Last week I got my first official application decision of the cycle. Opening the email, I scanned the words frantically until I found the sentence I was fearing the most. It read, “I regret to inform you of the program’s decision not to pursue your application further.” These words translate much more simply to “rejection.”
For a moment I felt like I couldn’t breathe. I knew that I would be receiving rejections throughout the cycle, but had hoped and prayed it wouldn’t be from this school. Not only was this program one of my top choices, but it is also the only school in my home city. The realization that I would not have the opportunity to interview hit me like a ton of bricks. With GPAs well above the program’s average and my state residency giving me a leg up over other applicants, I felt that I would likely secure an interview. I was wrong.
After the news, I began to question my application strategy entirely. I chose to apply more intentionally to a handful of carefully selected programs landing on the lower side of things - 6. As the September 1st deadline for many programs was only a few days away I sent my GRE scores off to an additional school that I was going back and forth on, hoping that they would arrive on time. I was relieved to have everything complete with one other program, but I still questioned if 7 would be enough to land me an acceptance or even an interview.
At this point I was doubting myself, my personal statement, my clinical experiences… everything. I wondered if there were red flags in my application or if I said the wrong things in the answers to the supplemental questions. I tried to stay optimistic, but I was disappointed and feeling insecure. My first rejection was certainly humbling, planting seeds of doubt that were becoming overwhelming.
And then I saw it. I was eating my lunch and scanning my email when I suddenly read “Invitation to Interview” in the subject line of an email from my top choice. My heart started racing and my palms were sweating. After seeing the date provided, only 3.5 weeks away, I could barely focus enough to read about the interview details. I was ecstatic. Their initial email contained a typo and in a follow up email with a correction the admissions director revealed that I was the very first applicant to be offered an interview. I couldn’t believe it. This school was my reach, and I certainly wasn’t counting on being offered an interview, let alone the first one. I was over the moon.
Here I am now, in the midst of the cycle with one interview scheduled and one rejection. Things are still up in the air, but I feel that I am at least back in the game. The ups and downs of this roller coaster ride will continue, and I couldn't be happier. Thus far, this process has been unpredictable. Although I have heard this repeated many times here by those wiser than myself, this experience has definitely shown me that there is no such thing as a sure thing when applying to PA school. Don’t be so quick to count yourself in, but also don’t count yourself out.