October 26, 2006




TO:                  Rebecca LeDocq, Chair

                        Committee on Academic Policies and Standards (CAPS)


                        Mike Abler, Chair

                        Joint Minority Affairs Committee (JMAC)


FROM:             Comprehensive Admissions Work Group

Diane Schumacher, convener

Roger Haro

Joe Heim

Bob Hoar

Kathy Kiefer

Adrieinne Loh



RE:                   Comprehensive Admissions Review Report



Last spring a Systemwide Admissions Advisory Group convened to study diversity in admissions and to recommend guidelines and models for campuses to follow. That group identified eight action steps for campuses in reviewing and revising our admissions process, as appropriate.


UW-La Crosse formed a workgroup to consider the action steps and review our admissions process. Essentially, our current admissions process is comprehensive in that we consider a number of factors beyond test scores and class rank; however, the attached report identifies more formally, the process and factors used when determining whether or not to admit a prospective student.  The report contains six recommendations for CAPS and JMAC to consider.


Last year a draft of this report was submitted to both committees for preliminary review and both committees supported it.



Cc:  Interim Chancellor Hitch

        Interim Provost Rada

        Assistant to the Chancellor Al Thompson     






Comprehensive Admissions Review






In April 2005 UW System President Reilly formed an admissions advisory group to review the UW System undergraduate admissions process and recommend guidelines and models to assist campuses in obtaining a diverse student body that would enhance the education experience of all students, and ensuring that race-conscious admissions practices are consistent with the law. After reviewing the case law, relevant literature and educational models related to this issue, the group developed a definition of comprehensive review that includes evaluation of the whole person during the admissions process. (See Appendix A.) The System group identified a number of fundamental elements that should be incorporated into any race-conscious admissions process. These elements provided the basis for eight recommended action steps for campuses to consider.


UW System Working Group Recommended Action Steps

  1. Identify and or convene an appropriate campus team to oversee the review of the Diversity in Admissions process.
  2. Identify the specific educational benefits to students and to the institution of a diverse student population and campus environment
  3. Review and revise, as necessary, the campus mission statement to ensure that it contains a clearly articulated statement about the importance of diversity to the institution and within individual programs, where appropriate. The UW System mission statement should also be reviewed and revised, as appropriate.
  4. Set appropriate /attainable diversity enrollment goals without setting quotas.
  5. Define selection factors and how they will be considered in the decision process.
  6. Develop/revise, as necessary, the process that will be used to review apps and make admissions decisions.
  7. Develop a process and timeline for conducting regular assessment of the admissions process and other diversity-related programs to ensure they are effective in meeting campus diversity goals and/or targets.
  8. Establish a process and timeline for periodic review and consideration of race-neutral alternatives to race-conscious programs.

Additional recommendations include 1) revising the UW System application to allow selection of multiple answers in the race/ethnic category and 2) modifying questions that will provide additional information to support the holistic review process.


UW-La Crosse Review

A six-member working group was formed with representation from the Committee on Academic Policies and Standards (CAPS), the Joint Minority Affairs Committee (JMAC), the System Working Group, admissions and enrollment services. The group reviewed the recommended action steps and reports the following:


  • Plan 2008 and the 2003 strategic plan Building Our Academic Community of Learning and Inquiry clearly identify the educational benefits of a diverse student population and campus environment. (recommendation 2)
  • The core mission of the University Cluster states that campuses shall “serve the needs of women, minority, disadvantage, disable, and nontraditional students and seek racial and ethnic diversification of the student body and the professional faculty and staff.”  The select mission of the University, however, does not contain a statement about the importance of diversity. A recommendation in the NCA self-study report is to update the University’s select mission.  Attention should be given to a statement of diversity when it is updated. (recommendation 3)


  • Although specific targets have not been identified, Plan 2008 has a goal to “increase the number of applications for admissions of students of color each year for the next five years (2005-2010)”. (recommendation 4)


  • The Equity Scorecard will be the vehicle for conducting regular assessment of the admissions process to ensure that the process is effective. (recommendation 7)


  • JMAC will play a major role in reviewing activities to determine if the campus can adopt “race-neutral” in place of “race-conscious” processes and programs. (recommendation 8)


