Holistic Review for Admission Toolkit

A Framework for Holistic Review for Admission

Holistic Review for Admission by definition is,

a university admissions strategy that assesses an applicant’s unique experiences alongside traditional measures of academic achievement such as grades and test scores. It is designed to help universities consider a broad range of factors reflecting the applicant’s academic readiness, contribution to the incoming class, and potential for success both in school and later as a professional. Holistic review, when used in combination with a variety of other mission-based practices, constitutes a ‘holistic admissions’ process. (AACN, 2017, p. 12).

The Indiana NEEDS Initiative has developed the following information and tool kit items to assist any college, university, or program to engage in holistic admissions review. We believe that in order to develop and implement a successful holistic admissions process the following areas must be addressed
Mission Fit is foundational for any successful holistic admission process. The program must determine whether or not a holistic admissions review is consistent with the university/college and program mission. If the answer is yes, then proceeding in the development of holistic admission review is appropriate. The organization should identify what outcomes you wish to achieve through changing to a holistic review process. Do you want to diversify your student body? Do you wish to increase numbers of students from under-represented student populations? Is there a particular group you wish to attract to your program? Once you have established your desired outcomes, develop a program admissions mission and program admission priorities to operationalize your plan. An admission process that is closely aligned with the mission of the organization supports a process that is legally defensible. Once you have drafted a holistic admission process, a discussion with your legal representatives about holistic review for admission is recommended.

Stakeholder Engagement is vital to the implementation of a holistic admissions review process. Who are your stakeholders? Who would be interested in your admissions processes? Think about how you will get university administrators, clinical partners, faculty, staff, alumni, and students on board. How might you involve your advisory committees in the process? Be sure to include sound rationale and evidence as to why this change is desirable, as well as what you hope to achieve as a result of its implementation. A clear consistent message tailored to these various groups will help communicate your new direction and garner their support.

Implicit Bias and Cultural Intelligence must be considered when looking at students holistically. We all have unconscious beliefs about others. Whether it is about professional behavior or ethnicity, these values and beliefs color the way in which we view the world and impact many of the decisions we make. Be sure to think about the role implicit bias may play in your process. How will you help those involved in creating the process and making admissions decisions identify and acknowledge their own implicit bias? How will you review your process to make sure it is fair and just for all students? Only when implicit bias is acknowledged and addressed will your holistic review for admissions be a fair process. Application of information related to cultural intelligence is essential as well. You should create processes that are explicitly equitable and inclusive through including diverse voices in the admission process. It is important that persons who will participate in the holistic review of student applications receive training in implicit bias.

Holistic Review of Student involves determining how the application will be reviewed with an emphasis on how best to assess the applicant, based on the information requested that aligns with your holistic review model. Admission selection criteria should be identified and clearly defined prior to the implementation of the holistic review process. Holistic review includes consideration of non-cognitive factors, to provide an overall picture of the applicant. We recommend using the Experiences, Attributes, and Metrics (E-A-M) model (AACN, 2017, p. 30) or a similar model to assist in determining and defining your non-metric data points and the methods that will be used to collect and examine applications for those variables. Common methods of data collection include essays, resumes, references, group interviews, individual interviews, multiple mini-interviews, standardized examination scores, and grade point average. The application review process, scoring rubric and decision making should also be developed and communicated to all persons who will serve on the Admissions Review Committee. Data for each student should be viewed individually and compared to pre-established scoring rubric you have outlined for acceptance into your program.

Academic Success strategies should be available such that students have access to what they may need to advance academically. A range of services allow students to identify what they may need to be successful. Academic supports may include tutoring, financial and scholarship support, mentoring and other opportunities that facilitate an inclusive learning environment for all students. Schools will need to identify the necessary resources to support student success, how these services will be delivered and the department with the necessary knowledge, skills and resources to design and implement academic success practices. It is also important to consider funding for student success. Student outcomes are usually closely aligned with the overall organizational goals and objectives and thereby making a compelling argument for of student support.

Evaluation of Processes requires taking a look at what you are doing and if it is assisting you to reach your goals. Reflection and evaluation of the process makes it legally defensible and leads to improvements over time. By reflecting on these questions: Were you able to access the data you wanted to use for decision making? Did the data you collected give you a holistic picture of each applicant? Was the student data used as a basis for decision making in a fair manner? Was implicit bias training effective or did you still see evidence of bias in your process? What indicators would you like to collect to demonstrate a change or achievement of outcome measures? As often said in nursing, start with the end in mind and plan for evaluation from the beginning. Don’t be afraid to revise your policy/processes, data collection, or implementation when something doesn’t work. Remember, we learn as much from that which works as from that which doesn’t.

HRA Definition

Holistic Admission Review is defined as a flexible, individualized way of assessing an applicant’s capabilities by which balanced consideration is given to experiences, attributes, and academic metrics (EAM) and, when considered in combination, how the individual might contribute value as a nursing student and nursing profession. (Association of American Medical Colleges, 2020)

Under a holistic admissions review process, the admissions team considers a student’s life experiences and personal qualities alongside traditional measures of academic achievement such as grades and test scores.”

  • “Researchers reported that holistic admission processes have been adopted by 93% of dentistry schools, 91% of medical schools, 82% of public health schools, 78% of pharmacy schools, and 47% of nursing schools.”
  • “Further analysis of the survey results showed that 72% of the schools utilizing holistic admissions review reported an increase in diversity of their incoming class.”
  • “Schools using holistic admissions review also reported positive changes to the learning environment, including increased community engagement, student cooperation and teamwork, and students’ openness to perspectives different from their own.”
  • “Holistic admissions review exists on a continuum, and schools may choose to implement some practices over others. Nonacademic criteria that may be included as part of a holistic admissions process include first generation college student, experience with disadvantaged populations, origin in a geographic area specifically targeted by the school, and/or an applicant from a medically underserved region”

(Glazer, et al., 2016; Marian University, n.d.)



Current Literature

Many medical schools, schools of nursing, and allied health programs are seeking ways to increase diversity in their student populations (Kandray & Larwin, 2017; Harrison, 2019; Spencer, 2020).  The anticipated outcome of the effort to increase diversity in allied health, medical, and nursing education student populations is a hoped-for increase in diversity within health related careers. Kandray & Larwin (2017) note that ethnic and racial diversity are lacking in the dental hygiene profession.  Kilburn, Hill, Porter, & Pell (2019) inclusive recruitment efforts may go a long way to eliminating disparities in health and improving quality of care.  In a time when the need to increase diversity in our nursing student populations is very evident, we need to first understand what has been written about holistic admissions.  We also need to identify how that information can then help us make decisions about what efforts are most important.

