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Do admissions committee's "judge" you or are you given the benefit of the doubt?


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If anybody is an adcom or has this experience can you chime in on this...

For those applicants that have blemishes on their transcripts, do adcoms judge you for them and see what they want to see or are you allowed to explain yourself and they take your word for it?

I was looking at my transcripts yesterday and I am very worried about three terms at a school from way back in 2004.  I was not motivated, just didn't know what I wanted out of life, I hated the school, and I pretty much just didn't go to class and got hit with a bunch of W's and WF's.  That was a long time ago but CASPA is bringing that old transcript up from the depths.  I've since graduated college and have job experience and matured. 

How does an adcom look at something like that?  Do they say "It's a long time ago" or do they hold that against you as if it happened yesterday?  My whole application after that event looks alright actually, it's just that one period in my life that will pretty much sink me when it's averaged into everything I have done since then.

I'm just curious about the idea because some schools don't take prereqs that are a decade or older and this event happened almost 15 years ago.

Any advice on how to approach it?

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It varies by the program. Some use a point system based on different sections of your application, others are more holistic. Some grade certain sections of your application more heavily than others. This is why its impossible to predict for a given school. Every school is different in what they value and how they score their applicants. I can’t say how I would judge your application without reviewing it in its totality. I can say that assuming you meet the minimum requirements for the schools you apply to, your application will get read and reviewed and given consideration. A few bad grades from a long time ago are unlikely to sink your application for most programs. However, If those old grades are keeping your GPA below the minimum for a given school, then your application will likely not be read. 

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If you have a few bad semesters from over a decade ago and you have a more current upward trend for the last 60 credits, how much would those bad semesters factor in?  We're not talking about yesterday, we're talking early 2000's. 

In my opinion, I don't understand how grade average works like that.  I get you have to level the playing field but if Texas has a Fresh Start program for their med schools, I can't understand why GPA's wouldn't expire after 10 or 15 years.  It is what it is but if you're in a spot like me, you kinda have to scratch your head with how this works.

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Yup. DO schools allow grade replacement as an example, PA schools don’t. I’m not saying I agree with it, but it is what it is. Having an upward trend is definitely a good thing, but those older semesters will still factor in as well for most programs. You still need to meet the minimums, and for applicants with a few blemishes, exceed the minimums to have a good chance. Consider taking some more classes if you havent taken any recently. If you do well that can go a long way to assuaging some fears faculty may have regarding your ability tonsucveed in their program. 

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2 minutes ago, marktheshark89 said:

Yup. DO schools allow grade replacement as an example, PA schools don’t. I’m not saying I agree with it, but it is what it is. Having an upward trend is definitely a good thing, but those older semesters will still factor in as well for most programs. You still need to meet the minimums, and for applicants with a few blemishes, exceed the minimums to have a good chance. Consider taking some more classes if you havent taken any recently. If you do well that can go a long way to assuaging some fears faculty may have regarding your ability tonsucveed in their program. 

Actually DO programs did away with grade replacement last year so DO admissions is the same as MD which sucks for people who wanted to go DO.

Is the adcom's position to see if you can handle the science coursework or to judge those who do have blemishes on their transcript regardless?  The silver lining is that the W's and F's were in non-science courses but all my science work looks good and I'll be completing two terms of science coursework in the post-bacc this summer and fall/spring.  So I will have a higher science GPA but lower overall and cumulative GPA.

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16 minutes ago, UGoLong said:

I too am on an Ad Com. You need decent grades to be considered. If you had a bad time years ago, consider addressing it briefly in your essay and moving on. We want to know who you are now and how you’ve grown from whatever banana peels have been on your path.

 

 

Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk

 

Hi, what is your definition of decent?  A lot of the schools I am looking at advertise "at least" a 3.0 or 3.2 but then their accepted stats are 3.4-3.6 or better.  Now that would mean that some people do matriculate with lower than those numbers but I don't have that information.

