Category Archives: Trends

May 13, 2015

Medical School Curriculum Changes

Prospective students in upcoming classes for medical school are going to have a significant change in curriculum than their previous peers. Many medical schools are beginning to take into account the undeniable fact that medical training for doctors should change as the practice of medicine is changing.

Typical medical school curriculum usually involves teaching based around  Abraham Flexner‘s once-famous ’2 Plus 2 Model’, which involves two years in the classroom and two years shadowing in hospitals. The curriculum for medical school is now starting to include classes meant to build communication skills, teamwork, and adaptability to change. The new MCAT makeover released last month, April 2015, has included testing for similar qualities/traits as well. These medical school curriculum changes are going to be taking place at many medical schools, including the University of Michigan Medical School.

Dr. Raj Mangrulkar, the Associate Dean for medical student education at the University of Michigan Medical School states, “Flexner did a lot of great things, but we’ve learned a lot and now we’re absolutely ready for a new model.”

The University of Michigan Medical School is implementing many changes to adapt to a newer, more innovative model. They are including classes within their curriculum based solely on improving communication skills, by giving negotiation scenarios to students to compromise and decide upon solutions with their fellow peers.

“Listed with the new prerequisites is a group of Core Competencies. The four competencies are analytical thought and problem-solving skills, written and verbal communication, mathematical/statistical analysis and application of hypothesis-driven methods of research.” Mangrulkar states, “These competencies began as expectations for residents, but have now trickled down to the pre-medical level.”

Along with the University of Michigan Medical School, many other medical schools have already began to look for those qualities in students and incorporate the search into their admissions process. Medical schools are searching for students who can exhibit not only top grades in school and scores on their MCAT, but also for students who exhibit teamwork, compassion, and communication skills within their activities and experiences. A well-rounded student who has the ability to display intelligence and communication skills, among other traits, is ideally the type of applicant that medical schools would like to extend offers to.

Evaluating applicants based on multiple variables and qualities can become difficult for schools, especially when trying to keep information on each applicant in order. ZAP Solutions admissions software, AMP, has the ability to simplify the process for admissions offices, keeping all student information securely placed in one system. ZAP has been continuously innovating AMP to incorporate new ways to evaluate these changes. AMP has also given schools the capability to use standard interviewing, MMI interviewing, or a hybrid combination. Each step of the admissions process is within AMP, making it easier, faster, and more effective for admissions officers to go through the process from the initial/secondary application to screening, interviewing, reviewing, and matriculation with each applicant. The goal of AMP is to customize the software specifically to each school’s process, growing and innovating with the school through their changes.

How do you think medical schools will continue to incorporate the new changes into their admissions process and curriculum?

March 26, 2015

A Shortage Of 90,000 Doctors Expected By 2025


Recently there has been a lot of talk about the lack of students enrolling in medical studies. The medical school association fears that if this trend continues, we will see a shortage of 90,000 doctors by the year 2025.

Perhaps the greatest foreseen shortfall will occur in the demand for surgeons.  In particular, surgeons who treat diseases more commonly found in older adults, such as cancer.  ”An increasingly older, sicker population, as well as people living longer with chronic diseases, such as cancer, is the reason for the increased demand,” Darrell G. Kirch, the AAMC’s president and chief executive, told reporters during a telephone news briefing.

The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) has feared a doctor shortage for the past few years, which is why they have been making efforts to support legislation that would funnel more federal money toward its members.  These members include 400 of the nation’s teaching hospitals and 141 medical schools.  The legislation – Resident Physician Shortage Reduction Act of 2011 – was proposed for a second time in 2013 and calls for Congress to provide $1 billion a year to support 3,000 more medical residents at hospitals.

Since 1965, Congress has used Medicare and Medicaid to assist in funding the one-year residencies that 28,000 medical school graduates complete each year at the nation’s top teaching hospitals.  On average, it takes about $152,000 to train a resident and the government reimburses hospitals for a portion of that cost through payments in a program called Graduate Medical Education (GME).  In 2012, $5 was spent on GME, which was solely funded by Medicare, according to the Institute of Medicine.  A fact sheet accompanying the estimates says that since 1997, Medicare support for doctors in training has not grown, despite an increase in the number of residents.