A review of articles regarding holistic admission and its potential to increase diversity in nursing and allied health programs was completed. Kilburn, Hill, Porter, & Pell (2019) explored inclusive recruitment and admissions strategies as well as their impact in increasing diversity in CRNA education programs. Efforts such as holding program information sessions in large cities and areas with racial diversity located within a 130 mile radius of the program, working with undergraduate and community colleges to host information sessions, partnering with college or university office of Equity and Diversity to gain internal support, ensuring that marketing efforts are inclusive and reflect the diversity of the program’s student body and faculty, and focusing recruiting efforts on nurses of color through attending and exhibiting at conferences for nurses of color such as National Association of Hispanic Nurses and Black Nurses Rock enable programs to increase numbers of applicants of color.

Grabowski (2018) discussed a study where holistic review processes for screening resulted in increased numbers of holistically and academically prepared applicants.  When compared with applicants admitted without holistic screening, student groups admitted with holistic review screening practices were more diverse.  In this study, each application in the holistic review pool was read by two application screeners.  Academic criteria were reviewed, but applications were also reviewed for applicant experiences that lines up with the mission and values of the school.  Screeners reviewed applications for exposure to medicine, enthusiasm for the medical field, a service mind set, ability to overcome adversity, ability to work with teams, and overcoming adversity.  Disadvantages such as distance traveled to campus were used to understand potential barriers that would need to be addressed if applicants were to be successful in the medical field.

O’Niell, Vonsild, Wallstedt, & Dornan (2013) concluded that establishment of admission criteria is not what drives diversity in medical program admission, but attracting an appropriately diverse applicant pool can improve diversity in medical education admission cohorts.  Griffin & Wu (2015) found that attracting a diverse applicant pool alone is ineffective in increasing numbers of students from diverse backgrounds in admission cohorts.  In addition, they found that reduction of stereotyping accompanied by efforts to assist in reducing low self-efficacy resultant from socio-cultural factors are needed to aid in the increase of students from diverse backgrounds in admission cohorts.  Conway-Klaassen (2016) found that a Medical Laboratory Science program that increased academic requirements for admission actually experienced a subsequently lower number of students from diverse backgrounds.  While the changes were not made in an effort to exclude those with diverse backgrounds, the result points to the need for greater work to remove barriers and provide services that assist students to persist.

Leduc, Rioux, Gagnon, Bourdy, & Dennis (2017) carried out a mixed-method study of a demographic questionnaire, multiple mini-questionnaire scores, semi-structured interviews and information from focus groups with not only applicants, but also evaluators. Results of the study identified that many applicant scores were related to language as a barrier in age, gender, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status when rated by evaluators. These results demonstrate the need for evaluative raters to become aware of their bias when evaluating potential applicants.

From this selection of readings, it is evident that one effort alone may not be enough to increase numbers of students admitted from diverse backgrounds.  It is equally important to support academic advancement and completion. Changing efforts in marketing of programs to students of color and students from diverse backgrounds, in admission processes, and in efforts to retain these students, once admitted, is needed to increase diversity in the workforce and help remove disparities in healthcare.

Mission Fit
Consistency with the university and program mission

When considering the change to holistic review for admission (HRA), the program must decide if the change will be consistent with the university or college’s mission. Review of the mission consistency should be done with university/college administrators. If there is consistency with the university/college, the next step is to determine if HRA aligns with the mission of the School of Nursing and/or the program targeted for the change. A frank and open discussion with faculty and staff where all stakeholders are encouraged to participate is essential to gain the necessary buy-in for successful implementation.


Identification of outcomes for using a holistic review for admission

One of the first things that a program needs to do, is to determine what outcomes you wish to accomplish by changing to a HRA process. Identifying your goals will assist in developing your program, your approach, your outreach and marketing, and the metrics that will be for evaluation purposes.

Is your goal to increase compositional diversity? What does diversity look like for your program? Are there underrepresented groups that you would like to target for admission into your program? Reviewing the data of current admission trends related to diverse and underrepresented populations will provide insight into this process.

Do you want to attract a particular target group to your program? Target groups may be out of state students, second degree students, direct admits from high school, those from educational or economic disadvantaged groups. You need to decide which group(s) you want to target and then integrate them into a statement of admission priorities for your program.


Developing a program admissions mission

It is wise to develop a mission statement for admissions. This statement should be reflective of the campus, school, program, and outcomes. It should be a succinct statement that provides direction for the continued development of your admissions policies and processes.

An example of an Admissions statement from the Indiana University East School of Nursing and Health Sciences BSN program (2019) follows:

The mission of the School of Nursing and Health Science BSN admissions process is to contribute         to a diverse, engaging, and nurturing environment for students, faculty, and staff. Through a               holistic review of student metrics, attributes, and experiences, we seek to promote a culture of      learning n the School of Nursing and Health Sciences consistent with the values of our program          and learning community. Admission to the traditional BSN program at Indiana University East is   based in the idea that a foundation of critical thinking, effective communication, leadership, and              cultural intelligence creates a mindset that allows for enhanced growth of the individual and the               academic community.  Through our admissions process, we seek to align with students who will        thrive within the culture of the School of Nursing and Health Science and grow into            knowledgeable, competent, and caring professionals prepared to creatively and capably               contribute to the healthcare landscape of east central Indiana and beyond.


Program admission priorities

Program admission priorities should clearly identify the target populations you identified when determining the program’s outcomes. By stating admission priorities, the program decreases the potential liability that could be a result of preferential treatment of a given candidate. A statement of priorities should be available to potential applicants. It is important to let applicants know that identified groups will be given priority in the event that similarly qualified candidates are being considered for the same open position. Candidates should also be made aware that being in a priority group does not guarantee admission into the program. Examples of priority groups might be:

Out of state students

Students who live or work in the service area of the college/university

Economically disadvantaged status

Identifies as a member of an underrepresented cultural group (as defined by your program).


Admission Policy

A revised admission policy must be developed indicating the admission priorities, criteria being evaluated, and processes being used, expectations of applicants, matriculation requirements, and timeline. The policy is developed overtime as pieces of the HRA process are finalized. The policy should be completed and available to students at least one semester prior to its implementation.


Legal Considerations

The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld the University of Texas-Austin and Harvard University’s Holistic Admission Policies. Both decisions discussed that neither university had quotas for specific ethnic groups. The Supreme Course stated the universities might continue to consider race as one factor among many in ensuring a diverse student body. Justice Kennedy stated, “Considerable deference is owed to a university in defining those intangible characteristics, like student body diversity, that are central to its identity and educational mission” (Liptak, 2016, para 9).

