The Waterloo School of Accounting and Finance (SAF) is redefining education to shape the future of business. With a world-class faculty, a wealth of experiential learning opportunities for students, and a 96% post-graduation employment rate, Waterloo SAF attracts many hopeful applicants each year. The challenge for their admissions team is how to identify which candidates will be most successful in the program.
“We've spent several years fine-tuning how we find and enroll the best applicants to our program,” shared Admissions Committee member Catherine Kwiecien. “Long ago, we recognized that grades are not the only factor and we sought out ways to assess our applicants more holistically.”
“Our first step was to include an in-person written assessment,” she continued. “However, the logistics around that day just became a little too overwhelming. We would have over well 2,000 visitors on campus, including the applicants themselves, as well as family members and moral supporters.”
“We saw value in assessing applicants’ written communication skills through candid responses rather than a traditional essay, but there was a significant financial and time cost on that day.”
“We started looking for another way of doing things," Kwiecien explained. "That's where Kira Talent came in.”
Making bias mitigation more accessible
“It’s very important to us that we make our admissions process as equitable and robust as we can,” shared Kwiecien. “Bias mitigation is a critical component to achieving that goal.”
"We hosted workshops for our staff and faculty volunteers to make everyone aware of the implications of bias and give them some guidance on best practices to reduce its influence on the evaluations," she shared. "However admissions bias is not our expertise. We felt that we could be doing more, if only we had the right tools.”
“With Kira, we’re confident that we're making the process as fair, as equitable, and as robust as we possibly can be.”
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Providing an exceptional admissions experience with fewer resources
“With Kira, we were able to take our original admissions process — which was costly and fairly labour-intensive — and recreate it, gathering the same valuable applicant insights but reducing the resources needed to deliver an exceptional applicant experience,” Kwiecien shared.
“We’re enrolling students who are better communicators and stronger problem solvers because we’re able to assess them on that within the admissions process.”
“We evaluate applicants using a combination of video and written responses in an Asynchronous Assessment with Kira," shared Kwiecien. "Once they’ve completed their assessment, we have two reviewers individually score each applicant. If there's a discrepancy between those two scores, we engage a third reviewer.”
“This scoring structure means that we're not just relying on one reviewer’s perspective on an applicant, which is one of the most effective methods of mitigating bias,” she explained. “However, like most programs of our size, we didn’t have the resources in-house to conduct reviews on that scale."
"We use Kira’s Reviewer Services to help us facilitate the equitable review we strive for but completed on a much shorter timeline than we would ever be able to achieve with our internal resources,” Kwiecien shared.
Reinvesting time saved to nurture top applicants
“With the time we save by having Reviewer Services supporting our process, our team is able to spend more time reaching out to prospective students.”
“When we make an admissions offer, we have the resources to create touchpoints with the applicants, strengthening that connection and helping them picture themselves as a UW student," Kwiecien explained. "We know that the sooner we can get that image in their minds, the more successful we are at enrolling them.”
“Working with Kira has amplified our admissions process and it certainly makes my job a lot easier,” she added. “The faculty members who are involved have been impressed with the platform, the integrity of the assessment, and what the process is achieving for our program both in terms of the students in classrooms and the graduates we’re putting in front of our co-op employers.”