Criticized for “wasteful spending” and “lack of accountability”, the AAMC is having difficulty arguing their case to unfreeze GME funds.  Teaching hospitals must report back on how the money is used and could lose it if their residents drop out or don’t pass their boards.  Indirect payments, on the other hand, require no reporting or performance-based standards.

Although it is difficult to know exactly how teaching hospitals are spending the indirect payments, the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MPAC), which regularly reviews aspects of Medicare in order to advise Congress, has found that $3.5 billion of these payments are being spent on things unrelated to the training of new doctors. MPAC advises the money be rerouted to a transparent fund that would reward the most productive residency programs and thus put the funds to their best use.

Over the next 10 years, the number of Americans over the age of 65 is expected to increase by 36 percent.  In addition, 32 million younger Americans will become newly insured as a result of Obamacare.  The scary part is that the number of doctors to treat those Americans will grow by only 7 percent, according to the AAMC.

Access to care could get worse for some people before it gets better, said Dr. Andrew Morris-Singer, president and co-founder of Primary Care Progress, a nonprofit in Cambridge, Mass. “If you don’t have a primary care provider,” he said, “you should find one soon.”

AMP Paperless Admissions is helping medical training programs across the U.S. maximize their enrollment process; further encouraging students to pursue a career in the medical field.

November 12, 2014

AACRAO: Predict Performance with Evidence Based Research

aacraoA few of our team members from ZAP Solutions attended the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers (AACRAO) SEM Conference this past week in Los Angeles.

AACRAO is a professional organization of personnel working in college and university admissions, academic records, and enrollment services. The AACRAO SEM Conference is an interesting and affluent event that brings together college enrollment management and admissions professionals from institutions throughout the country to collaborate with other individuals to discuss coordinating campus-wide efforts to ensure the success of students, from initial contact until graduation. The AACRAO SEM Conference had workshops and sessions discussing the creation of effective enrollment management plans to lead campus strategic planning efforts and improve student access and success.

One of the sessions that I attended was entitled, “Predicting Performance: using evidence based research and analytics to select best fit applicants.” It was presented by Dr. Jim Lloyd from the University of Florida College of Veterinary School, Coretta Patterson from Michigan State University College of Veterinary Medicine, and Hilda Mejia Abreu, a former employee of Michigan State University. The goal behind the study was to look at the datasets of accepted students to see how their traditional and non-traditional factors correlated with their academic success.

The session was extremely informative, providing research results that they took from admitted students from 2000 to 2006 at the Michigan State University College of Veterinary Medicine. The study used datasets from the admissions office and the student’s curriculum to compare both traditional and non-traditional characteristics. Traditional characteristics included GPA and GRE test scores, while non-traditional characteristics consisted of race/ethnicity, state, gender, age, residency, prior degree, and interview score. Using both traditional and non-traditional characteristics provided the opportunity for a more holistic admissions process in order to see if either type of characteristic was predictive of academic performance as measured by either cumulative clinical and didactic GPA.

In the research study, there were a few different types of studies that were reviewed throughout the session that were used to help evaluate the results. The studies consisted of the Astin I-E-O Model and the 2004 Sedlacek Non-cognitive Variables Model.

To what extent did traditional and non-traditional characteristics contribute to the prediction of the cumulative clinical GPA?

Research from the study showed that there were certain non-traditional and traditional characteristics that were the most predictive of the student’s academic success or cumulative clinical GPA, including the GRE Quantitative (traditional) and the interview score (non-traditional). The Accreditation Service will look at the school’s admissions process and give suggestions on what should be done, not what must be done. This means that their recommendations are solely suggestions, not mandatory requests. It is up to the institution to review their goals and implement the changes. This research study helps show the importance of a holistic admissions process that looks at more than just the applicant’s test scores and traditional characteristics.

Lessons Learned from the Research Study

  • Admissions process selection and goals should be defined and aligned with the mission and goals of institution and profession.

