Saturday, October 27, 2012

How do pharmacy school AdComs view cases of academic dishonesty?

Question: How does the committee view cases of academic dishonesty such as plagiarism.  I understand pharmacy is a discipline with firm roots in trust and honesty.  How would you like such cases to be presented to the admissions committee?

Answer: Well, it wouldn't be looked upon favorably.  Are you referring to the PCAT question on the topic of academic probation, misconduct, etc or specifically about a question asked on a supplemental or during an interview?  Or has this not yet been addressed and you are seeking advice?

I would imagine if it was an isolated event, a committee might be lenient.  Particularly, if there was a seemingly valid excuse.  My alibi would be that I simply forgot to cite a reference and see how it went.  If an applicant plagiarized an entire paper, on the other hand, that case is certainly more difficult to argue. Now that PharmCas screens essays and statements for copied material, it is more difficult to pass something off as your own.

At my institution, if there was a concern about the student's veracity in explaining the issue, I believe a member of the committee would probably contact the school and speak with the professor or dean responsible for the misconduct penalty.  Of course, we would prefer an applicant be forthcoming with a (hopefully) appropriate explanation, but contacting the school would be one way the committee might proceed.

To be clear, a transcript with misconduct is a red flag for all AdComs and that alone could keep someone out of pharmacy school.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Please read: An Update from Admissions

To the readers of this blog and the members of our forum,

Three years ago we started this blog along with our discussion forum with the goal of demystifying the pharmacy school application process and helping prospective students achieve their career goals. I sincerely appreciate the many visitors and users and I want to to express my sincere appreciate to the site moderators - current pharmacy students - who have assisted others through this process by sharing their advice and guidance.

As some of you may have noticed, I have spent less time on the forum answering questions in recent months than I did previously. I apologize to those of you who have asked me to review personal statements and essays if I have not provided you an adequate response. I have had an increase in my current responsibilities, both personal and professional, and my free time has been reduced to the point where I have to make a decision on the future of this forum

I have made the very difficult decision to place the forum on indefinite hiatus. I will retain the site domain in the event that I am able to re-dedicate the time and resources to it. More importantly, I will continue to provide answers to emails, so I hope you will continue to share them with me and allow me to post them here to help guide other pharmacy school applicants.

My email address is posted below. I will personally respond to your question as best that I can. I hope that you will pass along this blog to your friends, classmates and colleagues.


Tuesday, October 2, 2012

How should I answer these pharmacy school application supplemental questions?

Questions: 1) I'm working on a supplemental application essay and would like to get your input. The question is "Please explain briefly why you wish to attend XXYY university?". I wrote the essay based on three criteria: ranking, location, and curriculum. I'm not sure if that's enough to answer the question. I feel like the question is not that simple. I need to elaborate more somehow. Please advise.

2) I graduated in 2005 with a very dissapointed overall GPA of 2.6. I started to take pre-pharmacy courses in 2008. I've been doing very good so far because I'm more focused now. Calculus(A), English(A), Anatomy(A), Physiology(A), GChemI(B), GChemII(A), OChemI(A), Microbiology(A). My pre-pharmacy GPA is about 3.9. However, Pharmcas's cummulative GPA is only 2.75. I have 3 LORs (pharmacist, physiology and Ochem professor). I have volunteer experience at a local pharmacy. I'm afraid that I won't get accepted because of my low cummulative GPA. I know some schools tend to look at GPA of the last 45 semester credit or at the grade trend to determine. What do you think of my chances are?

Answers: 1) Your answers are valid, although I would focus your response on rank and curriculum rather than location.  Do you know anyone who attended the school? Have you worked with or shadowed an alum? A personal recommendation from a graduate is always something nice to hear as a reviewer. If the school has something specific that makes them unique (ie, religious component, focus on a certain type of research, etc), knowing that can be useful also.

2) You are correct that your GPA is probably below the average of most schools. You need to impress upon the reviewer that your pre-pharm grades are a more accurate reflection of your abilities than your undergraduate GPA. You can add that your focus is solely on attending pharmacy school and your more recent grades attest to that. Obviously, some schools are much more competitive than others so where you plan to apply will impact the result.  Personally, I tend to place a greater emphasis on what you have achieved in your pre-pharm work and your motivation to gain pharmacy experience.

Good luck.