Hello, fellow Student Affairs Professionals! I’m Annie Wofford, and right now there are three B’s encompassing my life in Kansas City, Missouri: barbecue, baseball, and brilliant students. We’ll focus more on the last “B,” since it’s most relevant here, but I highly recommend the other two if any of you get the chance to visit Kansas City.
I am the Coordinator of Admissions and Recruitment for the School of Medicine at the University of Missouri – Kansas City. I manage the admissions cycles and recruitment initiatives for the graduate programs offered in the School of Medicine, including the Master of Science in Anesthesia (MSA), Master of Medical Science Physician Assistant (PA), Master of Science in Bioinformatics (MSB), and Master of Health Professions Education (MHPE) programs (and two accompanying graduate certificates). To say that there’s never a “down time” as many admissions cycles have would be 100% accurate. Professional school admissions is vastly different from undergraduate admissions, and (in my opinion) harbors more opportunity for growth beyond recruitment as a young professional.
Being that a lot of these graduate programs are new (most at 5 years old or less), there’s a state of flux that the processes continue to be in as we work to fine tune the best methods for recruitment, applications, interviews, and ultimately selection of the classes. The autonomy in an academic unit is immense and irreplaceable, and this allows me to find and fine tune a wealth of aspects in the admissions cycle. This year, for example, I’ve revamped the interview procedure for the MSA candidates to capture a few more attributes potentially affecting the success of students in the program, configured the new admissions portal and revised pre-screening for our PA program, and created an Allied Health Ambassadors program to provide student input on the campus visits for MSA and PA students.Those are a few of the major projects I’ve worked on, but like many of you, other projects arise at any given time.
Typically, I work 8 to 5, but I would be lying if I said I didn’t work overtime probably ½ of the year. I don’t travel nearly as much as general admissions recruiters, though, and I like it that way. Score for working in an academic unit! When I come in the morning, I spend about an hour answering emails out of our office-wide email address. Due to the fact that we have a 5 person operation for 10 programs (with no administrative assistant), we all pick up some of the responsibilities that an assistant would handle. After that first hour, I make myself move on to other projects or meetings that I might have. As much as I want to continue answering those emails (because I’m a “check this off your to-do list” kind of person and love to see things disappearing from my queue), I have to remember the scope of what I’m in charge of.
After my hour of emails and lots of coffee, I’ll take you through this Thursday. I have a meeting with my Allied Health Ambassadors at 8:00 (which throws off my normal email and coffee routine, but who doesn’t have an off day?), a professional development session at 9:00, a Health Initiatives visit from prospective high school students at 10:00, a meeting with my supervisor at 11:00, and a meeting with our PA program director to discuss our pre-screening scoring for the upcoming admissions cycle at 2:00 p.m. Throw in some random emails and preparation for an impending application deadline of June 1 and this… is a pretty busy day. Day to day is so different, but that’s part of what makes the time go so quickly in the admissions world!
Since there are so many programs in the School of Medicine that so few of us manage, we all go through cycles where we stick to our main programs and cycles where we have “all hands on deck” for one program. August through November is our busiest season of all. During these few months, all 10 of our programs have interviews or applications happening. The questions are heavy for our six-year combined degree B.A./M.D. program, but I coordinate and run the interview days and selection meetings for the MSA program in August and the PA program in September/October while my colleague plans MD interviews for September/October as well. Additionally, the other graduate programs I manage (MSB and MHPE) have rolling admissions where we review applications monthly. If there’s time, I also try to squeeze in a few recruitment visits to area colleges and universities that have pre-health clubs. February is heavy with B.A./M.D. interviews, where we interview 320 students in a period of 4 days (crazy, I know!) and the PA and MD applications open again in the late spring. Voila, we start over.
Our days are much like the Disney effect – we feel the mass chaos, but the chaos is only known to those on the inside. At least, we try to keep it that way.
Since creating the Allied Health Ambassadors program, I have a year round program of 10 graduate students that I supervise. Additionally in the recruitment arena, I organize Campus Visit Days for the graduate programs year round. Those events never end, but the admissions side of my job (i e. processing applications, organizing interviews, preparing information for selection meetings, sending out admission, and matriculation reports) is much more ebb-and-flow depending on when application deadlines hit. Most of the application processing is a cooperative effort between our academic unit and the general Office of Admissions; however, once a student is selected, more student affairs staff members get involved to help our students adjust.
As a woman on the front lines of a cut throat admissions environment, every day provides new stories (many times involving helicopter parents). I come across a lot of “special situations,” and I did not expect to have to desensitize myself as much as I have. With many more qualified applicants for admission than we are able to take, I have to emotionally remove myself from the process as much as possible. It’s hard, and much harder when we have small interview days for the graduate programs and I get to know the applicants. I didn’t expect to have to suppress my heart so much, but it’s absolutely necessary. The good news about suppressing my feelings in the application process is that my heart can jump with excitement when favorable admissions decisions are sent out. Seeing the admitted class at orientation brings a whole new life to their passion and drive for being in the program, and seeing them on their first day of classes here makes EVERYTHING worth it.
This post is part of our #dayinSA series on highlighting the diversity of functional areas in the field of student affairs. We will hear from #SApros of all kinds – academic advisors, office mangagers, res hall directors, vice provosts of SA, and many many more. Each will share exactly what their typical day looks like, what exactly they work on, and what makes them want to come to work each day. We hope to squash stereotypes within the field and celebrate all the different kinds of great work that #SApros do. For more information, check out the intro post by Sara Ackerson. Be sure to read the other posts in this series too!