at your high school and consider you within that specific context.
  • Existing university priorities: these factors focus on the bigger picture for Emory University as a whole. They could span socioeconomic, geographical, and cultural factors as well as political diversity and specific departmental needs.
  • The pool of candidates as a whole: when looking at the pool of candidates, admission officers try to meet as many of these requirements as possible. Ultimately, admission officers are puzzle solvers, and they need to find the right piece–rather than the candidate with the highest grades—to complete the puzzle.

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Therefore, keep these factors in mind when applying:

  • Admission decisions are not at all reflective of one’s worth. It’s about working within the parameters of that particular year, not about the ultimate merit of a candidate.
  • The “most qualified” candidate is not always the “right” candidate.
  • An applicant should have a list of three to five “top choice universities.”
  • Fit, or that feeling of belonging (culturally, academically, etc.) should be the driving force behind the decision of applying to a school. When reviewing your applications, admission officers will do the same.

Find out about the holistic review process from Mark, our Director of Admission


Quick Facts about the admission process at Emory this year:

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