Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Hiw important is courseload as I finish my prereqs?

Question: My question is do you know if the admissions look to see if you are taking a light course load? I have almost finished my PREREQs and am only taking one more class to fully complete it before applying. I didn't bother taking any more courses however there were a few that are indeed related to pharmacy.

Answer: Every Admissions Committee that I have been a part of has looked at the course load of the applicant. However, if you are only taking one course because that is all you need, you shouldn't worry at all. I think it would be silly to take a bunch of unnecessary courses just to have a full course load. What is concerning to me, and I suspect many committee members, is when an applicant spreads out their difficult courses as thin as possible to avoid the difficulty of taking multiple rigorous concurrently. While not entirely uncommon, such course scheduling can be looked upon unfavorably by committee members and I have seen this firsthand. Pharmacy school courseloads are substantial in the number of credit hours and difficulty level of the material; having success with a similar courseload can only help your application.

Good luck.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Accredit vs Non-Accredited schools

Question: In an earlier post, you mentioned to a student that he might consider looking at non-accredited schools of pharmacy if he thought he couldn't get into an accredited school Could you explain the difference?

Answer: ACPE accredits schools of pharmacy. In most cases, schools are "fully" accredited. However, there have been a number of schools that have opened in the past several years and before they can be accredited, they must go through a multi-year accreditation process. Thus, some are considered "pre-candidate" or "candidate" depending on if they have students enrolled yet or have yet to graduate a class. Here is a listing of schools and their current status.
In rare instances, schools can be placed on "probation" or have their accreditation denied or withdrawn.

Additional information from ACPE:

For some applicants, the thought of attending an "non-accredited" school is concerning because of the theoretical risk that upon graduation the degree will not be accepted by their respective state board of pharmacy. I believe this "risk" to be more perceived than real and would not discourage an applicant from choosing this route if it enabled entrance into the profession, particularly if they feel admission is more likely at a non-accredited school than an accredited school.

Please send me an email or add a comment for more information.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Who should write my LORs?

Question: What are the three letter of recommendations we do need? As far as I knew, it was

1) A Professor

2) An employer
3) Personal, but not a friend or family relative.

I somewhat have number 1, but he has not responded to my phone message or my email yet. Number two, I intend on shadowing at a pharmacy this coming month or so. Number three, I' not very sure on, could you explain this one?

Answer: Every school is different in how many LORs they require and who they "suggest" you have them from. Certainly, one should be from a professor. Preferably a science professor. If you are employed in pharmacy, I strongly suggest you get a pharmacist LOR.

However, each institution is different. Some request that you have an alum write an LOR. Others want a second professor (science or otherwise). For your third LOR, I would advise you get an LOR from someone who can judge your character and work ethic. Perhaps you have experience volunteering with a church group, Habitat, hospital, etc. If you have none, another teacher or employer would work.

I recommend that you research each school that you intend to apply to and map out who they want LORs from. There will be a great deal of overlap, but some differences as well.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Kaplan guide helpful for PCAT?

Question: I was really happy to have discovered your blog today! I am currently planning to take the August PCAT. My question is quite typical of any student in hopes of pharmacy and it is simply, how would a Kaplan PCAT Study Guide be enough?

I am very worried because I stare at my three university textbooks (chemistry, biology and calculus), sigh as I glance over at my notes, and then see the Kaplan PCAT Study Guide. I feel overwhelmed! I know two weeks isn't a lot of time left to study but I just don't know how to go about with my approach in studying. I feel stressed and under pressure. Any advice?

Answer: I am glad that you have found the blog helpful. I think the Kaplan guide can be useful in preparing for the PCAT, but it is not sufficient to teach you everything you need to know. Obviously, that is why you have completed your prequisite courses and I would hope that the knowledge gained in Chem, Orgo, Bio, and Calculus would be enough for you to at least satisfactorily complete the exam.

I think it would be very useful to ask others who have taken the PCAT how they would prepare and what they thought was beneficial. I hope that some of the followers of this blog would give their advice as well (I will add this as a blog entry). Also, don't overlook the Reading and Verbal sections of the PCAT, as well as the Writing section. These make up a significant portion of the test and can help you out tremendously if you are deficient in the other areas tested.

Note to blog followers who have taken the PCAT: Please offer your insight and suggestions by adding a comment below. Thank you.

Has anyone taken a PCAT prep course?

Question: I am considering paying $1300 for a PCAT prep course. Yet when I asked a mentor pharmacist her opinion on a prep course she thought itwould not be necessary especially considering the cost. Are there people who have found the course helpful and people who haven't? I realize it will depend on the type of student and study skills yet feedback would be helpful. Thanks!

Answer: Thanks for your email. A question was asked regarding study guides earlier (see above). My initial thought is that the review course may not be worth the money, but if you are a non-traditional student who could use a serious refresher on chemistry, biology, etc, it may be worth considering. If you are a traditional student, I suspect a study guide would be sufficient.

Note: Please provide comments/feedback if you have taken a prep course or found a different study guide or method to be helpful (or less than beneficial). Thank you.