Friday, October 16, 2009


For the past six months, we have posted on this blog almost daily in our effort to assist prospective pharmacy students. By word of mouth alone, the number of visitors to our blog has increased significantly and we thank you all for that. It is gratifying to realize that we have been able to help so many wonderful people.

As of today, we will no longer be posting on this blog. Sad, I know. However, we are excited to inform you that we have created a new web forum at:

The reason for this change is that the one thing a blog does not easily permit is the fostering of a sense of community. It is our hope that this forum, however, will allow dialogue between the many future pharmacists who have frequented the blog.

We will still post frequently and we will still respond to emails. The information contained on this blog will be migrated over to the new forum shortly.

Please take a moment to register at the new site. Look around and please tell us a little bit about yourself under the WELCOME forum at the top of the page. This forum a work in progress, and thus, we would appreciate your feedback, suggestions, etc. Please make it your forum.

See you there!

PCAT October 17, 2009 - Advice, Questions, Comments

Please post your questions regarding the PCAT in the comments section below. If you have experience with the test or have advice on preparation, please share it with others.

Good luck!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Meeting with faculty on Adcom

Today I had the opportunity to meet with a faculty member who is on an Admissions Committee for a Pharm D program I am very interested in. As mentioned in a previous post, over the last six months I have developed a wonderful relationship with an Admissions Counselor at this same school. The counselor was able to set up this meeting with the faculty member so I could have the opportunity to hear first hand what this individual is really looking for in an applicant for this specific program. This meeting was invaluable and will help me greatly as I finish my personal statement and solidify my LORs. The meeting also gave me the opportunity to share my personal story and goals in person before my application is reviewed. If anyone has the opportunity to have a similar meeting with a faculty member who sits on an Admissions Committee, I would highly suggest trying to make it happen before applications are reviewed. As I left the meeting she specifically stated she would be watching for my application!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Playing catch up

I will be in the office today playing a little catch up from missing time last week. Thanks to everyone who has emailed and been so patient. I will try to get responses to you later today.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Should I apply now or wait until after I retake the PCAT?

Question: I recently received my August PCAT scores. They were about average I'd say, but I know I can do better and will be taking the test again in October. In your opinion, is it best to wait to submit my applications until I receive the new score, or would I be better off to go ahead and send them, stating that I'll be re-taking the test in October? When AdComs are reviewing an applicant's file, do they consider future tests?

Answer: It kind of depends on when the committee will be reviewing your file. If the school has rolling admission, it is possible that they might make a decision on your file as it is sent to them, meaning that they will render a decision based only on what they have at that time and not on your second test. If this is the case, I would certainly advise you to follow up with the school if your receive a response before you take the exam a second time.

On the other hand some schools will notify all accepted applicants at one time. In this case, it is most likely that they will have both scores before making a decision. I'm not sure if there is an advantage to one plan versus the other if you are applying to multiple schools. You will among many who have submitted applications while still planning to re-take the PCAT, so I guess that is the route I would personally choose. However, if youwanted to wait until after the second exam, that makes some sense to me to. How's that for not answering your question :)

I think either way is fine. You might check with the schools to see if they recommend anything different than what I have stated. If you do, let me know what you hear.

Good luck.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Things to avoid saying....

Here are a couple of statement fragments that I strongly suggested the applicants change or remove:

1) In this case, the applicant had been working in a pharmacy, but decided to stop for the summer and waitress instead to earn additional income:
Life is about choices and their consequences. Hopefully my choice to waitress rather than work in the pharmacy this summer will be viewed as a chance to refine my social and communication skills with people from all walks of life.

Admissions: I would avoid mentioning your choice to waitress rather than working in the pharmacy. You can write about your pharmacy experience in your personal statement without any reference to your decision this past summer. It simply isn't necessary to point this out and it will probably give the committee a reason to doubt your commitment to pharmacy. Make the reviewer focus on what you have (pharmacy experience) rather than pointing out what I would consider to be a questionable choice. Simply state you have pharmacy experience and leave it at at that.

2) In this case, the applicant is trying to make the point that pharmacists are an important part of the health care team. I disagreed with the method in which it was conveyed.
After a visit to the doctor, the next step is to visit the local pharmacy to get the required medication necessary to get you well. Initially, you would think that the person behind the counter handing you your pills has a pretty simple job. However, the responsibilities and duties of a Pharmacist are vital to the health of an ill individual.

Admissions: This comment caused me some heartburn on the applicant's behalf: "Initially, you would think that the person behind the counter handing you your pills has a pretty simple job."

Please remember your audience. Some of the readers of this statement (referred to as "you") are very likely pharmacists and probably do not think this your statement is accurate. Some might even be offended at the inference. From time to time we will read a statement that makes a sweeping generalization that sinks like a lead balloon. Why a pharmacy school applicant would use an example implying that the public thinks poorly of the profession of pharmacy is beside me. I strongly recommended changing this paragraph. The message can be conveyed without the aforementioned sentence.

Thanks again to everyone. We will try to post as often as we can as the October PCAT beckons and interview season begins.

Thank you!

We wanted to take a moment to express our thanks to everyone for reading the blog. Yesterday, we had over 700 different visitors check the website - a new record. As mentioned, we don't make any money by doing this, other than a few pennies when somone clicks on an ad. We do this because we like to help.

In the 6 months since we have started posting blog entries, reviewing statements, and answering questions via email, we have met a lot of really great people and think that we have been able to provide some much needed assistance to prospective applicants.

We hope that you have found the blog to be useful. If you have, please "follow" the blog by clicking on the right hand side of the page. We also hope that you will tell your friends, classmates, co-workers, colleagues, and any pharmacy organizations you belong to.

Please keep the questions, emails, and comments coming in.

Thanks again.


Sunday, September 27, 2009

Question about accelerated programs

Question: I just applied to Massachusetts college of Pharmacy and Health Sciences- Boston. I am trying to get into their 2 year programme after which i will start my 3 year ( First Professional Year ) because they dont require the PCAT. do you know anything about it and is it a good move for me or i should just stay at my current school and finish all the required classes and take the PCAT.

Answer: I think an accelerated program fits some students well, however, it does require an adjustment in the scheduling mindset. It's not for everyone. Mature students probably do a bit better, in my opinion.

If you have already applied, I suspect you have all of the information on the program so I'm not sure what more I can tell you. Certainly, you could stay at your current school if not admitted and reapply to other institution. In the latter case, taking the PCAT would probably be necessary.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Studying, studying....

Hello! I am down to my final three weeks of studying before the Oct. 17th PCAT. Since I didn't do well on the bio and chem sections the first time around, I have only been studying these two areas. Last Saturday I spent time shadowing a pharmacist who also happens to be someone I have asked for an LOR. I do work part-time in a retail pharmacy, but it was a good experience for me to shadow a pharmacist in a different setting. She is a pharmacist in a student health center on a college campus. I have had a professional relationship with this pharmacist for years through my job as a pharmaceutical representative. The shadowing was helpful in that I was able to see the differences between her position and what I see in the retail setting, and also for her to have more time with me so she is able to write a more detailed LOR. She was able to ask me a lot of questions about my motivations for pharmacy school, my interests, my volunteer background, etc.

