University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC)

Location: Omaha, NE


Nebraska’s only public academic health sciences center, UNMC is focused on preparing a 21st century healthcare workforce to provide leading-edge medical care for the state and beyond. In 2016, UNMC realized it needed to attract a more diverse range of students to support the university’s mission. This required moving beyond the traditional academics-based admissions criteria the university had been relying on to date for student enrollment.


In order to attract more diverse applicants, UNMC needed to define exactly what diversity meant to the university as well as its various academic departments. The university also realized it needed to take a more comprehensive, mission-based approach to admissions that extended beyond grade point averages and test scores. After hearing AACRAO Consulting subject-matter experts speak on the practice of Holistic Admissions, UNMC reached out for assistance in reaching the university’s enrollment goals that included reaching a broader pool of eligible and qualified applicants.


AACRAO Consulting collaborated closely with leadership and staff from UNMC’s Student Services as well as Academic and Students Affairs departments to help define diversity for the university’s 15 academic programs. With a more clearly articulated definition of diversity, AACRAO Consulting helped UNMC pinpoint three primary goals for expanding its pool of applicants: 1) Increase the number of first-generation college goers; 2) Encourage more applicants and admitted students from lower-income families; and 3) Improve student representation from rural and inner-city areas.

Once the specific goals were identified, AACRAO Consultants led on-campus workshops with faculty and staff to develop and implement the university’s new Fair Select tool, an application process that takes into account students’ extracurricular activities, community engagement and service, motivation, experiences and character as well as their academic performance.

AACRAO Consulting worked closely with UNMC to ensure departments and staff understood the Fair Select tool, how it worked, and how to leverage it to attract a more diverse range of eligible applicants. Along with helping to develop the rubric against which applications would be measured, AACRAO Consultants also trained application readers on how to use the tool, and review and score applications and essays.


UNMC’s Fair Select tool and mission-based admissions process have been in place for one admissions cycle, and the university has already seen marked results in the students they’ve accepted. With a Holistic Admissions approach in place, UNMC has interviewed more applicants who bring professional experience as well as academic qualifications. They’ve also seen fewer interview cancellations and an increase in yield among applicants choosing to enroll at UNMC. University admissions staff have noticed that with the new process in place, the applicants they attract are now more passionate and enthusiastic about attending UNMC.