Increasing cohort diversity by 62% at UT Health San Antonio Nursing

After noticing that in-person interviews were leading applicants to withdraw from the admissions process, UT Health San Antonio School of Nursing knew they needed to move their interviews online. Discover how their new process with Kira Talent has driven a 62% increase in cohort diversity.

For the University of Texas Health San Antonio School of Nursing virtual interviewing is hardly a new concept. In 2017, the university decided to change the way they evaluated applicants for admissions. Where their previous process focused on traditional metrics, such as GPA and test scores, UT Health San Antonio Nursing’s new holistic admissions process incorporated holistic elements, including an in-person interview, in order to generate a broader assessment of applicants’ abilities. 

However, when the first cycle saw many applicants declining the invitation to interview, there was a significant decrease in diverse applicants enrolled in the program, and the admissions team knew something had to change.

“My first directive when I joined UT Health San Antonio Nursing was to find a platform that would allow us to conduct our interviews online,” shared Henry Cantu, Director of Admissions and Special Programs. “That’s when I discovered Kira Talent.”

In the 3 years since switching to Kira Talent, the school of nursing has seen a 62% increase in the number of Hispanic and Latino students who enrolled in graduate programs.

With an approximately 90% interview completion rate in Kira Talent, UT Health San Antonio Nursing has experienced first-hand how a process that is more accessible to applicants can increase engagement and keep the school top-of-mind for applicants.

Learn more about how:

  1. UTHSA increased diversity in graduate and undergraduate nursing programs
  2. What UTHSA reviewers and applicants thought of Kira Talent

An inside look at UT Health San Antonio Nursing

Offering ten graduate-level programs, including a post-masters DNP and a Ph.D. in nursing science, and two undergraduate-level programs, the school of nursing at UT Health San Antonio receives nearly 1000 applications per year and enrolls just over 500 students.

With their old process, UT Health San Antonio Nursing offered admissions based entirely on traditional criteria such as GPA, test scores, and prerequisites. 

“In 2017, our faculty and admissions team voted to begin using a more holistic approach in our evaluation and review of applicants,” Cantu shared.

Discover how your program can easily incorporate holistic best practices into your admissions process

By gathering multiple data points and assigning weights to each component of the application, the school of nursing generates an overall application score that provides a more comprehensive view of an applicant’s abilities and potential. 

Using NursingCAS (Centralized Application Service), the admissions team collects applicants’ initial applications as well as supporting documents such as official transcripts, test scores and letters of recommendation. 

“What we’re looking for in that initial application screening is for applicants to have met our minimum admission requirements in terms of GPA, test scores, etc.,” explained Cantu. “Once we’ve completed that initial review successful applicants are invited to interview.”

Reducing barriers for applicants

For the first cycle under the new holistic process, applicants were invited to attend their interviews in-person and on-campus.

“We quickly discovered that it’s not only very difficult to find faculty who could commit the time required to participate in the in-person interview process, but that applicants were actually declining our invitation to interview because of the travel requirement,” Cantu shared.

“In hindsight, this makes a lot of sense,” he continued. “In addition to paying for the travel, hotel, and everything else involved needed for the trip, many of our applicants are working nurses so it’s difficult for them to take time off work.” 

“We found that we were losing some very good applicants as a result of our in-person interviewing process.”

A loss that was notably affecting the diversity of the nursing school’s candidates. 

“We saw a significant drop in diverse students admitted to the 2017 cohort,” explained Cantu. “We credit that entirely to the challenge of travelling to campus for an interview.”

“That’s when we decided to move our interviews online,” he continued. 

“Here we were, building and investing in a holistic reviewing process, in the hopes of engaging and enrolling more diverse students and the format through which we were delivering the interviews was actually creating a barrier for them.” 

Learn more about how barriers to accessibility might be blocking applicants from applying to your school

Creating opportunities for a more diverse range of applicants

“Once we implemented Kira Talent, we immediately saw the impact that it had, not only on the number of diverse applicants who were applying and completing their interviews but also on the number of diverse students who ultimately enrolled in our programs,” Cantu shared. 

Between the fall of 2018 and the fall of 2020, UT Health San Antonio School of Nursing saw a 62% increase in the number of Hispanic and Latino students enrolled in their graduate programs. 

“We are in a part of the country that has a large Latino population and prior to Kira that demographic was not proportionately reflected in our student population,” Cantu explained. “We’re very excited to see that those numbers have gone up each and every year since we implemented our interviewing process with Kira Talent. That has been a huge benefit and a huge impact for us.” 

Seeing the success of the holistic admissions process within the graduate programs, the school of nursing decided to replicate it in their undergraduate admissions process.

“It didn’t take long to see a similar effect with our undergraduate cohorts as what we had seen with our graduate cohorts,” shared Cantu. 

“Within the first two years, we saw a 28% increase in Hispanic and Latino students and a 5% increase in multi-racial students enrolled in our BSN programs.” 

“Being that our primary goal with implementing a holistic admissions process and bringing Kira Talent into our process was to increase diversity in our programs, we are exceptionally pleased with these numbers,” Cantu added.

Creating a better experience for faculty and reviewers

“When we first raised the possibility of moving towards this holistic process, we faced a little trepidation from our BSN faculty,” Cantu shared. “Many of them were more comfortable with the idea of in-person interviews and wanted to implement the holistic process in that format.” 

“But after speaking with our graduate faculty and hearing how pleased they were with the Kira Talent platform they were won over.” 

Instead of having reviewers commit a whole day for interviews, UT Health San Antonio gives them two weeks to evaluate and score the asynchronous video assessments.

Discover how Missouri Nursing saved 200+ hours by transitioning their interviews onto Kira

“Our graduate faculty had a huge influence on our undergraduate faculty being able to visualize what Kira could bring to our admissions process,” Cantu continued. “They value the fact that they can do that on their own time, instead of having to block out dedicated hours on campus.”

Although UT Health San Antonio initially saw similar trepidation from their applicants, they’ve since found that applicants favour the process over in-person formats offered by other programs. 

“What I hear every year directly from our applicants, is that they find the Kira platform to be very user-friendly,” shared Cantu. “The technology is easy to use and it takes away the stress and anxiety that they would have during an in-person interview. The result is that they can focus more on the questions at hand and respond to the best of their ability, giving our admissions team a more authentic representation of their talents.” 

“Applicants really appreciate the opportunity to share with us who they are through the Kira platform.”

Read what applicants really thought about their experience with Kira Talent

“Since day one, the whole Kira team has provided a level of support that is so valuable,” expressed Cantu. “They’ve been very available, not only to me, not only to our faculty but also to our applicants. It gives us confidence in our interviewing process knowing that, whenever a question might arise, we can rely on that level of responsiveness and support from Kira.”

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