Treading Water? A Look at the DVM Applicant Pool

The number of individuals applying to veterinary colleges for the 2016-17 academic year was the highest since 1981, reports the recently released 2017 AVMA & AAVMC Report on the Market for Veterinary Education, prompting the report's authors to speculate that at least since 2015, the number of applicants was no longer in a decline, as it had been in previous years, although the future direction isn't clear.

"For almost four decades, the number of U.S. applicants to veterinary colleges has been cyclical, experiencing peaks and troughs about every decade," explains Bridgette Bain, PhD, assistant director of analytics in the AVMA Veterinary Economics Division.

"The first cycle lasted 19 years, and 2018 will mark the end of the second 19-year succession. To the extent that recent history represents the future, we are likely to see a decline in the applicant pool by 2019. However, the uncertainty of the economic environment coupled with a robust market demonstrated by the simultaneous growth in starting salaries and number of new veterinarians finding full-time employment makes it hard to predict the trend that the applicant pool will follow."

Applicant-to-seat ratio

The report notes that over the past four years, the ratio between applicants and available college seats has been relatively stable at 1.6 (see graph). The 7,071 applicants in 2017 vied for 4,363 seats, lifting the ratio to 1.62. A sharp decrease in the ratio between 2008 and 2009 is attributed to adding AVMA Council on Education–accredited foreign schools to the system, rather than a change in the number of seats at U.S. institutions. The consequences of an increase in seats, such as the proposed Texas Tech institution, depend on how much the addition brings down the cost to each student of acquiring a veterinary degree, Dr. Bain explains. "The ratio could increase if the assumption holds that an expansion in the number of seats would drive down the cost per student, and thereby attract more applicants in an environment characterized by concern over escalating tuition."

"But, if the rate of increase in the number of seats at existing schools continues with the long-term trend," adds Dr. Bain, "we could see a ratio of 1.04:1, should two new schools come online by 2025." Regardless, she notes, any new school's ability to provide students with an education at a lower cost will determine the degree program's sustainability. Quality versus quantity

Despite the slow decline seen nationally in the applicant-to-seat ratio reported over the 1980-2016 period, applicant test scores and preveterinary grades have remained in the consistently high range, according to the report (see table)."Evidently, the profession continues to attract the brightest students," Dr. Bain concludes. "We can therefore deduce that although the applicant pool is diminishing in number, it isn't doing so in quality. If the cost of education, however, continues to rise at its current rapid rate, the veterinary profession risks experiencing a reduction in test scores of the applicant pool as more-qualified students opt for more financially rewarding careers."

She contends that, as students gain greater exposure to the hardships of living under the debt incurred as a result of "the skyrocketing costs of education, they are likely to reconsider applying to grad schools as they see firsthand what life after veterinary college looks like. If this happened, it would likely put a strain on the applicant pool."

 

HISTORICAL ANALYSIS OF THE APPLICANT POOL

​Mean preveterinary GPA

Mean GRE verbal percentile​

Mean GRE quantitative percentile​

2005

​3.53

63%​

​45%

2006

​3.55

​63%

​45%

​2007

​3.54

​63%

​45%

​2008

​3.57

63%​

45%​

2009

3.57​

59%

​40%

​2010

3.57​

​54%

​40%

​2011

​3.59

​59%

​40%

​2012

3.59​

63%​

48%​

2013​

​3.60

​72%

64%​

2014​

3.59​

​72%

64%

​2015

​3.56

65%​

​54%

​2016

​3.55

66%​

58%​

​2017

3.55​

​66%

​57%

 

 

Latest News

Nebraska Feedlot @TLauritsen
Fed Cattle Steady As Futures Hit 11-Month High

Cattle feeders were left on the sidelines as every other cattle/beef market segment saw a price rally. Futures markets set new highs, but cash cattle have not reached $112 for seven months.

18 hours ago
Cargill Dodge City
Cargill Will Temporarily Idle Two Packing Plants

Cargill announced it will temporarily idle two of its protein processing facilities for scheduled maintenance. The idling of the facilities is unrelated to the COVID-19 pandemic.

19 min ago
John Nalivka
Nalivka: Combine Your 'Best' Cost - 'Best' Revenue

Analyzing profit and loss relationships across the production end of both the beef and pork supply chains is key to decisions regardless of where you sit in that supply chain.

21 min ago
Y3 Ranch, Idaho
Merck’s Dr. Angela Baysinger Receives “Feather in Her Cap” Award

Dr. Baysinger was recognized for her significant contribution and achievements to the animal health industry, including mentoring and developing future women leaders.

12 min ago
The JBS plant in Greeley, Co.
JBS Offers $100 to Employees Who Get COVID-19 Vaccine

The bonus is intended to encourage employees to get inoculations, after thousands of U.S. meatpacking workers became infected with the coronavirus last year.

3 hours ago
“Etsy of Meat” Provides New Options for Consumers

When the COVID-19 pandemic struck, a farmer and businessman from southeast Iowa came up with an idea that has now grown into an expanding online marketplace known as ChopLocal.

3 hours ago