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Past Academic History=TROUBLE??

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Hello everyone,

This is my first time posting on the forum so I apologize if this isn’t in the correct spot. My question pertains to how admissions look at unique academic situations and the risks of mentioning mental health...

In 2013 I started my academic journey as a non traditional at the age of 22. I enrolled in C.C. part time as I was working 6 days a week at the time minimum 50 hr. work weeks.  From the beginning I had no real direction in what I wanted to do (enrolled because girlfriend at the time suggested it). At the time I was making great money in the aerospace industry, so I think going in I had the attitude of why am I even here? Shortly after enrolling I also started to show symptoms what I now know was severe anxiety. I went to the doc., who then suggested me to a physichiatrist and before I knew it I was on SSRI/SNRI antidepressants to help combat these feelings I was experiencing. Well fast forward to 2016 after trying several different meds I was told were “helping” me, I decided I had to get off of them and get my life back. I understand antidepressants save people’s lives, but I’m my case I think they hindered my ability to be a hardworking driven member of society. I felt more like an emotionless vegetable more than anything else. Coming off them was a long drawn out process on its own. Maybe I’m just very sensitive to medication, but I have narrowed it down to being a major factor in my poor academic patterns. After getting off the anxiety meds, and going through what I went through, I had a clear vision that I wanted to work in health care. I started setting goals for mysel and taking responsibility for my actions. I feel like I have been making a strong come back  

Okay so here is what happened with my academics from shortly after I enrolled 2013 to 2016. Keep in mind during this time I was only taking 2 classes max due to demanding job. My transcript goes something like this, a couple A’s, then a withdraw, then a retake class, then A and B+, then a quarter of withdraws and a retake and so on... After getting off meds and making some life adjustments I finished off C.C. strong in winter 2018, all A’s, taking a full coarse load while working full time and volunteering at the hospital. The good news is that most of the classes I did poorly in or retook were not prerequisite for PA admissions except O-chem I retook (got an A) after I quit showing up first time around. I started at university this spring and left my job to focus on accademics. I’m doing my undergrad work in biology. 

If I continue the upward trend, how will admissions look at my transcript from 2013-2016??? Do I mention the issues with anxiety and the meds that I felt were doing more damage to me than helping? Or will that sound like a poor excuse to admissions and a risk being that I took meds to cope with anxiety? As it stands I will likely have to do a little post bacc work to get into competitive standings.From what I have gathered, the amount of time it took me to figure things out is a red flag, mental health is a red flag, and all the retakes will affect my cgpa. Luckily the sgpa should be decent. Thoughts/opinions would be greatly appreciated. Thanks for your time.

Also I do plan on finding part-time work in a patient care setting, as well as continue my volunteer work for the next couple years. 

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Many admissions committee look at the upward trends in your GPA. As long as you can manage to have  a GPA above 3.0 min cutoff you will have a good shot at PA school. As far as mentioning the troubled/difficult starting it depends on how well you can write your PS. I think somewhere on this forum, I had read to focus on the positive and the outcome of the struggles and less on the excuse of why you did poorly. 

I think you are doing great and have a solid plan. Keep working hard and you will succeed. Join a PrePA org, PreHealth org, something to get connected with similar mind/path students at your University. Utilize all the resources schools have to help students succeed like career counseling, academic counseling, etc etc. 

Good luck. 

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Focus on the positives and how you were able to overcome it. No excuses.

I had a rocky few semesters although not due to medication, so you have an even more valid reason than me. In my personal statement I devoted a sentence or two and that is it. Not going into too much detail, only that I had a rocky few semesters and what i did to recover, learned from them and showed an upward trend.

Everything looks good though, you know where you went wrong, maintain upward trend, plus you left your job to focus on academics (dedication).  

Sounds like a good plan. Keep going and get above that 3.0 GPA mark.

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