In the field of veterinary medicine, people skills are en extremely important need in veterinarians. Veterinarians must not only connect with animals but the humans that are at the end of the leash. People skills are needed in many fields of work, but it is particularly important in the medicine field due to the usually serious and sensitive nature of a patient’s visit. More often than not, grades and scores are viewed as the only important factor in finding a good doctor and the experience as a whole is often forgotten as a significant necessity.  This is a topic that has been the focus in the past year  when discussing the importance of people skills in doctors. The new MCAT test coming out in April 2015 is addressing this issue by including more questions in the MCAT test related to the student’s people and social science skills.

  • Complete an analysis of admissions variables and curricular performance completion as each semester concludes

Reporting and tracking the progress at the end of each semester will help to continuously update the admissions process as the time sees fit.

  • Regularly export data sets on performance to SPSS or another tool for easy mining for future use

Even if the data is not evaluated at that point, it is critical to keep data for future analysis and reporting.  Data analytics are essential for admissions offices to see what variables and factors are working the best for their institution and incoming class.

  • Establish a scholarly research agenda

Scheduled research studies can help to consistently analyze the data of your institution and applicant pool to confirm if your school’s admissions process is working towards your institution’s mission and goals.

  • Practice holistic admissions

The benefits of holistic admissions has been noted by many institutions more recently over the past five years. Looking at all aspects of the applicant will only help admissions officers to better select the applicants that will work best for their school.

  • Implement both traditional and non-traditional components in review process

As shown in this research study, both traditional and non-traditional components are both useful in predicting academic success. Many schools are taking the initiative to focus on both traditional and non-traditional components when admitting applicants into their programs. This does however lengthen the process and adds time to the already complex process of selecting future students. In efforts to maximize efficiency and create a more dedicated and observant process, many schools are turning to admissions software to organize, track, and assist with the entire enrollment process. Enrollment management software, such as AMP, are saving institutions money and time by holding the entire process in one place. By utilizing a centralized management system, admissions staff are able to easily, seamlessly and securely manage the student lifecycle from prospect to alumni, enabling schools to turn complex data into business intelligence and choose the candidates who are the very best fit for  their program.

 How is your institution selecting your admissions process?

July 23, 2014

University of California Logo Redesign Controversy

In 2013, the University of California rolled out a modernized logo developed by an in-house design team. It was a minimalist design, featuring a “C” nested inside a shield-shaped “U” and featuring bright, bold colors.


This lighthearted new logo was meant to be used in marketing and website capacities, while the traditional university crest would remain on official school documentation and letterheads.  “They wanted something that would reflect the innovation, the character of California — just more modern, user-friendly,” said Dianne Klein of UC’s Office of the President. “That’s not to take away from the gravitas of the original seal.” Fast Company praised the redesign, saying that the new logo had “surfer charm.”  To quote the school, it is “boldly Californian.” According to the Creative Director, Vanessa Correa, “It’s meant to be scalable, flexible, dynamic, and adaptable; something that would let us talk to our diverse audiences while maintaining recognizability.”

However, the implementation of the new logo did not go as smoothly as the creative team at University of California expected. Backlash and criticism came almost immediately. People started saying that the logo reminded them of a loading icon, a flushing toilet, that it was unprofessional, ugly, childish, trendy, and amateurish. An online petition was started in protest of the new logo, demanding that it be taken down – the petition received more than 54,000 signatures.

The backlash became more extreme as members of the creative team were targeted with insults and threats, a point that was addressed by the creators of the petition, “The vitriol and personal attacks being sent to some of the team that helped to design the new monogram is not okay. They care deeply about the university and are greatly invested in ensuring its success. They don’t deserve anger, threats and insults directed at them.” In an open letter to UC President Udof, Gavin Newsom, a member of the Board of Regents at UC, stated:

“Clearly the new logo for the University, even in its limited use, has backfired… it appears the new logo fails to respect the history and the prestige of University of California En [sic] only a few days, almost 50,000 students, alumni and Californians across the state believe so strongly that the logo fails to represent the institution they are so proud of, they have signed a petition calling for its removal… It bears noting that tuition at the University of California has more than doubled in recent years…Perhaps now is the time to return to the use of the old logo and allow the University community a cooling off period to concentrate on the long-term health of the University.”

