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K-State Today

April 1, 2022

Enhancing pre-professional advising at K-State

Submitted by Charles Taber

Dear Colleagues,

Kansas State University has worked over the past decade to increase both enrollment and the success of students interested in the pre-professional fields, especially pre-health. We strive to be a top-tier destination for prospective students seeking a pre-professional education in a wide range of health professions, veterinary medicine and law. We also strive to ensure that all K-State students exploring and seeking admission to professional schools receive the best guidance available, regardless of their major or college affiliation. After consulting with the Deans Council and pre-health advising leads in the colleges, reviewing the data, and listening to student voices, today I am announcing several steps to further enhance our pre-professional recruitment and advising services, including establishing our first-ever university Pre-Professional Advising Center.

Pre-Professional Advising Center

Reporting to Vice Provost Jeannie Brown Leonard and housed in the Office of Student Success, this center will provide guidance and programming to encourage students to explore professional fields and prepare for a competitive application to professional programs such as law, medicine, pharmacy, physical therapy, physician assistant, dentistry, occupational therapy, nursing, veterinary medicine and more.

Pre-professional students may major in any discipline. A centralized pre-professional advising model is aligned with best practices aimed at providing guidance that is major agnostic: or pre-professional advising that is decoupled from specific programs or colleges.

Over the next few months, we will realign positions and budgets to support the center. The center will begin operations in August 2022. The staffing model includes a director, senior advisor/recruitment coordinator, pre-professional advisors, a graduate student and undergraduate student workers.

Pre-Professional Advisory Council for Academic Advising

Maintaining close ties to academic programs and faculty is a priority for this new pre-professional advising center. We will create a pre-professional advisory council to ensure centrally housed pre-professional advisors are connected to the diverse curricula that support pre-health and pre-law student development. This advisory council will be charged to cultivate and promote mentoring and application support from diverse faculty and offering engagement opportunities for alumni, community members and professional school representatives.

Pre-Professional Recruitment Advisory Committee

Developing unified, coordinated, and streamlined recruitment strategies and messaging for students interested in pre-professional programs is critical to increasing enrollment. Prospective students report confusion about our structure, fragmented communication, and uneven experiences throughout the recruitment, visit and matriculation processes. We will appoint a pre-professional recruitment advisory committee charged to provide input and planning for pre-professional events, visits and communications. Activities will include developing consistent answers to frequently asked questions, building consistent non-college communications flow to prospective and admitted students with pre-professional designations, developing marketing publications, and hosting pre-professional events to increase the K-State profile as a pre-professional destination for undergraduate students. 

By making these changes to our current pre-professional recruitment and advising model, I see benefits for our prospective and current students, for our pre-professional advisors, and for our colleges, departments, and the university. Students will have access to a unified portfolio of pre-professional pathways at K-State; coordinated messaging; a visible, clear pathway for pre-professional advice; consistent access to opportunities regardless of major/college/academic advisor affiliation; streamlined communication with health professional schools, healthcare provider partners, and health professional entrance exam partners; and improved preparedness for professional school applications. 

As part of a center, our pre-professional advisors will benefit from a larger community of colleagues, strategic professional development and workload efficiencies. 

Finally, these changes to our current model provide several advantages to our colleges, departments and the university including coordinated, streamlined recruitment of students interested in pre-professional programs; coordinated retention and success strategies for these students; collaboration rather than competition for students and advisor talent; closer collaboration among central units, colleges and faculty; and ultimately increased enrollment and student success.

It is an exciting time to be at K-State. I want to thank everyone who has been involved in the discussions about pre-professional recruitment and advising over the past several months. Recognizing the need for meaningful change is the first step to making change. Adapting our pre-professional program model to a more student-centered approach is one of those important changes.

Chuck Taber
Provost and executive vice president