Case Studies · 5 minute read

NYU SPS makes stronger admissions decisions with applicant insights delivered on demand

Needing to assess thousands of applicants on a tight timeline, NYU School of Professional Studies is using Kira’s Reviewer Services to make more informed decisions while saving 3,000 hours of work per cycle.


Gathering in-depth insight into thousands of applicants without the in-house resources needed to conduct interviews.

Key outcomes

Increased enrollment while saving over 3,000 hours of work per cycle.

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The NYU School of Professional Studies (NYU SPS) offers a wide variety of professional master's degree and undergraduate degree programs. From marketing and real estate to hospitality and sports management, the school’s mission is to give students the skills they need to build a successful career. 

In order to do that, NYU SPS needed a way to assess critical traits and skills during the admissions process that weren’t discernible through their written application. But with thousands of applicants each cycle, the admissions team didn’t have the capacity to conduct interviews for all of their applicants. 

Then in 2021, they found a solution with Reviewer Services in Kira Talent.

Scaling holistic review with Review Services

“Academics are a strong predictor of success, but they can’t tell you everything,” the Associate Dean of Enrollment Management and Student Success at NYU SPS, Larry Fillian, shared. “We needed a holistic review in order to evaluate key success factors such as communication skills and program fit.”

“Kira’s Asynchronous Assessment and Reviewer Services allow us to do that by giving us the bandwidth to interview every applicant without overwhelming our staff and faculty,” he explained. “Candidates submit their application through Slate. We collect resumes, essays, transcripts, and recommendation letters. If an applicant hasn’t previously attended an institution where the language of instruction was English, we also require them to submit a TOEFL®.” 

“The Kira assessment has fit seamlessly into this existing admissions process,” Fillian continued. “Applicants who have submitted their application through Slate receive an email invitation to complete an on-demand video assessment in Kira. Once completed, the assessment gets reviewed by Kira’s team of raters who are trained on our rubrics and then we receive the scores.”

Kira’s Reviewer Services gives you access to a team of 30,000 professional reviewers with experience scoring for the GRE®, TOEFL®, and Praxis® tests. Learn more >

“Prior to Kira, if an applicant didn’t meet the TOEFL benchmark we had them complete the Pearson VEPT assessment,” Fillian added. “Kira has eliminated that step because reviewers are able to do a secondary evaluation of English language proficiency within the video assessment.”

“We chose to have each of our applicants be evaluated by two reviewers and set a two to four-week time frame to receive the applicant results from Kira’s Reviewer Services team,” Fillian shared. 

“We had over 3,000 applicants complete a Kira assessment, and each review was delivered on time.”

Expanding a successful process to more programs

“With Kira, we’re making stronger and faster admission decisions because we have more data,” explained Fillian. “We’re getting a more holistic review of applicants and are gathering stronger data points that help us to better identify program fit.”

“We received record applications this year, with a 30% increase in domestic applicants and a 12% increase in international applicants,” he continued. 

“Even with all those extra candidates, we’ve managed to reduce our decision timeframe and get offers out to applicants faster. As a result, we’re seeing record enrollment.”

“We started with a pilot of the Kira process for our human resources and master’s programs,” Fillian explained. “That applicant volume gave us the opportunity to evaluate and tweak our process with Kira before expanding it across all the programs at the School of Professional Studies.”

“For the 2023 cycle, we’re expanding Kira to all of our programs,” he shared. “We’ll be reviewing just over 10,000 applicants across all of our programs using a standard set of questions and assessments. Even scaling to all our programs, our goal  of making more informed decisions and getting offers out to applicants faster will remain the same.”

“We’re now also going to use Kira’s Reviewer Services to read and evaluate our admissions essays,” Fillian added. “We estimate that this cycle Review Services will save us 3,000 hours of work.”

“Kira worked with us to ensure that their reviewers were aligned with our rubrics and scoring standards while putting protocols in place to ensure rater reliability,” Fillian added. 

“This allows us to make confident and informed admissions decisions and re-invest those time-savings into our recruitment efforts.”

“We know that building stronger relationships with applications throughout the process leads to better yield,” he continued. “So that’s where we want to focus our time and energy.”

Creating an engaging applicant experience

“Our faculty are really enjoying the process with Kira because they get a more comprehensive look into the incoming cohort which helps them better prepare to receive these students in the classroom,” Fillian shared. “Likewise, the applicants really enjoy Kira because they feel they’re able to show off more of themselves, as opposed to in a more traditional process.”

“We had a 96% applicant approval rating of the Kira experience.”

“A lot of programs are using Kira for their admissions processes, so there’s a word out there amongst prospective applicants that it's a positive experience rather than an intimidating one,” he added. “If our applicants had any questions or connection issues, the Kira team was on standby to help solve them, so our applicants felt taken care of. For this past cycle, Kira was able to solve 100% of applicant queries without our team needing to get involved.”

Setting up your admissions process for success

For the 2023 cycle, NYU School of Professional Studies is also incorporating Kira’s Advanced Insights tool into their admissions process, to study the correlation between AI personality assessment and student success.

“I’m a tech enthusiast,” Fillian shared. “I’m always interested in the latest in admissions technology. Advanced Insights will analyze applicants’ soft skills using their recorded Kira video responses.” 

“We’re excited about experimenting with the tool, tracking our successful admits and their success rates in their program, and then of course, in good higher education tradition, analyze the data to death,” he added. “I’m hopeful that we’ll identify predictors of student success.”

“I believe that the more data you can gather in admissions, the better,” Fillian continued. “Especially in light of the supreme court’s decision on affirmative action, we need more holistic data review.” 

“Having Kira in our admissions process is helping us achieve that,” he continued. “I often recommend the platform to other schools, telling them to follow our steps and start with a pilot. That way you can test it out, fine-tune the process with a smaller subset of applicants, and ultimately make a very informed decision when you expand across the rest of your programs. Plus, when those pilot programs are singing the praises of their new process, it will help the whole school get on board.”

Applicant insights delivered

Get applicant insights delivered by a team of professional raters on your timeline with Reviewer Services in Kira Talent.

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