Although I am busy studying for the PCAT, I've also been continuing to fine tune my personal statement. I've found it's very helpful to write a bit, walk away for a few days, come back and fine tune some more. It's very beneficial to have several people read what I've written to make sure I'm on track with getting my point across and for grammatical errors. Admissions initially reviewed my statement which gave me an excellent start to fine tuning even more.

I hope everyone who is preparing for this next PCAT is having success!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Should I retake the PCAT?

Question: I received my August PCAT today:
Verbal: 53%Biology: 80%Reading Comprehension: 21%Quantitative Ability: 91%Chemistry: 81%Writing: 2, 2Composite: 71%

I am shocked to see that my reading comprehension and verbal scores are that low. Although English is my second language, I've been in the US for 13 years now. What do you think about the 71% composite score and should I re-take it in October? But if I take it in October, my application won't be complete until November until the schools receive it (I'm applying to some rolling admission schools)...What should I do??? Thank you!

Answer: This is a tricky one. If you had scored 71 in each category, I wouldn't be as concerned with a composite of 71. However, having one very low score (21 on PCAT Reading) won't help you. Plus, scoring a 2 on the writing doesn't minimize any concerns. On the blog previously, we did address how to handle one deceptively low PCATsub-category score. You might review some of the earlier posts.

I would make the argument that if your statement is well written (which is a must in this case), you could try to persuade a committee that the test does not accurately reflect your abilities. Certainly, in an interview setting, I would imagine that an interviewer would pay particular attention to your communication skills.

In short, yes I would retake the PCAT. I would focus on thereading/verbal areas. Work on pre-tests and study guides. You have taken the test once and now have an idea what to expect. I would anticipate improvement in your second attempt.

Good luck.

What are my chances? Review of PCAT scores

Question: Hi I am 30 years old, and I attended a Health and Engineering High School on the Pharmacy track. I did not go into college right after graduation due to military plans. I had a child and those to were put on hold. I started working in a pharmacy in 2003 while I worked on my Associate's in Pharmacy technology. Through all of my experience working in different areas I have decided on being either an IV Pharmacist or a compounding Pharmacist as I feel those are the two areas I excel at.

Finances and just generally being afraid of rejection I have not applied for pharmacy school. I work full-time, and I am a single mother who is also working on a chemistry degree as a back-up plan. Through all of this I have managed to keep my grades decent, my current gpa is a 3.167. I Clepped my General Biology classes, Gen Chem 1: B, Gen Chem 2: A, Org 1: C, the lab: B+, Org 2: B, the lab: A, Both Physics were C's. Now on to my PCAT. I took it in 2006 before I had any organic, physics, calculus, etc. Verbal: 86, Bio: 60, Reading: 37, Quant: 42, Chem: 35 with a composite of 53.

I have 8 schools both public and private that I would like to apply to on the east coast. Do I have a chance of being accepted at any of them? I was thinking of pushing myself and making a dash to try and take the October PCAT and score higher, now that I have had those classes.

Answer: I think your chances of acceptance are probably remote because of the low PCAT Quant and Chem scores. However, you indicated that the PCAT was taken before some pretty important courses were completed, so there is no doubt that retaking the PCAT should help you out. Minimally, you would want all of your PCAT sub-category scores > 50.

I would encourage you to retake the PCAT at the earliest time (Oct) and get all of your LORs and statement completed. If your scores improve, I don't see why you wouldn't have a decent chance. I wasn't sure if you ever applied back in 2006-07 when you originally took the PCAT or not. Nevertheless, if at first you don't succeed.....

Let us know if you have any other questions. Please consider following the blog by clicking on the right hand side of the page and passing the link on to anyone else you know who might be interested.

Should I discuss a medical condition in my statement?

Question: My situation is very uncommon. Several years ago I was diagnosed with a rare, but serious disease. Basically, the doctor removed one of my lymp nodes under my neck.

After being sick, I recognize that healthcare is my biggest interest, so I decide to go to a pharmacy school or medical school, I almost finished my major in business as well as prereq for scicence classes. I am not concern about GPA because I do good in science classes and business classes.

However, my question is: could I include "my medical story" in my personal statement? I am afraid of committes will think that I am not able to do well in healthcare field due to my history sickness ....!?! As a committe member, can you give me a right way to write my personal statement?...

Answer: If your illness had an impact on your career goals, you would be wise to share it. The opening paragraph could briefly explain your illness and how you overcame it. Any information that you are willing to share with the committee will be helpful to you, particularly if it played a role in your desire to become a pharmacist.

This example is much different than the applicant who asked if she should indentify her depression and text anxiety, in my opinion. I stress, this is my opinion. Nonetheless, I would encourage you to use your life story as it certainly appears to have affected your desire to become a pharmacist.

Good luck.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Question about prerequisites

Question: I've been seeing many schools require anatomy and/or physiology, microbiology with lab, and human anatomy. I have taken Mammalian Physiology, but are there strict differences between say human anatomy and regular anatomy? It is hard for me to know because I have learned about human body systems in classes that were NOT called anatomy/physiology, some of those classes were called "Biology I and II".

Answer: Unfortunately, I really cannot answer your question. IEvery school is different. I suggest you contact the schools where you plan to apply directly and ask them if the courses you have taken fulfill their prerequisites.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

What are my chances - application review

Question: Hi, I just happened to stumble across this blog randomly, and it's probably the best resource I could have found for my own journey to pharm school!

I hope you can give me a little bit of help too! I'm currently a new undergrad junior/senior (I don't really know at this point, it's confusing) who will receive a BA in Chemistry in Spring 2010. Now, I started out right out of high school at the local community college since I didn't know what else to do. I switched majors a few times, and just couldn't focus or make up my mind. I didn't take it very seriously, and my GPA shows it.

So, several years later with a made-up mind for Pharmacy, and I'm already moved here with hopes of being admitted to the PharmD program for Fall 2010. I'm sure submitting my application now would be better to get it in as early as possible, but I really can't submit it yet. I'm currently in the process of being hired to volunteer at a hospital in the pharmacy (I have no prior experience), so I have no pharmacist as of yet to write me a LOR. Since I'm new at the school, I don't know the professors too well yet, so I'm waiting until at least a few more weeks in before I ask any of them for a LOR. My GPA will be ~3.0 with the grades I'm on track for (A's and/or A-'s) after this semester, since I'm sure they would wait until at least then to make up their minds, if not after the spring semester. I've got a PCAT Composite of 86 (all areas high 70's through low 90's) and a currently laughable GPA of something like 2.75. So, now that you know my life story well enough to write a biography, here are some questions:

- Realistically, will a ~3.0 GPA, 86 Comp. PCAT, ~100 hrs of hospital volunteering, and a BA in Chem give me a shot at an interview and acceptance?- Will taking part in some research help out the application any?- Is there some kind of "LOR etiquette" that should be taken in how soon into a semester I should ask a professor to write for me? And for that matter a pharmacist?

