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PENNSYLVANIA: Penn State PA Program 2018-2019 Cycle

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Greetings from Hershey, PA and to all those who have gotten a jump start on the CASPA cycle for 2018-2019. 

As the Director of Admissions for the program, I'll be on this thread as much as possible to help answer any questions about the 18-19 cycle or share  program updates, as I'm sure some of our alum and current students will also join when they are able.

May is a busy time of year in the program as the 2nd year students graduate, our rising students begin clinical rotations and our incoming class begins...Yes, this all happens in a one week time span in May. We are very proud of our soon-to-be-graduates, excited for the students beginning their clinical rotations, and look forward to welcoming the new students at orientation.

I will do everything I can to provide a detailed and clear understanding of our application process by way of this thread, online information sessions, and email correspondence. 

Good luck with your CASPA and Penn State secondary applications.

Caryn Stopper
Director of Admissions

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15 hours ago, PennState_PA_Program said:

Greetings from Hershey, PA and to all those who have gotten a jump start on the CASPA cycle for 2018-2019. 

As the Director of Admissions for the program, I'll be on this thread as much as possible to help answer any questions about the 18-19 cycle or share  program updates, as I'm sure some of our alum and current students will also join when they are able.

May is a busy time of year in the program as the 2nd year students graduate, our rising students begin clinical rotations and our incoming class begins...Yes, this all happens in a one week time span in May. We are very proud of our soon-to-be-graduates, excited for the students beginning their clinical rotations, and look forward to welcoming the new students at orientation.

I will do everything I can to provide a detailed and clear understanding of our application process by way of this thread, online information sessions, and email correspondence. 

Good luck with your CASPA and Penn State secondary applications.

Caryn Stopper
Director of Admissions

Hello, 

first off thank you for taking the time out to create this forum topic! It seems like you guys are pretty busy this time of year. 

I just have a few questions, would you say penn state takes a more holistic approach when choosing applicants for the incoming program. And also, what advice would you give to someone who may have a low GPA?

 

thanks!

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On 5/14/2018 at 5:11 PM, PennState_PA_Program said:

Greetings from Hershey, PA and to all those who have gotten a jump start on the CASPA cycle for 2018-2019. 

As the Director of Admissions for the program, I'll be on this thread as much as possible to help answer any questions about the 18-19 cycle or share  program updates, as I'm sure some of our alum and current students will also join when they are able.

May is a busy time of year in the program as the 2nd year students graduate, our rising students begin clinical rotations and our incoming class begins...Yes, this all happens in a one week time span in May. We are very proud of our soon-to-be-graduates, excited for the students beginning their clinical rotations, and look forward to welcoming the new students at orientation.

I will do everything I can to provide a detailed and clear understanding of our application process by way of this thread, online information sessions, and email correspondence. 

Good luck with your CASPA and Penn State secondary applications.

Caryn Stopper
Director of Admissions

Caryn,

Thank you for taking the time to create this thread to answer all of our questions. The question I have is how honest should we be about our personal circumstances and why we chose this career path over others that are very similar. Two of my biggest concerns are money and family. As someone who grew up in a family that did not always have money, I had to pay for most of my undergraduate degree with loans. I am limited with my choices of schools for this reason. I do not want to have to take out more loans than needed by limiting the cost of additional housing by living at home with my husband. I also want to be close to my family since they are my support system and I believe having them nearby will help me excel in school and eventually the profession as a physician assistant. I was wondering are these valid reasons to discuss in our application and/or interview (if given one). Any feedback is welcomed. 

Thanks,

Miranda

Edited by mlgeyer24

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CASPA Verified 5/14! I have not received confirmation from Penn State yet, any idea when supplemental application will be sent?

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On 5/31/2018 at 1:50 PM, jadePA2 said:

CASPA Verified 5/14! I have not received confirmation from Penn State yet, any idea when supplemental application will be sent?

 
 

According to the website they send them out in weekly batches based on CASPA application date. I received the secondary today and my application was verified about May 21st. 

Edited by CWell1901

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Hello,

I have a question for you all. How early do interviews start for 2019? Also, is there an early admission option? Thanks!

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On 6/10/2018 at 6:32 PM, alird34 said:

Hello,

I have a question for you all. How early do interviews start for 2019? Also, is there an early admission option? Thanks!

The interview cycle at Penn State will begin in July 2018 for our May 2019 program start. Admission decisions are ongoing through next year with more than 20 interview dates scheduled between July 2019 through February 2019. We do not have an early admission option at this time. Best of luck!

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On 5/15/2018 at 9:13 AM, BrethePA said:

Hello, 

first off thank you for taking the time out to create this forum topic! It seems like you guys are pretty busy this time of year. 

I just have a few questions, would you say penn state takes a more holistic approach when choosing applicants for the incoming program. And also, what advice would you give to someone who may have a low GPA?

 

thanks!