It is imperative that a school/program think about the legalities of moving to a holistic review of admissions. Having an admissions mission and priorities for admissions make the process transparent. It is advisable to discuss the move with legal counsel to make sure policies are legally defensible and decision making is consistent and bias is minimized. It is recommended that a school discuss their admissions mission, admission priorities, admission policy and processes with legal counsel before moving to the implementation phase.

Stakeholder Engagement
The success of any Holistic Review for Admission process is grounded in engaging those who will be involved or who have an interest in your making this change. Who are these folks and how will you convince them this is the right thing to do? These could include university/college administrators, faculty, staff, alumni, students, clinical partners, advisory board members, and community supporters.

Be sure to develop a clear message tailored to the specific groups you wish to engage. Topics that might be relevant to garnering stakeholder support include:

  • Mission / vision congruence at institution level 
  • Legal ramifications  
  • College policy ramifications (admissions processes, student info sharing processes, etc.)  
  • Definition of holistic admission   
  • Information on the E-A-M model  
  • Benefits of using the HAR process for students, school, university/college, and the community/potential clients.


University/College Administration   

The key to success for any nursing school seeking to enroll and graduate a broadly diverse class is the connection the school makes between the diversity it seeks and the educational mission-driven goals to which it aspires. Discuss how diversity objectives reflect the individual school’s unique goals, settings, and culture. Address how the process enhances the admission of the type of students the institution wants to educate and the nurses it wants to graduate. Draw a straight line to how the university/college’s unique mission, goals, diversity and admissions criteria and process align (Urban Universities for Health, n.d). Be sure to address:

  • Diversification of your student body and increasing numbers of students from under-represented cultural groups. Diversity is student-specific and multidimensional. Diversity does not exclusively refer to race, ethnicity and gender. Rather, diversity encompasses multiple dimensions. Examples include socioeconomic status, life experiences, sexual orientation, languages spoken, and personal characteristics among others.
  • Increase the student fit to your program. Diversity is an essential tool for achieving a school’s mission and core educational goals. When well-conceived and intentionally fostered, diversity can act as a catalyst for institutional excellence with the end goals of student success, quality patient care, and improved community               health.
  • Meet your university/college mission of supporting a diverse student population. Diversity is an important means toward achieving key educational and workforce goals as defined by the school in its mission (Gurin, et al., 2002; Marin, 2003).
  • Meet your university/college mission of supporting your community’s need for a diverse population and workforce.  Diversity is associated with improved access to care for racial and minority patients, greater patient choice and satisfaction, and better educational experience for health education students. Language and cultural barriers limit providers’ ability to serve the needs of minority patients in ways that are linguistically and culturally relevant. The decisions you make concerning admissions results in who becomes a nurse and will ultimately reduce health care disparity (Institute of Medicine, 2004; Manetta, et al., 2007; Micheals, J., 2016).
  • Move toward competency based education. Discuss how evolving curricula will address advanced in healthcare (Michaels, 2016).
  • Increase Cultural Competence. Holistic Review for Admission increases diverse student population and results in exposure to new ideas and cultures. Nurse-patient interactions must understand the way cultural, racial, socioeconomic lifestyles are expressed and the way these influence.  All students/faculty benefit from being exposed to different experiences, cultures, and perspectives in the educational process (DeWitty, 2016).
  • Capitalize on economic advantages employing a diverse workforce is good business practice.  Admissions and educational programs are enhanced through a holistic admissions process.  Its’ use gives a clear message for recruiting students and faculty. It may address rising student debt (Williams, 2016).

(HRSA Division of Nursing and Public Health: Nursing Workforce Diversity Updates and Anticipated Trends [PPT])


Program Faculty and Staff

Faculty and staff are an integral part of a transition to holistic review for admission. Without their support, HRA will not be accepted in your program. Identify champions for the process and use them to assist in leading the discussion and providing sound evidence for why the change will be beneficial to the school, program, nursing profession, students, and the clients we serve. Be certain to use evidence to demonstrate these how and why HRA is beneficial. These champions can also be the group that develops drafts of important aspects of the HRA process for faculty and staff discussion, review, and eventual approval. Topics that should be addressed include:

  • Advantages and disadvantages of Holistic Review for Admissions
  • How to determine qualifications of students admitted through this process
  • Discussion of how the change will facilitate a better match of demographics of the community/service area
  • Congruence with university/college, school, and program mission.
  • Potential supports and wrap around services needed for students admitted via this process
  • Time involved in development of the process and implementation of the process.
  • Benefits to the school, students, nursing and the health care
  • Legal ramifications and concerns

Community stakeholders (healthcare employers/clinical sites/etc.) 

Addressing community stakeholders and engaging them to gain their support is also an important step in making this transition to HRA. Be certain to make it applicable to the specific group with whom you are discussing the change. Use targeted evidence to explain why moving to HRA is desirable. Topics to discuss should include:

  • Advantage is holistic admission for employers
  • Diversification of the workforce and ultimate impact on health disparities
  • Assurance of qualified graduates through maintenance of program curricular standards and outcomes
  • How they can assist with recruitment and spreading a positive word about the use of HRA processes for admission.



Students, parents, and families will have many questions. They will have a strong desire to understand the why and how of a HRA process for admissions. Details are important. The more details and evidence provided in the discussion with them, the better. Students, parents, and families also want contact with those who they consider “in the know,” including faculty and students already enrolled in the program. Topics to address include:

  • Rationale for the use of a HRA process and the benefits to the applicants and admitted students
  • Admissions mission, priorities, and admissions policy
  • Criteria for HRA with as much detail as possible. Address all elements being considered such as interviews, essays, personal attributes, grades, test scores, and experience
  • Process for decision making
  • Timeline for decision making
  • What happens if not admitted
  • Supports available for admitted students throughout the program



Marketing is an integral part of transitioning to a HRA policy and process. Stakeholders, and especially students/applicants, need to be made aware of the new policy and processes, including as much detail as appropriate to the audience being targeted with the marketing efforts. Below are content suggestions for holistic admissions review informational and explanatory documents aimed at applicants and their support networks (teachers, counselors, family, etc.).  This could include a comprehensive overview of a program’s HAR process on the program webpage and might include print materials such mailings to secondary schools, admissions handouts at college fairs, etc.  Images, language, and examples throughout HAR explanatory documents and other recruiting materials need to be inclusive and representative of a diverse population of nursing students. Materials should assure that students SEE THEMSELVES in the nursing program and feel a “YES I CAN” attitude towards the nursing program admission process. The program should consider including content as outlined below in marketing efforts. Keep in mind that the marketing department on campus can be a value resource in getting your message out to targeted groups.