Answer: I cannot speak to the school where you are applying, but ours is already making decisions on applicants now so I would not assume yours will wait until after the semester unless they told you that specifically.

Do you have a professor at your CC that could help you out? I'm not sure if there is an etiquette to getting an LOR, but I would personally hesitate to write one for someone I didn't know. If you need to ask someone who is unfamiliar with you, bring your CV and make an office appointment so you can at least spend a few minutes explaining your goals. This would make me much more comfortable in writing a letter for that circumstance. The same probably goes for an RP LOR.

Your PCAT score is good and will get you into a lot of schools. While your GPA is probably substandard, if you can write a strong LOR and explain some of the deficiencies on your application, I think you would be in line for an interview. This would be your chance to sell yourself.

Ultimately, in a case such as this, your statement, LORs, and interview will determine whether you are successful in being admitted. I think you stand a good chance. Good luck.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Glimpse into the application process of a prospective student

Hello! I am a prospective pharmacy school student who is applying for admittance to pharmacy programs in 2010. I am somewhat non-traditional in my path in deciding to apply to pharmacy school. I graduated from a 4-year university in 1998 with a degree in Biology and minors in Chemistry and Psychology. My work history includes working as a Patient Care Technician in a hospital, a Customer Service Manager in the financial industry and 7.5 years as a pharmaceutical representative. I've thought of applying to pharmacy school for years, but was always intimidated and scared of the process. You can't fail if you don't try! Last winter I finally decided I needed to put my fears aside and began the process of researching schools and what I needed to do to put myself in the best position possible to get accepted into a program.

One of the best things I have done in the process was to meet with an admissions counselor for the program I am most interested in early last spring. I made an appointment to meet with her in person and was able to establish a great relationship with her at this meeting. I continued to be in touch with her as often as I had questions. She made me realize the importance of getting actual experience in a pharmacy whether it was through volunteering or actually working in a pharmacy. I immediately got a job working part-time as a pharmacy tech.

I will be re-taking the PCAT on October 17th as my scores in June were not as high as I hoped. For me, the PCAT has been the most difficult part of the application process. I have not taken chemistry or biology courses since the late 1990s so relearning so much material from those courses has been daunting.

At this point in the application process I am fine-tuning my personal statement, solidifying my LORs and I will also be meeting with a faculty member who sits on the Adcom for the school I am most interested in attending. This meeting was facilitated by that wonderful admissions counselor who I began a relationship with last spring. I will meet with the faculty member in October. I am very excited about this opportunity.

I have much more I could write about my process. Please let me know if anyone has specific questions about my process or preparation. Good luck to everyone during this very intense but exciting time!

Can you recommend a school for me to attend?

Question: I want to apply for pharmacy school next year 2011. I am attending a community college in Texas currently. My family is scattered and I can move just about anywhere. Can you recommend a good school to apply to?

Answer: Sure, I could. However, I do not feel comfortable doing so. Every school has positives and negatives. What I feel may be important attributes might not mean a hill of beans to you.

I encourage you to ask around. Get opinions from pharmacists that you may know. I think it is important that you first make a list of what matters to you when making a decision like this that will impact your life. You indicated that location doesn't matter, but do you have a preference? How much can you afford? There are significant differences between the cost of public and private schools of pharmacy.

On the side of the blog, I have added a link to the AACP website (I have changed the location this links to at AACP's request). Look at the school information about all the schools of pharmacy that might interest you. Send an email to them and ask for information. Beginning a dialogue with the people who will ultimately make the decision on your admission can be very helpful in the end.

Only you can decide what school is the best "fit" for you. Rankings and the like won't matter much if you aren't happy attending there.

Good luck.

Note: If anyone has had a particularly good experience with a school or has advice for this applicant, please leave comments below.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

New contributor added

We have had the wonderful opportunity to get to know many of the readers of this blog over the past year. We hope that the information we have shared has been helpful, but we also realize that it might be beneficial for prospective applicants to have the opportunity to see how another future pharmacist is preparing. Therefore, we have asked someone we think really understands the process well based on her questions, responses, and comments posted to the blog if she would occasionally update everyone on her progress. If you have questions, please leave comments for her and the dialogue will be beneficial for everyone.

I will allow her to introduce herself in the coming days. She can share as much (or as little) personal information about herself as she wishes, but I think her approach to the application process has been systematic and effective. I hope you enjoy reading her insights!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Please use "search blog" function

Thanks to everyone for their emails. I have tried to keep up and get responses to you as quickly as possible, although it hasn't been as quick as I would like since school started.

One thing I would advise is to use the "search blog" function at the top of the page. We are really excited that so many of our readers have shared the link with others and we have received some really great questions and feedback. However, many of these questions have been addressed in one manner or another and it might be helpful to you to review some of the earlier blog entries regarding letters of recommendation, personal statements, etc.

Interview season begins soon for many of you and we'll do whatever we can to assist you.

Good luck.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Should I mention "depression" in my statement?

Question: I have suffered from depression since childhood and that has played a big role in how I take tests. I have a ton of test anxiety and don't feel that some of my grades best represent my knowledge of the subjects. Is this something you would bring up in the statement?

Answer: This is a difficult question for me to answer. Is your depression/anxiety controlled at this time? Are you taking medications for it? I would only bring this up if you feel like your test scores were diminished by your condition. However, a committee would probably want to know if this was a problem that has been addressed and/or resolved.

Although no one will tell you this, committee members do consider the personality type of the applicant and the various issues one might present as a student. If someone believes your test taking issues will be problematic during your time in pharmacy school, it could work against you. This would be a case by case basis dependent on the specific reviewer - certainly no institution would have a policy on this. I have heard many times a committee member reference a past student who had an issue with something that gave him/her reservations about having a similar student. I have seen this with language issues and "arrogance" as perceived by the reviewer. Some professors would rather not have to deal with the hassle they think they might encounter.

I guess I would mention it only if you thought you had the problem resolved. Perhaps you can qualify any poor performances as being related to your depression, but indicate that you are working on it with medication or psychologic intervention.

Of course, please understand the above are my thoughts only... certainly others might give you significantly different advice.

Friday, September 11, 2009

PCAT score review / advice

Question: I am trying to apply for pharmacy for Fall 2010. I took the PCAT and here is my score:

93% on Chem
84 on math
66% on bio
10% on verbal
1% on reading
composite is 44%.