In response to the petition and the widespread media attention as a result of the backlash, the University of California has backpedaled and removed the new logo from all web, marketing, and merchandise. In a statement, Jason Simon, the director of UC marketing communications stated;

“UC Community, Over the past week it has become clear that the University of California systemwide monogram recently created is a source for great debate, dialogue, and division. In short, it’s too much of a distraction from our broader effort to communicate UC’s value and vital contributions to Californians, and so we intend to suspend use of the new monogram…  there are a few things that remain clear—the UC community is passionate in its support of the system as a whole, believes any new directions should reflect the tradition, prestige and import of both higher education broadly…We commit to respecting that feedback in determining a path forward as these issues are revisited.”

So, the new logo is gone and the dissenters have won. What can other schools learn from this debacle?

  • First, schools should keep in mind that any sweeping rebranding project will face intense scrutiny from alumni, students, and the design community.
  • Second, logos for higher education shouldn’t aim to be fun, modern, or lighthearted – this doesn’t work well for an institution that also attempts to be timeless, serious, and prestigious.
  • Third, changing a logo in a drastic manner will have drastic consequences. Instead, schools can look to nip & tuck their current logos so that they are adaptable for implementation at a variety of sizes. The biggest mistake that UC made was to seemingly abandon a logo that already had over 100 years of history, emotions, and context behind it.
July 1, 2014

Adjusting to post-recession realities in higher education

For the past 10 years, college enrollment rates have been on a roller coaster ride. With record high enrollment rates followed by record drops in enrollment, it’s no wonder that some schools are struggling with staying on budget and fully enrolled amidst a sluggish post-recession economy.

In 2008, enrollment rates for people aged 18-24 grew to a record high of 40%.  This enrollment boost was the result of the convergence of several factors. First, a population spike meant that a record number of students (3.3 million) graduated in 2007, then a higher percentage of those students proceeded directly to college, and finally the economic downturn and labor market crash meant a greater motivation for high school graduates to earn a degree. According to a Pew trend report, the majority of this enrollment boom was made up of minority students attending community colleges, reflecting both a demographic shift in the population and the deterioration in the earning power of teens and young adults.

Colleges and universities had nothing to complain about when they experienced a sudden increase in applicants in 2008. When a school receives more applications, they can also reject more applicants, which helps to boost rankings because the school then appears more selective.

Unfortunately, the 2008 enrollment boom was just a flash in the pan. The landscape has changed drastically during the Great Recession.

Six years later, colleges are struggling with issues of under-enrollment and the prospect of more lean years in the future. The applicant pool began to shrink after the big rush to school in 2007-8. The shrinking applicant pool is proving to be a long-term trend. After the huge size of the 2007 high school class,  K-12 classrooms are showing a downward growth trend. This downward growth is exacerbated by the state of the economy. “Enrollment tends to level off or fall when the economy is improving,” says Terry Hartle of the American Council on Education. “Given how much enrollment surged during the economic downturn, a reduction was inevitable.” Within these smaller applicant pools, colleges and universities will be competing fiercely to attract those students who have to ability to pay in full.

In addition to the demographic trends at play, a value shift is also taking place in reaction to the shaky economy. As reported in the results of a Sallie Mae and Ipsos Survey on Inside Higher Ed, people are now less willing to page huge sums of money for schooling. Sarah Ducich, one of the study’s authors, concludes, “The study highlighted that since the economic downturn in 2008, higher education consumers have been more receptive to lower cost alternatives such as community colleges or colleges closer to home in order to avoid the cost of living on campus… Even though college costs continue to increase, the amount that families are spending is holding steady, meaning they’re making choices in a mostly cost-conscious construct…”

These gloomy trends are not necessarily going to impact every school; some programs are so desirable and their endowments so large that they might never see a substantial drop off in profits. Smaller private schools, on the other hand, are already feeling the pinch. Private colleges are generally more expensive, dependent upon tuition revenues, with less name recognition, smaller endowments, and narrower profit margins. As a result, smaller schools are already having trouble covering budgets and enrollment goals.

