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Admissions with Low GPA - is there hope?

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Hello everyone,


 I've come here to seek some guidance/feedback about my current situation. 


I'm 30 years old, I graduated in 2007 with a BS in Health Science with a concentration in Nuclear Medicine from the State University of New York at Stony Brook. I went on to finish Nuclear Medicine School in 2008. From then on I've been working as a Nuclear Medicine Tech in the radiology department of various hospitals. 


Back in 2010-2011 I decided that I wanted to do more, I felt like I was missing out. I decided to pursue a career as a Physician Assistant. I was very worried because at the time my undergrad GPA was a 2.96 but my family, friends, and colleagues all told me that I should really try, that I'd make a great PA. My first 2.5 years of college were less than stellar. I've never failed a class but I've had my fair share of C's. You can clearly see an upward trend from my junior year on. I had a C- in Gen. Chem 2, and my Chem grades are over 10 years old, so I retook chemistry as well as various other major science courses. All of my post-bac courses I've taken have all been A's except for a B in Genetics.  (Chem 1 & 2, Anatomy and Physiology 1 & 2, Organic Chem, Abnormal Psychology, and Microbiology all A's)


My GPA went up to a 3.07 according to my last CASPA app. I don't recall what my science GPA is but I will find out and edit this post during the week. Unfortunately CASPA factors in every grade you've ever had, which is disappointing considering I really am not the person I was 12 years ago when I started college.


I have thousands of hours of accrued healthcare experience, I have about 160 hours of PA shadowing time which I planned to expand on since I wasn't accepted to any schools. Not even an interview. :( 


One of the schools I applied to that actually took the time to break down my application piece by piece said I had a very strong narrative, and recommendations, that my GPA is what is really hurting me and that the rest of my app was very strong. At this point I don't know what else to do. Should I just give up? I have so many accumulated credits that taking more classes to increase my GPA would take so much time and money I could probably do a masters in something else. 


Am I applying to the wrong schools? I really don't want to give up on this. This is something I really want. I feel confident that if I a program would just give me the opportunity to have an interview, they would clearly see how passionate and determined I am about pursuing this . My GPA has been a stone wall, and it has become very discouraging. 

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I wouldn't bet on you getting in with those grades while only having some shadowing experience. Schools do seem to let people in with borderline GPAs if there is an upward trend, but you need real HCE experience, and shadowing isn't going to cut it. Likely neither will 6 months of low level CNA or some such. Think EMT, para, RN, RT.

You might look into DO school as they take grade replacement.

It really is strange that PA school does not allow for some level of grade replacement given the PA professions second career nature. Unfortunately it is what it is.

Good luck to you! I am not telling you to not pursue this, but just want you to know what you are up against.


Edit: PA school has damaged my brain.  I apparently cannot read anymore.  

Sent from my PC36100 using Tapatalk 2

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Don't waste any more time shadowing.  Your job now is to continue working and take more classes.  The GPA may not move much but it will move and your upward trend will continue.  You need to apply very broadly; think 15-20 schools.

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By all means, don't give up. You have experience, you have to work on the grades a bit while you wait to reapply, and look for schools that will value that experience. I was like you when I applied, with an original GPA 2.65 with a social science degree from 1980, but pulled it up to about 3.1 overall with a 3.8 science GPA with two years of prerequisite work 2004-2005. The 2 schools that valued the extremely high GPAs didn't offer an interview, and the one that was flooded with 900 apps told me to try again, but I got into the fourth school, did fine, and graduated 6 years ago.....

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He's a nuclear med tech.  3rd and 4th line down in his post.


lol. I must be really out of it.    That is great experience.  Had at least one classmate that was a nuclear med tech.  He has a job in IR when we finish and did great in school.  


I agree with wutthechris.  Don't bother with shadowing. Get another semester or two of awesome grades and then apply to a ton of schools.  Look around on the forum and you can find the list of schools that take your last 40/60 hours into heavier account.    

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You need to apply more broadly and to more programs (15 and up). Look up schools and their average accepted class statistics. Apply to programs where you better meet their student profile and I think you can get accepted. Good luck!

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Would anyone have any suggestions to any particular schools? I've already looked at a few, (2-3) just from browsing forums with a similar topic.

Franklin Pierce in NH focuses, upon request, on the most recent prerequisite grades and the last 60 credit hours. Their website is very descriptive as to what they're looking for in an applicant. Drawback: Their PANCE pass rate dropped to 85% last year.

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Franklin Pierce in NH focuses, upon request, on the most recent prerequisite grades and the last 60 credit hours. Their website is very descriptive as to what they're looking for in an applicant. Drawback: Their PANCE pass rate dropped to 85% last year.


I assure you, I've worked long and hard to get into PA and it has become a dream of mine. If I made it as far as to get into a program, I would never let it slip through my fingers and not pass the PANCE. 


Thanks everyone for the support. I really needed to hear some positive feedback from the PA community.

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Look into Rutgers.  They specifically address an upward trending GPA. 


"GPA: Applicants must have an overall and science grade point average (GPA) of no less than 3.2 (on a scale where 4.0 equals A.)  In cases where individuals show high potential by improved performance, exceptions to this requirement may be considered."




