In order to streamline its application process and increase its pool of candidates, the School of Medicine has recently joined the American Medical College Application Service, a nonprofit, centralized application processing service for first-year applicants to participating schools.
In doing so, Hopkins joins 112 other medical schools that are now registered with AMCAS. Hopkins was among the more notable holdouts to this process; others included Yale and Columbia, which still do not participate.
David Trabilsy, assistant dean for admissions at the School of Medicine, said that Hopkins had initially resisted joining AMCAS because his office felt it had an application form that was tailored to the type of qualities the selection committee looked for, such as participation in extracurricular activities.
However, Trabilsy said that for a number of reasons School of Medicine officials felt it was time to make the move to AMCAS.
One of the reasons he gave is the decline in applicants that many medical schools are facing due to issues involving managed health care, the perceived loss of autonomy on the part of physicians and the rising cost of tuition. Hopkins had an 8 percent decrease in its number of applicants last year, while other medical schools were down as much as 25 percent.
"We are now experiencing our third consecutive year of a declining applicant pool. It's my speculation this trend will continue in the foreseeable future," said Trabilsy, adding, however, that Hopkins is currently at a comfortable level of applicants. "We want to be in a good position to continue to draw applicants, and AMCAS will help us to maintain a national base to that pool."
AMCAS was developed by admissions officers of member institutions of the Association of American Medical Colleges to facilitate the process of applying to U.S. medical schools and is intended to benefit both the applicant and the participating school by reducing the time and, in many cases, the expense of the application procedure.
Trabilsy said that by joining AMCAS Hopkins could expect up to double the number of applications it receives. The expectation is that the process will bring in a wider distribution of candidates, including high-caliber students who might not have otherwise applied.
"We are very excited about this change and the prospect that we will be reaching more students nationally," Trabilsy said.
This increase of applicants will not alter the high standards of the selection committee, he said. "The selection process will maintain the features that we currently feel are important, such as the quality of the academic work and the high value we place on experience outside the classroom," Trabilsy said, adding that having more applicants will not significantly increase the number of those who are interviewed.
The new application will be available June 1, 1999, for those seeking to enroll in September 2000.
To apply, the student contacts AMCAS at its office in Washington or through its Web site at http://www.aamc.org and is given a choice of a traditional paper application or one on a diskette. The student fills out the form, checks off schools the application is to go to and then mails the completed document and an official transcipt back to AMCAS, which verifies the information and distributes it along with the applicant's latest two released MCAT scores. The AMCAS application fee is $50 for the first school, with a decreasing scale of fees for each additional school designated. In comparison, the current application fee for Hopkins is $60.
After receiving the application, Hopkins admission officials will then ask the applicant for any additional information they need on which to base their decision. Trabilsy said he hopes that in the future the AMCAS form might include the type of questions now asked by Hopkins.
Currently, the Office of Admissions receives all applications on paper and does computer entry of all the information. AMCAS, however, will provide the data in electronic form, meaning far less data entry for the admissions staff and significantly less paper use. Trabilsy said Hopkins had thought of putting an actual application on its Web site but decided that AMCAS would be the better way to go.
"We saw no reason for us to reinvent the wheel," Trabilsy said. By 2002 all AMCAS applications will be filled out online.
The Admissions Office is currently implementing a new computer system that will be able to process data received from AMCAS.
The new application procedure also will mean changes will be made to the School of Medicine's Web site, Trabilsy said, as there will be a greater reliance on it for disseminating information about Hopkins.