The working group reviewed the current admissions criteria and process in order to determine what, if any, changes are needed to conduct a comprehensive review of applicants for admission. Admissions decisions are based on four primary academic factors: 1) completions of the minimum academic units established by the UW System, 2) high school class rank or GPA, 3) ACT/SAT test score, and 4) rigor of high school courses. In addition to these academic criteria, each student’s application is reviewed for secondary factors that contribute to the strength of their application—qualities that suggest likelihood of success or that will contribute to making UWL a better institution. Each file is reviewed by a student status examiner for an initial decision based on the primary factors, and then another staff member reviews each file to determine final admission. Students are accepted, denied, or put on a waitlist. Waitlist applicants are notified of information that potentially could strengthen their applications. Waitlist files are reviewed periodically and students are admitted as space is available until enough students have been accepted to generate the desired class size. An admissions review committee provides additional review of applications, if requested, for the final admission decision. An appeal process exists for students who have been denied.


Admissions usually closes at some point in the spring; however, consideration continues to be given to students who possess particularly strong attributes that the university seeks.


 Priority categories exist based on the primary criteria listed above. Students falling into priority 1 are likely to be admitted; students in priority 2 are admitted as space becomes available, depending upon strength of secondary factors as well as primary factors, and priority 3 applicants are admitted based on compelling secondary factors in combination with primary factors, if space is available. Technically all three categories are eligible for admission. The priority categories are guidelines that have been adjusted over the years based on the desired size of the class. These categories were particularly useful when the University was reducing enrollment. The priorities continue to be used, but recent and anticipated growth in enrollment allows for more flexibility and less stringent adherence to the priorities. The priority categories risk being interpreted by prospective students and others as firm requirements without regard to the secondary factors. This, in turn may mean that students who would be good candidates for admission are choosing not to apply to UWL. Further, it is unrealistic to officially alter the priority categories annually. It would be beneficial to consider likelihood of admission rather than cut-off numbers for test scores and class ranks.


In addition to the primary academic factors, a number of secondary factors are used to evaluate individual applicants for admission. In fact, these qualitative factors are a key component to a comprehensive admissions review. No one factor will guarantee admission and these factors are not mathematically weighted. These factors include characteristics that will increase the diversity of backgrounds and perspectives of the student body; leadership qualities and experiences or a history of involvement that demonstrate potential for success; special talents, which the individual could use to enrich the campus; and special circumstances that warrant consideration.


The working group discussed the role of the faculty and others in shaping the enrollment at the University. It was the consensus of the group that more attention is paid to the number of students enrolled and the associated budget, and less attention is given to what kind of students to enroll. It would be beneficial to provide a forum for campus constituents and broaden the discussion surrounding student recruitment.


The current admissions priority categories may be perceived as fixed and not allow the needed flexibility, even though, in reality, they are guidelines. The group acknowledges that the existing admissions process at UW-L essentially involves a comprehensive review, so the basic process does not need significant revision; however, it will be a more formal review.  Since it will be a more formal process, a comprehensive review will require considerable time. Also, the application itself will include three more open-ended questions.  More resources will be needed in the Admissions Office to review and process applications, particularly as the number of applications for admissions increases.


UW-L Working Group Recommendations

Based on its examination of the UW System recommended action steps, the current process at UWL, and discussion of revisions that will be necessary, the working group recommends the following :


  1. Phase out the admissions priority categories as they currently exist. In a holistic admission environment, both quantitative and qualitative factors are weighed to make a decision.
  2. Use the academic profile of the previous and current years’ freshman classes (high school class rank, GPA, ACT/SAT scores) to determine guidelines for admission of the next year’s class. Use comparable appropriate data (e.g. prior institution GPA) to determine guidelines for admission of next year’s transfer class.
  3. Charge CAPS with the responsibility to create a matrix showing the likelihood of admission using trend data and data from the most recent classes. CAPS will review the matrix each year and update it as necessary.
  4. Prepare a “Freshman Admission Guidelines/Expectations” document each year that provides the admission criteria, the academic profile of the most recent freshman class, and the matrix to help gauge the likelihood of admission based on the primary factors. This document will be prepared by the admissions staff as part of the university’s recruitment materials. (Appendix B)
  5. Allocate additional resources for the admissions office as the number of applications increases, particularly if the Growth and Access Plan is adopted.
  6. Establish an enrollment council with representation from areas such as CAPS, JMAC, Joint Planning and Budget, the budget office, and enrollment services (admissions). Its charge would be to make recommendations about the composition of the university student population (numbers and profile) and identify the priorities for recruitment and retention. The group could also serve in an advisory capacity to the admissions office regarding recruitment initiatives. It would make recommendations regarding policy changes to the appropriate standing committees.



