Preparing for the Holistic Review Process

The holistic review process evaluates multiple factors in order to render an admission decision for students who have a GPA lower than 3.0.

Applying early and completing the steps outlined below as part of the holistic review process will ensure your application is reviewed in a timely manner. Please note space limitations and availability of interview slots may necessitate earlier deadlines.

The items below include additional information for each step and helpful tips on how to navigate this process. For additional questions or support, please do not hesitate to contact the Office of Admissions.

Holistic Review Questions

After submitting your application, you will receive an email with instructions on completing the holistic review questions. On your checklist in MyNIU you will see a personal statement request which can be completed by submitting your Holistic Review Question responses.

We recommend asking someone (teacher, counselor, friend, etc.) to proofread your responses. You may also find the following articles helpful:

Questions and Tips

Select a question to see tips for your answer.

Why did you select your major or program of study and what are your future career goals with your degree? How do you plan to apply your NIU degree towards your future career goals? If you are undecided in your major or program of study, what are your future career goals?

This question helps us understand your persistence, patience and long-term planning abilities. Write about the major you're interested in pursuing, the experiences that led you to select this area of study, and what you plan to do with your degree after you graduate. It's OK if you're undecided. We can help you explore majors.

Which courses in school did you not do well in and tell us what you did to try to improve your grades in those courses (e.g. tutoring, study skills, resources inside and outside of school)?

This question helps us understand your ability to recognize and accept your strengths and areas of potential growth, especially in academics, as well as your ability to seek resources to improve academically and personally. Refer to your unofficial transcript to get an idea of your academic patterns in high school. Write about how you used formal or informal resources and techniques to improve academically.

What academic or personal qualities do you possess that will help you be successful at NIU and provide examples of how you have applied these in the past?

This question focuses on skills you developed by participating in extracurricular activities and/or work, as well as through academics. Write about qualities that helped you achieve success in the past and how they'll help you at NIU. For example, you may be curious, resilient or able to ask effective questions. Include examples, such as finding online resources or asking teachers for help.

What academic or social resources have you used in the past? What supports provided by NIU would you need to be successful?

View a list of some of the resources available at NIU.

Write about your support network and the ways you seek help and encouragement. This includes services (tutoring, counseling, mentoring, etc.) and people (friends, family, teachers, etc.) who will help you grow as a student and member of the community. Include resources you've used in the past and student assistance services you plan to use at NIU.

Is there anything that we did not ask that you want to share with us that might be helpful as we review your application? This may include information about transferring schools, gap years, early graduation, personal struggles, or other challenges not addressed previously.

This question is your opportunity to share information not addressed in other areas of the application process. The information you provide will help us understand your experiences as a person and student. You can write about topics such as gaps in your academic schedule, early graduation from high school, pursuing your GED, reasons for being out of school for long periods of time or any extenuating circumstances.

Seventh Semester Grades

We may request for you to provide grades for the first semester of your senior year. These seventh semester grades allow us to consider your academic performance. Learn how to submit your official transcript.


We may ask you to attend an online interview to clarify your information, to allow you to elaborate on information you already provided or to give additional information. You'll receive an email invitation to interview after you have submitted your responses to the holistic review questions. The interview will be conducted by one or two admission counselors.

You should dress as you would for school. Be comfortable and let your personal style show. You can even download a Huskie Pride background to use during the interview.

Common Questions

  • Why are you interested in going to college? 
  • What do you expect to be doing in 10 years? 
  • Whom do you most admire or look up to, and why? 
  • What do you do in your spare time? 
  • What made you choose to apply to NIU? 
  • Tell us two things that are not in your application or your short answer responses. 

Interview Tips

  • Be yourself. It's not a test, it’s an opportunity to share information about yourself. The focus will be on your interests and goals.
  • Find a quiet space to avoid interruptions. However, don't worry if something unexpected happens. Just tell your interviewers and ask for time to regroup, if needed.
  • Bring water in case you need a quick drink between questions.
  • We recommend setting up reminders on your calendar/phone to avoid missing your interview.

Contact Us

Office of Admissions
Williston Hall
DeKalb, IL 60115
Back to top