I will retake in October. I have been in the U.S. for 4 years. My GPA's is 3.9 (according to pharmcas calculation). I recieved scholarship and outstanding student in chemistry. I volunteered the hospital. Can you review and give me some advice. I am still wonder I should apply now or wait for my new PCAT score.

Answer: Thank you for submitting your inf0rmation. You certainly appear to have the scientific aptitude to be successful in pharmacy school. There is obviously a huge problem with your reading and verbal PCAT scores, however. A score in the 50th percentile would probably be acceptable. A score in the 30's would cause most committees some additional concerns. A score < 10% would be an enormous red flag. I think most schools would automatically reject your application without a thorough review.

My advice would be this: retake the PCAT first. Do everything in your power to improve your reading and verbal scores. Make sure that your personal statement and supplemental applications have perfect grammar and spelling. You need to try to minimize the impact of the uber-low scores from your first PCAT attempt.

If you can improve your reading and verbal scores, your composite will benefit and your chances will be markedly improved. If you are successful on your next PCAT and are offered an interview, we can then discuss how to best approach any language difficulties at that time.

Best of luck and keep us posted.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Will my MBA help me?

Question: In 2004 I went back to school to get my MBA. I graduated in 2006. I continued working full-time and went to school on nights and Saturdays. If I get accepted to pharmacy school, I will quit my fulltime job. However, should I use getting my MBA while working fulltime as an example of my strong time management skills, etc. in my supplemental application? On my supplemental application, the question is in regards to why I think I will be able to handle a rigorous work load and the demands of a pharmacy program.

Does the fact that I have my MBA and did fairly well in the program (GPA of 3.6) matter at all especially since an MBA program is not science based? What do you generally think of applicants with a science major (Biology) undergraduate degrees and then a Masters in totally different field

Answer: This is a very good question. I think you should definitely use your MBA program success to your advantage when applying. Particularly, if you were able to do so while working full time. Although it is not science based, many pharmacists continue their education with MBA, JDs, etc and I applaud them for doing so.

As a committee member, I am easily impressed by applicants who have advanced degrees no matter the field - it shows a desire to excel. I think you can make a very strong case for being able to handle the rigors of pharmacy school, but I would reinforce to the committee that pharmacy school will be your full time job would also be helpful.

Good luck.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Does my major matter?

Question: This question actually has more than one part. First of all, I'm curious as to how important my major is when applying for pharmacy school. I've heard things about med school and I'm not sure if they apply for pharmacy school, such as: It's better to major in something in liberal arts rather that science because your GPA is more important than your major, and it makes you look more well-rounded if you don't major in science.

Secondly, if your major IS important and can be an advantage or disadvantage for you, what would be the best choice of major? My current major is Psychology, for the following reasons: I'm good at writing and I think a liberal arts degree would help my GPA in that sense (it's 3.66 at the moment), I find psychology in itself interesting, it would make graduating in 3 years possible and save my parents some money, and I thought that some of the upper division coursework (namely Psychopharmacology) would be relevant to my application. However, would a science degree be looked on more favorably, or is GPA actually more important than the degree itself?

Answer: Frankly, I don't think your major matters much when I am reviewing a file. Many of our applicants don't have degrees when they are applying, so I wouldn't overthink this one. Of the applicants with a degree, probably 50% have a Chem or Bio degree or something similar (Biochem, Microbio, etc). The others are scattered among things like psychology, exercise science, physics, and plenty of English, Math, etc.

My recommendation would be to find a major that interests you and one that you can use if pharmacy school doesn't work out. If you do well in your prereq courses and your PCAT scores in Chem, Bio, and Quant are above average, your major won't even be mentioned.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Drug rep considering pharmacy school

Question: I graduated with Honors a couple of years ago with a degree in Chemistry. I had a friend's father who was a drug rep and after a few introductions and casual interviews, I decided to give it a try also. The job was great.. perks were amazing (car, trips, etc), but there have been so many reorganizations and massive layoffs that I think it is time for me to rethink my long term plans.

I have several colleagues who are pharmacists and after much deliberation I am considering applying to pharmacy school. Any advice for someone like me, who isn't all that far removed from school, but feels a million miles away? Is a background in industry helpful at all? Thank you.

Answer: Good question. I have had the opportunity to interview several drug industry / sales/ Pharma reps over the years and I always find them to be very well spoken and capable. I imagine that plenty of time spent learning how to deal with difficult doctors makes a pharmacy school interview seem relatively simple.

If you have an interest in becoming a pharmacist, I would initially suggest that you ask a pharmacist you know to shadow them for an afternoon or maybe on a weekend just to see what it's like. I hadn't really set foot inside a drug store before I started working at one my first year of pharmacy school and the indoctrination was abrupt and intimidating. My first notion was to pack up and find a new profession, but it was too late for that so I had to suck it up and make the best - which I am glad I did. If you call on local pharmacies or hospitals as a rep, you probably have an existing relationship with a pharmacist who could accommodate you.

Whether a background in industry is helpful is debatable. On one side, you have a solid science background and the ability to communicate or you wouldn't be in that field. Those will both help you in your pursuit. Being a couple of years removed from formal schooling (although I know reps have plenty of ongoing product specific education) can be good or bad. If you are eager to learn and jump back into full time coursework, you shouldn't have any trouble. If you are only looking for a stable profession, but don't have the willingness or ability to commit several years to pharmacy school, perhaps a different route is better for you.

In closing, those students I have worked with and mentored who were industry reps and then decided to pursue a career in pharmacy have become really outstanding pharmacists. If you would like more information, please ask.

Friday, September 4, 2009

What are my chances?

Question: First of all I really want to thank you for your blog and I am very fortunate to have come across it. There is a lot of useful information for people like me who are trying to pursue a career in pharmacy.I do have some questions though.

I graduated with a Bachelors of Science degree in Microbiology in December 2006. My overall GPA was a 2.9 with 3.34 Science GPA. My first two years in college were pretty rough as I was still deciding what to do. When i did start taking biology and chemistry classes I really enjoyed those and it showed on my transcript for the last two years. Then I was offered a job before I even graduated, in a auto insurance company. I know..completely different. So, I took that job and am currently doing that full-time. I got married right after graduation and decided to keep working full-time to be able to afford tuition for my husband's masters degree in bioengineering. I did a lot of research and also a lot of self-evaluation and I know that I want a career in the health field. My mother is a gynecologist and I was practically raised in her clinic. I did a lot of volunteer work in high school and I am going back to that.

I am now very interested in Pharmacy as a career. I have already started studying for the PCAT. I plan to apply to Pharmacy school in 2011.-Looking at my background, do you think that I have a good chance if I excel in my PCAT?-also, I have been out of school for about 3 years now and by the time I am ready to apply it will be 5 years. Will my transcripts will still be valid and do I need a Letter of Recommendation from a professor?-By my volunteering and working with a pharmacist ( a span of 1 year), I am hoping that I can get LOR from a pharmacist and a supervisor where I volunteered.