  • Holistic Admissions Definition / Introductory Statement – what holistic admissions is, why college or program is using it, how application process might be different, what are benefits to program and to applicants. This statement might include assurances that an HAR process is being implemented while maintaining program quality, standards, and reputation.  A sample HAR definition from the American Association of Colleges of Nursing provides a starting point:

Holistic review is a university admissions strategy that assesses an applicant’s unique experiences alongside traditional measures of academic achievement such as grades and test scores. It is designed to help universities consider a broad range of factors reflecting the applicant’s academic readiness, contribution to the incoming class, and potential for success       both in school and later as a professional. Holistic review, when used in combination with a variety of other mission-based practices, constitutes a “holistic admission” process. Many colleges and universities have employed a holistic admission process to assemble a diverse class of students with the background, qualities, and skills needed for success in the profession.  Definition retrieved 8/31/2020 from the AACN Holistic Admissions Toolkit: https://www.aacnnursing.org/Education-Resources/Tool-Kits/Holistic-Admissions-Tool-Kit


  • Overview of Applicant Eligibility – program’s baseline information as far as who is eligible to apply (status in college, minimum GPA, pre-requirements complete; testing requirements, etc. Some of this is likely already in place on current program website and in other documentation.  Applicants will value specificity and clear, concrete language around eligibility requirements.


  • Details on Prerequisite Courses – list of courses, grade requirements, AP / IB / Dual Credit / Transfer credit details and policies, timeline for completion, etc. as applicable.


  • Steps in Application Process – Spell out steps a student should take to apply via HAR; again some of this may already be in place in current application process. Clear and specific language about process and timelines is valuable.  It is recommended that nursing faculty and recent graduates be involved in the application process as role models and sources of real-world information for applications.  Make clear when and where applicants might have contact with faculty, recent graduates, or current students through such things as tours, interviews, Q&A sessions, etc.


  • Guidance on Holistic Admissions elements / documentation / requirements – specific to an institution, may include documentation on things like:
    • Work Experience
    • Community Involvement
    • Personal Statement
    • Writing Sample / Essay Questions
    • Leadership Experience
    • Personal Interview(s)


Regardless of the specific elements required by a program, the goal of this section is to define the HAR elements applicants and explain how they can document experiences, respond to requirements, etc.  Concrete examples are important and valued by students.  If certain elements are weighted in overall applicant scoring or if certain type of experiences and involvement are valued more highly than others, be transparent about this to applicants.  Programs should consider offering mentoring, service learning, or community involvement opportunities to help students complete HAR requirements.


  • Information on Decision Process and Notifications – Should include timelines, how applicants will be notified, student requirements or expectations upon admission.


  • Next Steps Following Notification – Details what the applicant needs to do next in preparation for moving forward with admissions or reapplying in at a future date
  • A list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ list) – should be customized to a program’s specific process and that program’s previous and ongoing experience with applicants’ most common questions; may build on something already in place on current website. This could be another opportunity to provide specific examples by way of utilizing current students’ or recent graduates’ approaches to meeting requirements.


Implicit Bias and Cultural Intelligence
In their article, Implicit Racial Bias in Medical School Admissions, Caper, Clinchot, McDougal, and Greenwald looked at how awareness of implicit bias might change the culture of a selective admission program. They administered the Race (Black-White) Implicit Association Test (IAT) for all 140 members of the Ohio State University College of Medicine (OSUCOM) Admissions Committee, as well as surveyed them on their explicit preferences. While self-reported White preference was “trivial,” a statistically significant number of people in all surveyed groups scored as having implicit White preference on the IAT. While the authors indicated a need for more training and discussion around diversity and unconscious bias overall, as well as active inclusion of diverse people in their admission committee, they noted that the class that was accepted in the admission cycle in which the IAT was first administered to the committee was the most diverse in the OSUCOM history.

Implicit bias is unconscious, which makes it challenging, but also manageable. It is often developed over a long period of time without your knowledge or awareness. Once you become aware of a bias, however, the medical school study suggests that you may be less likely to allow it to impact your rating decisions. By approaching unconscious bias as an inevitable byproduct of being a social species and taking time to identify and dismantle the biases that you have developed, you are contributing to a more diverse, more fairly selected class of nursing students.

According to the Cultural Intelligence Center:

Cultural intelligence (CQ) is the capability to relate and work effectively in culturally diverse situations. Going beyond existing notions of cultural sensitivity and awareness, it is important to identify the recurring capabilities of individuals who can successfully and respectfully accomplish their objectives, whatever the cultural context. Awareness is the first step, but it’s not enough. A culturally intelligent individual is not only aware but can also effectively work and relate with people and projects across different cultural contexts.

There are four main capabilities that allow a person to put their cultural awareness and knowledge to use. These four areas will frame our overview of applying a culturally intelligent perspective to the role of rater. Those capabilities are:

Based on the research of the Cultural Intelligence Center, people with these capabilities are better able to relate within culturally diverse situations, beyond tolerance and appreciation for cultural differences. This ability will be important for our students, so it is logical and necessary that cultural intelligence in practice would be a critical component of the admission process as well.

Source: https://culturalq.com/about-cultural-intelligence/culture/





While each institution is different, examples of best practices can provide a useful starting point in developing appropriate materials for a new Holistic Review process. Each institution must adapt their procedures and processes based on their institutional needs, structure, and goals. Selection of admission tools must be deliberate; the mission based focus of holistic review extends to the selection of tools that the support the goals of the process at every step. 


Developing the Experiences-Attributes-Metrics (E-A-M) Model

The EAM model is consistently used in professions who are selecting students in a holistic review of admissions process. By looking at experiences, attributes, and metrics, elicited data provides a more holistic approach to review of applicants with the goal of enhancing the applicant pool and ultimately the class selected. “Selection criteria are broad-based, are clearly linked to school mission and goals, and promote diversity as an essential element to achieving institutional excellence (AACN, 2017, p. 16).  No one area is given greater consideration than the other.


Holistic review does not abandon the assessment of aptitude in science. Rather, it places such measures in the broader context of the applicant’s life experiences, with a particular focus on adversities overcome, challenges faced, advantages and opportunities encountered, and the applicant’s demonstrated resilience in the face of difficult circumstances (Witzburg & Sondheimer, 2013).  

