Monday, December 26, 2011

What are my chances at getting into pharmacy school?

Question: I just finished my final semester of undergraduate work and my cumulative gpa should be around 2.9. I know that isn't great and unfortunately I went through more family problems than I care to admit and that caused me to have a couple D's and F's on my transcript. Most of them came in the ochem area. I will graduate with a biology degree and don't plan to start applications for school till this summer for fall 2013. I also know that my school throws out my old grades if I retake a course so I'm assuming that my gpa through pharmcas won't actually be as high as it says on my transcript. I have also taken the pcat twice with my composite scores in the 60's, but I do plan on preparing all spring and taking it one more time this summer hopefully scoring in the 80's or 90's. I also work full-time in a hospital pharmacy as a pharmacy technician and will have numerous letters of recommendation from pharmacists as I work with 15-20 of them regularly.

I know that my gpa and grades are a huge obstacle, but I know that I want to go to pharmacy school so I will stick with it either way and am willilng to work as a technician until I do get in. I do also plan on applying to 15 or more schools during the summer as I have read that some people have gotten consideration based on the fact that they showed through submitting so many applications that they were very serious about getting in. I do also plan on making most of those applications to schools that are in the candidate or pre-candidate status as I'm hoping that will also help things out.

Please let me know what you think my chances are as well as anything that you think that I could do to improve my chances going forward. Thanks for reading everyone and I appreciate the feedback.

The key for an AdCom will be your Organic Chemistry grades. I know my primary concern would be your ability to succeed in a chemistry heavy curriculum. That being said, every year we admit applicants who have struggled with various courses before "getting it" and your case sounds similar. Use your statement to acknowledge the earlier difficulties but then use your experience to show how you persevered and succeeded despite the initial setback. This will show your determination and motivation for the profession. A letter of recommendation from an OChem professor would certainly augment that as well.

I think you have a decent chance of being offered interviews and, therefore, a chance at being admitted. I wish you the best and hope you will keep us posted.

Good luck.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

When should I begin my pharmacy school application?

Question: When should I begin my pharmacy school application. I just completed my first semester of my sophomore undergraduate studies but do not plan to apply until next cycle at the earliest.

Answer: It really depends where you want to apply and when you will have the necessary prerequisites completed. I would suggest that you begin identifying schools of interest to you and contacting them now to begin a professional dialogue with the Admissions office. request materials be sent to you and set up campus visits if time permits. Begin looking for volunteer / shadowing / work experience in pharmacy sooner rather than later.

The application process begins long before you actually submit your application.

Good luck.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Terrified of interviews - suggestions?

Question: I have an interview scheduled and I am absolutely horrified. I get extremely nervous and have a hard time formulating a decent response under pressure. I was wondering if you had any advice? And I was wondering just how important an interview is? How much is the oral interview weight in comparison to the written portion of the interview?

Thank you for your help.

Answer: The interview is pretty important. I think most Adcoms expect applicants to display some nerves, but try to relax as best you can. I've seen an interviewee answer a single question for 5 straight minutes without stopping because he was so nervous... just take your time in responding and try to keep your answer somewhat brief if you can.

The written portion is simply to see if you can formulate thoughts and put them into writing without having a week or month to do so (as you would when submitting your personal statement). I think the oral portion is much more important personally.

Good luck with the interview and please keep us posted.

Monday, December 5, 2011

PCAT 92 - What are my chances?

Question: I am a seniordouble majoring in Chemistry and Biochemistry. I am currently applying for pharmacy school and was wondering how competitive I am.

I took the PCAT over the summer and my composite percentile rank was a 92, my current GPA is 3.810, and I have A's in all the prerequisite science classes (Bio, Organic, etc).

I feel like academically I am competitive, but I don't have a lot of pharmacy experience. I have shadowed a few pharmacists, but nothing too extensive. I also feel like my volunteer work is lacking. I have been very involved in undergraduate research since my sophomore year and haven't had much free time outside that. I have done some volunteer work like tutoring and random other projects here and there, but nothing too consistent.

Any input would be very helpful. I just want to make sure my lack of community service isn't going to keep me out.

Answer: Based on the information provided, I think you will be a very strong candidate. Grades, PCAT, etc are all top notch it appears. You're as ideal a candidate as anyone will get in those areas to be honest.

As far as experience and volunteerism, I'm not one who dwells on it much when I review applications although I have some colleagues who place greater emphasis on it. If you have some shadowing experience, you should at least mention it in your statement or essays to point it out. If you can share a story or something you witnessed during your shadowing, that's even better.

I hate to say this, but I put virtually no stock in volunteer work outside of health care or pharmacy specific work that is well documented - I've found that much of what is listed by applicants is somewhat exaggerated anyway. Again, that's my opinion of it.

All in all, I think you have an excellent chance of being offered interviews and likely admission to pharmacy school this year.

Good luck and please keep us posted.

3.1 GPA - What are my chances?

I have not taken the pcat yet, I plan to this summer.
That being said I will be applying for schools next year and as of now my gpa is around a not phenomenal, but it is at an academically challenging liberal arts institution (i don't know if that is put into consideration at all).
I don't have pharmacy experience, but I do volunteer a decent amount. I also have undergraduate research experience in microbiology dealing with bacteria, of which I presented at a small university conference and was published in a minor journal.
I am curious how I would fair in the process and what I could do to help insure my success in applying?

Answer: A GPA of 3.1 is good enough to get you an interview at a lot of schools - where do you plan to apply? Obviously, you should spend as much time as possible preparing for the PCAT as this can help you tremendously. Although significant experience is not required, I would encourage you to at least get some experience shadowing a pharmacist. This will help you when you write your personal statement and supplemental essays as well and give you talking points during a pharmacy school interview.

I imagine you will be a strong candidate, but there are many variables involved so it's hard for me offer anything confidently. I wish you the best and I hope that you will consider contributing your thoughts and experiences on the application process to others via the forum.