Holistic Admissions

Expanding Beyond Traditional Admissions 

GPA and test scores are no longer the sole predictors of student success for today’s diverse student populations. As student demographics continue to evolve, a growing number of colleges and universities have decided to make standardized tests optional for their applicants. At the same time, institutions increasingly look for ways to identify the best possible matches for their educational programs. For these reasons and many more, colleges and universities are looking beyond the traditional admissions criteria. In the face of such substantial change, more admissions leaders are asking: How do we determine whether an applicant will thrive at my institution?


The answer is holistic admissions, with its broad-based emphasis on the whole student including life skills, experiences and non-academic attributes. With over 20 years of pioneering experience in the discipline, AACRAO Consulting brings specialized expertise in equity admissions that looks beyond academic performance and preparation measures. Completed in close collaboration with your institutional leadership and admissions team, our Holistic Admissions Review is designed to:

  • Supplement your existing admissions process
  • Identify additional data points that can complement or replace standardized test scores
  • Diversify your student population and enroll more non-traditional learners
  • Improve student success and retention
  • Prepare for shifting student demographics now and well into the future

Identify, Develop, Train

AACRAO Consulting’s Holistic Admissions Review includes an intensive onsite interview and information-gathering process, offsite process development, and in-person training. Over the course of the Review, we’ll help you:

  • Identify the student populations you’d like to more effectively attract
  • Define non-academic attributes that more strongly predict student retention and success
  • Develop a supplemental admissions process incorporating research-based and legally vetted questions
  • Design a validated, objective scoring rubric to gauge applicants’ responses
  • Conduct personalized onsite training for your staff 
  • Increase awareness of and avoid potential biases 
  • Ensure alignment with your institutional mission and vision

At the conclusion of your Holistic Admissions Review, you’ll be prepared to expand your admissions process beyond conventional academic criteria. What’s more, your institution will reap the benefits from welcoming students who bring a broader and more diverse range of experiences, skills and abilities.

Contact AACRAO Consulting today to schedule your Holistic Admissions Review and learn how we can help you move past traditional admission processes.


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Our experience working with AACRAO Consulting was great. There was some doubt with faculty and staff that a more holistic approach to admissions would generate results, but after the first admissions cycle since implementation we’ve seen results that tell us it does work. Non-cognitive admissions is a fairly new area, and AACRAO Consulting is leading the charge in this field. They helped walk us through the process step by step. They’re credible, timely, responsive, and very cost-effective. And it’s obvious they’re in this for all the right reasons — not to sell a product, but because they genuinely want to make our institution better.

Maggie J. Winnicki, MPH, Director of Student Services & Academic & Student Affairs, University of Nebraska Medical Center