First of all, as you will see from the forum posters’ quotes that I will cite below, there are varying definitions of the holistic admissions approach. For the sake of clarity, allow me to give you my definition.
I see holistic admissions as a willingness by the admissions committee to consider The Big Picture of its applicants and not just make decisions based on some stringent, fundamentally quantified benchmark(s). In other words, applicants who, in the view of their holistic evaluators, have more going for them than just sheer numbers (SAT scores, class rank, GPA, etc.) stand generally as much chance for admission as those stellar “quantified” applicants do.