 

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18 minutes ago, PA2020Candidate said:

Hi, what is your definition of decent?  A lot of the schools I am looking at advertise "at least" a 3.0 or 3.2 but then their accepted stats are 3.4-3.6 or better.  Now that would mean that some people do matriculate with lower than those numbers but I don't have that information.

 

Yes, I am in that category.

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50 minutes ago, PA2020Candidate said:

Actually DO programs did away with grade replacement last year so DO admissions is the same as MD which sucks for people who wanted to go DO.

Is the adcom's position to see if you can handle the science coursework or to judge those who do have blemishes on their transcript regardless?  The silver lining is that the W's and F's were in non-science courses but all my science work looks good and I'll be completing two terms of science coursework in the post-bacc this summer and fall/spring.  So I will have a higher science GPA but lower overall and cumulative GPA.

The adcoms position is to see if you can handle the coursework. That being said, if there are two similar applicants, one with a few blemishes, and another without, and all things otherwise are equal, the student without the blemishes will likely have the edge. Just like it is in someways unfair to consider your coursework from 15 years ago as part of your application because it may not be an accurate representation of who you are now, it would be unfair to students who never had academic issues to not consider those older grades as well.  It would essentially be penalizing them because they arent going to get the benefit of the doubt on another part of their application that you would be getting on your GPA (for example having a below average GRE score from 5 years ago or having subpar patient contact). Its not a perfect system by any means, but it is atleast a level playing field for all. 

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6 minutes ago, marktheshark89 said:

The adcoms position is to see if you can handle the coursework. That being said, if there are two similar applicants, one with a few blemishes, and another without, and all things otherwise are equal, the student without the blemishes will likely have the edge. Just like it is in someways unfair to consider your coursework from 15 years ago as part of your application because it may not be an accurate representation of who you are now, it would be unfair to students who never had academic issues to not consider those older grades as well.  It would essentially be penalizing them because they arent going to get the benefit of the doubt on another part of their application that you would be getting on your GPA (for example having a below average GRE score from 5 years ago or having subpar patient contact). Its not a perfect system by any means, but it is atleast a level playing field for all. 

I get that but I don't think two candidates are alike in any way when viewed holistically.  For example, I'd be applying as an older student with significant work and life experiences that a 21 year old would not have. If there was another older student applying, with a similar GPA as mine, I don't think our applications would look alike in anyway either.  For the MD route or DO route I could see your point because there are many more applicants than seats but even then you have MCAT scores that I have been told hold the most weight.

So back to my situation, I think almost anyone can take a year of upper level science coursework at 4 classes per term and prove to an adcom that they can hack it in PA school but I still have a hard time believing that GPA alone would keep you out.

Where I fit into all of that remains to be seen but I don't feel I'm out of the race.

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20 minutes ago, PA2020Candidate said:

How did you find the whole process and what do you think helped your application to offset any gpa issues?

The process was fine.  I applied to three schools the first year, did not get interviewed.  Did some rework and applied a second time.  The time line was pretty quick the second time around.  I applied to the one school I wanted in my home state.  Applied July 31st and received an invitation to interview late August.  I interviewed September 29th and was accepted October 2nd sometime in the afternoon.  

My LORs, personal statement, supplemental essays and working full time while taking classes are what helped offset my GPA issues.

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Just now, Ket131 said:

The process was fine.  I applied to three schools the first year, did not get interviewed.  Did some rework and applied a second time.  The time line was pretty quick the second time around.  I applied to the one school I wanted in my home state.  Applied July 31st and received an invitation to interview late August.  I interviewed September 29th and was accepted October 2nd sometime in the afternoon.  

My LORs, personal statement, supplemental essays and working full time while taking classes are what helped offset my GPA issues.

That is good to hear.  How many extra credits did you take from the first cycle to the second and how many classes did you take each term?  Were you surprised that you got in the second time or did you have the confidence in your app that it was strong and you were going to get in?