Some schools are getting ahead of the problem with cost cutting and revenue-building measures:

With demographics against schools and consumers less likely to accept continued tuition hikes, there are rumblings of a sea change in higher education. Houghton University President Shirley Mullen spoke commented, “I don’t believe there is any going back… I think whatever happens going forward is something different than we’ve seen before.”

March 25, 2014

Competency Based Financial Aid

Not long ago, we reported on the Carnegie Foundation’s announcement to reevaluate the Credit Hour unit of academic measure. It has been speculated that the Carnegie Foundation will begin to shift away from time-based measures in favor of competency-based units of learning. While the results of the Carnegie Foundation’s study won’t be expected for years, the Department of Education is introducing pathways for utilizing competency measures in financial aid reward packages.

financial-aid-101Competency-based programs in the US began at Excelsior College (formerly known as Regent’s College). Introduced in the 1970′s to benefit homemakers, returning veterans, and adults looking to further their education, Excelsior offered associate’s degrees based on standardized tests and credit transfer. The model spread to other institutions, and today there are more than 20 schools that currently use or are implementing competency-based programs. These programs can award degrees based on a number of factors including testing, clinical observation, portfolio reviews, and other methods that cater to the field of study under review.

While these programs have been widely accepted, the Department of Education historically had no way of incorporating competency credits into the process of awarding federal financial aid. But on March 19, 2013, the Department of Education announced the amendment of the Higher Education Reconciliation Act of 2005 to allow for the consideration of competency-based direct assessments of learning in lieu of credit hours for financial aid. This means that competency-based programs will no longer have to convert their learning assessments into credit hours and eliminates the dubious estimation of “seat time” in measuring learning in these cases.

It should be noted that these measures have not yet been tested in practice, and that the Department of Education is keeping the dialogue open with colleges and universities. Sylvia Manning, president of the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, a regional accreditor, said, “Experience will show how workable this process is.”

For a school looking towards non-traditional admissions procedures, a non-traditional admissions software is a very important tool. AMP paperless admissions offers software built to suit your specific admissions needs, and their technical analysts can help to advise your admissions office on best practices for non-traditional admissions requirements.

March 10, 2014

Rethinking the Credit Hour

In 2013, the Carnegie Foundation announced plans to reevaluate the United States’ standard of measuring learning – the “credit hour.”

You might be surprised to learn that the credit hour was never intended to measure student learning. Andrew Carnegie invented the credit hour in the early 1900′s as a way to create a pension system for college professors. Under Carnegie’s new credit hour system, professors were considered full time if they taught in the classroom for a minimum of 12 hours per week in a 15 week semester. But a few decades after the credit hour pension system was put into place, colleges swelled with veterans of WWII. Universities needed a method for measuring classroom “seat time” and the credit hour was the most convenient way to track student progress. It soon became the national standard for determining the amount of learning that a student received.

Using a unit that was never intended to measure learning has many drawbacks. First, credit hours aren’t a standard unit to measure competency; they are simply a measure of hours spent in the classroom. There is no way of determining if credits at one school will deliver the equivalent amount of learning as the same course at another school. One college might give a science course a weight of 3 credit hours – but those credits won’t necessarily be accepted by another school. Schools simply don’t trust the credit system beyond their own internal standards because there are no external standards to measure the credit hour. Technically, grades are supposed to be the external standard for measuring competency but grade inflation is widespread, exacerbating the problem. For students who transfer schools, this results in difficulties meeting course requirements and wasted money on credits that don’t transfer.

Another drawback to the credit hour is the recent trend towards online learning. Measuring classroom time seems a little silly when there is no classroom, doesn’t it? But online course offerings have little choice but to measure in credit hours if they want to give their students credit. This has led to abuses of the credit hour system. In November 2012, the Chronicle of Higher Education published a damning report about an obscure online college that offered 3 college credits for 10 days of online classes. Their highly questionable courses were especially attractive for student athletes. “You jump online, finish in a week and a half, get your grade posted, and you’re bowl-eligible,” says one Big Ten academic adviser. Abuses like this further dilute the shaky legitimacy of the credit hour.