When reviewing experiences, one should consider what experiences align with the school mission and vision, goals, and contribute to the requisite skill set  for professional nursing practice. Example of experiences one might consider include life experiences, health care experience, research experience, affiliations, leadership roles, educational background, and community service as well as the kind of events (historical, cultural, political) with which a student has been involved.   


A school must determine what attributes are consistent with the school mission, vision, and goals as well as attributes that are necessary to be nursing professional. There are many attributes to choose from for applicant evaluation in the HRA process. It is advisable to choose only those that are deemed informative for your admissions decisions. Attributes should be defined in terms of what the school or program are looking for in the applicant and class. Examples of attributes include integrity, intellectual curiosity, leadership, maturity, socioeconomic status, ethnicity, values and beliefs, and individual interests.  For example, the University of Michigan (2020) has listed the following attributes of what they consider to be a successful candidate.

              University of Michigan Medical School (2020) Attributes of the Successful Candidate include 

  •  Academic Excellence, 
  • Altruism,
  • Effective Written and Verbal Communication, 
  • Desire to Learn, 
  • Integrity and Ethics, 
  • Reliability and Dependability, 
  • Resilience and Adaptability, 
  • Social/Interpersonal Skills and Teamwork, 
  • Competency



Most of us are familiar with metrics for use in evaluation of student applicants. We appreciate their use for the objectivity they bring to decision making. In the E-A-M, metrics are used to evaluate this aspect of the candidate but should not be given any more or less consideration than the experiences or attributes that are being evaluated. Metrics that are commonly used include grade point average (GPA), test scores, and grade trends.


Use of the E-A-M Model

Once a program or school determined what experiences, attributes, and metrics they wish to measure, the faculty must then determine how these will be measured and evaluated. Attributes should be defined, experience expectations created, and metric levels identified as well as a determination made on how the data will be collected and evaluated. Data can be gathered through essays, interviews, resumes, tests, grade point average, grade trends. A school decides which methods of data collection will best provide the information they need for sound decision-making consistent with their policy.

  • Essays

Essay questions should be developed in a manner where responses will  provide information on identified attributes and experiences. Essays should be proctored and time limited. It is recommended that students be given practice questions so that they have an idea as what to expect during the proctored essay session. Students should be encouraged to work with the campus writing center on practice questions in order to be better prepared for telling their story and providing the information needed to demonstrate the attribute and/or experience sought. Essays should be evaluated on content as it relates to the attribute and/or experience as well as the manner in which it is written, keeping in mind the conditions of its writing (timed, proctored, access/lack of access to a dictionary, a thesaurus, or spell check.


  • Resumes

Resumes can be used to provide information about the various types of experiences the applicant will bring to the program. This can be done in a formal resume or through the use of a variety of questions that directs the student to tell about experience in a given area such as employment, leadership, service, etc. Remember the purpose is to gain the information rather than the attractiveness or format of the information.




  • Metrics

Metrics such as GPA, test scores, and grade trends can be valuable information about the potential success of a student. Many programs have a core set of general education courses that must be taken prior to admission and use the GPA for these courses for admission. Tests such as the Test of Essential Skills and Abilities (TEAS), critical thinking exams, the SAT/ACT, or other standardized test may be used to identify potential academic strengths and weaknesses of the candidates’ abilities. Programs will need to decide how much weight metrics will play in the admissions review and decision. It is recommended that the program consider that metrics play an equal role in consideration for admission as are the results of other data collection methods that illustrate attributes and experience.


  • References

Professional references can provide insight into an applicant that they might not provide for themselves. Well written questions should elicit information that targets the attributes and experiences the program wants to evaluate. Reference forms and/or letters of reference can be requested. Applicants should be educated on who are appropriate references such as employers, supervisors, faculty, high school counselors and teachers, etc.


  • Interviews

Interviews are another way to gain information vital for decision-making. A variety of interview types may be used. This includes group interviews, mini-multiple interviews, or single interviewer with multiple questions. Interviews may be done in person or virtually, as circumstances dictate. When done right, interviews can provide some of the richest data for consideration. However, interviews can also be extremely time consuming depending on the number of students interviewed. Some programs will interview all students, some programs will only interview students from whom they believe additional information will assist in decision-making.


Evaluation of Collected Data

The program needs to determine how collected data will be evaluated. The use of clear definitions for attributes and expectations for metrics and experience should be done prior to the collection of the data. Rubric development for each data collection method will facilitate the evaluation process and assists the evaluators in inter-rater reliability.

Who evaluates the data will be determined by the resources available to the program. Some programs will use faculty and staff for data evaluation. Other programs use stakeholders who support the program as evaluators. The program will decide who the raters will be, what they will rate, and how they will be trained. Regardless of who the evaluator is, training is essential to prepare the rater for the task at hand and to enhance inter-rater reliability. Training can be done individually, in face to face groups or virtually through webinars or modules explaining the rating process for the data being evaluated. Good training programs will provide opportunities for the rater to practice their rating of data and compare to the provided examples for how rating should be done. Raters will need to sign a confidentiality and conflict of interest form. This form will outline what to do if the rater knows a student and not to discuss data collected.

The Admission Decision

Once all data is rated, results should be collated for each student. Results should be de-identified by someone who is not involved in the decision-making process. The admission committee (composed of faculty) should then review each student individually. Committee discussion of each candidate should result in the admission decision with all data considered in the decision-making process. When final decisions are made, students should be notified of all admission decisions at the same time.

Supporting Student Success

Once the details about the HRA process are decided, the school/program will need to decide how they will support students once they are admitted. This is an individual decision based on campus resources and individual student and group needs (anticipated and/or self-identified).  Programs should consider resources that assist students with socialization, time management, skill development, financial management, stress management and academic support such as how to read college textbooks. 

Most campuses will have some existing resources for all students such as career services, writing and math laboratories, financial aid, and counseling. It is important to link students with these services early in their nursing program and to encourage student use of these resources throughout their time at the college/university.

Programs will need to implement nursing specific resources which develop required skills and provide academic support. Programs such as jump start pre-beginning sessions that cover what to expect, how to prepare for class, how to read a college textbook, information on notetaking, how nursing tests may be different from other class exams they have taken, time management, and similar topics help prepare the student for a more positive educational experience. Tutoring or some sort of supplemental instruction will also assist students who may be struggling with difficult content/concepts.

Implementation of a strong intrusive advising system should be considered, having advisors follow and check in on students demonstrating academic success issues or who are considered to be at higher risk of academic difficulties. Building of relationships with advisors will provide students with an advocate, cheerleader and confidant while in the nursing program. This intrusive advising relationship should positively impact the continued enrollment of students in the nursing program.

