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HELP! what areas can I work on for next cycle?!


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Soooooooo I just got my 13th denial email from applying to pa schools this year and I am feeling absolutely hopeless. I know I am not the only one, but I am asking for any help possible. I definitely want to reapply and not give up my dream of being a pa (this is what I have wanted this I was 16). So according to my resume what areas can I work on?

 

My stats:

GPA: 3.34 (CASPA GPA 3.24)

Prerecs: Anatomy: A Physiology: B Gen chem: A- orgo chem: A- Biochem: B+ into psych: AP credit life span psych: B+ gen biology: B Physics: A pathophysiology: B-

PCE: around 1400, 550 as a CNA in a nursing home, 500 as a CNA in a ventilator dependent unit at the hospital and 400 as a CNA in the ICU

went on a medical mission trip to Belize and wrote my personal statement on it and also presented the trip at a global health conference 

Shadowing: 5 hours with Internal med PA, 20 hours with Peds Neuro PA, 20 hours Family med MD, 20 hours ICU PA, 10 hours Family med PA

Volunteering: 150 hours at Children's Healing center (non profit safe place for immune suppressed children to play)

Presented research at Student scholars day at my university

GRE: verbal: 145 Math: 145 writing: 3.5

 

 

So, what else can I work on? is my gpa too low?  Please feel free to personal message me for advice!!! 

 

 

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While your GPA isn't going to blow them away, it shouldn't be getting you automatic denials either, and shouldn't prevent you from getting interviews; people get acceptances with lower GPA, and your prereq grades are fine. Similarly, your PCE isn't so low that it would prevent interviews. So while you should continue to accrue more PCE and work on your GPA if possible, I'm not sure those are what are keeping you from getting interviews.

First off, you should study for and retake your GRE; I don't think the GRE is weighed too heavily, but you should absolutely try to score above a 300 at least, and preferably above 50th percentile on both verbal and quantitative sections. This shows that at the least they can trust you to perform decently on standardized tests.

Next, I would rewrite your personal statement for this cycle. I think the personal statement is one of the most important parts of the application, especially for applicants who may not otherwise standout in other areas; you want to write a clear, concise statement about why you want to be a PA specifically (as opposed to an MD, NP, etc) that holds the readers attention and makes the adcoms want to meet you. It should show that you understand the role of the PA, without spelling it out. This isn't easy, but there are plenty of resources on this site and online (as well as books) about how to approach the personal statement. Read some examples of "good" personal statements from these resources so you get the idea of how a solid PS looks. Yours should go through multiple drafts, and you should have multiple trusted individuals proof-read and critique it after each draft.

Also, I would think long and hard about what you focus on in your PS. I won't tell you what to write it about, but keep in mind that some people see medical mission trips as "voluntourism" rather than a long-term, continued commitment to volunteer service. While I think they have value, medical mission trips aren't as rare as they used to be (and so may not help you stand out much), and maybe shouldn't be the prime focus of your PS; I would be careful about writing your entire personal statement on it (of course you can include some of your experience though). This is just my opinion, and maybe others have differing views that they can share on this. 

Aside from those things, you should apply broadly while carefully selecting the schools you apply to, choosing schools that fit with your application in the types of students they select (their average GPAs, type of experience, etc). Finally, when you apply, apply as early in the cycle as you can while still having your ducks in a row. 

Best of luck to you.  

 

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3 hours ago, piperPAC18 said:

GRE: verbal: 145 Math: 145 writing: 3.5

Did you apply to schools that require GRE or did you apply to those that do not? Most PA schools that require the GRE, ask for a minimum of 300...I think.  If you are applying to schools that don't require a GRE, don't show the score on CASPA.  Perhaps pick wisely and select the schools that require to send it to them directly.  Not sure what most schools would think about a 290 but why show it if you don't need to.  Retake and get over 300 if you plan to apply to programs that require this minimum. 

3 hours ago, piperPAC18 said:

GPA: 3.34 (CASPA GPA 3.24)

CASPA calculates cumulative and science GPAs separately.  Is this science or cumulative?  Based on the classes you listed and the grades you received, I would expect your science GPA to be higher.  I would guess in the 3.4 area with just these ones.  

3 hours ago, piperPAC18 said:

So, what else can I work on?

