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Why did I get rejected?

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So I applied through CASPA at the end of May and was already rejected for interviews from two programs by June which were Rutgers and Drexel. If anyone has any ideas on why or are familiar with these schools and could give me advice as the schools would not provide me with specific feedback...

I graduated from Penn State last year with a 3.6 undergrad GPA and science GPA. I worked all 4 years through college but managed deans list every semester 

I volunteered at a hospital my first two years of college where I later received an externship in the ED shadowing numerous PAs. 

Afrer college I received a medical assistant position in general dermatology and have since then moved to another practice in Mohs surgery. 

I have over 2,500 health care hours combined of volunteer, 400 shadow and the rest direct patient contact. 

Neither of these schools required GRE, so I’m unsure where I lacked. My LOR were from a PA I worked very closely with for 8 months, the surgeon I currently work with and a professor from PSU that I also was a teaching intern for. 

My only thought is lack of volunteer hours in the last years, any other thoughts? For some schools I still haven’t completed Organic Chemsitry so that could be another reason. I still have yet to hear from many schools but am trying to prepare myself. Thanks for any feedback! 

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Your story sounds like you were a reasonable applicant. I have no idea as to whether you had all the classes the schools wanted or whether or not they required the GRE or not.

Assuming you met their requirements, I would focus on your LORs and essay. It is suspicious that a 3.6 didn’t get you an interview.


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What about my essay? Thomas Jefferson told me it was really strong as well as my letters of recommendation. 

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Sounds light on the patient care experience hours.  GPA is average compared to matriculating students.  Below average on HCE and definitely on PCE especially depending on your duties as an MA.  Shadowing and volunteering typically don't count as HCE when computing (and often definitely not PCE) - they are separate entities.

Unless you've seen your LORs, don't assume they are perfect.

Doesn't feel like there's anything screaming 'We must interview this applicant!'.

Edited by MT2PA
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It could be that you haven’t finished Organic? Sometimes when they’re weeding through applications, they will just reject outright if you didn’t tick the right boxes.

I’d make sure you have all the individual requirements for the programs you selected.

Call or email the programs and say, “I was disappointed that I wasn’t selected for an interview for your PA program at — . I understand that you have to choose from many qualified applicants. I was very interested in your program because of x, y, and z. I am hoping you can comment on what I can do to improve my application so that I might be considered next year. Thank you for your time and assistance.”

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1 hour ago, hlj25950 said:

It could be that you haven’t finished Organic? Sometimes when they’re weeding through applications, they will just reject outright if you didn’t tick the right boxes.

I’d make sure you have all the individual requirements for the programs you selected.

Call or email the programs and say, “I was disappointed that I wasn’t selected for an interview for your PA program at — . I understand that you have to choose from many qualified applicants. I was very interested in your program because of x, y, and z. I am hoping you can comment on what I can do to improve my application so that I might be considered next year. Thank you for your time and assistance.”

This.

I only applied to two programs my first cycle when I was a rising senior because I knew I was a long shot. The feedback I got though from one program was outstanding. 4 out of 5 interviews and acceptance for round two.

And from what I gather, new grads are sometimes less competitive just because they are new grads. AdComs like to see commitment to medicine for a year or two after graduating (so I hear through the grape vine).

Also, if you do have to go for a second cycle, get your application in as soon as possible, that makes a big difference; you want to be ahead of the flood.

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3 hours ago, MT2PA said:

Sounds light on the patient care experience hours.  GPA is average compared to matriculating students.  Below average on HCE and definitely on PCE especially depending on your duties as an MA.  Shadowing and volunteering typically don't count as HCE when computing (and often definitely not PCE) - they are separate entities.

Unless you've seen your LORs, don't assume they are perfect.

Doesn't feel like there's anything screaming 'We must interview this applicant!'. 

Someone on the Rutgers application page for this cycle was outright rejected with 4.0 sGPA, 3.96 cGPA and 8000+ hours of PCE (plus volunteering and shadowing). 

Many schools do in fact accept volunteer hours as PCE if those hours otherwise meet the requirements, and Rutgers doesn't specify anywhere that hours must be paid. They also have medical assistant first on their list of "types of experiences that are recommended"; despite the bias on this board for paramedic and EMT hours, working as a back-office MA is pretty widely accepted and can be good experience for PA school. I'm not sure what their average is for PCE hours since they don't have a minimum and don't list the average for matriculated students, but it doesn't seem like GPA or PCE hours alone will get you an interview there.

My guess is that they are looking for a very specific type of applicant, and they can afford to carefully screen for them based on personal statements and the numerous supplemental application essays.

Edited by ProSpectre

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8 hours ago, ProSpectre said:

Someone on the Rutgers application page for this cycle was outright rejected with 4.0 sGPA, 3.96 cGPA and 8000+ hours of PCE (plus volunteering and shadowing). 