Another important aspect of promoting student success post admission is the implementation of a mentoring program. Again, the development of relationships with those who are more experienced with nursing school and the nursing profession provides the opportunity for students to gain additional socioemotional and professional support that provides a strong foundation for success. For specific information on developing and implementing peer and professional mentoring programs, please see the Mentoring Toolkit on the ICN website.


Evaluation is a critical component of holistic admission review (HAR) and is essential to being able to provide compelling, data-driven messages regarding a program’s successes.  It will also allow programs with the information necessary to determine if the intended outcomes of HAR were achieved.  Evaluation of the adaptation of a holistic review is dependent upon whether the overall mission and vision of the institution was met as well as determining if diversity of the nursing student population affected the learning environment.  The evaluation plan includes process and outcomes on students, faculty and institution.      

While it is ideal that an evaluation plan be established from the beginning of the HAR implementation, it is not required.  Even if HAR has already been adopted, there is still great benefit to establishing (and conducting) a thorough evaluation plan.  In addition to measuring outcomes, a structured evaluation plan will also enhance continue performance efforts, if it is “regular, ongoing and thoroughly integrated into institutional planning and work” (p. 6). 

Although, there are many evaluation frameworks to choose from, the framework chosen for this toolkit is adapted from the American Academy of Medical Colleges (AAMC, 2013). The strength of this framework is apparent in its simplicity and supplemental guidance.  Specifically, the AAMC highlights six key areas programs should examine when evaluating HAR; why, which/ where, when, who, and how. 

  1. Why: Why is evaluating holistic admissions and related programs critical?


HAR must be evaluated in order to document if a change to holistic admission review process met the mission and goals of the institution related to increase diversity in the accepted nursing student pool.  This evaluation must include more than just the selection process, and should include an assessment of policies, processes and practices, and if they are contributing to both short and long-term goals.   Through evaluation, a nursing program is able to determine what worked, what didn’t and why, and they are able to do that with data (both qualitative and quantitative) instead of assumptions or anecdote.


  1. What and Where: What data are needed and where can they be found?


Which data is needed (and where they can be found) to answer key questions related to HAR process depends on each individual institution based upon current or future data collection methods.  The following list, while not encompassing all data, provides recommendations about key data points to consider when developing an evaluation plan. 

  • Student academic performance including faculty feedback, course and clinical grades, licensure exam scores, GRE score, time required to complete the nursing program and school-developed surveys.
  • Data related to institution mission-related attributes including information from nursing applications, school-developed surveys, focus groups or individual interviews.


  1. When: When should a program conduct an evaluation?


Determining when an evaluation plan should be implemented is a fundamental question that should be answered as early in the process as possible.   An ongoing recommendation highlighted by the AAMC is to start with the end in mind.  When making a final determination about when to engage in an evaluation, it is important to remember that you are assessing the entire process, not just student selection.  While that is important, it is critical that data be reviewed throughout the entirety of the process (from application through graduation and practice).  Both formative and summative evaluation data should be obtained for each area identified by an institution (such as application/screening, key progression points, graduation, and practice). 


  1. Who: Who is responsible for evaluating HAR?


Who is responsible for evaluation of HAR process is determined on the onset and involves the entire team including stakeholders, administration, faculty, students and community partners.  An evaluation team approach for collection, analyzing and interpreting data is recommended.  Assessing the current data collection methods at each institution is valuable in tapping into resources available and implementing additional data points as needed. 


  1. How: How should the evaluation be carried out?


How to evaluate relates back to the purpose of moving to HAR.  Understanding the goal of HAR points the way to the data needed to review to determine success. 






Six Key Questions

What to Consider

WHY is evaluation of holistic admission review (HAR) is important for a nursing program?

*Assess whether outcomes of HAR align with mission vision and goals of institution.

*Include legal ramifications of diversity efforts.

*Decisions and improvement efforts are based on evidence and data.

*Document program changes to tell program’s unique journey.

WHAT data needs to be included?

*Student data including application,  admission, retention, graduation, standardized testing, employment data.

*Include both qualitative and quantitative data.

WHERE is the data found?

*Student data in nursing program admission sources.

*State and national nursing organizations.

*AACN website www.anac.org

WHEN should a nursing program conduct holistic admission review?

*Begin at the beginning with the end goal in mind.

*Begin data collection with recruitment and ongoing with application, admission, retention, graduation, and employment.

*Formative and summative evaluation information.

WHO is responsible for evaluation holistic admission review process for nursing program?

*All areas responsible for admission process at institution and nursing program including; admission, administrative staff, school of nursing leadership, faculty, and stakeholder.

HOW should the evaluation process be completed?

*Determine outcome based on institution mission.

*Examine the academic progression of students admitted using the HAR process.

*Review time to completion by student demographics, including those admitted using the HAR process.

*Define goals including diversity goals.

*Determine outcome measures to determine progress to goals.

*Identify what data sources are needed to measure outcomes.


*Collect and analyze data at set points for short-term and long-term impact.

*Continuous identification of areas for improvement.

*Disseminate information to stakeholders and publish findings.


American Association of Colleges of Nursing. (n.d. -a). Holistic admissions.


American Association of Colleges of Nursing. (2017). Holistic admissions review in academic         

nursing. https://www.aacnnursing.org/Education-Resources/Tool-Kits/Holistic-Admissions-Tool-Kit

American Association of Colleges of Nursing. (n.d. -b). The case for diversity and inclusive learning.



Association of American Medical Colleges. (2020). Advancing holistic review.


Capers, Q., Clinchot, D., McDougle, L., & Greenwald, A. G. (2017).  Implicit racial bias in medical


school admissions. Academic Medicine, 92(3),365-369. doi:



Conway-Klaassen, J. M. (2016).  An evidence-supported medical laboratory science program admissions

selection process. Clinical Laboratory Science, 29(44), 227-236.

DeWitty, V.P. (2016). Creating inclusive learning environments. American Association of Colleges

of Nursing.


Glazer, G., Clark, A., Bankston, K., Danek, J., Fair, M., & Michaels, J. (2016). Holistic admissions in nursing:

we can do this. Journal of Professional Nursing, 32(4), 1-8.


Grabowski, C.   (2018).  Impact of holistic review on student interview pool diversity.  Advances in Health

Science Education, 23, 487-498. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10459-017-9807-9

Griffin, B., & Hu, W. (2014). The interaction of socio-economic status and gender in widening

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Gurin, P., Dey, E., Hurtado, S., & Gurin, G. (2002). Diversity and higher education: Theory and impact

on educational outcomes. Harvard Educational Review, 72(3), 330-

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Harrison, L. E. (2019). Using holistic review to form a diverse interview pool for selection to medical

school. Baylor University Medical Center Proceedings, 32(2), 218–

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Harvard College Admissions and Finance (2020). What we look for.