  • Did you apply with 1400 PCE hours with all the CNA work?  Do you have more than this now?  I would expect somewhere close to 3000 now.  
  • Are you contracted?  You seem to be bouncing around with limited hours in specific areas, I would average 3-4 month commitments, which isn't very long, but makes since if contracted.  Perhaps this shows something to ADCOMS, but I am speculating, just something I noticed. 
  • Have you taken other science courses in the mean time?  It has been about ten months since the last cycle opened and taking additional classes is pretty helpful to show you are still trying to better yourself.
2 hours ago, ProSpectre said:

Next, I would rewrite your personal statement for this cycle.

I would second most of what ProSpectre said about the personal statement.  I was successful with a different direction with my PS and never read any books or online literature to write mine.  Mine was very different than how ProSpectre advised, but I did address "why PA" briefly in my last paragraph.  Overall my PS was about how a dialysis superstition involving death (I work in dialysis) came to fruition, my experience with these patients and how they died, what I took away from everything.  Blah Blah.  I used my supplemental applications to really answer specifically why PA over MD or nursing etc. I knew that the two schools I was targeting were going to ask me why PA in supplemental, so that is why I wrote my PS the way I did.  I think I was invited to interview mainly on my supplemental application, really nail these down as ProSpectre said with others to help you edit.

My last bit of advice is treat getting into school like life and death.  Going 100%, in my opinion, is working full time, doing full time school and getting all As, while doing some continued volunteering (that means something to you) on the side.  I know people's work capacity varies, but this worked for me and has for others from what I have seen.  Go at 100% until you get accepted, even if you are invited to interview (more importantly if you are not), be doing all these things still.  I don't know how much has changed since your last cycle, but I would hope for very noticeable changes.  It is going to be hard to make significant changes if you are starting only now to do so, two months before the new cycle opens up.  Treat these programs as they are watching your trends, perhaps this is why there are many successful second time applicants.  Good luck :)  

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10 hours ago, ProSpectre said:

While your GPA isn't going to blow them away, it shouldn't be getting you automatic denials either, and shouldn't prevent you from getting interviews; people get acceptances with lower GPA, and your prereq grades are fine. Similarly, your PCE isn't so low that it would prevent interviews. So while you should continue to accrue more PCE and work on your GPA if possible, I'm not sure those are what are keeping you from getting interviews.

First off, you should study for and retake your GRE; I don't think the GRE is weighed too heavily, but you should absolutely try to score above a 300 at least, and preferably above 50th percentile on both verbal and quantitative sections. This shows that at the least they can trust you to perform decently on standardized tests.

Next, I would rewrite your personal statement for this cycle. I think the personal statement is one of the most important parts of the application, especially for applicants who may not otherwise standout in other areas; you want to write a clear, concise statement about why you want to be a PA specifically (as opposed to an MD, NP, etc) that holds the readers attention and makes the adcoms want to meet you. It should show that you understand the role of the PA, without spelling it out. This isn't easy, but there are plenty of resources on this site and online (as well as books) about how to approach the personal statement. Read some examples of "good" personal statements from these resources so you get the idea of how a solid PS looks. Yours should go through multiple drafts, and you should have multiple trusted individuals proof-read and critique it after each draft.

Also, I would think long and hard about what you focus on in your PS. I won't tell you what to write it about, but keep in mind that some people see medical mission trips as "voluntourism" rather than a long-term, continued commitment to volunteer service. While I think they have value, medical mission trips aren't as rare as they used to be (and so may not help you stand out much), and maybe shouldn't be the prime focus of your PS; I would be careful about writing your entire personal statement on it (of course you can include some of your experience though). This is just my opinion, and maybe others have differing views that they can share on this. 

Aside from those things, you should apply broadly while carefully selecting the schools you apply to, choosing schools that fit with your application in the types of students they select (their average GPAs, type of experience, etc). Finally, when you apply, apply as early in the cycle as you can while still having your ducks in a row. 

Best of luck to you.  

 

Thank you so much for giving me detailed feedback and taking the time to write this. It means a lot to me! 

