STARKVILLE – Mississippi State University is bucking at least one national trend with increased applications.
The number of non-Mississippians applying to MSU’s College of Veterinary Medicine has more than doubled in three years as the total number of applications continues to grow.
Dr. Rich Meiring is a professor in the Department of Pathobiology and Population Medicine and director of admissions for the college.
“Nationally, the number of students in the applicant pool has remained fairly constant and actually was down 1 percent in 2009,” Meiring said. “Our numbers were up. That tells a lot about our program and our graduates.”
In 2006, 340 nonresidents out of 392 total applicants sought admission to CVM. The number of nonresidents grew to 425 in 2007 and almost 700 in 2008. In 2009, 763 nonresidents applied for admission, bringing the total number of applicants to 830.
“Our graduates have gone to work in a lot of other states,” Meiring said. “People are familiar with MSU and the high quality of our graduates, and data shows that our graduates are among the highest-paid new graduates.”
CVM graduates also do well securing internships and residencies, and that fact helps increase interest in the program.
Getting into veterinary college is difficult, with only about 1 in 10 applicants being accepted. Meiring said the typical student seeks admission to an average of 31/2 veterinary colleges. CVM admitted a class of 84 this year, with 40 of those seats reserved for qualified Mississippi residents.
There are two routes to gain admittance to CVM. The traditional process requires applicants to earn a minimum 2.8 GPA in college and take the Graduate Record Exam. Students submit an online application through the national Veterinary Medical College Application Service, which includes references, extracurricular activities and work experience, and a personal statement about why the student wants to pursue a veterinary degree.
“Our admissions committee reviews each qualified application and evaluates each candidate equally on their academic and nonacademic criteria,” Meiring said. “We’re not just looking for the perfect academic record. We want people with a sound academic background who show the aptitude, knowledge and skills necessary to be a successful veterinarian.”
A 10-member committee of faculty from each of the college’s three departments evaluates applicants to decide who is admitted. Each committee member serves a three-year term.
Applications are gathered in October, and by December, the committee has reviewed all qualified applications. Students are selected for interviews and notified before Christmas. Interviews are conducted in late January and February by a three-person team consisting of one admissions committee member, one CVM faculty member, and one private practitioner.
“Not only are we deciding who will get an education here, but we are deciding who is entering the profession,” Meiring said.
Missy Hadaway, admissions coordinator for CVM, said 260 students were offered interviews last year, and about 200 were actually interviewed for the 84-member class. Each interview lasts 30 minutes, and the committee conducts all the interviews in six afternoons over a two-week period.
“We have an optional pizza party each night before interviews, and the applicants have the opportunity to see the school, meet us and meet other students in a very casual atmosphere,” Hadaway said. “We also have current students who volunteer to mentor people coming in to interview. They answer their questions and help put the interviewees at ease.”
Hadaway said as the number of MSU-CVM graduates grows each year, the college gains a wider, more positive reputation.
The second way to gain entry to MSU-CVM is through the Early-Entry Program, which is open to high school seniors with an ACT of 27 or higher and grades of at least 90 percent. In addition to reviewing applicants’ academic qualifications, the committee also evaluates their personal statements and letters of recommendation.
Bonnie Coblentz/Mississippi State University