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Sunday, February 7, 2016
AT undergraduate programs
Other than CAATE accreditation, is there any info available to rank AT undergraduate programs like exam pass/fail rates, job placement etc.? My son, currently a high school senior, is very interested in this major. Thank you.
I'm afraid that there is no centrally available database of ranking information for Athletic Training programs. Couple this with the fact that there are over 350 programs and you can be presented with quite a problem in trying to choose one. I meet with a large number of prospective students and their families each year, and I will share with you the advice that I give to them.
My best advice....VISIT the programs that most interest your son. You probably have some idea of whether a big school or small school is most appealing, and you may have some idea of the region of the country as well. You can find a complete list of programs at www.caate.net and you should narrow down the list to no more than 5 - 10 schools. Once you do so, look at their program web pages and learn a little about them and who to contact. Then contact 2 - 4 programs for a campus visit.
The visit is crucial to choosing the right program. Bear in mind that universities have professionals who help make webpages and published recruitment materials and these materials always paint a program in the best light. Nothing short of a visit where you actually talk to someone from the program will show you the reality of the program or whether it is a fit with the goals and personality of your student. At many universities, you will only meet with an admission counselor...don't settle for this. Ask ahead of time to speak with someone from the program because only the program faculty can give you an accurate representation of the program. If faculty don't make time to meet with you, that should tell you something.
Keep in mind that EVERY program is similar in that we all have to meet the CAATE accreditation standards, and these largely dictate the basic content that we have to teach and the kinds of clinical opportunities we must present. With that said, the CAATE standards are MINIMUM requirements. Programs who barely meet them typically afford minimally adequate preparation. Look for programs who go above and beyond the standards. On your visit, ask how many non-compliances the program had on their last accreditation visit (1 or 2 is normal, 6 or more is a BIG red flag...I've done accreditation visits at schools who had as many as 16 non-compliances out of 63 standards), ask about their exam passing rates, ask about their student placements (where they place, not just if they place) and talk specifically about program admissions (they are usually separate from university admissions).
Make sure you feel comfortable with the personality and goals of the program and don't just go by their printed material. You should feel the excitement in the program and if you don't, it might not be the right fit. Look for personal fit more than anything else.
Mark A Merrick, PhD, ATC
School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences
The Ohio State University