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Kilburn, F., Hill, L., Porter, D., & Pell, C. (2019). Inclusive recruitment and admissions strategies increase

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This section provides examples of documents and workflows that support the execution and evaluation of research based admissions processes. Each piece demonstrates one way that an institution might execute a part of the process using established best practices as appropriate to their institution. While institutions are welcome to borrow forms that fit their needs, it is encouraged that these examples be used as support documents in creating similar items tailored to the specific institution.  


The Workflows section provides examples of admissions timelines from beginning to end, and highlights the differences between student facing pieces, which may function partially as marketing documents in addition to workflows, and internal timelines, which are more adaptable to the inevitable emerging considerations of a new admissions process. Several of these documents were developed by the Indiana University East School of Nursing and Health Sciences in their initial run of holistic review in the 2019-2020 academic year. Others are available online from various Schools of Nursing, including University of Cincinnati, Duke University, and University of Rochester.  


The Documents section includes samples of the “how to” of putting holistic review into action. This includes rubrics, sample qualitative questions, rating scales, and rater training materials. Materials were provided by the Indiana University East School of Nursing and Health Sciences, as well as AACN and public facing marketing materials for several other universities employing holistic admission strategies.  


University of Utah College of Nursing Information Session- Pre-Licensure Program: https://hsc.mediaspace.kaltura.com/media/t/0_emhh66ix?st=0 

Winona State University Nursing Direct Holistic Admission Brochure: https://www.winona.edu/undergrad-nursing/Media/WSU-Direct-Holistic-Admission-brochure.pdf 

Comprehensive Guide to Holistic Admissions Resources created by Marion University   Holistic Admissions Resource Guide 




HRA Timeline

Time Span

Responsible Party

To Do



Optional application info workshops

Mandatory advising meetings

Rater training begins


** Who will be responsible for these items? Adviser? Admissions office? Faculty?

**Determine what needs to be done in order to meet this deadline. For example, schedule advising meetings, develop rater training, recruit raters.

December 1-February 1


BSN application available




February 2-March 31


Essay/TEAS sessions




April 1-May 18


Initial applicant review




May 18-June 5


Interviews conducted




June 5-June 20


Admission decisions finalized




June 20

Admissions decisions mailed











BSN Admission Policy

Purpose: Establish consistent procedure for consideration of applicants to the BSN program. 

Indiana University East BSN Admissions Process: 

Admission to the BSN program is a selective process and will be based on a holistic review of applicants who have characteristics and interests that align with the BSN admissions mission. Admission to the BSN program is not guaranteed. Admission is offered to those applicants who present the strongest overall applications and who are determined to have the ability to contribute to the university and campus in meaningful ways. 

There are a number of factors that influence the decision of admission for an applicant. These factors include but are not limited to, GPA, TEAS scores, personal experiences, and attributes.   

Student are admitted to the BSN program once a year with a fall admission date. Applications are available December 1 through February 1. Applications require that each candidate submit: 

 An application form with demographic information 

A resume that indicates work, education, leadership, and service experience  

All of these application materials must be submitted electronically via the School of Nursing and Health Sciences website by the February 1 deadline.  

During the months of February and March, each applicant will be required to take the TEAS test and complete an essay during a proctored session with the School of Nursing and Health Sciences. The cost of the TEAS test is also at the applicant’s expense. If a student has recently completed the TEAS test (no later than April of the previous year), the student may submit a transcript of TEAS scores in lieu of retaking the TEAS test.  

Students must complete 30 credit hours of required courses with a grade of C or better. These grades will be used to figure the student’s nursing grade point average. All courses attempted will be used to compute the student’s overall grade point average. Official transcripts from all previous colleges must be submitted to the IU East admissions office by May 1. Students who have classes in progress outside of IU must submit up to date official transcripts by May 16th. This date may be extended, either for all applicants or as a special exception for an individual student, if spring grades are not released by that deadline at the institution that the student is attending. Students must be admitted to IU East at the time of application, but are not required to be currently enrolled.  

Applicants may be invited to interview if the admissions committee deems more information is needed to make an admissions decision. Interviews will occur during the last two weeks of May.  

Admissions decisions will be made by June 15. Students will be notified of the admissions decision by US mail. Students are required to formally accept their admission by attending a required admission session. Students who fail to attend an admission session will have their admissions offer rescinded.  

Students who are not accepted in the BSN program on their first attempt may apply one additional time for admissions into the program. Students may deny an offer of admission no more than twice. 

Matriculation of all applicants who are offered admission will be contingent on a satisfactory criminal background check and drug screen completed by SONHS selected vendor(s) at the applicant’s expense. The criminal background check and drug screen must be completed no later than August 1 so results are received prior to matriculation. 

All successfully admitted applicants who matriculate must meet the BSN program Essential Abilities (technical standards) policy. See Essential Abilities policy for specific information. 


Developed by Indiana University East School of Nursing and Health Sciences, 2019.


Conflict of Interest and Confidentiality Policy

TITLE:  Conflict of Interest and Confidentiality Policy for Selective Admission Processes 


TARGET GROUP:  All Students

PLACEMENT:  IU East Nursing and Health Sciences Faculty Council


INITIATED: Fall 2019



PURPOSE: Establish consistent standards to address conflict of interest and maintenance of confidentiality for those associated with selective admissions processes.



In the selection of candidates for admission into selective admissions programs in the School of Nursing and Health Sciences, a potential conflict may arise whenever an individual involved in the admissions process or decision making process related to admissions can be influenced by factors other the applicant’s qualifications. If a member of the admissions committee, admissions rater, or decision maker is aware of any potential conflict of interest, the individual should disclose this information to the Dean of the School of Nursing and Health Sciences. Examples of a conflict of interest include but are not limited to:

            Admissions decision maker or anyone in the process who is related to an applicant.

Admissions decision maker or anyone in the process who has a personal or professional relationship with the applicant or family member.

Admission decision maker or anyone in the process who perceives an application to have special status, such as a relationship to a prominent Indiana University faculty member, donor, or public figure.

Any situation where the committee member personally benefits


If a conflict of interest is identified, a decision will be made by the Dean of Nursing and Health Sciences as to whether the individual needs to recuse themselves from the admissions process or decision making.