They're not blowing smoke either.  I'm in the same GPA boat as you.  I was wait-listed by Rutgers last year and was told (reading between the lines) that it was only because I still had two outstanding prerequisites.

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Any one else have any other suggestions or know of any other schools that take into account increases in performance over the last 60 credits even though your overall isn't so hot; or any type of special consideration of the sort?

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Would anyone have any suggestions to any particular schools? I've already looked at a few, (2-3) just from browsing forums with a similar topic.

You really need to make a spreadsheet with every school in the country and apply to every single one that accepts your prereqs. Applying to two won't cut it. A friend of mine with a higher GPA than yours applied to 20 schools and was interviewed at 1. Medex and Utah place a lot of emphasis on HCE.
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Hey Jekt,


I hesitated when posting this because informing people of schools lowers my chances of getting in ha, but I believe that a helping hand from a stranger can make a difference.  I've definitely had strangers help me when they didn't have to so here it goes.  I am applying to PA school this year and my GPA is sitting in the low 3.0 area as well.  I have a master’s degree in public health and a few hundred hours of HCE.  I'm only 24 so I have not had a lot of time to work due to school.  The list below are the schools that I applied to and I have also listed there GPA requirement and deadlines.  All of them have a GPA requirement of 3.0 or less.  This is great for people like us who may want to apply to schools a little less competitive GPA wise.  These schools tend to care more about the person as a whole rather than just numbers on a page.  I'm assuming you have a family so moving may not be a realistic option, but I thought I'd mention them anyways.  I live in Arkansas so all these schools that I applied to are in the South.


(Does not use CASPA) Christian Brothers University, Memphis TN - 2.8 overall GPA.  Application deadline July 1st 2014.


University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Little Rock - Recommended 3.0 overall GPA, and recommended prerequisite GPA 3.0. Application deadline December 1st 2014


LSU Shreveport - 2.9 overall GPA. Application deadline October 1st 2014


Oklahoma Tulsa - 2.75 GPA and 2.75 prerequisite GPA.  Application deadline October 1st.


University of Tennessee Health Science Center, Memphis - 2.75 overall and prerequisite GPA.  Application deadline September 1st 2014.


University of North Texas Health Science Center, Fort Worth - 2.85 overall GPA. Application deadline November 1st 2014


Baylor- 3.0 overall GPA. Application deadline September 1st 2014


(Does not use CASPA) Oklahoma City - 2.75 overall GPA. Application deadline October 1st.


Please note that these are overall GPA's not science GPA'S.  Also, Harding University in Searcy Arkansas is another good choice.  They are a church of Christ school and I hear that they care more about the whole person than just the GPA.  These are all schools worth looking into if you're ok with living in the South.

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Sorry to jack this thread but do these Christian based school consider non Christian students ???

No it's nice to have someone comment on my post!  Christian schools don't care if you are or aren't christian.  They just have a christian influence in their school.  Christian Brothers for example is Catholic.  They will have a stronger Catholic influence in how they view things.  They don't force religion on you, but may offer to pray with you or give prayers for you during tough times.  It's like going to Baptist Hospital.  It's the same as any other hospital, but just a strong religious presence.  Also, I'd like to note that private schools cost almost double that of public schools.  I think CBU is about 11k per semester so it comes out to about 77k for the two years where as most state schools range from 40k and up.  Hope this helps.

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(Does not use CASPA) Christian Brothers University, Memphis TN - No GPA minimum.  Application deadline July 1st 2014.

jukadike: Please if you give some information about schools make sure it's accurate ...


Admissions Academic Requirements

Competition for entry into Physician Assistant Programs is very intense. Applicants must meet the general requirements for entry into a Graduate Program at Christian Brothers University as well as the standards for admission to the Master of Physician Assistant Studies Program. The admissions committee of the PA Program bases all decisions upon the prospective student’s overall and science grade point averages (2.8 GPA minimum is required), the personal interview, GRE score, knowledge of the profession, healthcare experience, and the applicant’s letters of reference (letters from an M.D., P.A. and/or former teachers are preferred). Prerequisite requirements include graduation from an accredited college or university with a baccalaureate degree including successful completion of academic coursework in:

  • Anatomy with lab (four semester hours)
  • Physiology with lab (four semester hours, or combined Anatomy/Physiology with lab eight semester hours)
  • General Chemistry with lab (eight semester hours)
  • General Biology with lab (eight semester hours)
  • Genetics with lab (four semester hours)
  • Organic Chemistry with lab or Biochemistry with lab (4 hours required, 8 hours are recommended)
  • Microbiology with lab (four semester hours)
  • General Psychology (three semester hours)
  • Medical Terminology (complete course)

Academic exposure to the following courses will enhance the potential success of a candidate for entry into the program:

  • Statistics or Biostatistics
  • Advanced or Abnormal Psychology
  • Cell Biology or Histology
  • Embryology
  • Epidemiology or Pathogenic Bacteriology
  • Human Sexuality
  • Physics
  • Technical Writing
  • Advanced Chemistry and Quantitative Analysis

A personal statement and résumé are also required as part of your application documents.

Source: CBU

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jukadike: Please if you give some information about schools make sure it's accurate ...


Source: CBU

I am so sorry.  I completely over looked that.  Thanks so much for catching that for me.  I appreciate it.  The rest of them should be correct I think! I'll update my post.

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