Saturday, January 26, 2013

Low GPA to start, but improving. How much will that help?

Question:  How do adcoms analyze GPA? Mine is low (3.03) because I 've so many credits that as many A's as i've been getting in my last 5 classes my GPA goes up by peanuts. It's so frustrating. I actually used a GPA calculator, and it came out that i'd have to take about 60 more credits (with 4.0) just to get from 3.03 to 3.5. So what do they care about most? 

Overall , or prereq/science , is having an upward trend good enough to compete with all the 3.6+ applicants, even though I have no chance to get there those numbers, for another 2-3 years? I'm also working very hard on finding a pharmacy where I could work/volunteer. Do pharmacies care about the tech certificate? All my friends that work in retail such as walgreens, CVS, etc none have it. I also know people that have gotten certified to increase their chances of getting hired, but have had no luck eigther. Should I put in even more time for the tech cert?

Answer:  GPA is very important, particularly science and math GPA. If you struggled early in your academic career, but did exceptionally well more recently, that should definitely work in your favor. I will say, however, that I think it helps for an applicant to "point out" the fact that their more recent grades are superior because in the crush to review files, sometimes we look at the GPA without as great attention to detail as we should.

The community pharmacists that I know do not usually hire based on certification. Most that I am aware of think it is more important to find someone that is willing to work hard and that has good people skills because they are going to be working closely with you. If you are having trouble finding a job, I suppose getting a tech certificate wouldn't hurt, but it would not be where I would allocate my time and resources.

Good luck.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Will past pharmacy experience help me now?

Question:  I am a second year undergraduate student and am a Bio. major. I've been working in a pharmacy since my junior year of high school and recently became certified. Nowadays, I am not working because of school. Will this affect how the admissions committee will overlook my application? Is it looked better upon if I work consecutively work until I graduate? Also, I was wondering what the average PCAT/GPA requirements are for getting accepted into pharmacy school.

Answer:  Good question. My honest answer would be that I would indicate to them that you have 2-3 years of pharmacy experience and leave it at that. You don't need to explain that you aren't working right now or even point it out. Simply state that you have experience and be prepared to explain how it helped you decide to be a pharmacist, and you'll be fine.

The average for every school is different. I'm just making these number up off of the top of my head, but I would say that you should have a minimum of 50 on the PCAT and a 3.0 GPA. Some people are accepted with numbers slightly lower. Obviously, you're chances increase as your scores improve. To have a stronger chance, a PCAT > 75 and a GPA > 3.5 would be ideal.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Do AdComs verify letters of recommendation with the writer?

Question:  Do Adcoms usually call to verify on a recommendation? If they do, at what point do they do it: when extending the interview or after the interview and just before deciding on the applicant? I turned in My pharmacist LOR in one of the schools after the interview, on the other one on the day of the interview. Do you think it even made a difference or they pretty much probably had the decision made already and my letter came in too late? Or maybe it didn't make a difference before of the short time that I started volunteering at the pharmacy ( just over a month). I know, many question! Ok to sum it up, both schools are meeting around these days and they have not called my pharmacist. Is that probably because they are not accepting me? I'm super anxious about the fact that they have not called him, what does that mean?

Answer: It has been my experience that AdCom will occasionally call the writers of LORs. Personally, I will do this on only a couple of times each year and it is usually with regard to something very specific mentioned in the letter itself. For example, I had an applicant who did poorly on his verbal and writing subset scores and the reviewer "Recommended with reservations" because of some communication issues. This concerned me (as it would most committee members) and I simply wanted to ask about a couple of situations mentioned in the letter.

In those cases when I have directly contacted a writer of an LOR, I did so prior to us offering an interview. As mentioned, in those cases, there was usually something in the application or the letter itself that seemed out of the ordinary or needed clarification. In these situations, I contacted the writer because I wanted to get a better understanding of what was being reported so I could give him/her an honest evaluation

On another occasion, we received two letters that were clearly written by the applicant and submitted in the name of a reviewer. Calling the reviewer confirmed this - he said that he gave permission for the applicant to do this, but it was a major ethical issue for the committee and we did not extend an interview to the applicant.

As a general rule, I would not expect your reviewers to be contacted directly by the school or a committee member. If your reviewers haven't heard from anyone, as an applicant that would probably bother me less than if they had contacted them to ask questions. I wouldn't worry if I were you.

Good luck.