Baylor Nutrition Sciences Program Prepares Students for Post-Graduation Success

March 27, 2024
Fruits Celebrating Graduation

Baylor University’s undergraduate Nutrition Sciences program is kind of a big dill. Students in the program are on a roll and have been and continue to make egg-cellent post-graduation progress. 

Saucy puns aside, the Baylor Career Center reports that 100% of 2022 Nutrition Sciences graduates seeking employment secured a job within six months of graduation. Likewise, 100% of those seeking admission to graduate programs or internships were admitted. In 2023, once again, 100% of Nutrition Sciences students applying to internships or graduate programs were admitted and only one student was still seeking employment after six months. 

Stanley Wilfong, MS, RD, LD, FAND, Senior Lecturer and Program Coordinator for Nutrition Sciences, identifies a number of contributing factors to his students’ success. One of these is the program’s emphasis on career fit and the professional guidance provided by the Nutrition Sciences faculty, program structure, and curriculum.

“Nutrition is a hot topic. It’s all over Tik Tok and Facebook, but unfortunately, a lot of what you see on social media, especially coming from influencers, is wrong,” Wilfong explains. “A lot of our students come in with certain ideas about what they think they’re going to learn and what they already know.”

While the generated interest in nutrition is appreciated, Wilfong and his fellow Nutrition Sciences faculty seek to address these misconceptions as soon as possible in the academic journey. In Wilfong’s words, they “blow up” the fad diets and trendy health tips the students have learned through social media. Sometimes this deters students—they realize Nutrition Sciences is not what they thought it was and change majors. It also attracts students who discover an interest in the science of nutrition and the doors a degree in this field could open. 

“There’s a tremendous amount of misinformation that they’ve been exposed to, and they don’t have the skills yet to discern what’s right and what’s true. So, we shake the tree and hope the nonsense falls out,” Wilfong says.

Once the undergraduate students have a more genuine understanding of nutrition, they take a course titled “Introduction to the Profession of Nutrition and Dietetics.” As the name implies, this class introduces them to the nutrition profession and what a career in the field might look like. Through this course, many Nutrition Sciences undergraduates can better identify their path forward, which for this Baylor degree program takes the form of three concentrationsPre-Dietetics for students interested in becoming a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, Pre-Health for students preparing for the medical or healthcare fields, and Food Management for those who want to apply their skillset to food systems management.

“There are so many job opportunities out there for our students, and this course helps them identify what’s best suited for their interests,” Wilfong says.

In addition to learning more about prospective careers, students in the “Introduction to the Profession” class also learn to build a resume and write a personal statement. Wilfong asks his students to use the personal statement as a goal-setting tool since they’re writing it so early in their academic journey.

“I tell them to write the personal statement as if they’ve already done everything. Put down that you’re the president of this organization and that you’ve had that experience. Then, use that to drive yourself,” he says.

In their senior seminar course, Nutrition Sciences students revisit and revise their resumes and personal statements—now with the true experiences and skillsets to showcase.

Not only does the Nutrition Sciences program ensure students have an accurate understanding of the profession and are pursuing their best fit career, but it also prepares students to enter the field through a rigorous curriculum. This is clearly demonstrated by the impressive scores of Baylor Nutrition Sciences graduates on the Registration Examination for Dietitians. In 2023, the first attempt pass rate for students who had completed their undergraduate degree in Nutrition Sciences at Baylor was 87.50%, compared to a national average of 64.27%. For the one-year pass rate, Baylor is at 96.97% to the national average of 88.63%. 

“Our Pre-Dietetics program is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics, and they do an accreditation visit every six years,” Wilfong says. “When they came about a year ago for our visit, they said that our program was so rigorous and so well done that they wouldn’t be coming back for eight years. That’s practically unheard of and just speaks to the quality of our program.”

There is one other significant factor in the success rate of Baylor Nutrition Sciences undergraduates that can’t go unmentioned—the caring community fostered by program faculty. Coffee pods line the shelves of Wilfong’s office, ready for a visiting student. Baylor Nutrition Sciences is a small program, allowing for close relationships and mentorship between faculty and students. Wilfong also praises the relationships between the faculty themselves and how their unity strengthens the program. 

“Our faculty work so well together. We support each other. We challenge each other. We pray for each other,” he shares. “The success of this program is credited to our team and to those who came before us. I am incredibly proud of our program and proud to be a part of it.”

Motivated by their Christian commitments, Wilfong and his fellow faculty members are focused on student success because they truly care about the individuals they teach. The outcome numbers are impressive, but the impact of these highly trained nutrition professionals is inspiring. In Baylor Nutrition Sciences, the future is berry bright.