Answer: Graduating with a degree in Microbiology is something that should help your application significantly. Your solid science GPA is a plus also. Having difficulty in your early college years is not uncommon and should be addressed in your personal statement. I know there are a couple of blog entries realting specifically to this. If you have a chance to search the blog, I would encourage you to do so.

Your PCAT will determine much of what you success will be. I would say that if you haven't taken any classes in the last 3 years, obtaining a professor LOR is probably unrealistic unless you had a very close relationship with someone. Each school will be different when determining how long ago you have completed coursework and if the credits will transfer. I would not imagine 3 years to be excessively long in this regard, but 5 years might be beyond the threshold at some schools. I recommend contacting the schools you are interested in directly and asking them.

And yes, I think it would be beneficial to get some pharmacy experience and ultimately a pharmacist LOR. Much of your success (and this goes for all applicants) in gaining acceptance into a school of pharmacy depends on the sacrifices you are willing to make. You may have a "dream" school you wish to attend. Or perhaps there is a school of pharmacy in the town where you live. If you are not accepted into your one or two most desired programs, are you willing to relocate if necessary? These are the difficult decisions that you should be thinking about and developing a plan for. Good luck.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Should I mention my fraternity on my application

Question: I have a quick question.. I was wondering how much help would having any sort of experience in a fraternity have for an applicant? Obviously I know GPA, PCAT, LORs, and pharmacy experience make the bulk of the decisions... but does having any fraternity experience on the resume, keeping in mind that they do a lot of philanthropic work and community service, help make the applicant more well-rounded at all? Thank you for your time!

Answer: Personally, I think it would have minimal benefit. However, I would list any fraternal organizations that you belong to. If any volunteer work was done that you felt was particularly important, citing examples in your personal statement would also be appropriate.

You never know if a reviewer might have a similar background or fraternal association, so I would recommend listing any groups that you belong to - in most cases, I agree that it does make you a more well rounded candidate.

You might avoid mentioning that you were the official kegmeister for your frat house though (just kidding) :)

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

School begins... and now things get serious

Now that school has started for most of you (and for us), this is truly the beginning of the application and interview cycle for schools of pharmacy. Our committee has had a couple of brief reviews looking at the class we enrolled for the Class of 2013 and how they compare to previous classes. It is our hope every year, as I assume it to be with most institutions, to admit the highest quality of student with the best GPAs, PCATs, etc.

For the past several months we have offered to review personal statements and the final tally was nearly 400! This took a significant amount of time, but we learned a lot about many of you and hope that you have found our blog to be helpful. We think we have made a positive difference in your efforts to gain admission. The next step is completing your supplemental applications (where required) and begin interview preparation. Oh, and don't forget to study and keep your grades up during the process.

If you have questions related to the interview process, please ask them at this time. You can post questions in the comments field or send us an email:

We also hope that you will keep us updated on your progress. If you have had communication with a school, been offered an interview, or been rejected, we would appreciate knowing so that the information can be used to assist others. We also sincerely hope that you will "follow" us on the blog and pass this blog link along to everyone you know. We have some features planned with mock interviews and online discussions that should be informative and educational. More info coming soon.

Good luck with the school year. Email us any questions you have and tell us how you are doing as we enter the next phase of what is lengthy process of becoming a pharmacist.


Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Retaking failed courses and academic forgiveness

Question: I got a few Fs a few years ago at the university I'm currently attending , when I was still having a hard time adjusting to living on my own. I ended up going back home and retaking two of the three failed courses over at the local CC before coming back.

At the moment, my University GPA is around 3.22, with still a year of courses left to take, so I can definitely bring it up (or down). The thing is, the UC system has an academic forgiveness policy where retaking a failed course at a UC replaces the grade, hence bringing up my GPA more so than taking another class. I understand that most pharmacy schools only take the average between the two, but is it a good idea to retake those classes at UCSD nonetheless? And how do pharmacy schools look at a third retake of a class? Would you consider that there are better things to do during the school year than to retake a class purely for boosting my UC GPA, which is the sole benefit it seems to endow?

The three classes that I failed were CHEM 6A (First course in general chemistry for the science/engineering major), PHYS 2D (modern physics for the science/engineering major), and MATH 20C (Analytical Calculus, again for the science/engineering major). I retook CHEM 6A and MATH 20C class getting B's for both classes at my CC. Grade-wise, it's not the best, and I think I can definitely do better than that now. Also, as far as I know, modern physics isn't a pre-requisite for admission, but would still be a good idea to retake it and leave no Fs in any of my courses, right?

Lastly, I want to know where I stand, GPA-wise, for applications later on. Are there any particular GPAs I should be calculating? I'm assuming overall GPA, science GPA, and possibly pre-req GPA if I have time. Also, what constitutes science GPA when pharmacy ADCOMs look at it? For MD/DO paths, I know math, physics, chemistry and biology are considered.

Answer: While your school may grant you academic forgiveness, please understand that the PharmCas transcript (if that is how you are applying) will show the course each time you enrolled. We will see that you failed the courses and the PharmCas GPA reported will count both scores rather than simply the improved score. So, retaking them again might help you improve your GPA at the university, but don't think it will beneficially impact your GPA when we review your file as a committee.

However, because the classes that you struggled with are those that a normal pharmacy applicant would never have enrolled in, I would suggest that you detail very clearly in your personal statement that you were challenging yourself with those courses and struggled. As an AdCom, I can accept that.

The grades I want to see success in are: Chem, Orgo, Bio, and Calculus. If you have good grades in those courses (and/or good PCAT scores), you should be in decent shape depending on which schools you are applying to. As noted in an earlier blog entry, because many of the California schools do not utilize the PCAT, their decision making is skewed toward applicants with higher GPAs. In a case such as that described, I am not certain if the non-PCAT / PharmCas schools will look at your entire transcript or accept the academic forgiveness granted by your university, and thus, your significantly improved GPA. For your sake, I hope the latter.

Good luck.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Law student wants to attend pharmacy school

Question: I'll be graduating law school this December and applying for August 2010 admission to pharmacy school. I have a BS in political science, a solid math/science GPA, pharmacy experience, and my wife and several of our friends went to the pharmacy school I'm applying to. My question is this: Will the admissions committee look disfavorably on my going straight from law school to pharmacy school? How do I overcome the impression that I'm a professional student looking to wallpaper my bedroom with degrees?

Answer: I know several JD/PharmsD's and a couple PharmsD/MD's, so I would like to think I have a little perspective on this. When we review applications, we acknowledge when an applicant has an advanced degree and usually give them credit for that which works in your favor.

That being said, certainly one or more members will wonder why you are not practicing law and that will be up to you to explain. I do not believe, and it has not been my experience, that you will be looked upon disfavorably by the committee for choosing a non-traditional path. Ultimately, your statement and interview should adequately minimize any thoughts about "wallpapering".