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8 hours ago, Ket131 said:

Did you apply to schools that require GRE or did you apply to those that do not? Most PA schools that require the GRE, ask for a minimum of 300...I think.  If you are applying to schools that don't require a GRE, don't show the score on CASPA.  Perhaps pick wisely and select the schools that require to send it to them directly.  Not sure what most schools would think about a 290 but why show it if you don't need to.  Retake and get over 300 if you plan to apply to programs that require this minimum. 

CASPA calculates cumulative and science GPAs separately.  Is this science or cumulative?  Based on the classes you listed and the grades you received, I would expect your science GPA to be higher.  I would guess in the 3.4 area with just these ones.  

  • Did you apply with 1400 PCE hours with all the CNA work?  Do you have more than this now?  I would expect somewhere close to 3000 now.  
  • Are you contracted?  You seem to be bouncing around with limited hours in specific areas, I would average 3-4 month commitments, which isn't very long, but makes since if contracted.  Perhaps this shows something to ADCOMS, but I am speculating, just something I noticed. 
  • Have you taken other science courses in the mean time?  It has been about ten months since the last cycle opened and taking additional classes is pretty helpful to show you are still trying to better yourself.

I would second most of what ProSpectre said about the personal statement.  I was successful with a different direction with my PS and never read any books or online literature to write mine.  Mine was very different than how ProSpectre advised, but I did address "why PA" briefly in my last paragraph.  Overall my PS was about how a dialysis superstition involving death (I work in dialysis) came to fruition, my experience with these patients and how they died, what I took away from everything.  Blah Blah.  I used my supplemental applications to really answer specifically why PA over MD or nursing etc. I knew that the two schools I was targeting were going to ask me why PA in supplemental, so that is why I wrote my PS the way I did.  I think I was invited to interview mainly on my supplemental application, really nail these down as ProSpectre said with others to help you edit.

My last bit of advice is treat getting into school like life and death.  Going 100%, in my opinion, is working full time, doing full time school and getting all As, while doing some continued volunteering (that means something to you) on the side.  I know people's work capacity varies, but this worked for me and has for others from what I have seen.  Go at 100% until you get accepted, even if you are invited to interview (more importantly if you are not), be doing all these things still.  I don't know how much has changed since your last cycle, but I would hope for very noticeable changes.  It is going to be hard to make significant changes if you are starting only now to do so, two months before the new cycle opens up.  Treat these programs as they are watching your trends, perhaps this is why there are many successful second time applicants.  Good luck :)  

Hello! thank you so much for taking the time to give me feed back. First, I applied to some schools that required the GRE and some that did not. Most of the schools I applied to with the GRE, said that there was no minimum. But I plan to retake the GRE this summer. Second, I am not contracted for my job I just switched jobs a bit. I started out in a nursing home after I got certified to get experience before moving to the hospital setting. I worked at the nursing home for a year then got my hospital job in the vent dependent unit. I worked in the vent unit for around a year then started to pick up shifts in the ICU at the same hospital  and a few months later they offered me a permanent position in their unit and I left the vent unit. I just started to pick up shifts in the ICU when I submitted my CASPA last year so technically this job isn't on my application. Since I have applied last year, I will finish my bachelors degree, gained about 500 PCE (I had around 900-1,000 on my application), and shadowed 2 new PAs. 

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More HCE.  Better GPA.  Retake GRE.  More. More. More.  There aren't any red flags, just nothing to make you stand out.

If any of the programs you were rejected from will give you feedback, use that as well.

Honestly it's a little late to be prepping for this upcoming cycle (if that's your plan).  You might consider working on improvements and apply next year to have a better chance without losing money.

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I received a lot of interviews and my stats were really similar to yours this past cycle. A 3.29 cGPA, lots of volunteer hours, lots of shadowing hours, and a medical mission. I did have a lot more HCE hours as a MA though (5600+). The thing that really stood out for me was my personal statement. In a couple of interviews, they specifically brought up my personal statement and really wanted to know more about what I wrote in it. The only thing you can really control is your personal statement. You can't really change your GPA, unless you take a million credits, and you already have so many hours (more is better). I mean if you think about it, most people in their personal statements talk about their clinical experiences (like medical missions), why they wanted to be a PA, or just a rehash of their CASPA. I had multiple people look at and edit my personal statement. 

It could also be PCE hours too. Some schools will say that they don't want CNA hours. CASPA made CNAs and MAs as HCE for the last cycle. You could maybe try to get different types of PCE hours.

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