What Dates Do You Control?
As you review your PA program’s Key Admissions Duty Timeline, you will notice certain dates that you have limited or no control over; ARC-PA controls your matriculation date, and you must follow CASPA’s due dates, for example.
Many key admissions duty dates you can control, however, like the start and end of your admissions cycle, your interview cycle, and when acceptance letters are sent.
Why is this control important? Timelines used by most PA programs have changed drastically over the last five to seven years. PA program application cycles generally used to open in April and close in October. They would screen all their applicants, run two to four interview sessions in October and November, then select the students to fill the next matriculation’s cohort. There was no concern about diving deep into the wait list or having open seats on the start date.
Today, that kind of schedule will leave you far behind the competition; you may be inadvertently denying yourself access to 50% or more of your total applicant pool.
How Do Your Admission Duty Dates Compare?
Based on extensive discussions with over 150 PA programs about their admissions processes, here are some admissions trends we have observed:
- Over 80% of all PA programs start their admissions cycle to mirror the opening of CASPA each spring (late April, early May) and end it by October.
- Over 70% of all PA programs now use a rolling admissions process, leading most PA Programs to front-load their student selection decision-making. Everyone is moving to the front and condensing their decision-making timeline.
- Most PA programs who start their admissions cycle with the opening of CASPA and use a rolling admissions process start their initial interviews in June or no later than July.
- By the end of August each year, most PA programs using a rolling process have filled close to 90% of their next cohort’s seats.
- By the end of August, over 50% of the nationally available seats have been filled. Within certain competitive geographical areas, that percentage can be much higher.
- Many PA programs now fill all upcoming cohort seats before closing their current admissions cycle.
- Most of the higher-qualified applicants will have been selected by another PA program before those applicants would even have a chance to speak with programs that wait until early fall to start interviewing.
If your current admissions duty timelines aren’t keeping up with your main competitors, your program is at a distinct disadvantage. Consider what adjustments can realign your admissions processes to be more competitive.
Further Uses for Admissions Duty Timelines
The data you entered in your chart can also be helpful to—
- Have a good snapshot of your whole admissions cycle from start to finish.
- Determine specific times during the calendar year when certain stresses will be placed on faculty and staff; you can modify duties and responsibilities to facilitate better performance.
- Determine how some of your key admissions cycle duties compare to your competition and to national trends, urging other potential adjustments.
As we continue this series on Managing PA Admissions Personnel in Issue 13, we’ll help you conduct an employee ranking survey to determine if you have the right people in the right roles.
To Your Admissions Success,
Dr. Scott Massey, PhD, PA-C
Jim Pearson, CEO Exam Master