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1 minute ago, PA2020Candidate said:

How many extra credits did you take from the first cycle to the second and how many classes did you take each term?  Were you surprised that you got in the second time or did you have the confidence in your app that it was strong and you were going to get in?

I took 28 credits between the cycles.  I took 3 classes last fall, 1 during the spring, 1 in the summer and 2 this fall.  I felt surprised, my brother and my girlfriend thought I was going to get in based on the practice interviews we had, but I was not as optimistic.  I won't complain though, got into my number 1 school.

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5 minutes ago, Ket131 said:

I took 28 credits between the cycles.  I took 3 classes last fall, 1 during the spring, 1 in the summer and 2 this fall.  I felt surprised, my brother and my girlfriend thought I was going to get in based on the practice interviews we had, but I was not as optimistic.  I won't complain though, got into my number 1 school.

Thanks for that info.  Was the GPA the only issue the first time around or did you feel there were other strong points when you applied first cycle?  Do you feel it was the new coursework alone that got you in?

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I used to be on 2 admissions committees. I thought of applicants at the interview as being on an even playing field. if you made the gpa/gre/hce/etc cut, your job was to come across as a reasonable human being at the interview who would be a credit to the profession. can the applicant hold a conversation and come across as someone who can relate to patients, etc or are they book smart, but without social graces of any kind? I would much rather have a PA student with a 3.2 who can relate to patients and has a good work ethic than a guy who has a 4.0 and has never left his parent's basement except to attend class and come to the interview.

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Hi, what is your definition of decent?  A lot of the schools I am looking at advertise "at least" a 3.0 or 3.2 but then their accepted stats are 3.4-3.6 or better.  Now that would mean that some people do matriculate with lower than those numbers but I don't have that information.

 

Programs take the best students that apply. It’s not surprising that a program’s accepted stats are above their minimums.

 

That said, if you have the “at least” GPA and your overall package (HCE, LORs, essay, etc) is good, then apply and see if lightning strikes for you.

 

 

 

Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk

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8 hours ago, PA2020Candidate said:

I get that but I don't think two candidates are alike in any way when viewed holistically.  For example, I'd be applying as an older student with significant work and life experiences that a 21 year old would not have. If there was another older student applying, with a similar GPA as mine, I don't think our applications would look alike in anyway either.  For the MD route or DO route I could see your point because there are many more applicants than seats but even then you have MCAT scores that I have been told hold the most weight.

So back to my situation, I think almost anyone can take a year of upper level science coursework at 4 classes per term and prove to an adcom that they can hack it in PA school but I still have a hard time believing that GPA alone would keep you out.

Where I fit into all of that remains to be seen but I don't feel I'm out of the race.

There are many more applicants than seats for PA schools. Noone said you are out of the race. As i said and has been said by others, if you meet the minimums you have a chance, albeit a lesser one than someone with a similar application and higher gpa. You seem to be looking for someone who will tell you what you want to hear, rather than what their experience has been on adcoms.  Good luck to you. 

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Go and apply!

Be prepared to do multiple cycles.  I know people who have better GPA's who are still without an acceptance after multiple interviews. If you have to reapply, learn from your mistakes and improve the next go around. 

This process is not easy and will either make or break you. A couple of co-workers quit because they had to apply again and were overwhelmed by the thought of going through another cycle.  

Rinse. Repeat. Get Accepted.

PS- I had a few bad semesters in 2012 w/an F and C's in sciences. This process will test how badly you want to be a PA.

Edit - During interviews put your best foot forward and whatever happens, happens. The ADCOMs decision is out of your hands pretty much. All you can do is the prep work for the interview.

 

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Thanks for the advice.

I guess I was looking for more of an answer regarding how much more important GPA is compared to the other aspects.  GPA seems to be similar to a criminal record of sorts while all the other aspects can change or be modified at will. 

I'm two cycles out so I should be happy I have some time to change some things.  Hopefully for the better.

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