Incorporating Holistic Review in Admissions Practices: Resources

A report recently released by Urban Universities for HEALTH found that 93% of the 40 dental schools that participated in the study self-reported using holistic review. The report also said the survey results reveal that the use of holistic admissions policies across health disciplines has an overall positive impact on class diversity, student success and academic outcomes.

This resources page was created in response to requests from ADEA members looking for information and guidance on developing or enhancing admissions policies, procedures and practices related to access and diversity goals. The resources provided below can facilitate constructive school-based dialogues that will lead to new and effective means of bringing individuals from every background into predoctoral, allied and advanced dental education, while remaining in compliance with the law. 

How recent rulings, such as Fisher v. the University of Texas at Austin and Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, will affect ADEA Member Institutions is not yet entirely clear, but these resources offer a wealth of information and guidance for updating or creating new holistic review admissions procedures in light of these and other cases. The resources provided here offer guidance; each dental school must set its own policies, procedures and practices and choose a means of recruiting and admitting students in keeping with its particular mission-based diversity goals.  

The number of resources may grow over time, based on the expressed needs of ADEA members. In addition, the resources will be updated as events warrant.  


July 2015
Race, Class, and College Access: Achieving Diversity in a Shifting Legal Landscape
On July 21, 2015 the American Council on Education (ACE), Pearson’s Center for College and Career Success, The Civil Rights Project at UCLA and the Lumina Foundation jointly released the first nationwide survey of institutional diversity strategies and admissions practices at four-year colleges and universities. The study aims were to: 1) determine which strategies these institutions are using to achieve diversity in the student body, 2) examine how legal challenges to race conscious admissions may have changed their outreach and admissions practices, and 3) how the research, legal and policy communities can assist colleges and universities in meeting their diversity goals.

December 2014 
Holistic admissions: How this can help when assessing potential dental professionals
ADEA President and CEO Rick Valachovic asserts that holistic admissions assess people fully and determines what they have to offer dentistry.

September 2014 
Holistic Admissions in the Health Professions: Findings from a National Survey
The extent to which holistic admissions practices are being used across health professions schools and the impact they have on outcomes is largely unknown. According to the Urban Universities for HEALTH, this UUH report is the first to examine nationwide the impact and use of holistic review for students pursuing careers in the health professions. A total of 104 universities in 45 states participated in the study by responding to an electronic survey, including 43 dental schools. 

July 2014 
Holistic Review - Selected Readings 
The provided resources are a selection of Journal of Dental Education articles relevant to holistic review. The list is not intended to be comprehensive, but rather an introduction to aid dental institutions with policies, procedures and practices related to admissions, review of applicants’ credentials, and recruiting diverse applicants. 

June 2014 
ADEA Associated American Dental Schools Application Service (ADEA AADSAS) Holistic Cover Sheet
The ADEA AADSAS Holistic Coversheet, new in the 2012-2013 application cycle and still in use today, is a page to the application that is provided to students’ designated dental schools. The ADEA AADSAS Application Coversheet provides a quick reference to a student’s application by displaying selected highlights of the student’s background, experiences, and achievements as well as an outline of academic attainments. The coversheet promotes the concept of a holistic review which considers both qualitative and quantitative of a student’s application. 

April 2013 
“Holistic Review” Podcast 
In this podcast, Jacinta Gauda speaks with Dr. Marc Nivet, Ed.D. (Chief Diversity Officer, Association of American Medical Colleges) and Dr. W. David Brunson, DDS (Associate Director, Center for Equity and Diversity, American Dental Education Association) about the history, theory, and practice of Holistic Review. Holistic Review is a flexible way of looking at an applicant’s capabilities, a method of assessing the whole person and how he or she might contribute value as a medical student and future physician. It allows institutions to dig deeper into the background of the applicant so as to ensure not only that he or she has the academic readiness to be successful in medical or dental school, but also has the personality and drive and ability to comport him or herself as a culturally competent physician or dentist. 

Fall 2012 
Implications of the MCAT Changes for Other Health Professions
In this issue of Peer Review, Richard W. Valachovic, executive director, American Dental Education Association, provide a perspective on the implications that the new Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) will have on the health professions. Valachovic argues that not only will the new MCAT force changes in the preparation and expectation of students applying to medical school, but also have a collateral impact on students applying to other health professions. 

July 9, 2011 
Holistic Admissions: The Dentistry Perspective 
This ADEA presentation was given at the following 2011 American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy Annual Meeting session: 

Admissions Workshop: Holistic Admissions–What’s it all about? 
Presenters from the medical and dental health education professions will discuss holistic admissions programs from both the institutional and the national level. Current practices will be described along with time for Q&A. 

November 2009 
Access and Diversity Toolkit
Features 10 tools to help professionals develop and implement student-related access and diversity policies, including “Admission: Exploring Key Strategies for Achieving Success” (Tool 6), (pp. 22-13). 

September 2009 
How to Use Holistic Review of Applicants to Professional School in the Admissions Process 
This ADEA talk was offered at the following National Association of Medical Minority Educators Annual Conference session: 

“Holistic Approach to the Admissions Process”

  • Developing and implementing a holistic approach to admissions
  • Discussing the selected considerations for admissions policies (to ensure compliance with the Supreme Court rulings) 
  • Collecting and analyzing the admissions data 
  • Recommendations for change and improvement 

Summer 2009 
ADEA Admissions Committee Workshop
ADEA’s holistic review workshops aid dental institutions in addressing and reviewing admission policies, procedures and practices. The workshops, conducted by trainers from the ADEA Section on Financial Aid Administration and Student Affairs (AFASA) with ADEA staff, are intended to provide technical assistance to the entire admissions committee and other key leaders. Workshop content is tailored to the specific needs of admissions committees and institutions. This workshop was offered at Western University of Health Sciences College of Dental Medicine.