Committee members and those involved in rating or reviewing candidates for admission must maintain strict confidentiality in all aspects of the admissions process, including applicant’s personal information, results of the any ratings/scores and committee decisions. Committee members or those participating in the admissions process should not discuss details questions or ratings with anyone not affiliated with the admissions decision process or as otherwise provided by the law.


Anyone involved in the admissions process or decision making will sign a statement verifying they have read the policy on Conflict of Interest and Confidentiality and agree to uphold it.






Indiana University East School of Nursing and Health Sciences

Conflict of Interest and Confidentiality Policy for Selective Admissions Processes

Declaration Form



In the selection of candidates for admission into selective admissions programs in the School of Nursing and Health Sciences, a potential conflict may arise whenever an individual involved in the admissions process or decision making process related to admissions can be influenced by factors other the applicant’s qualifications. If a member of the admissions committee, admissions rater, or decision maker is aware of any potential conflict of interest, the individual should disclose this information to the Dean of the School of Nursing and Health Sciences. Examples of a conflict of interest include but are not limited to:

            Admissions decision maker or anyone in the process who is related to an applicant.

Admissions decision maker or anyone in the process who has a personal or professional relationship with the applicant or family member.

Admission decision maker or anyone in the process who perceives an application to have special status, such as a relationship to a prominent Indiana University faculty member, donor, or public figure.

Any situation where the committee member personally benefits


If a conflict of interest is identified, a decision will be made by the Dean of Nursing and Health Sciences as to whether the individual needs to recuse themselves from the admissions process or decision making.


Committee members and those involved in rating or reviewing candidates for admission must maintain strict confidentiality in all aspects of the admissions process, including applicant’s personal information, results of the any ratings/scores and committee decisions. Committee members or those participating in the admissions process should not discuss details questions or ratings with anyone not affiliated with the admissions decision process or as otherwise provided by the law.


By my signature below, I attest that I have read the Conflict of Interest and Confidentiality Policy for Selective Admission Processes and agree to uphold it.



Signature                                                                                             Date



Printed Name



Example Proctored Essay Questions

  1. Explain the academic challenges, successes, or obstacles in your life that impacted your ability to achieve your goals.
  2. Share life experiences which have influenced your interest in nursing.
  3. Describe how your personal strengths, experiences, and aptitude will contribute to your success in nursing school and career in nursing (community service, leadership, healthcare experience).

              Developed by Indiana University East School of Nursing and Health Sciences, 2019.



Example Interview Questions

  1. Discuss your positive and negative attributes? How did you deal with them before?


  1. Describe a situation where things were working against you and you really handled them well and made them work for you.


  1. Describe a time when you were having trouble in school. Where did you go for help?


  1. Discuss a situation where you have shown leadership in school


  1. Describe at least two examples of your involvement in an organization or a community activity.


Sedlack, W. E. (2004). Beyond the big test: Noncognitive assessment in higher education. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.


Example of an Essay Rubric


Compelling Evidence



Suggestive Evidence

No Evidence

Essay Content

Applicant’s essay provides clear examples of all intended attributes and experiences being measured. Response may address additional admission attributes or experiences not being intentionally measured. The applicant makes direct connections between their personal experiences and values and their intended role as a nursing student/nurse. Applicant’s response shows an explicit connection between their values and experiences and their intended practice.

Applicant’s essay provides clear examples of several of the intended attributes and experiences being measured, and may suggest evidence of additional attributes and experiences. Applicant’s response shows an understood connection between the attributes and their intended practice. Applicant may not be able to explicitly connect the attribute to intended practice based on current level of experience/understanding

Applicant’s essay demonstrates general connection to one or more of the intended attributes and experiences being measured. Applicant shows some evidence of the measured attributes and experiences, but not convincingly or to any great extent.

Applicant’s essay fails to address the intended attributes or experiences being measured, addresses them only superficially, or demonstrates values, attitudes, or behaviors inconsistent with the intended attributes.

Written Communication

The applicant’s essay:

·Responded directly to the question asked in the prompt.

·Was appropriately concise.

·Had a coherent beginning, middle, and end.

·Was free of spelling and grammatical errors.

·Was appropriate for the setting and audience.

The applicant’s essay:

·Responded to the question asked in the prompt.

·Was clear and coherent all the way through.

·Spelling and grammatical errors are infrequent and minor.

·Was appropriate for the setting and audience.

The applicant’s essay:

·Responded to the question asked in the prompt in a limited manner.

·Was mostly clear, may lack fully coherent structure.

·Had noticeable spelling and grammatical errors.

·May show evidence of disconnect from the intended setting and audience.

The applicant’s essay:

·Did not respond to the question in the prompt, or responded incompletely.

·Was unclear or disorganized.

·Had frequent spelling or grammatical errors.

·May be

inappropriately long or short.

·May be inappropriate for the setting and audience


List demonstrated or implied attributes                                                                                                                                               

Developed by the Indiana University East School of Nursing and Health Sciences, 2020.


Example of an Attribute Rubric


Attribute: Intellectual Curiosity

Intellectual Curiosity is defined as the tendency to want to know things, even if they are not immediately or obviously useful at the moment. It is being curious and eager to acquire new knowledge and to learn the explanations for things even when the applications of that new knowledge are not immediately apparent. Intellectually curious applicants have an interest in learning as an end in itself and are willing to explore beyond required understanding.


Compelling Evidence

Persuasive Evidence

Suggestive Evidence

No Evidence

Applicant’s response shows an explicit connection between the attribute and their intended practice.

Applicant’s response shows an understood connection between the attribute and their intended practice. Applicant may not be able to explicitly connect the attribute to intended practice based on current level of experience/understanding.

Applicant shows some indication of the connection between experience and lessons learned, but not convincingly or to any great extent

Applicant shows no or minimal connection between their experiences and lessons learned, or connection is demonstrated superficially.

For Attribute Intellectual Curiosity:


Applicant expresses a demonstrated interest in learning beyond immediate applications. Applicant is able to articulate a process for acquiring and applying new knowledge using a diverse range of reliable resources.




Applicant expresses an interest in learning beyond immediate applications. Applicant may not be able to clearly describe a consistent process for acquiring new knowledge, but indicates experience with doing so using reliable resources.




Applicant expresses interest in learning in general, but does not indicate a process for learning new information outside of prescribed settings (classroom, work, etc.). Student may describe superficial ways of gaining new information (Google, videos, etc.), and provide examples or details of how they may use that resource.




Applicant does not express an interest in learning information without an apparent connection to the current situation. Student may describe superficial ways of gaining new information (Google, videos, etc.) without describing how they might use such resources. 

Developed by the Indiana University East School of Nursing and Health Sciences, 2020.



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