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Veterinary admission committees are asked to create and implement a fair, reliable, and valid system to select the candidates most likely to succeed in veterinary school from a large pool of applicants. Although numerous studies have explored grade point average (GPA) as a predictive value of later academic success, there has been little attention paid to how and where an applicant acquires his/her undergraduate coursework. Quality of academic program is an important component of applicant files, and it is suggested that the source of a candidate’s coursework might influence admissions committee decisions, perhaps even outside of the committee’s immediate awareness. Options for undergraduate education include taking classes at a traditional four-year institution, a community college, or online. This study provides an overview of the current state of online courses and community colleges in the US as a foundation to explore the views of veterinary admissions committee members pertaining to coursework completed at traditional residential 4-year schools or at community colleges and whether they are delivered on campus or online (at either type of institution). Survey participants reported a pattern of preference for traditional four-year residential coursework compared to online or community college courses. These results are interesting given the exponential growth of students taking online courses and data showing community colleges are providing a successful gateway to obtaining a four-year degree. This also points to the need for admission committees to discuss potential biases since the information about type of school and/or course may not be consistently available for all applicants. Finally, at a time when admitting a diverse class of students is a goal of many programs, it is of special concern that there are potential biases against courses taken online or from community colleges - venues that tend to draw a more diverse population than traditional 4-year universities.
Keywords: Admissions criteria, Community college coursework, Online coursework, Veterinary admissions