Understanding Holistic Review in Higher Education Admissions: Guiding Principles and Model Illustrations

Published December 2018
by Art Coleman and Jamie Lewis Keith

On Wednesday, December 12, 2018, the College Board's Access and Diversity Collaborative (ADC) released Understanding Holistic Review in Higher Education Admissions: Guiding Principles and Model Illustrations, which provides insights into the logic, rigor, and fairness behind effective holistic review in higher education admissions. The guide endeavors to open the perceived "black box" of admissions decision-making by outlining key features and elements of well-designed holistic review policy development and process management. It provides institutional examples and promising models that illustrate effective and sustainable practices (including illustrations of holistic review practices upheld over the course of four decades of federal court litigation and in U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights enforcement activity). The guide also calls on the higher education community to think differently about transparency and communications associated with holistic review in admissions.