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CASPA essay the only admissions essay?

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Hello Everyone!

Firstly I apologize if I'm posting in the wrong area.  I tried searching the forum and sub-forums, but surprisingly found no results.  And I wasn't quite sure the "Pre"-PA forum would be able to answer my question since we're all kind of in the same boat.

Anyhow I'm curious if the CASPA essay question, " Please explain why you are interested in being a Physician Assistant", is the only admissions essay (most, if not all) programs require?  I ask because I assume this is our time to "shine" and stand out from the other applicants.  But I also don't want to embarrass myself and write a full fledged personal statement if this is just a preliminary question.  Also can anyone comment on how/if the admissions committee referenced your response in your personal interview?

This is the first opportunity like this that I've had to write a response/interview for, so I'm definitely terrified of making a fool of myself.

Thank you!!

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First, the pre-PA forum IS the right place as it is a pre-PA question.  Plenty of non-pre-PAs frequent the area answering questions such as this.

Second, that is your personal statement.  What you see on CASPA is what you get.  It's your time to shine.  However, there is no standardization among programs and you likely, but may not, have more essays to write on supplemental applications.  Some may even be the same question.  Consider the CASPA app the first line.  Be impressive.  Some schools selectively send out their supplemental app and if your first impression isn't impressive, your chance is gone.

The personal statement is for the program to assess you.  They may or may not bring it up later.  None of mine ever did but you better believe they read them to decide who got to come to interviews.

Edited by MT2PA
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I read these essays every year as part of the interview selection process. I don't know that everyone does the same thing, but I learn quite a bit from the essays.

Your CASPA application becomes a big pdf that includes where you grew up, what high school you went to, what your parents do for a living, all of your college grades, and then a section that cuts those grades a number of different ways (average in science, average in prereqs, etc). Finally there is a section on your HCE, with the jobs and hours listed, along with your shadowing time.  Readers' eyes may start to glaze over.

There are only two places in the application that tell the reader anything about who you really are: your essay and your letters of recommendation. Without those, you'll look like a standard building block kind of person; if your grades are outstanding,  your HCE long and meaningful, and there is nothing in the essay or LORs to deselect you, you'll probably get invited for an interview. If you are in the middle gradewise (like many people), it's still a toss-up until your essay and LORs get read.

So let your essay tell the reader a little bit about who you are. Not the time you got picked up for underage drinking, but how you got to the point of applying to PA school. Events that made you who you are. It's maybe not so much of a time to shine as it is to paint a picture of who you are. Why are you doing this?

And try to get LORs from people who will share something about your traits, not just someone who said you did your job, whatever it was.

I hope this helps. (And your post should probably be in the pre-PA forum.)


Edited by UGoLong
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The CASPA essay is, for the most part, the only essay that you have to construct and submit for the application process. I say "for the most part" because it's the essay that warrants the most time and thought. Some programs have required supplementals that require you to elaborate why you chose to apply there. Best of luck!

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Of the 5 programs I’m applying to, 4 have additional essays to be completed. One of the programs has the essays and questions directly on CASPA. All of the others have supplemental applications that have to be sent to the school and are not submitted through CASPA. Just check each program to be sure that you’re getting everything done.

Questions in supplemental/secondary applications are certainly more specific and shorter, like “why are you interested in our program,” “why do you think you’re a good fit for our mission,” “explain your experience working with PAs,” “who inspires you,” etc.

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