Friday, September 23, 2011

Am I kidding myself?

Question: Hello, I just stumbled upon your blog and found it very interesting. I am 29 and have a bachelors degree in business admin. I always wanted to do Pharm, but as a teen picking a major, I was pushed to buisness by my parents. I didn't do well in school like many 18-19 year old kids do in the first few years, and had to really turn it on my last few semesters to finish with a 2.7.

I really want to go back and do what I should have from day one, but now with a family and other obligations it makes it difficult. I have looked into all of my options and have found a way to do it, but it involves me moving my family and basically leaning on my wife and her family to make it through the 3-4 years. We are willing to do this but it can only work with 1 school. Once I take a few pre-requisites, I will meet all of the requirements, but they get 1700 applications for 140 seats, and I will be on the low side for GPA. I would hate to take 4-5 courses in Bio and Chem and then apply to get shot down. With really needing the perfect storm to be able to make this work, am I kidding myself?

Answer: Hmmm... are you kdding yourself? No. Will it be easy? Definitely not.

Every year I interview applicants who are in a similar position to you who are willing to make major sacrifices to pursue their professional goal. It can be done although I am often amazed at how students manage school, family, children, work, etc in a place far from home.

Of course it's impossible for me to offer guidance without knowing much more about your circumstances and what school you would like to attend. I think before doing anything you need to contact this particular school and speak with an Admissions counselor. Make a list in advance of all the questions you have about prereqs, admission requirements, incoming class statistics, financial aid, etc. I have found that most people in the Admissions arena can usually give you a pretty good idea where you stand when it comes to likelihood of being admitted so that would be the place to start.

Best of luck and please keep us posted.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

How should I address a DUI?

Question: After graduating I made a HUGE error in judgment and was arrested and was charged on a misdemeanor DUI (driving under the influence of alcohol). Should I mention this in my personal statement that is part of PharmCas? I have already fully disclosed this information to several supplemental questions for certain schools that ask of this but I haven’t for schools that did not. I understand that having a record is highly looked down upon and have definitely learned a lot from my experience. So I was wondering what the best course of action would be.

Answer: You can't change what has happened obviously, so you need to impress upon the committee that you have learned and matured from your error in judgment. Whether you do that in your personal statement or in the supplemental application probably doesn't matter.

Keeping in mind that you will be required to list any criminal offenses, there really isn't any way to completely avoid discussing it. However, I wouldn't belabor the point. I do think it is important that you address it head on but I should also add that it has been my experience that committee members view issues like a DUI differently depending on the age at which it occurred. Whether right or wrong, I think you'd be given a little bit more latitude if this occurred at age 21 rather than at age 41. Either way, you should address what you learned from the experience. If you did community service, such as working with young adults to educate them about the dangers of drinking and driving, include that as well.

Good luck.

Friday, September 9, 2011

What is a "good" GPA to get into pharmacy school?

Question: What is a good gpa for pharmacy school?I don`t know if you are the right person to ask, but any advice/pointers you might have would be very much appreciated. Please help

Answer: There are many factors involved when a committee is reviewing an application and one of the more important ones is the applicant's GPA. It is difficult to say what a "good" GPA is, but the higher the better of course.

If you are able to maintain a GPA > 3.5, you have an excellent chance at receiving an interview if your PCAT scores are comparable and your statement and LORs are deemed sufficient. If you have a GPA = 3.0-3.5, your chances are probably diminished slightly. Please understand, however, that it has been my experience that a GPA = 3.0 with a PCAT = 99 would have a better acceptance rate than an applicant with a GPA = 3.5 and a PCAT = 50.

When we start reviewing applicants with an overall GPA < 3.0, there is less chance that these prospective students will be granted admission. Certainly, some will receive interviews and others will be waitlisted, but a GPA at or above a 3.0 is a threshold I would encourage you to stay above if at all possible.

On occasion, I have even encouraged my advisees to add an additional unrelated course (cooking, pottery, etc) before applying to pharmacy school in cases where they are teetering on a 3.0. By doing so, you might be able to add 3-4 credit hours of "A" work to help boost your GPA ever so slightly and stay above 3.0. So, to answer your question, do everything you can to stay > 3.0.

Good luck.