Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Forner pharmacy student wants to re-enroll

Question: I was once a pharmacy student. I finished all the pre-reqs and 1 semester of the third year before I failed out. My pre-reqs were mostly C's. This was due to personal problems that have been resolved now. Currently, I am about to get a BS degree in Biology at another school. My cumulative GPA is 3.0, but my science GPA is 2.5. I got a C in Genetics and a C in Microbiology w/ lab, although I received a B in medicinal Microbiology in Pharmacy w/o lab. The highest GPA I could get before I graduate is 3.3. I have already gotten a pharm tech license, and worked as a pharm intern (not tech) in 3 different pharm settings, but haven't taken the PCATs yet. Do you think there is a slight chance I could make it back in?

Answer: Good question - every year we have several students who were once in pharmacy, medical, and nursing schools apply to our institution and I have seen students with similar experiences as yours be readmitted to pharmacy school. What we would look at was whether or not you were eligible to resume your coursework at your previous institution. If you left on decent terms, but the personal problems were the primary factor in your academic failures, that would probably help your case. If the school considers you ineligible to re-enroll, our committee would consider that as a significant negative against you. In either case, you must use your personal statement to explain your reason as best you can.

Because your grades are marginal, you will need to show your desire to resume your pharmacy studies and hopefully score very well on the PCATs which would help offset some of the earlier not so stellar grades. Point out that you have matured since your early studies and that you have foucsed on earning your BS in an attempt to re-enroll in pharmacy school. There is something to be said for perserverance. Good luck.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Pharmacy Scool - what are my chances?

Question: I recently discovered the blog and was spurred to ask a question. I would appreciate your input on my applicant strength in regards to the average applicant you come across. Here are a few stats:

GPA: 3.01, science/math GPA: 2.7

PCAT taken August 2009
Verbal 97
Biology 99
Reading 83
Chem 90
Quant 91
Composite 98

I am a certified pharmacy tech although I have no pharmacy experience as I could not find a job in pharmacy. I have over 200+ volunteer hours at the local Boys & GIrls Club, as well as various charities. I have also worked at various retail jobs (none relating to pharmacy however) since college started 3 years ago.

In regards to my GPA, I know it's low, and its due to my lack of focus my first two years of college. I have averaged roughly a 3.5 the past two semesters, and I feel as though my PCAT scores show I have a handle on science and math. Also, I know I can count on getting a glowing LOR from my current boss, and one from an economics professor (economics is my degree, which I will obtain this year). However, I need to get one from a pharmacist, and I am currently trying to arrange a shadowing visit or two.

So, I know that this is a very long email, and for that I apologize. However, I feel like this gives an accurate snapshot of myself. I'm contemplating retaking a few classes (mostly freshman level biology's) to boost my GPA, but I'm not sure I can fit it into my schedule. I would greatly appreciate if you could advise as to what I could do to add to my application or just comment on the general strength of my application.

Answer: My succinct response is this: You have excellent PCAT scores and those alone will probably get you in to most schools. As noted,your GPA is marginal, but you can address this in your statement. I wouldn't be too concerned in your case and I wouldn't retake lower level courses unless you did very poorly (D or lower) in classes like Gen Chem, Orgo, or Bio. Just try to keep your overall GPA > 3.0.

You seem to have plenty of good work and volunteer experience, so lack of pharmacy experience won't be all that important. Shadowing and an LOR from a pharmacist would be more than enough in your case.

Just make sure that your statement is good and that your LORs are solidly supportive. If so, you have an excellent chance of being admitted to multiple schools.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Make sure the school knows you are committed to pharmacy!

While noting your attributes, oftentimes applicants will point out their rigorous work schedules and course loads - I think it is a fine idea to do that. In pharmacy school you will have 16-18 semester hours (mostly difficult science courses), so if you have been successful in your undergraduate studies handling similar classes, mention it. However, make sure the committee knows that you are committed to be a full time pharmacy student.

Here is how one potential applicant references her work load:

Persistence has defined who I am in recent years; I have managed to be
financially independent with two part-time jobs resulting in fifty-hour
workweeks: working at a pharmacy and also as a research assistant.
Simultaneously, I am continuing my post-baccalaureate studies and community
service that I enjoy.

This paragraph would concern me as I wonder if you would be able to succeed with your courses if you plan to work part time jobs and keep yourself as busy as you have in the past. I know that pharmacy school is a major financial investment and that many students need to work to pay the bills. Trust me, we understand that. School officials, however, want to make sure that the students they admit will be successful so explain the sacrifice you are willing to make if given this opportunity.

Be very clear in your statement how you plan to handle the rigors of a professional program. Do you plan to cut back or resign from your current position? While volunteering is fantastic, perhaps you might tell the committee that you plan to seek part time employement in a pharmacy instead. Stating that you are 100% committed to being a pharmacy student and will eliminate any unnecessary distractions might be viewed as a positive when decisions are made.

Good luck.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Should I send a thank you note after an interview?

I am reposting this question because it comes up from time to time. If you have a different opinion than mine, please let me know.

Question: Should I send a thank you letter following a pharmacy school interview?

Answer: Some years ago, I received a thank you note or email from what seemed like most of the applicants that I personally interviewed. Today, however, I receive very few.

What I will point out though, is that I tend to remember those applicants who did send the note (which is the point of sending the note, right?). On several occasions when discussing a file, I have heard a commitee member comment that they received a nice card or email from the applicant being discussed. While it might not sway anyone's opinion, for the time it took to send the note, I'd say it was worth it.

I might also add that if you have been working with someone in the admissions office closely, it would be very polite to send them a thank you email as well following an interview. Sometimes I think they get overlooked