Another problem with the credit hour is that it doesn’t take into account independent learning opportunities outside of the Ivory Tower. Employees can gain valuable high-level knowledge while on the job without ever setting foot into a classroom, but there is no way for them to actually measure the level of the skills they have gained. With the democratization of education through non-credit bearing MOOCs, the credit hour falls further into obscurity. The value of MOOCs will no doubt be closely tied with the quality of curriculum, not the number of “classroom” hours arbitrarily attached to courses. It seems that the solution to this problem lies somewhere in creating a standard for competency across many disciplines; a baseline for informing students what they need to know in order to be successful in their chosen field.

With more than 100 years of using the credit hour, changes will be slow to arrive and difficult to implement. Hopefully the Carnegie Foundation will introduce a new method for measuring student learning that can be equated across all schools and learning styles. In the meantime, the credit hour will remain king as the standard for measuring student learning for graduation and for admissions.

Can you imagine a world without the credit hour?

March 4, 2014

Shaking Up the Status Quo of Med School Admissions with Holistic Review

Amidst a looming doctor shortage, the use of holistic review in medical admissions is gaining traction. Holistic review is a an approach to admissions wherein the applicant’s non-cognitive attributes such as personality, empathy, investment in learning, and confidence are reviewed alongside the typical cognitive focused admissions criterion such as test scores, letters of recommendation, and GPA. In taking a step back to look at the applicant as a whole person instead as a set of applicant data, medical schools hope to increase student diversity and engagement, and to ensure the quality and preparedness of future physicians.

Holistic review has been implemented in a handful of medical admissions departments as throughout the country and the Association of American Medical Colleges has shown its’ support by introducing an initiative to explore the topic.  This initiative aims to develop best practices in implementing holistic review in medical schools through inter-institutional collaboration, professional support, and research. For the AAMC, the end goal of holistic review is to ” increase the presence of individuals from underrepresented populations in medicine.”

As defined by the AAMC, holistic review is

“…a flexible, highly-individualized process by which balanced consideration is given to the multiple ways in which applicants may prepare for and demonstrate suitability as medical students and future physicians. Under a holistic review framework, candidates are evaluated by criteria that are institution-specific, broad-based, and mission-driven and that are applied equitably across the entire candidate pool.”

Holistic review offers many benefits for schools that aim to achieve focused changes within their applicant pool. Boston University School of Medicine implemented holistic review in 2003 and later found favorable results in their medical school classes; while standard measures of success (such as test scores and GPA) remained about the same as previous years, they found that diversity increased as well as overall student engagement, both in the classroom and outside.

“The general sense of the faculty, particularly those who teach our small-group problem seminars, is that the students are more collegial, more supportive of one another, more engaged in the curriculum, and more open to new ideas and to perspectives different from their own.” (Witzburgh & Sondheimer)

When considering a jump to holistic review, medical school admissions offices must first carefully evaluate best practices for holistic review, their programs’s mission, and the school’s long term admissions goals. It is important to approach this change with preparedness in mind. AMP paperless admissions is the perfect software tool to handle your new admissions process because their development team recently custom-built a module specifically for a holistic admissions workflow. Very few admissions software companies cater to new trends in admissions, but AMP paperless admissions has always been on the cutting edge of building tools for new admissions processes.

February 25, 2014

MOOCs: The Democratization of Education

On the tip of many tongues in the world of higher education: MOOCs.

You might be wondering: What the heck is a MOOC? Put simply, it is a “Massive Open Online Course,” a class offered via the internet for free and is available to anyone with an internet connection. A small number of courses have a payment option to qualify the student for actual college credit upon completion. However, the goal of MOOCs is not to earn a degree. It is more focused on providing individual course instruction to a large audience.

While the concept of open & universally available higher education has been around for decades, the implementation of online open education began in 2008 with a course on Connectivism instructed by Dave Cormier, which was presented to 25 paying students at the University of Manitoba and 2,300 students online. Ever since the first MOOC, the concept has been adopted by many universities and professors. It has also spawned the creation of fully online MOOC “universities” such as the University of The People and Coursera.