Many schools do in fact accept volunteer hours as PCE if those hours otherwise meet the requirements, and Rutgers doesn't specify anywhere that hours must be paid. They also have medical assistant first on their list of "types of experiences that are recommended"; despite the bias on this board for paramedic and EMT hours, working as a back-office MA is pretty widely accepted and can be good experience for PA school. I'm not sure what their average is for PCE hours since they don't have a minimum and don't list the average for matriculated students, but it doesn't seem like GPA or PCE hours alone will get you an interview there.

My guess is that they are looking for a very specific type of applicant, and they can afford to carefully screen for them based on personal statements and the numerous supplemental application essays.

The applicant you speak of had to have had a bad personal statement and/or LOR or questionable HCE.  There had to have been some red flag, maybe they didn't cop to it on this board, because straight numbers like that would get an interview everywhere.

Regardless of what Rutgers lists on their site, the OP calculates a TOTAL of 2500 hrs - 400 of which are shadowing apparently and an unknown number of volunteer hours which even the OP doesn't consider 'direct patient care experience' as indicated by 'the rest...'.  MA is widely accepted as PCE however it has a pretty varied job description. If OP is an MA and does primarily clerical work vs an MA who does BP, vitals, etc - it doesn't matter what the title is, they are at a disadvantage.  

Just because you technically meet the program requirements does not make you competitive and does not guarantee an interview.   Bottom line is grades alone (and average ones at that) won't make an applicant stand out.

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2 hours ago, MT2PA said:

The applicant you speak of had to have had a bad personal statement and/or LOR or questionable HCE.  There had to have been some red flag, maybe they didn't cop to it on this board, because straight numbers like that would get an interview everywhere.

Regardless of what Rutgers lists on their site, the OP calculates a TOTAL of 2500 hrs - 400 of which are shadowing apparently and an unknown number of volunteer hours which even the OP doesn't consider 'direct patient care experience' as indicated by 'the rest...'.  MA is widely accepted as PCE however it has a pretty varied job description. If OP is an MA and does primarily clerical work vs an MA who does BP, vitals, etc - it doesn't matter what the title is, they are at a disadvantage.  

Just because you technically meet the program requirements does not make you competitive and does not guarantee an interview.   Bottom line is grades alone (and average ones at that) won't make an applicant stand out.

Sure, just meeting the requirements doesn't make someone competitive, but my point is that there is no hard requirement for a minimum number of PCE hours for Rutgers, so who knows what's competitive and what's not for their specific program; both applicants are well above just meeting the requirements for GPA too (OP is well above the minimum cutoff -- although she had an "average GPA" for matriculates, the average simply shows where the middle of the distribution of matriculate GPAs are, it says nothing about how they are distributed). Red flags elsewhere in their applications are a possibility (likely with the other applicant due to her high numbers), but it's not a guarantee. 

So claiming the OP wasn't accepted based on being "light on hours" or average on GPA is pure speculation. It may be correct, but considering that others with higher hours and higher GPA were also rejected, there is also a very real possibility that there is simply some other quality that Rutgers adcoms look for that these applicants didn't have (for instance, Rutgers claims one of their core values is service to the community, and that they "seek students who demonstrate an ongoing commitment to their community by volunteering"). It's also possible that other things Rutgers mentions like completing several higher level sciences besides prerequisites screened them out. 

Besides, in regards to the OP's hours, her post said "over 2,500 health care hours combined of volunteer, 400 shadow and the rest direct patient contact", which I read to mean that at least 2000 of those was PCE as a derm MA doing direct patient care. The OP can correct me if I'm wrong, but a quick check of her post history seems to confirm that this is what she meant.  

I understand you're trying to be realistic with applicants and not sugarcoat things, but you come across as a bit negative when you critique people's stats without providing any actual advice. Some schools (like Rutgers) seem to have a very specific idea of what they want in an applicant, and high PCE hours or high GPA may not always be their first or only priority. 

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My patient contact experience in the Mohs surgery currently consists of setting the patients up for the procedure, numbing and bandanding patients between stages, assisting in the closures/reconstruction, going over wound care with them, taking their sutures out and then of course little tasks like sending prescriptions over, scheduling patients appointments, dealing with administration stuff as well. 

My last medical assistant position was in a general derm office where I brought patients back and ask reason for visit, past medical history, etc. I also performed the excimer laser on patients with psoriasis and alopecia. 

I feel as this is good patient contact and very hands on. Am I wrong? Comments? 

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I applied early to Rutgers, had a little more hours than you and about the same gpa, my science was lower and I was also rejected from Rutgers. Rutgers is very competitive...

