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Admissions Advice, Non-Traditional Student


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Hey folks!

I just wanted to poke around for some admissions advice, as I'm planning to start the application process next year and have some unique circumstances.

I'm in my late 30s, currently finishing my first undergrad degree, which will be done in May.

I've worked as a Paramedic for the last 18 (almost 19!) years, and when I worked in the field, also held various other positions of responsibility (communications, emergency planning, training, etc.).

I have since spent the last 4 years working in the hospital environment; 2 years in CT surgery anesthesia, and now 2 years in the ED. All told, I estimated I'm approaching 35,000 hours of direct patient care experience as an Advanced Life Support provider.

I teach Paramedics, in particular critical care topics and point-of-care ultrasonography. I have served as the Chief of a volunteer EMS agency, and been recognized for my work in advancing Paramedic practice.

I've also dabbled in software engineering, having started an online service that managed clinical education for Paramedic students, that I recently sold off.

My GRE scores are pretty good: V: 159, Q: 150, AW: 5.

I have some (who I consider to be) fantastic recommendations from members of faculty at the academic medical center where I work.

Now, here lies the rub: I've got some significant blemishes on my transcript. I spent a lot of time figuring out what I wanted to do when I grew up. I took some computer science courses; as a result of both the demands of working full time, and the fact that once I started, I hated the coursework, I have a couple of Cs, and a couple of big honking Fs: one in discrete mathematics, and one in an economics course that I just stopped going to because my work schedule changed.

After making the long decision that work as a PA is what I actually need to be doing, I started  going back to school in earnest. The short version is that my overall GPA right now is 2.7 and rising rapidly, and my sGPA is 3.3 and also rising. I project that my overall GPA will be close to 3 when I graduate, and my sGPA will be approaching 3.5. My overall GPA since going back to school is 3.4.

My thought process is that, despite my academic shortcomings, my decent GRE scores and my wide breadth of healthcare experience will get me in for an interview; if I can get in front of an interview committee, I feel like I can win a spot.

However, a lot of the threads I've read here suggest that those kinds of academic problems in the past will all but completely disqualify me from getting into a program. I'd like to know what, if any, advice people have about making myself competitive for admission.

I know this gets asked all the time, so thank you in advance to whomever will indulge yet another "how can I get into school" post.

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Hey folks!
I just wanted to poke around for some admissions advice, as I'm planning to start the application process next year and have some unique circumstances.
I'm in my late 30s, currently finishing my first undergrad degree, which will be done in May.
I've worked as a Paramedic for the last 18 (almost 19!) years, and when I worked in the field, also held various other positions of responsibility (communications, emergency planning, training, etc.).
I have since spent the last 4 years working in the hospital environment; 2 years in CT surgery anesthesia, and now 2 years in the ED. All told, I estimated I'm approaching 35,000 hours of direct patient care experience as an Advanced Life Support provider.
I teach Paramedics, in particular critical care topics and point-of-care ultrasonography. I have served as the Chief of a volunteer EMS agency, and been recognized for my work in advancing Paramedic practice.
I've also dabbled in software engineering, having started an online service that managed clinical education for Paramedic students, that I recently sold off.
My GRE scores are pretty good: V: 159, Q: 150, AW: 5.
I have some (who I consider to be) fantastic recommendations from members of faculty at the academic medical center where I work.
Now, here lies the rub: I've got some significant blemishes on my transcript. I spent a lot of time figuring out what I wanted to do when I grew up. I took some computer science courses; as a result of both the demands of working full time, and the fact that once I started, I hated the coursework, I have a couple of Cs, and a couple of big honking Fs: one in discrete mathematics, and one in an economics course that I just stopped going to because my work schedule changed.
After making the long decision that work as a PA is what I actually need to be doing, I started  going back to school in earnest. The short version is that my overall GPA right now is 2.7 and rising rapidly, and my sGPA is 3.3 and also rising. I project that my overall GPA will be close to 3 when I graduate, and my sGPA will be approaching 3.5. My overall GPA since going back to school is 3.4.
My thought process is that, despite my academic shortcomings, my decent GRE scores and my wide breadth of healthcare experience will get me in for an interview; if I can get in front of an interview committee, I feel like I can win a spot.
However, a lot of the threads I've read here suggest that those kinds of academic problems in the past will all but completely disqualify me from getting into a program. I'd like to know what, if any, advice people have about making myself competitive for admission.
I know this gets asked all the time, so thank you in advance to whomever will indulge yet another "how can I get into school" post.
My story is very similar to yours. I applied this year with 3.01 overall and 3.17 sgpa, 299 GRE. However my strength was my 21000+ HCE. I interviewed at one place and was accepted. I think the key is being very intentional about the places you apply. Some places only take students with perfect GPA and GRE regardless of HCE and some places lean toward more holistic candidates. Also, I recommend trying to use every area of your CASPA application to its fullest. Be very detailed in all your descriptions and use the supplemental apps to really tell your story. Good luck!

Sent from my SM-N950U using Tapatalk

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Agree with above, your HCE is the shinning star here. You should have great letters of rec as well, your GRE proves that you test well. I would say that provided you get that GPA over 3.0 by the time you apply you should at least be getting interviews. Just be semi-selective with where you apply, for example applying to schools where the average matriculating class stats are 3.9 GPA's and 320 GRE scores with very little HCE may not be schools that should be on your radar. Look for places that are holistic in their approach, of the top of my head University of Utah and MEDEX come to mind. They both really like applicants with tons of HCE.

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1 hour ago, vlandis said:

My story is very similar to yours. I applied this year with 3.01 overall and 3.17 sgpa, 299 GRE. However my strength was my 21000+ HCE. I interviewed at one place and was accepted. I think the key is being very intentional about the places you apply. Some places only take students with perfect GPA and GRE regardless of HCE and some places lean toward more holistic candidates. Also, I recommend trying to use every area of your CASPA application to its fullest. Be very detailed in all your descriptions and use the supplemental apps to really tell your story. Good luck!

Sent from my SM-N950U using Tapatalk
 

you have a unique story, dont be discouraged, i had. 2.69 applied with a 3.05 and got interviews at many great schools. now i just have to learn how to ace the interviews (theres a book for that too) main thing you can do is research the schools (2017 manual of pa programs mark volpe brit hoag) helped me and make sure the rest of your application stands out. 

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I think what some people don't realize is that, the older you get, the longer ago were your earlier grades in college. At 38 (I'm guessing) you are not the same person you were when you were 28, let alone 18.

There will be some that wonder about your ability to succeed in a tough, masters-level program, and so it is important to have great grades in your most recent courses. Your maturity and experience should come out during an interview, so a key probably is to write a great cover letter and essay so you don't get filtered out by someone only looking at grades.

I'd sure vote to interview you, based on the facts you shared.

Don't lose hope and best of luck!

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