Thursday, March 29, 2012

How do pharmacy school admissions view young applicants?

Question: I am going to apply to pharmacy schools at the end of this year,
and I was wondering, how does the committee view young applicants? I
went through a program which allowed me to finish
my junior and senior year of high school at a community college, while
earning college and high school credits at the same time. My first
year and a half was pretty rough--I was immature. But life changing
events occurred and I grew up; so now my grades have been great, my
GPA over the last 4 quarters has been a 3.7, pulling my cumulative GPA
to a 3.5. I received my Associates of Science within two years and by
the end of this year, my third, I will be done with all pharmacy
pre-reqs (except for 2 classes). I am currently 18 years old and by
the time I apply I will be 19, so I am wondering, do pharmacy schools
have concerns about my age? And will this negatively affect my chances
of getting into pharmacy schools?

Answer: Good question. As a committee, we have this discussion every now and then and I don't think there is a simple answer. Obviously, we cannot use age when making decisions.

Here is an example where age may be considered:

A young applicant writes a personal statement that sounds immature and lacks depth. He/she has no pharmacy experience, however, his/her grades and test scores are acceptable. There is concern that he/she may not be ready for pharmacy school.

Should we look at the academic prospects and admit him/her or encourage the applicant to gain some experience and mature another year or two? I usually assume (sometimes incorrectly), that the applicant will "get it" once they are immersed in pharmacy school, but I have colleagues who feel otherwise. If a 40 year old applicant writes a personal statement that sounds immature, I'm less likely to give him/her the same benefit.

In summary, if you present yourself as a mature applicant who is capable of successfully managing the rigors of pharmacy school, age should not be an issue.

Good luck.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Question about pharmacy school prerequisites

Question: I have noticed some schools state you must receive a grade of C or better in all prerequisite courses as one of the admissions requirements.. Can I assume that for the schools that don't say this would accept prerequisite courses with a grade lower than a C, as long as you did not fail the course? For example, if you had received a D in biology, would a school accept this as a completed prerequisite course if they do not state on their website you must receive a C or better? I hope this makes sense. Thanks for your time.

Answer: My recommendation to you and everyone with a question about what satisfactorily meets a prerequisite requirement is to call the school and ask an Admissions counselor. Every year we see applications that do not meet our criteria because the applicant simply overlooked something or didn't take the time to ask a question. Keep in mind - every school is different and we all have different criteria, so don't assume School A is the same as School B.

Thanks for your question and good luck.

Friday, March 9, 2012

I've been accepted, but my grades this semester are my worst yet

Question: I was accepted to my top choice pharmacy school and I am really excited to start in the fall.

However, this quarter my grades are the worst they've ever been. This is my last quarter as an undergraduate and my last final is a week tomorrow. Superficially, the school might look at my transcript and interpret my low grades as senioritis.

Since my sophomore year, I've managed to get on the quarterly dean's list. This quarter I'm not even sure if I'll pass all of my classes. My grades this quarter aren't consistent at all....

How do I approach the school about this? I sincerely value my acceptance and don't want to be dropped.. What should I do?

Answer: Unless you are in danger of not passing a prerequisite course, I do not believe you should have any concern if you have already been admitted.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

How do I explain low grades during an interview?

Question:I have received one interview of the schools I applied to. I was surprised (and SO excited) when I got the letter because my grades are not very competitive, however, I have a lot of experience (5 years as a pharmacy technician), I have had two jobs while carrying a full course load, a lot of volunteer work, including an emergency center volunteer in a hospital, a great personal statement, 3 good LORs from 2 pharmacists and 1 science professor, and a genuine passion for the career, which I feel I have displayed in my personal statement and my supplemental application.

My question is for the Admissions, do I really have a chance of being accepted? I am trying to go into the interview confident and I feel I will interview well as long as I am honest and display my reasons for being there. Also, my main concern is the AdComs will ask me to explain my low GPA and PCAT and I'm not sure how to word this to say that I have tried very hard in my classes and studied hard.

Per PharmCAS:
cumulative GPA: 2.77
science GPA: 2.41
math GPA: 2.84
non-science GPA: 3.12
I still have one core class that I am taking now, Gen Chem 2, hoping to raise my sGPA.

Do you have any advice as to how I would go about explaining such a low GPA? I don't have any failing grades. It was mostly an accumulation of C and B- grades. I did study hard. I just don't want to make it sound like I am making excuses. Any advice would be appreciated.

Answer: It's hard to offer you much, but as I have advised many before, you wouldn't be offered an interview if the school was not considering you as a potential applicant. I wouldn't be surprised if you were slotted as an alternate and you might have to wait a while before you know anything definitive, but that's not the end of the world either.

I think your best explanation explaining poor grades would be to honestly state that you had two jobs while in school and your grades suffered because of that. If you choose this explanation, however, you must tell the interviewer that once you are in pharmacy school that your studies will be your full time job.

Good luck.