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Vet Gazette

Oregon State University College of Veterinary Medicine eNewsletter

CVM Embraces Paperless Admissions Process

September 18th, 2013
CVM admissions coordinator, MIchelle Waldron, advises a prospective student.

CVM admissions coordinator, Michelle Waldron, advises a prospective student.

As of today, more than 1,000 applicants are in the process of applying to the OSU College of Veterinary Medicine (CVM) for enrollment in Fall 2014. Michelle Waldron, admissions coordinator for CVM, expects about 800 of those to be completed by the deadline on October 2nd. That will be 100 more applicants than last year and 300 more than the year before.

How does she know there are that many people working on applications to CVM? The veterinary college application process is now totally paperless, and each step can be viewed online, in real time, on the Veterinary Medical College Application Service (VMCAS) website.

When a student inputs transcripts, test scores, and essays through the VMCAS portal, they appear on an interface that can be accessed by each college the student has designated. This means Waldron no longer has to shuffle through hundreds of file folders stuffed with paper. She now views links to all the pieces of an applicant’s file on one screen.

This has radically changed the process for verifying a student’s basic qualifications.  The once tedious task of sorting through paper lists of undergraduate coursework to create spread sheets that track whether or not a student has met OSU prerequisites, is now just a matter of pulling up a screen and checking off boxes.

To coordinate with the paperless VMCAS system, the OSU business center designed an online payment system for CVM application fees. This saves Waldron many hours of ripping open envelopes, logging payment information, and processing checks. “It also means that there is no opportunity for checks or important documents to get misplaced,” she says.

The new system will also help faculty evaluators work through the large number of applicants to select the best mix of new students that will be a good fit for OSU.

Waldron plans to have a short training session for faculty so they can see how easy the new system is to use. “I’ll show them the different functions so they can move thorough it quickly,” she says. “They should be able to do one evaluation in 5 minutes, because they can look at all the criteria online; it will be right there in front of them. We aren’t using spread sheets anymore.”

CVM has a holistic approach to admissions: evaluators consider letters of recommendation, past experience, volunteer work, and essays, in addition to GPA and GRE scores. While strong academic performance is important for demonstrating an ability to succeed in veterinary college, CVM is looking for less tangible strengths as well. “Holistic admissions means we are looking for students with good grades, but it also means people who bring a diversity of experience in different environments, with different species; it means people who have shown leadership and communication skills,” says Waldron. “We are also interested in people who have overcome obstacles in their life. Maybe it’s an older than average student, or a younger than average student. Things like that bring diversity to our program.”

The ultimate goal of a holistic approach is to enrich the veterinary profession. “People with different perspectives, different backgrounds can, after they graduate from this program, take something out into the world that improves the profession,” says Waldron. “We’ve had a lot of applicants with interest in public health or in working for the federal government. We want people who are interested in research and in coming back to academia to teach future generation s of veterinarians. We want people who are looking beyond traditional roles for veterinarians.”

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