Use your statement to explain your desire to become a pharmacist. The experience that you have gained can be used to your advantage and should reinforce your professional pursuit of a pharmacy degree and career. Last year I interviewed an MD who decided he no longer wanted to be a physician, but instead wanted to practice pharmacy. He was articulate in expressing his wishes and he is now a first year pharmacy student. Given the background that you have shared with me, I suspect you will do a more than adequate job in explaining your career goals and the process by which you have arrived at this point.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Can a co-worker write an LOR for me?

Question: As far as I can telll, schools don't like a LOR from co-workers. But since I have real work experience, can I ask my ex-manager who knows me for 7 years to write a LOR for me ?

Ansswer: Absolutely, you can have your ex-manager write you an LOR. What you should not do is have a "peer" write you a letter of recommendation. If you work as a pharmacy tech, do not ask another pharmacy tech for a letter of recommendation. If this example, you would need to have an LOR from the pharmacist. Every year I see letters written by "co-workers" and the committee typically frowns on this. Letters should come from superiors or those you report directly to.

Depending on the relationship with your ex-manager, I would strongly suggest that he/she indicate the responsibilities you had as an employee and describe your character and work ethic. Certainly, the letter should focus on your work relationship and nothing since the time he/she stopped being your manager (ie, friendship, etc).

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Community College question regarding course loads

Question: For the last two years, I've been working and going to school part-time. I've been taking 2 pre-pharmacy classes per semester at a community college. Does pharmacy school look down upon this? Should I quit work and attend school full-time?

Answer: We addressed a question similar to this on the blog a while back - see link:

I know a number of committee members like to see what an applicant can do with a full, rigorous courseload, but that doesn't mean your approach won't be successful in gaining admittance to pharmacy school. Certainly, some believe that if an applicant is able to work full time and take courses toward applying to pharmacy school at the same time, that would be an adequate predictor of success in pharmacy school.

It would probably be helpful to mention how driven you have been to succeed while working and attending community college on a part time basis. It might also be comforting to a committee if you tell that that once in pharmacy school, you will devote all of your attention to your coursework and consider that your full time job.

Good luck.

Monday, August 24, 2009

This would have killed an elephant... or Michael Jackson

This is unrelated to pharmacy school admissions, but did you see the story on what killed Michael Jackson? Not to make light of a fantastic entertainer's death, but he must have had an amazing tolerance built up to medications.

On the morning Jackson died, Murray tried to induce sleep without using propofol, according to the affidavit. He said he gave Jackson valium at 1:30 a.m. When that didn't work, he said, he injected lorazepam intravenously at 2a.m. At 3 a.m., when Jackson was still awake, Murray administered midazolam.

Over the next few hours, Murray said he gave Jackson various drugs. Then at 10:40 a.m., Murray administered 25 milligrams of propofol after Jackson repeatedly demanded the drug, according to the court records.

WOW! Read the full story from the LA Times:

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Question about electives and upper division courses

Question: Hi I am an undergraduate Biology student and want to attend Pharmacy School after I finish my BS. I was wondering if you recommend taking Biochemistry and Microbiology along with all of the pre-pharmacy requirements or are there other upper division electives that I should take instead? Thank you.

Answer: If your plan is to complete your BS Biology prior to applying to pharmacy school, I would imagine that you will be required to take Biochem and Micro as part of your required coursework to complete your degree. Is that correct? Certainly having completed rigorous courses such as those mentioned would be beneficial (if you do well in them) when an admissions committee is reviewing your file.

I suspect that during your first year of pharmacy school you would be required you to take Biochem and Micro, so you would be well ahead of the curve in those classes. I don't know anything about your current academic path, but it would be very acceptable for you to apply prior to earning your BS if you wanted to. Many students do exactly that. Applying after the second year of undergraduate studies is common. If you aren't accepted at that time, you can complete your BS and try again two year later.

If you elect to complete your BS first, any advanced math or science courses will be looked upon favoravbly by a committee. However, be intelligent in your choices and make sure that you can be successful in the classes chosen. Better to not register for a class than to drop it half way through because it is too time consuming, difficult, or unintertesting.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

PCAT - Augst 22, 2009.... Thoughts and Reactions

For those who took the PCAT today, please share your thoughts on the exam. How did you prepare? What would you have done differently? All insight is appreciated.

I hope to finish up the remaining personal statements this weekend, so please don't think that I have forgotten to respond to your emails and questions. I will get back to everyone asap.

Thank you.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Personal Statement - reviews

As the school year begins anew, we now have less free time to review the number of personal statements that we were able to over the summer months. Thank you to everyone who has sent us statements. We hope to catch up and provide you with feedback in the next couple of days.

As mentioned earlier, we will begin to shift the direction of the blog to interview preparation. Hopefully, we can have our first online web discussion in September. There are so many things we hope to do, but we want to make this a useful site for those who visit. If there is a topic that you would like to have addressed, please email us -

Again, thank you for visiting the blog. Please click on the link to the right to "follow" us. You won't receive any spam emails or be signed up for anything by doing so. It is our hope to have 100 followers and we would hope that those applicants who had their statements reviewed (300+ of them) would grant us that request.

Please send this link to everyone you know. Stay tuned!


Thursday, August 20, 2009

PCAT August 22, 2009 - Advice, Questions, Comments

Good luck to everyone taking the PCAT this weekend. If you have taken the exam previously, please use the comments section below to offer any advice. If this is the first time you are taking the PCAT and you have questions that keep you up at night, please post them below and the many readers of this blog can help ease your concerns.

Please provide as much information in your questions and answers as possible.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

First week of Pharmacy School

Hello all,

Sorry this posting is kind of late. Got caught up in some last minute items to do this past weekend so I am posting this today Tuesday August 18th 2009 for my experiences from last week (first week of pharmacy school).

Well initially it was overwhelming as I knew no one and the amount of workload we were notified that we would receive was scary. As we progressed as a class throughout the week, I realized what the administration was talking about during Orientation. We went over 1-2 chapters in the first week! Already there is an exam coming up soon and this is quite a daunting task of learning and keeping everything in mind. One must manage their time well otherwise they will not know where it went and the next lecture day comes and it would seem as if a storm of information has hailed upon you.

Nevertheless, I seemed to have handled it well the first week and made some new friends. Surprising to see how many people have come from different regions of the state and out of state. Professors are definitely top notch and deliver the information in a manner which we can process and understand it but now the practical part of Pharmacy is greatly in play. Of course initially they are teaching us the theory aspect of how to carry yourself in certain situations but in the weeks to come, we will be put to the test.

