Spring is an exciting and busy time of year in our student recruitment cycle. The application deadline is fast approaching for many of our graduate programs, and next week we welcome admitted students to our virtual Admitted Student Days — a week-long lineup of programming designed to showcase our school’s strengths and the comprehensive experience, skills, and training we offer students.
Last year, our school and many others experienced what some coined the “Fauci Effect” — a sudden, increased interest in health-related degrees. For us, this translated to a 29% increase in applications across all SPH degree programs in 2021 compared to 2020.
We knew this dramatic increase would not last and would dip back to normal levels as the interest in public health generated by the pandemic waned. Our assumption was correct. As of March 1, our applications are down 11% compared to the same date last year; however, compared to 2020, we are still up 17%. This abrupt fluctuation is not unique to our school and is a national trend among other schools of public health.
Overall, we are in a good position this year, but we need to bolster our recruitment efforts to continue to attract a diverse and robust student candidate pool. The key to this is providing an exceptional, equitable, and consistent experience for our prospective, admitted, and current students at every touchpoint with SPH. This requires strategy, commitment, and action at both the school-wide and programmatic levels.
School wide we have been focused on: reimagining the scholarship process to improve how we manage and monitor scholarships year-over-year; and proactive communication with students to ensure transparency at every step in their journey.
At the division and program levels, I encourage faculty and staff who are involved in recruitment, admissions, and student support to:
Actively engage with admitted students: Reach out to personally invite them to Admitted Student Days, and continue to support them in coming months.
Work more closely with the SPH Student Services Center: Reach out to Emily Dunsworth, director of recruitment and enrollment (firstname.lastname@example.org), to strategize about admissions and enrollment for the 2022-23 recruitment cycle.
Thank you in advance for your commitment to ensuring a strong future for our students and our school!
Interim Dean and Mayo Professor
School of Public Health