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Advice on Choosing PA schools to apply to

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I am currently trying to narrow down my list of PA schools. I know it's expensive so I decided no more than 12 schools but unfortunately my list is at 90 that I qualify for. How would you recommend choosing schools besides HCE requirements, pre-reqs, and cost? Also, I would really like to know if the location is a concern. I know I will be studying most of the time so I don't need to live in an exciting city per say, but I would like a place where I feel comfortable with the community and without a high crime rate.(Are those reasonable deal breakers?) I am a female of small stature so walking through shady areas alone every day would make me rather uncomfortable, especially if I have to live off campus.

Thanks and I appreciate your help!

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Guest HanSolo

In 2013 there were 3,026 4-year degree granting programs in the US. I am sure you qualified for most of them. How did you apply to undergraduate? Surely there were some personal factors at play. 


You need to make a list of things that are important to you. Where do you want to live? Do you want to move across the country? Does the cost of tuition matter? Do you want to live in a major city? Do you mind traveling for rotations? Do you agree with the mission statements of these programs? Willing to go to a newer, unestablished program? Type of degree matter to you (MS vs MPAS vs. whatever)? Small or big class size? Winter? Do you just meet the "minimum qualifications" or do you exceed them (i.e. how realistic is it that you would get in)? Need to be close to family? Dogs? Cats? Kids? Bananas?


12 is a reasonable number but still a bit high if you ask me. All depends on what you feel comfortable with. My original list was 24 based solely on geography...then it ended up as three - it was all about "fit."

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I completely agree with everything HanSolo wrote! I would add that you should consider where you want to live post-graduation. I have been looking at program stats regarding where PA school graduates are living/working. You will find that not all programs are equal in the spread of locations where their graduates work! Some programs have >90% of their graduates working in the state the school is located in. If you have a place in mind where you'd like to live (or even a coast for that matter) I would definitely prioritize applying to schools in that region.


I would also try to apply to a spread of programs that are categorized by safety, mid-level, and reach schools. This way you have a greater chance of getting in somewhere and allow yourself to apply to any dream schools that you may not be as competitive for.


Also I don't think high crime rate should deter you from applying to a school. I have lived in several US cities with "high crime rates" and have never felt at risk. Staying safe is all about being aware of your surroundings and taking precautions (like not carrying an expensive purse or cell phone).

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