Hi BrethePA, 

Penn State utilizes a holistic admissions review. For a candidate who may have a lower GPA (keeping in mind that a minimum of 3.0 GPA is required for CASPA-calculated overall science and overall cumulative GPA) my advice is to present an application that is very strong in the many other areas of our holistic review. Hopefully your transcripts would show an upward trend in grades but if not, an explanation would assist the committee in understanding the lower grades (space is allotted for this on the secondary application). From an academic standpoint, strength should come from a solid GRE score to offset a lower GPA. Having very strong direct patient care experiences would help offset the lower GPA as well, along with showing a commitment to service in any number of ways, and demonstrating leadership during undergraduate and beyond are all additional ways to strengthen your application. 

Best wishes,

Caryn

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Did anyone struggle to find the school ID code on the secondary application?  I found the school I got my degree from, but the other two schools I have used to take prerequisites courses are proving very difficult to find.  Any suggestions?  

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1 hour ago, angelabea said:

Did anyone struggle to find the school ID code on the secondary application?  I found the school I got my degree from, but the other two schools I have used to take prerequisites courses are proving very difficult to find.  Any suggestions?  

If you click the magnifying glass next to the School ID field and search by state abbreviation of the school (i.e. NJ), you can sort by state. Hope that helps!

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26 minutes ago, sjleach said:

If you click the magnifying glass next to the School ID field and search by state abbreviation of the school (i.e. NJ), you can sort by state. Hope that helps!

I tried that, but still am unable to find the school ? is it possible the schools don't have these ID's? Thank you for responding! 

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Hi Everyone!

First, it is so exciting to once again see so many interested in Penn State and already participating in the forum!  This is my fourth year as a forum member and I am so happy with many of the improvements that have been made in the platform.  At your convenience, I encourage you to check out threads from past admissions’ cycles as well as my profile page where you can access and read previous content I have posted.  Hopefully doing so will answer many of your questions right from the start!

Second, allow me to introduce myself.  My name is Sue and I am an alumna of the Penn State Physician Assistant Class of 2017.  I grew up in the Hershey area and continue to live within 30 minutes of campus.  Since graduating, I work as a Hospitalist for Penn State Health at our St Joseph campus in Reading which is also a site of many clinical year rotations (including Internal Medicine, Emergency Medicine, Peds, and Women’s Health).  I love my patients as well as staying involved with the Program and students!

For some additional background, I was a non-traditional PA student, having worked clinically for 15 years as an exercise physiologist in several cardiac rehab centers prior to returning for my MPAS.  I have 2 children who were 9 and 3 when I started the program.  I was also a waitlisted candidate- I applied to PSU two consecutive cycles, was waitlisted during both, and ultimately was accepted just 2 days before the start of class in May 2015!  PSU was always my first choice school and, in fact, was the only school to which I applied my first time through CASPA.  Certainly I liked Penn State because it was close to home.    I also grew up in a Penn State College of Medicine family.  But even more than that, I was drawn to Penn State for its commitment to the higest levels of academic excellence, innovative learning opportunities, and largest alumni network in the country.  Additionally, I truly believe you will never find a better blend of academic and community medicine, and all of the opportunities afforded by both, as you will at Penn State in Central Pennsylvania.

Whether you are new to the journey of becoming a PA or are already well on your way, I hope you find the forum as valuable a resource as I did when applying.  Feel free to post or message your questions.  As my time allows, I respond to questions publicly to maintain the values of transparency and equity which serve as the foundation to PSU PA program.  Wishing you all the best!!

- Sue, MPAS, PA-C, PSU Class of 2017

Edited by ST@PSU
clarification of detail
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My apologies to those of you having difficulty finding your school ID in our secondary application. My advice is to follow these steps:

1) Follow steps 10 & 11 at https://psu.box.com/v/pa-application-help ; in particular leaving the search as broad as possible. By listing the State Abbreviation only will pull what schools are in the system. 

2) If you still cannot locate your school by state only, there is a strong probability the school is not listed. If this is the case, please leave the school ID blank and complete the remainder of the Academic Review (Section III). 

As a reminder, what you are providing in the academic review is a starting point for our committee to review your pre-requisites. We understand there are some limitations to this section (ie school ID, quarter vs. semester credit, etc). 

Complete it to the fullest extent possible to assist us in the review process. 

Thank you,

Caryn Stopper
Director of Admissions

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Hello! I just was curious about the pre-requisite information needed for the supplemental application. For chemistry, I have take intro to chem 1, as well as intro to chem 2. Which grade are we supposed to place in that area? Do we choose the overall highest grade or should I use the first grade? Any help would be appreciated, thank you!

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1 hour ago, pblitz said:

Hello! I just was curious about the pre-requisite information needed for the supplemental application. For chemistry, I have take intro to chem 1, as well as intro to chem 2. Which grade are we supposed to place in that area? Do we choose the overall highest grade or should I use the first grade? Any help would be appreciated, thank you!

Hi,

I cannot directly answer your question, however, I would first make sure that both chemistries were lab courses.  Only Caryn can clarify for sure, but usually only sciences (such as chem, bio, microbio, etc) that have a lab component count towards prerequisites.  Often “intro” courses do not include labs.

Hope this helps and best of luck!

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Hello, thank you for getting back to me! I realized I miss spoke. They were General Chem 1 and Genderal Chem 2, not intro. Both of them included labs. I’m not sure if this makes anything clearer or not! 

