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(Optional) Supplemental Question that I Don't Want to Answer

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"List all physician assistant programs and medical or health science programs to which you are applying this year." 


So I'm applying to ~20 programs this cycle because I'm afraid my low GPA will limit my options. I feel like if programs know this about me, it will hurt my chances because they wouldn't think I'm committed their program or something. (ironically, this program in particular is my top choice). This question is optional to answer, but if I leave it blank, would it still hurt my application? Because then they would just already assume that I'm applying to a lot of programs and on top of that I'm being kind of shady about it.


I guess it's kind of like leaving out your GPA on a resume if you have a low GPA, therefore implying that you have a low GPA. Hah!


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I really hate that question. But I understand your dilemma. In this situation, I'd simply reply that I am only pursuing PA programs (they are fishing for med school or other applicants) and that theirs is absolutely my tops choice. You could make a comment about only applying to a certain region or something if you're staying close to home. In all honesty, programs know (assume) you are applying to multiple programs.


I was asked this at an interview, though, so it's good to have an answer ready. I assumed they were looking to see if they were a safety school for me or a reach or if I just blanket applied to anything/ 'easier' to get into programs.

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"I really like your program, but my end goal is to become a physician assistant and I recognize that my grades are below average. So, I applied to multiple programs to increase my chances at meeting my goal to become a physician assistant.  As a matter of fact, the most recent PAEA annual report showed that applying to one program only equated to a 5% chance of being accepted, while applying to 12 programs equated to a 49% chance of being accepted to at least one. Thank you for your time."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         - Cop to PA


I'm in a similar boat and have been considering this one for a while. Good luck.

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I wouldn't make a big deal about my grades being low if I were you, nor feel like anyone who asks you a question like "how many other places have you applied to"  deserves the straight answer you would give under oath.


I'd probably go with "I am selectively applying to programs that seem like the best match for me and I am very interested in your program because of .... Because of my interest in being part of the PA profession, I may apply to more programs as the application period progresses." Or words to that effect.

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Hi everyone, thanks so much for your input. You all offered really good suggestions on how to address it. I sincerely appreciate your help.


@UGoLong - seeing as how you've been on the other side of the admissions process, the fact that you're telling me it's okay to not directly answer the question really helps lessen my anxiety about doing so!


@MT2PA - When you were asked that question during the interview, did you still avoid directly answering the question?


@ Cop to PA - Good luck to you, too!

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I would ask that question for two reasons:


1. I am interested in who might be considered peer institutions. This can vary from year to year and will change as new programs open.


2. I am looking for some kind of rational though process in why a candidiate selected a set of schools (location, mission, etc.) If someone comes in for an interview I generally ask why they picked the schools they did. If it looks like they drew the names out of a hat and can't articulate a reason I would be concerned.


I would not worry about answering it - there is no sinister intent. In the end programs only have one goal - we want to admit students with the best chances for success.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I feel so old. This is so foreign to me.

There was no central application when I applied. 

I applied to ONE school - the one I wanted and got in.

Back then they got 300 applications - did 150 interviews and took 36 students.

We only graduated 31.


I have to walk my kids through college applications soon and it just boggles my mind.


I feel for the applicants today - there are those who WANT to go to PA school for all the right reasons and GPAs do not imply street smarts, social intelligence or some true abilities.


My high school valedictorian was socially retarded and couldn't function with any other humans but still valedictorian who openly despised "lesser" intelligence.


One girl in my PA class vomited before EVERY test and failed the NCCPA 3 times before they figured out that she had true test anxiety and allowed her to have an oral proctor. She is brilliant and a good PA but anything with a #2 pencil and little bubbles and she pukes all over.

Not sure how she is faring these days with the whole Pearson Testing jail lockdown testing procedures. Hope she is ok.


Wish she could have a better way of selecting GOOD PAs not GPA PAs.


Book smart doesn't equal smart smart...................

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  • Administrator

Allegro - Rev is saying that the op should answer the question.


Rev & loliz - op says that it is optional not mandatory.

Allow me to clarify: If you're going to answer it, I recommend you answer it in the manner they're asking for, not in a weasely way... or just don't answer it at all.

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@PAGuy55 someone posted this in another thread (link): 


This was just my experience at one particular school, but during one interview I was required to write down every school I applied to. The interviewers made a pretty big deal about my "long" list (11 schools, all of which I chose very carefully) and they clearly didn't like it. The interview got pretty uncomfortable after that..all their responses were along the lines of "well you applied to so many schools so you don't need us to accept you, you can go somewhere else". Most schools don't have a reaction like that, and if they do, it's not the right fit for you anyway.



That's pretty much what I'm concerned about. 

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