Academic Affairs

Diversity in Admissions

Diversity in Admissions

Overview | Who | Why | What | How | Resources | Contact

How: Principles and How to Begin

Models: Holistic Admissions

UW-Madison Undergraduate Admissions Process

pdf version for download & printing
UW-Madison 2006-07 Freshman Admission Expectations (.pdf/87 kb)
UW-Madison 2006-07 Transfer Admission Expectations (.pdf/134 kb)

In brief:

  • single review process
  • applications reviewed individually, holistically
  • no formulas, minimum grade-point averages, or test score cutoffs
  • review all academic and non-academic factors
  • look for student's potential for success, ability to contribute to University
  • no one factor determines admission decision
  • no quotas or targets

All applications pass through a single review process, and all applications are reviewed individually and holistically. We do not use formulas, require minimum grade-point averages, or rely on test score cutoffs. Instead, we strive to gain as complete a picture of an applicant as possible before making an admission decision. We look at all academic and non-academic factors to determine a student's potential for success, as well as his or her ability to contribute to the University community. No one factor ever determines the fate of an application, and no quotas or targets are ever established for a particular population.

Selective/Competitive Review:

All applications pass through this review. Based on expected application numbers, targeted class size, and quality of applicant pool from prior years, criteria are established to determine which applicants we will be able to accommodate (admits), which applicants we will not (denials), and which applicants we believe could succeed here but for whom we cannot be sure we will have space (postpones). The criteria include but are not limited to school background, course pattern, rigor of courses, grades, trends in grades, rank in class, test scores, and extracurricular activities. Final decisions are made on the postpone group after the deadline for applications closes. At this point we complete an initial review of all applications and are then able to determine how many spaces remain. Once we know how many spaces remain, we can determine how many applicants from the postpone group we will be able to accommodate. Typically, we are able to admit more than seventy percent of our applicants. Students with disabilities or from targeted populations who fall into the postpone or deny ranges are given additional consideration in the review process.

Additional Considerations:
We have no targets, quotas, nor numerical goals for any particular group of applicants. The University has a compelling educational interest in fostering diversity. Diversity in the student population improves both the richness of the educational experience and our students' marketability in the work world. Corporations that recruit on campus make it clear to us that they are not interested in recruiting from a campus that does not provide diversity, citing the need for employees who will be able to negotiate differences between social and ethnic groups.

The University recognizes that certain populations of students make special and unique contributions to the University community and should be encouraged to enroll. These populations include returning adults, veterans, athletes, and underrepresented minorities (blacks, Hispanics, native Americans, southeast Asians). Applicants from these groups who fall into the postpone or deny ranges will receive additional consideration in the review process. Now, instead of reviewing the applicant as competing for one of the places in the freshman class, we consider whether the applicant is likely to succeed here based on all the same indicators that are considered in the selective/competitive review process. The fact that the student belongs to one of these groups is considered to be a plus factor in our review, but this fact alone never determines that we will admit the student. If the applicant is likely to succeed, we will grant admission. If not, we will deny admission.

Other students who receive additional consideration in the review process are those with disabilities. The University recognizes that students who have physical or learning disabilities may have less than competitive academic records due to their disability. With appropriate support services, however, some of these students are likely to be as competitive as their counterparts who have no disability. Applicants with self-disclosed disabilities who fall into the postpone or deny ranges will be referred to the McBurney Disability and Resource Center to confirm the disability, determine whether the disability has had an impact on the student's academic record, and identify whether campus support services will meet the student's special needs. The Admissions Office will then review the applicant in light of the information provided by the McBurney Center.

Appeal Process:
All applicants who receive a denial are eligible to appeal the decision via a formalized process. The process is the same for all denied applicants. The applicant must write a letter of appeal and include any pertinent information that was not previously noted. The applicant may also submit additional documentation and letters of recommendation. All appeals are reviewed by Office of Admissions staff. If new information is brought to light which indicates that the applicant is indeed competitive, the student will be admitted. If not, the original decision to deny will remain.

Appeals from the following three groups of students are reviewed not only by Admissions Office staff but also by the relevant office listed: athletes (Dean's Office); first generation college students with low family income or a physical or learning disability (TRIO Student Support Services Program); and underrepresented minorities and other disadvantaged students (Academic Advancement Program). The appeal will be considered in light of the additional support services available to students through the Athletic Department, the TRIO Program, and AAP. Students admitted via these appeals will be expected to participate in the support services linked to each program office.

June 2001