Edited by pblitz

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51 minutes ago, pblitz said:

Hello, thank you for getting back to me! I realized I miss spoke. They were General Chem 1 and Genderal Chem 2, not intro. Both of them included labs. I’m not sure if this makes anything clearer or not! 

Hi pblitz!

We require a minimum of one semester of each pre-req listed on our website-this and other pieces are explained at http://med.psu.edu/physician-assistant/prerequisites under the 'Detailed Prerequisites' section. Therefore the course you should list on our secondary is is Gen Chem 1 regardless if Gen Chem 2 had the higher grade. Note that as an applicant to our program, we have full access to all transcripts via CASPA and complete a thorough review. With the applicant's help, the secondary application serves as a starting point for our program to review the pre-reqs - we do look at more than just pre-requisite coursework as overall cumulative GPA and overall science GPA are core components to the academic section of our holistic review. 

The webpage also states that science labs are strongly recommended. Another way for me to explain this is that science labs though strongly recommended are not a requirement. My advice is this, if an applicant or future applicant to Penn State has yet to complete a science pre-req, then our program would strongly urge you complete this course with the lab component. It will be of benefit on a number of levels. 

However, let's say that an applicant to Penn State completed a 'lecture only' science pre-req a few years back during undergrad - Penn State would not require that applicant to repeat the course just so a lab is included nor would we ask the applicant to take the 'lab only' component. 

Hope this helps -
Caryn

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I received an email on July 3rd confirming my supplemental application was received, but haven't heard anything since... anyone else in the same boat?  The waiting game is killer! 

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15 hours ago, angelabea said:

I received an email on July 3rd confirming my supplemental application was received, but haven't heard anything since... anyone else in the same boat?  The waiting game is killer! 

angelabea - now comes the hard part...We understand having to 'wait it out' is difficult as we know how hard applicants work to make their application as strong as possible. If you heard from us on July 3rd confirming receipt, then you are in good shape at this point. There is nothing additional needed for our committee to review. It can take long...longer than long. And when you think it's been long, it might take even longer. We are doing everything we can to expedite decisions while remaining true to how we approach the admissions review process. 

Best of luck - 

Caryn Stopper
Director of Admissions

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Hello, 

I applied and have been confirmed since late June. I know it's the waiting game now, but I was wondering if it's a rolling acceptance? I read that it said interviews begin in July, seeing as I haven't had one in July yet I'm assuming it will be later. Are we at a disadvantage when given the interview slots later as opposed to earlier? I know for some schools this is the case, and I was just wondering! 

Thanks! Cassandra

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On 7/17/2018 at 9:37 AM, cgold13 said:

Hello, 

I applied and have been confirmed since late June. I know it's the waiting game now, but I was wondering if it's a rolling acceptance? I read that it said interviews begin in July, seeing as I haven't had one in July yet I'm assuming it will be later. Are we at a disadvantage when given the interview slots later as opposed to earlier? I know for some schools this is the case, and I was just wondering! 

Thanks! Cassandra

Hi Cassandra,

Those are great questions.  PSU does not technically use a rolling admissions process; however, applicants are admitted throughout the application cycle.  To try and explain it better, at the beginning of each interview season (July) there are 30 seats for which applicants are interviewing.  There are usually/typically 2 interview sessions each month with usually/typically no more than 8 applicants per session (for a totally number of applicants interviewed per cycle of approximately 110-120, approximately 2-3% of the total applicant pool).  At regular, but not specific, intervals, the committee offers acceptances AND WAITLIST offers along the way (yes, it is important to understand that one can be waitlisted even before all 30 seats are filled).  This allows the program to stay true to its promise of keeping seats available until all interviews have been conducted (usually end of February) while at the same time not leave everyone waiting until the end so that, as an applicant, you can make decisions also.  In other words, if you are selected for an interview- whether that be in July or January- rest assured you will be interviewing for an actual seat in the matriculating class of 2019 and not just the waitlist. 

With all of that stated, certainly there are more seats available in the beginning of the cycle then the end.  So if you are a strong applicant at the beginning of the cycle, that is probably the best time to apply.  However, if you are still working on things (improving GRE scores, taking classes that will positively impact your GPA, etc), you may want to consider waiting until later in the cycle to apply when you can include those things which will make you a stronger candidate and actually increase your chances of an interview invite.

PSU understands that its interview and acceptance process is pretty unique.  So it is also understandable that the process may be confusing at first.  The goal is to be able to give equal and fair consideration to all applicants while at the same time creating an incoming class that is diverse, balanced in their experiences/strengths, and overall well-rounded.

I hope this helps.  I went through the waiting game TWICE, both as a waitlisted candidate, so I COMPLETELY understand what everyone is going through.  The second time, I interviewed in August, was waitlisted in September, and only got accepted in May!  So hang in there!  No matter if you end up at PSU or another PA school, trust me when I say the wait will all be worth it!

Best,

Sue, PA-C, PSU PA Class of 2017

Edited by ST@PSU
addition of clarifying detail

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