Mark Colip, OD, ’92
Insisting on Quality for Future Alumni
The lifeblood of any educational institution is its students. By graduating from the Illinois College of Optometry, our world class doctors form the strongest alumni network in the profession. This legacy is important to us. This year, ICO took a bold step and accepted a class of just 139 students; the number in recent years had been nearer to 165. Why?
There have been, and continue to be, numerous pressures on a relatively steady applicant pool. More optometry schools are opening, and class sizes have increased at many established programs around the country. Total enrollment in optometry schools nationwide has increased 26 percent since 2007. With more students being accepted and offered seats, it only makes sense that institutions are feeling challenged as we all draw from the same applicant pool.
One of the keys to ICO’s success in producing great doctors is preparedness upon entrance to our program. Students have to have a pretty well-stocked toolbox of learning skills before they are ready for the rigors of optometry school. ICO was not willing to alter its admissions standards for less qualified students. We are working in a new reality and adapting, as needed. There are compromises that ICO is willing to make; a lowered standard is not one of them.
As you can imagine, there was much debate internally at ICO before arriving at such a monumental decision. While the financial implications will cost the institution nearly $5M over the next four years, the consequences of accepting additional students just to hit a target number would have been potentially more catastrophic. Lower performance and Board results would reflect poorly on our institution, and subsequently, all of optometry. ICO has addressed the financial implications proactively, and the Board of Trustees has approved a revised and balanced operating budget for the 2017-2018 academic year. The quality of our educational and clinical programs will not be compromised.
ICO has been around for 145 years. There is shared responsibility- among our alumni, current students, faculty, and staff- to protect the reputation, strength and legacy of this institution and our beloved profession. We are proud to be holding the quality of our students to the standard that ICO’s history demands. I hope you agree that rising optometrists, their future patients, and the nation’s largest alumni network deserve the best.
Mark Colip, OD ’92
Vice President of Student, Alumni and College Development
Chair, Admissions Committee