This first week was a complete review and also many new things as well but the number 1 thing I am taking away from this first week is the willingness and the unity between the students in aiding each other to succeed in the classroom. No one refuses to form a study group with other individuals and everyone is willing to help. This is directly the opposite of undergraduate school. It’s a new and completely refreshing atmosphere that anyone who has the prospect of becoming a Pharmacist would enjoy.


I need to write my own LOR

Question: I have a question about how to write a letter of recommendation, for myself unfortunately. I've known the pharmacist for a year and a half and have asked him questions and concerns that I've had with college many time. In a way I'm like his mentor, I asked him to write a letter of recommendation for me, but he doesn't have much time to so he said he'd sign off on it if I wrote it myself.

My major concern as I was writing it was that I didn't know what to really say about myself from his perspective. What are some good, not overly fictitious things I can talk about? Since I've only physically seen him a few times there isn't much their, he lives on the west coast and I live on the east. Suggestions on things I could talk about would be immensely appreciated.

Answer: Thanks for your email. I really cannot advise you on your question of how to best misrepresent yourself in this situation. In fact, it makes me a bit uncomfortable to be honest. What you are asking is for advice on how best to lie. While I have seen this done and have even confronted one applicant for what was obviously a "self LOR", I would recommend against submitting such an LOR to PharmCas for a variety of reasons.

I am not a philosophical person, but I'm sure the great minds would ask if you are willing to misrepresent yourself on this occasion to better your chances, what might you be willing to do as a professional for personal gain. It's a slippery slope and one that I'm sure many have traversed. I would advise you from doing so.

I know this is not the advice you hoped for, but I would be uncomfortable offering anything else.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Dear Pre-Pharmacy Clubs and Organizations...

First of all, thank you to the many university and community college students who belong to pre-pharmacy clubs and organizations. Many of you have been very helpful in distributing information from our blog to others in your group and we appreciate it. Someone informed us that the pre-pharmacy group from Hawaii-Hilo has a link to our blog on their facebook page: which I thought was kind of neat.

If you belong to a pre-pharmacy organization at your school, please forward the blog link to others in your group. We will help as many students as time permits. And this service is free, so what more can you ask for? :)

If you have an organization website or facebook/myspace page, please add a link to us. The greater participation, the more valuable a resource we can be for each other. Thank you!

PCAT score - review

Question: Hi I had just stumbled upon your blog today, and am so grateful. With all the pre-pharm students you have helped I was hoping to get some advice in regards to my situation. I am planning to apply for the upcoming 2010 fall semester, but I don't feel confident in what I have to offer. I recently graduated, took the PCAT August 2008, have a decent GPA and just applied at CVS.

Verbal Ability 81
Biology 94
Reading Comprehension 40
Quantitative Ability 67
Chemistry 86
Composite 82

GPA: 3.27 not including Orgo II that I just took.
Organic Chemistry II with Lab : A (5.0 hrs)

I am scheduled to retake the PCAT in October. But I am assuming that I'll need great recommendations accompanied with an amazing personal statement to get into any school or to even be considered. I need advice as to how I can increase my chances for acceptance? Thank you so much, I really appreciate it.

Answer: I encourage you to review some of the previous blog entries as your stats are in line (or better) than some. A week or so ago, one of our applicants was admitted with a PCAT around 50 (see link and follow through link in blog entry so I wouldn't be too concerned in your situation.

Not knowing where you plan to apply, I would say you have a pretty good chance of being granted an interview with an 82 composite. Of course, LORs and your statement are critical elements, but your PCAT and GPA are acceptable for many schools. Improving your reading score will help, but might not be necessary with the very strong Bio and Chem scores you earned.

During the interview process is where you will need to be on the top of your game and sell yourself to the institution. If you can make even a slight improvement to your Reading and Composite PCAT scores, you will be in decent shape if you are applying to multiple schools with admissions stats similar to yours.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Question about University of Southern Nevada

Question: I am pretty open to moving any school anywhere in the United States that will admit me. My test scores and GPA are pretty average, so I was researching schools that admit student with credentials similar to mine. I haven't been in school for several years, but want to try pharmacy school (I have a chemistry degree).

Are you familiar with the University of Southern Nevada? I was reading through their website and found this interesting, "The Admissions Office will rank applicants using a formula based on their Interview Selection, actual Interview, and PCAT scores. Letters of recommendation, pharmacy experience, a BS/BA degree and Nevada or Utah residency are NOT required to apply." Plus, they offer academic forgiveness which will help my GPA big time.

So, if I've got this straight - no LORs, no experience and they'll make my poor grades disappear? I'm a shoo-in, right?

Answer: I will first state that I did not attend and have never been employed by the University of Southern Nevada School of Pharmacy. I have no affiliation with the school. I believe there is a link among the ads on the side of the page or under this blog entry for the USN School of Pharmacy, so you can click the link if you want more information from them directly.

To your question: I find it a bit interesting that the school publicizes the fact that "Letters of Recommendation are not required and are not accepted". I am not judging their admission process, but I learn quite a bit about applicants by reading what others have to say about them. I don't know why they won't accept LORs.

In your case, the academic forgiveness sounds like it could help quite a bit. Please read the fine print, however, that all prereqs must be taken within the last 5 years. It also appears that there are actually two campuses (one in Nevada and another in Utah) with a total number of admitted students > 200. Their website says they received more than 1500 applications, so quite a few people might think the way that you do. Nevertheless, it would certainly be worth sending your PCAT score to them and let the chips fall where they may. Good luck.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Wouldn't it make more sense to give RP's some prescriptive authority?

I just read this article from the Wall Street Journal detailing insurance companies wanting their plan participants to have an online consultation with a doctor rather than going to an office to be seen. By filling in the blanks on a form, the doctor will let you know within 24 hours what you should do. OMG - are you serious?

In what Atlanta-based RelayHealth calls a webVisit, patients answer detailed
written questions about their symptoms and a report is sent to the doctor. The
physician then responds within 24 hours through the site with follow-up
questions, a suggested treatment, a prescription or a request to see the patient
in person.

Wouldn't we as a health care system be better served by allowing the most accessible health care professionals (ahem, pharmacists) to treat minor ailments? If you have strep throat, do you really want to be told to fill out the form online and you'll hear back in 24 hrs? Why couldn't the RP have the precriptive authority to dispense some Pen VK and get the patient back to health? It would sure save everyone a lot of time and money. It irritates me that pharmacist advocate groups and associations have not been more proactive in legislative matters pointing out to insurance companies and lawmakers that pharmacists are knowledgeable and can be a resource for treatment of certain issues.

Keep this in mind as you complete your schooling and make a conscious effort to become involved and change the way things are done.


Saturday, August 8, 2009

Alternative Medicine

Question: I am interested in studying alternative medicine to SUPPLEMENT my pharmacy education, NOT substitute. On a forum, I asked whether mentioning this plan was wise, and I was met with much negative criticism. Everyone told me if I wanted to do this, I should pursue this alternative as my career instead of pharmacy.