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Well the crazy thing is I just found out another girl I went to PSU with received an interview from Rutgers and had a lower cumulative AND science gpa than me but had 3000 hours. So that is very surprising. The one thing I believe is I am in the process of taking organic chem and she already took it so I’m sure not having that done affected me as well 

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29 minutes ago, ProSpectre said:

Sure, just meeting the requirements doesn't make someone competitive, but my point is that there is no hard requirement for a minimum number of PCE hours for Rutgers, so who knows what's competitive and what's not for their specific program; both applicants are well above just meeting the requirements for GPA too (OP is well above the minimum cutoff -- although she had an "average GPA" for matriculates, the average simply shows where the middle of the distribution of matriculate GPAs are, it says nothing about how they are distributed). Red flags elsewhere in their applications are a possibility (likely with the other applicant due to her high numbers), but it's not a guarantee. 

So claiming the OP wasn't accepted based on being "light on hours" or average on GPA is pure speculation. It may be correct, but considering that others with higher hours and higher GPA were also rejected, there is also a very real possibility that there is simply some other quality that Rutgers adcoms look for that these applicants didn't have (for instance, Rutgers claims one of their core values is service to the community, and that they "seek students who demonstrate an ongoing commitment to their community by volunteering"). It's also possible that other things Rutgers mentions like completing several higher level sciences besides prerequisites screened them out. 

Besides, in regards to the OP's hours, her post said "over 2,500 health care hours combined of volunteer, 400 shadow and the rest direct patient contact", which I read to mean that at least 2000 of those was PCE as a derm MA doing direct patient care. The OP can correct me if I'm wrong, but a quick check of her post history seems to confirm that this is what she meant.  

I understand you're trying to be realistic with applicants and not sugarcoat things, but you come across as a bit negative when you critique people's stats without providing any actual advice. Some schools (like Rutgers) seem to have a very specific idea of what they want in an applicant, and high PCE hours or high GPA may not always be their first or only priority. 

This is a public forum and we don't see OPs entire application (LORs, statements, etc) so all we can do is speculate.  If a person comes to this forum expecting hard and fast answers they will be sorely disappointed.

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I mean, for what it's worth, with very high profile programs like Rutgers, they likely have 100's of 4.0 applicants with sufficient to outstanding PCE; so that said, their choices may become uncomfortably personal based on LORs and essays. They can really pick and choose from a huge number of highly qualified applicants. That was a very surprising realization I had during interviews at some of the more competitive programs I applied to, literally everyone there "deserved" to get in, I honestly couldn't say I was better/more qualified than any of the other interviewees, despite a 3.95 gpa, diverse HCE and volunteering, and a 314(316? I don't remember) GRE; and in one interview group of 5-6, I was the only one without a 4.0... But less than half would be accepted. And on top of that, I was rejected from a rather low prestige program after having an interview; it is really a bit of a roll of the dice even if you are "very competitive." That's why I strongly suggest applying to ~10 programs, even if you're a stellar candidate. 

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Kgizzi, did you apply to any other schools in that area that receive less applications such as Arcadia, PCOM, Salus, DeSales?  Drexel and Rutgers are pretty competitive, and I know current students from those schools listed above that have GPAs and experience less that you.  Don't worry - you'll get in with that GPA and experience.

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Yes, I applied to all of those schools you mentioned! I applied to 15 schools total and branched out to a few states. I'm hoping I applied to enough as I'm now getting nervous that my stats aren't good enough or something was missing from my personal statement

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For those that asked about my personal statement, here it is. It was tough with the word limit on CASPA. I had to cut things out I wanted in there and felt as there wasn't enough on my experiences relating to why I specifically want to be PA, as well as why I am so passionate about becoming one... Please let me know what you think. I had it proofread from multiple English professors and peer reviewed my students. I received feedback from Thomas Jefferson that it was a strong statement letter, but now I am feeling very nervous about it.

 

“So, what do you want to be when you grow up?” I used to dread this question as a child; mostly, because I never quite knew how to answer it. I thought that maybe I wanted to be a cheerleader, or a gymnast, or a basketball player, but I always knew that none of those things were the answer that adults were looking for when they asked such a question.

One night when I was a freshman in high school, my dad and I were over at my Pop Pop’s for dinner. Grandma had been gone for a few months now and although Pop Pop was doing well, I had never seen him so sad. That night he pulled me aside and began telling me how much I was starting to remind him of my grandmother, which I was ecstatic about because she was my absolute hero. Then he said to me, “Kia, you know why God gave you two hands, don’t you?” I asked why and he said, “God gave you one hand to help yourself, and he gave you the second to help others.” He gave me a big hug, and he went back to the table and let me finish watching my show. I was just a teenager and I did not think anything of it at the time.

