Application Process: Our Holistic Review


We’ve made it to an important milestone in the application process – the Early Action deadline! This Tuesday marked what is for many of you the first of several important deadlines in your college application process, and while you get a chance to relax now that your application is submitted, we wanted to share with you more about what happens next in our office.

From now until Christmas Break, the whole Office of Admission here at Catholic University is involved in processing and reviewing your application for admission. We conduct a holistic application review –a term I’m sure you’ve heard many times from admission counselors throughout the fall. For us, that means looking closely at both your academic abilities and achievements, and personal character.

We start with an in-depth look at your coursework, seeing how the classes you took and the grades you earned have prepared you for the academic rigors here at Catholic. Were you able to explore different interests throughout your high school career, or focus on a particular subject? Did you challenge yourself with Honors, AP, IB, or dual-enrollment courses? Questions like these guide our review as we examine your transcript within the context of what your high school has to offer you.

If you’ve chosen to submit them, we also look at your SAT and/or ACT scores as part of your academic background. As a test-optional institution, we do not require test scores for admission, merit scholarship awards, or for any particular majors or programs. Some students feel their test scores do not reflect their overall academic ability, while others feel their scores showcase their strengths. Either way, we review students based on the information provided to us and do not speculate as to why a student chooses to submit or not submit their scores. We’ve found that students’ grades and coursework are the best indicators of their academic success here at Catholic, and test scores are simply one of many pieces used in our review process.

Similarly, some students chose to take the October SAT and submit their scores to us but worry that their scores have not arrived in time for the November 1st deadline. If this is the case for you, we’re able to see that your October scores are pending and can withhold making a final decision until those scores arrive. As long as your application was submitted by midnight on November 1st, you’ll still be considered an Early Action even if your scores –or transcripts, letters of recommendation, or application fee– do not arrive or are not processed until later.

Your academic preparation is just half the review, however, as we also look for how you’ll fit into and contribute to our campus community. How you write about yourself in your Common Application essay, how others write about you in the letter(s) of recommendation, and how you spend your time outside of class in clubs, organizations, and activities are all important to us. Taken together, the rest of your application helps us better understand your goals and interests, and how Catholic best fits into them. We are proud of our active campus, and love learning as much as we can about how you’ll be adding even more to our diverse and driven community of Cardinals.

I hope that by reading this you’re able to get a clearer picture of how our application review works here at Catholic University. If you ever have any questions about your application, want to know more about a particular program, would like to visit campus, or otherwise want to know more, please contact us and we’ll be happy to assist you! Enjoy the upcoming holidays, and we hope to see you on campus soon.


Dan Zawacki
Senior Admission Counselor


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