I was wondering, whether this was a bad thing to mention in my personal statement?

Answer: Every year we have a few applicants who indicate in their personal statement that they have an interest in alternative medicine. I find it interesting that you say others have told you not to mention this because I do know some reviewers who have a somewhat cynical view of such therapies. Inevitably, one committe member will make a comment that the applicant should go and work at the "health food store" instead of pursuing pharmacy school. So, I think there still may be some negative views of "alternative medicine". Alternatively, I know of one professor who is actively involved in research with such therapies and might view your interest as a plus.

I think if you can address your interest in alternative medicine appropriately and not focus on it as your primary goal for attending pharmacy school (which you indicate it will not be), it shows an interest beyond traditional medicine and you wouldn't be penalized for it.

When in doubt, be true to yourself and what you want the committee to know about what kind of pharmacist you will be. If alternative medicine is interesting to you, mentioning it will help the committee know you a bit better and give you a more complete review of your application.

Friday, August 7, 2009

How to address goals in a personal statement

Question: Upon graduating from pharmacy school, I plan on teaming with my parents to figure out how to open a pharmacy in my father's African village. While starting up the business abroad, I would still pursue my career in America. Details and planning are still very vague at the moment but my question is: Would something like this be a good goal to include in my personal statement for pharmacy school admission?

Answer: Thanks for your email. I have read about intentions similar to yours in personal statements before. I think it is an altruistic goal and worth mentioning, however, I would probably make it a secondary endpoint. That is, you want to be a pharmacist (first and foremost) to help people and you also have the goal of building a pharmacy in the African village. I think most committee members would see that as a positive. If nothing else, it does show your character and your desire to contribute to society.

Good luck.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

New contributor added

Many of you responded with emails and comments regarding the blog entry detailing the admission of a student whose email question appeared on our blog. I asked him to tell you what the first week or two of pharmacy school is like and he accepted our offer.

I requested that he give you whatever information he feels might be useful to prospective pharmacy students. I hope that you will offer your comments and questions for him and the rest of the group, thereby enabling a particpatory forum.

Thank you!

Success!!! Welcome to the Profession!

Comment: We received a nice email from an individual who was accepted into pharmacy school this week for classes beginning Fall 2009!! See his original email and our response.


This is a great case study that should teach you a couple of things:
a) Being waitlisted doesn't mean you won't be admitted - even up until the last day of orientation
b) You can overcome a poor (or marginal) PCAT score with strong letters of recommendation and a good interview
c) Even in cases where I (or others) tell you that your chances are remote, good things can still happen


Hello Admissions,
I got into pharmacy school for this Fall 2009 at ______ :)

Today was last day as orientation was today. Today has definitely been an exhausting day. Can't wait till the white coat ceremony!

You know they always said there is always that one person who was selected right dead in the end but I shrugged it off and just thought well they just want us to feel better. I never knew it was going to happen...let alone to me!

I definitely learned something valuable today...Production, Persistence, and Patience are the 3 P's of Pharmacy school admissions.

I hope to keep in touch with you and perhaps if any student is in need of any aid, I can be of service.

Appreciate all of your input.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Words of Appreciation

Some words of thanks: I discovered this blog very recently and it has helped me immensely with the application process for pharmacy school. It has been tremendously useful in helping me plan my personal essay and more, although its also created new fears as well - my scattered/light course load.

I write this simply to say your effort is very much appreciated. The daunting task of gaining admittance to a pharmacy school is very stressful and it is so helpful to have someone on the inside voluntarily answering questions.

I will be writing my personal essay in the coming weeks and hopefully you won't be too busy to have a chance to review it. Once again, thank you very much.

Response: Thank you for your email and kind words. I am glad that you have found the blog to be helpful. Please bookmark or follow the blog if you haven't already. We also ask you to please pass the blog link on to anyone you know who may be interested in pursuing a career in pharmacy.

As we have stated before, we aren't charging for any of the services that we are providing. Letters like the one above make our efforts worth the time involved. Thank you!

How to address a DUI - part 2

Question: I am concerned about is how my underage misdeameanor DUI will affect my chances of getting into pharmacy school. I know this question has already been answered previously in a post a few days ago, but I do not know the circumstances of the other person's situation. I would appreciate an honest answer about my chances of getting into pharmacy school, know that you know my situation completely. Thank you so much for taking the time to read this!

Answer: My response is this: at my current institution we consider the circumstances of such offenses, particularly the age at which it occurred. If this happened while underaged, you can try to explain it as making a very poor choice as a young person and having since vowed to never let it occur again. Don't dwell heavily on the DUI in your personal statement, but I think you need to address it.

You might mention anything that you have done with community service or alcohol prevention to show that you have learned from your error in judgment and how you are focused on helping others,etc. Having a DUI isn't going to help you, obviously, but you can try to positively "spin it" to show what you have learned and how it will make you a better person and pharmacist.

Good luck.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Low GPA during first years in college - advice?

Question: I'm applying to pharmacy school for my second time and want to make sure I get in. I've wanted this for so long and am so dedicated to this dream but I am not sure what more I can do.

My positives are that I've been working in a pharmacy going on 7 years now, I will have my BS degree at the end of this school year, my grades are improving each semester, I'm involved in a number of school activities/clubs. However, I fall at the lower end of the cumulative GPA spectrum as my freshman and sophmore years I averaged C's bringing down my overall GPA. My Junior year I figured out how to study better and how to better manage my time and now in the past two years am getting all As and Bs in upper division chemistry, biology, physics, and math courses.

I've taken the PCAT three times and tried something different everytime and I only improve 5 points eachtime. I've worked really hard on my personal statement and sent it into you and you gave me some great positive feedback. I've gotten what I feel are some great letters of recommendation but what more can I do? I'm not sure if I have that competitive grade-wise application.

Any advice for me?

Answer: Yours is not an unusual situation. Many applicants struggle during their first year or two at college whether due to the transition away from home for the first time, immaturity, or a few too many trips to happy hour. When they finally decide what degree they want to pursue, their focus, and subsequently their GPA, improves. You did not disclose your GPA or your PCAT scores, so I can't get a real feel for what your situation is.

I suggest you really use your personal statement to your advantage. As a committee member, I review a number of applications and read quite a few personal statements. If an applicant acknowledges academic difficulties during their early college years and then points out the improvement, particularly with upper level science and math courses, you are making a strong case for yourself. Use what you describe as your weaknesses to benefit you. Show the committee that once you became commited to studying pharmacy, your grades improved.

With your work experience and strong LORs, you should have a chance if your PCAT and GPA are at least marginal. As I have suggested to others, you may need to broaden the list of schools where you are applying. If you are focused on only attended your in state public institution which is very competitive, being admitted might not be realistc. Look at other schools, maybe even some in the accreditation process that are not as selective and see what happens.

Good luck.