In a finding which confirms Harvard's experience, a recent nationwide survey concluded that fewer people are applying to medical school.
The American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC) found that enrollment among white males, minority groups and the poor is steadily decreasing. The decline can be attributed to the skyrocketing cost of tuition and to the popular perception that there will be a glut of doctors within the next ten years, according to an AAMC press release.
While the number of med school matriculants remains stable nationwide, the number of applicants has fallen 8.5 percent since last year. This figure represents the first significant drop since 1978, according to Dr. John A. D. Cooper, president of the AAMC.
The Medical School's experience follows this trend. Although med school enrollment has remained constant at 165 people per year, Director of Admissions Dr. Gerald Forster said the number of applicants has fallen significantly in the past four years, from 3,573 prospective students in 1982 to 2,990 in 1985.
The tuition at the Medical School has risen just as sharply as the number of applicants has dropped. Tuition, without room and board, was $8,900 five years ago. Today the figure stands at $13,100 and continues to rise.
Forster attributes the decline in the applicant pool to the decreasing number of 18-20 year olds in the postbaby boom generation, as well as to an increased interest in other fields such as law, business, and engineering. Part of the shift in interest may be caused by a desire to avoid the high level of borrowing necessary to finance many people's medical education, he said.