Cooperative Admissions Guidelines Background

AACP Article

Background Information for Student Affairs Personnel

A group of concerned student services leaders brought a resolution to the 2012 AACP House of Delegates recommending that the academy adopt a guideline related to the management of admissions. The motivation for the resolution was first and foremost the need for fairness for applicants, but they also had examined the experience of other health professions that had adopted cooperative admissions guidelines or admissions “traffic rules.” They recognized that such a guideline could offer transparency for applicants with respect to what the community had agreed to in terms of the timing of admissions decisions and related financial transactions. For the schools, it could establish clear expectations for students that they would make a decision to hold only one admissions offer by a date in early spring rather than waiting until much later in the application cycle before relinquishing multiple offers, leveling the playing field. The Bylaws and Policy Development Committee determined that the proposed guideline was not a statement of educational policy and the matter did not come to the House for a vote.

The recommendation to adopt the Cooperative Admissions Guidelines resurfaced as part of the deliberations of the Special Committee on Admissions appointed by AACP President Peggy Piascik in 2013. This committee presented a draft guideline to the Board of Directors in July 2014. The Board recognized that this was a significant issue for which more information was needed prior to making a decision. In the two years since the special committee submitted the guideline for Board approval there has been a significant amount of communication with academy members on this matter. This has included a board/member taskforce, town hall sessions, surveys, webinars, and individual conversations with deans and admissions staff.

During the November 14–15, 2016 Board meeting the Board approved the statements below and the Cooperative Admissions Guideline:

 The AACP Board of Directors endorses the proposed Cooperative Admissions Guidelines and encourages its adoption by colleges and schools of pharmacy over the next three years. AACP will monitor adoption and evaluate the results on an annual basis.

AACP Board of Directors

In addition, the Board also approved a statement to encourage the development of appropriate educational policy related to cooperative admissions guidelines to come before the 2017 House of Delegates for debate and consideration. They believe that this will provide a specific mechanism for all voices to be heard, including those that have early experience in utilizing the voluntary guidelines and those institutions that have concerns and challenges related to their adoption. Note that in keeping with House Rules of Procedure the language will relate to the use/value of cooperative admissions guidelines in pharmacy school admissions but it will not specify details of such a guideline.

The Board of Directors found this to be a difficult issue to decide and respects that not all schools will be in a position to implement the Cooperative Admissions Guidelines right away. We encourage schools to implement them as soon as possible with a 2019-2020 application cycle target for implementation by the vast majority of programs.

The AACP Board and staff will study the implementation, first with the early adopters, and will continue to evaluate the impact of the guidelines in future years.  As we study the implementation and impact, AACP staff will propose modifications to the guidelines, as needed, to the AACP Board of Directors. 

Benefits to Applicants and Schools and Colleges of Pharmacy

Benefits to Applicants

  • The Guidelines give applicants a better opportunity to interview at all programs they are interested in with reduced financial burden.
  • Lower deposit costs enable applicants to weigh additional options as they identify the best fit for them, and make an informed decision about where to pursue their education.
  • Selecting a single program by March 1 provides sufficient time for applicants to plan for relocation, financial assistance, and other aspects of entering a professional program.

Benefits to Schools and Colleges of Pharmacy

  • Have a better idea of acceptance earlier in the admissions process than under the current system.
  • Have the opportunity to market their programs before March 1 to allow applicants to better investigate schools/opportunities, in an effort to ensure a good fit for the applicant and the school.
  • Experience a less extensive "melt" late in the admissions cycle.
  • Address some challenges that been presented due to the decrease in applicant numbers.
  • Help to harmonize disparate admissions processes being driven by competition for applicants.

Overall Admission Best Practices

Schools and Colleges of Pharmacy will:

  • have a mission statement for their admissions committee;
  • train their admissions committee members;
  • train their interviewers;
  • study their admissions criteria to improve their admissions processes; and
  • publish annually, amend publicly, and adhere to their application, acceptance, and admission procedures.

Cooperative Admissions Guidelines for Applicants

View the full CAG document and summary information shared with future pharmacy students.