Appendix A

Undergraduate Admissions Process

Holistic Review Definition

(UW System admissions advisory Group)


The goal of undergraduate admissions is to facilitate the enrollment, retention and graduation of a

qualified, diverse student body. To help achieve this goal, the admissions process should include

consideration of a wide range of both quantitative and qualitative factors. These factors should be

considered as part of a holistic review of the applicants that is consistent with Board of Regent policy as

well as federal and state law.


Recent Supreme Court cases define a holistic review, in the context of a race-conscious admissions

program, as an individualized, non-mechanical review of the applicant. To do that effectively, the

admission decision should include an evaluation of the applicant as an entire person. The decision-making

process should consider a broad range of factors that reflect the student’s readiness for college,

potential for success, and contributions he/she can make to the student body. Such factors might include:

• Academic factors

• Demographic factors

• Socioeconomic factors

• Race/ethnicity

·   Work experience

• Leadership and extracurricular factors

• Accomplishments

• Personal qualities

• Skills and abilities

• Other factors determined by the institution


Since diversity is an integral part of any strong educational mission, the decision-making process should

be "flexible enough to consider all dimensions of diversity in light of the particular qualifications of each

applicant, and to place them on the same footing for consideration, although not necessarily according

them the same weight," (Grutter v Bollinger, 123 S. Ct. at 2342-43, 2003). Diversity in this context

includes, but is broader than, racial and ethnic diversity.


In brief, the undergraduate admissions process should include:


• an individual, holistic review of the applicant

• a review of academic and non-academic factors

• a consideration of the student's potential for success

• a consideration of the student's ability to contribute to the educational environment


The decision-making process may include, but should not be solely based on formulas, minimum grade point averages, or test score cutoffs. No one factor should determine whether or not a student is admitted

or denied. Reasonable and appropriate targets or ranges may be expressed in an effort to reach the goal of

obtaining a "critical mass" of underrepresented students of color, but the use of quotas is prohibited.


An institution's race-conscious admissions policy should result in a process that is clear to those

reviewing the applications and making the admission decisions, as well as to those applying to the

institution. The process of designing the policy, as well as the procedures for implementing it, should be

well documented.










(Appendix B-SAMPLE ONLY; not actual data)

Admission Criteria:

Admission is both competitive and selective. For fall 2006, over 6,700 applications were received for 1,720 new freshman openings. Our admissions office reviews each application individually, looking for students who meet the university’s high academic standards while also demonstrating a variety of additional factors.


Rigor of Academic Courses:

Students completing rigorous academic courses, including senior year, will be stronger candidates for admission.


Applicant Preparation

4 English

3 Mathematics

3 Natural Science

3 Social Science/History

4 Additional credits


17 Credits


   Applicant Preparation

4 English

4 Mathematics

4 Natural Science

4 Social Science/History

3 Foreign Language

2 Additional credits

21 Credits


Academic and Nonacademic Qualifications:

In addition to academic achievement and letters of recommendation, we look for students who will add diversity to the campus and who bring experiences such as: leadership;

concern for others and the community; achievement in the arts; achievement in athletics; and other areas. While

nonacademic qualifications will strengthen a good

application, they will never gain an academically weak

applicant admission.


Primary Factors

Rigor of high school courses

Class rank and/or grade               point average

ACT or SAT I scores

Secondary Factors




Special Talents










Likelihood of Admission:

This chart may help gauge the likelihood of admission. Choose the indicator that reflects your strongest qualification (e.g., ACT sore or GPA) as one measure of admission probability. Keep in mind that no single attribute guarantees admission.




(Appendix B-SAMPLE ONLY; not actual data)
















Profile of Admitted Freshmen:

Following are the general qualifications of admitted freshmen. These figures are not cutoffs. They are the middle 50 % range, so 25% of admitted students fall below the range and 25% place above it.

                Class Rank            80-90th percentile

                GPA                        3.1-3.6

                ACT                       22-28

                SAT                        1100-1300


How to Apply:

Contact the UW-La Crosse Admissions Office

115 Graff Main Hall

Phone:  (608) 785-8939

E-mail:  admissions@uwlax.edu

or visit:  apply.wisconsin.edu.



Applications for fall semester are accepted starting Sept.15. Applications for spring semester are accepted starting Sept. 1. Apply early due to enrollment limits.