MOOC: Democratization of EducationWhile students in a MOOC have less of an opportunity to interact with their instructor, they are still highly interactive. The courses involve more than simply watching an instructor lecture via video stream; they also include interactive online assignments and the opportunity to connect with fellow students. At Coursera, they are dedicated to improving the interactivity of their educational platform. According to Daphne Koller, a co-founder of Coursera, “We have devoted extensive attention to assessment and feedback. We believe that exercises where students receive meaningful feedback are a critical part of the learning experience. If you don’t get feedback, you may not complete the work or learn the material properly.”

With some speculate that MOOCs foretell the death of higher education, this doesn’t seem to be the case. Tom Katsouleas,  Dean of Duke University’s Pratt School of Engineering predicts that they will have the opposite effect and will spur schools to improve their reputations by offering high-quality free courses from talented teachers, thereby increasing recognition and attracting students to their degree programs. Additionally, MOOCs aren’t cannibalizing the demand for undergraduate education because they tend to attract working professionals. With that in mind, he speculates that Master’s programs will be the first to feel the pinch from MOOCs. Says Katsouleas, “In our visits to corporate partners like Apple and Cisco, it was clear that most top engineers and executives are using MOOCs for their lifelong learning in a way that some used to use corporate sponsored masters programs.” Of course, a MOOC education could never replace the prestige and pay raise that often comes with a Masters degree.

And although MOOCs are relatively new to the tech world, their popularity is massive. Since launching in January, Coursera has attracted 1.7 million users. Increasingly, top-tier schools are jumping on the bandwagon and offering select courses for free online (but not for credit). This includes Harvard, Yale, MIT, and more – and where the elite universities go, many will follow. With this educational medium still in its’ infancy, we will be watching the evolution of MOOCs closely in the coming years.

Has your school considered offering a MOOC to the public?

February 18, 2014

Admissions Trends to Watch in 2014

2014With 2013 behind us, it is time to start planning for 2014′s admissions season. By following the ever-changing world of higher education admissions trends, you can ensure that your admissions staff is working to their full potential and that your department is selecting the best fit candidates.

A Focus on Competency

Competency based education gives credit for mastery of skills and real-life work experience. “We actually measure what students know and can do, not how long they’ve spent in a seat,” says Robert Mendenhall, president of Western Governors University (Quinton). A focus on competency credit will help President Obama to achieve his goal of reducing college debt for current and future students.

Next-level Data and Analytic Tools

For years now, an increasing number of schools have been making the switch to admissions software solutions such as AMP online admissions. Analyzing reports on applicant data has become the norm for a well-rounded admissions process. Now, schools are taking that data to the next level and looking for long-term trends in the admissions world. “Performance metrics and dashboards are the beginning, but using data to understand deeper correlations and causality so we can shape change will be critical as we strive to advance our effectiveness,” says David Lassner, interim presided and former chief information officer at the University of Hawaii (The Chronicle).

Price-savvy Prospects

According to data from Sallie Mae, a majority of families eliminated colleges based on cost at some stage during their college shopping and admissions process. Colleges looking for continued steady growth will do well to plan for predicted demographic shifts that foretell a lower volume of high-income applicants. Schools can track their success in recruiting new groups of prospective students by using a prospect module in an end-to-end admissions tool like AMP Paperless Admissions.

 Alternative Admissions

Amidst a looming doctor shortage, medical school admissions have been under the microscope. With a lot of attention on the need for change in medical admissions in 2013, the situation may appear dire at first glance.  However, it is also evident that high pressure breeds creativity. A number of medical schools have implemented new approaches to medical admissions. At the Icahn School of Medicine at Mt. Sinai University, their innovative FlexMed option allows students to apply without completing a PreMed program or taking the MCAT. Several schools have begun taking a holistic approach to applicant review, evaluating non-cognitive personality traits for compatibility with the medical profession. Additionally, Multiple Mini Interviews (MMI) have begun to gain traction as an alternative to the traditional 1-on-1 office interview.

What is your admissions office doing differently in 2014?