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Diversity in Admissions

Diversity in Admissions

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What: Holistic Review Process

Admission Process

Holistic Review Definition | UW System Freshman Admissions Policy

Who is eligible, who is admitted

A distinction should be made between students who are eligible for admission and those who are selected for admission. All students may be held to certain specified minimum entry requirements (e.g., specific high school course requirements, graduation from high school or GED) as a condition for further consideration.

In general, post-secondary institutions employ one of two methods in making admission decisions: a mechanical process or a selective process. (Note: This discussion is based on a study by Gretchen Rigol.)

A mechanical process uses objective and public criteria that determine if a student will be admitted to an institution. All students who meet these objective, public criteria will be admitted; those not meeting the criteria will be denied. There is no ambiguity and no selection.

A selective process also has specified objective criteria, but meeting these criteria does not guarantee admission. In addition to these objective criteria, other factors should also be weighed in a competitive evaluation process. Students are further evaluated with respect to each other based upon a variety of academic and nonacademic factors.

UW institutions should use selective admissions processes that consider a range of factors, with concern for the composition of the whole student body as well as for the qualifications of individual members.

Parameters to guide admission decisions

Admission to University of Wisconsin System institutions is based on a range of factors as defined by each UW System institution. The admissions process involves a review of an applicant's file to evaluate a student's readiness for college, his/her potential for academic success, and his/her ability to contribute to the specific learning environment of each institution. The relevant factors might include:

  • academic factors,
  • demographic factors,
  • socioeconomic factors,
  • work experience,
  • leadership and extracurricular experience,
  • accomplishments,
  • personal talents or qualities,
  • unique skills, and
  • other factors determined by the institution.

Consideration of admission factors

These various factors are considered in the admissions process to identify the students most able to succeed and contribute to the needs and goals of the particular UW institution. No single factor is determinative. The admissions process is designed to review an applicant's unique set of qualities, skills, and accomplishments, as a whole, to reach an admissions decision.

After-the-fact assessment

Each UW Admissions office regularly evaluates their admissions processes and procedures to assess how well they serve applicants and how well they serve the institution to attract, admit, and enroll a successful and diverse class. An internal assessment of the process should include consideration of the overall composition of the admitted class in terms of diversity, retention, and academic success; and a review of the ease of the process for the applicant and how well the process provides the institution with the information most relevant and useful for a full evaluation of an applicant's potential contribution.