A year had passed and I was finally realizing my nightmare. My Pop Pop was diagnosed with stage IV metastatic cancer. Dad and I went and visited him every day in the hospital and, as I watched him become weaker and weaker, I would see more and more of the hospital staff come in to check on him, to change his bed pan and to bring him food.

Towards the end, I could see that all of the little amenities, while present, did not concern my Pop Pop so much -- he was tired. I could see though, how much it meant to my father. I could see in his face the gratitude and the comfort he felt in knowing that his father, his hero’s last days, were spent in the hands of people who really seemed to care almost as much as we did. I could see how thankful he was for everyone who cared for my Pop Pop until the day that we received the news that he had passed.

A few months later I found myself sitting in my guidance counselor’s office, once again being asked, “So, what do you want to be when you grow up?” I stopped, and I thought hard for a few minutes, then I looked down at my hands and remembered what my Pop Pop had said. I immediately looked up, smiled, and said, “I want to do something meaningful. I want to be able to help care for people.” Because of the quality of care that my Pop Pop had received, I could be confident that his final days were as comfortable as possible. I knew that because of the people providing the care, my family could rest at night knowing that someone was always there for him, and there for us. Because of the people in that hospital, I too wanted to be there for people, helping them get better and helping families through their struggles. Because of my Pop Pop, I knew I wanted to use my second hand to help others.

I have never wanted to be someone who simply commutes to work to do a job and get paid, but rather, someone whose life serves a true purpose -- someone whose life holds a true value to others. I know that by becoming a Physician’s Assistant, I will be working as the same kind of person my father had so much appreciation for. I know that by becoming a Physician’s Assistant, I will be making my dreams come true, making my grandparents proud, and most of all I will be making a positive impact on the world around me. I know that attending the Master of Health Sciences Physician Assistant Program is the best way to continue my pursuit of these dreams, and I look forward to the day that I can finally say that I am living my life for more than just me.

UPMC Altoona marks my initial steps into the healthcare world. I volunteered at the hospital early in my college career and later received an externship in their Emergency Department. My role involved shadowing numerous PA’s in the ED in addition to the trauma rooms. I was able to observe and learn an abundance of new information in regard to the important role that Physician Assistants play in the healthcare field. This experience also served as an excellent platform for my understanding of the healthcare industry as a whole.

While I was still building my qualifications in the last round of PA school applications, I did not let that deter my motivation. Instead, I looked at it as an opportunity to fulfill more patient contact hours and to gain critical patient contact experience. Additionally, I adopted this path with the confidence that I would learn new information that will only help me in my future goals of becoming a PA. On top of working, I enrolled three additional courses through Montgomery Community College in order to add weight to my application. I continued to hold my Medical Assistant position at Center For Dermatology as well as receiving a new position in Mohs Surgery at Yardley Dermatology in November of 2017. The experience I have gained this past year has truly been amazing and I know that it has served to expand on the qualities that make me a great prospective candidate.

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Unfortunately, you wrote “physician’s assistant” twice. There is no possessive in the job title and some are especially sensitive to that. It might have implied that you don’t know enough about the profession.


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Edited by UGoLong
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9 minutes ago, UGoLong said:

Unfortunately, you wrote “physician’s assistant” twice. There is no possessive in the job title and some are especially sensitive to that. It might have i plied that you don’t know enough about the profession.


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Indeed, I was interrupted, reprimanded politely, and corrected during an interview for saying it.

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As above, the grammatical error could very well be detrimental.  If this is your general CASPA app, not all programs award an master of health sciences (there are variables although they all equate the same; MSHS, MPAS, etc etc) so it might be too specific depending on what the programs you applied to award.

It feels very generic.  Obviously you can't change it now but honestly it isn't doing a whole lot to make you stand out and could be contributing to your rejections.

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Unfortunately your essay, combined with the relatively low number of patient contact hours, is most likely the culprit. It wasn't until the 5th paragraph of the essay where the reader learned anything about you. The first 1/2 reads as a heart warming story of your Pop Pop rather than answering the question "Why do you want to become a PA?". The 5th paragraph paints a picture of someone trying to get into PA school to make her Father and Grandparent proud rather than the true reasons why you want to become a PA.

 

If things don't go your way this round, amp up your HCE (can't stress enough the importance of high-quality), revise the hell out of the essay and make sure your LORs are as solid as anticipated. As previously mentioned, omit entirely the dreaded Physician's Assistant (as well as PA's). Apostrophe s implies ownership, and I'm my own keeper.

 

All the best.

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Wow, that is very misleading. I have seen online and people use the 's so I honestly didn't know. I always wondered and would look online to see and still saw "physician's assistant" I hope this isn't a reason I'm rejected to all 15 schools..

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It could be. There is an ongoing debate about changing our name and not being familiar with the job title may indicate that you don’t understand the career field as well as you could. Like all gaps in knowledge, it’s easily corrected.


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