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I am taking a gap year following my undergraduate at the University of Idaho, and applying this cycle in May of 2019. I am terrified of being denied entry, I feel that there isn't much that stands out in my application. I am doing an impressive internship this summer, but will be applying before it begins. I hope to matriculate into a surgical career, but am keeping my options open at this point. Please give me your 100% candid feedback. I'm an Idaho resident, from a medically underserved area btw. 

cGPA: 3.54

sGPA: 3.5

Paid PCE: ~800 hours as a surgical floor CNA

Unpaid PCE: 221.25 hours ED volunteer 

Scribe Hours: 45 hours Free clinic 

PA shadowing: 80 hours (FP, Surgical Speciality)

MD shadowing: 15 hours (FP, Orthopedic Surgeon) 

Volunteer hours: ~300 Muscular Dystrophy Association, Environmental, Greek 

Definitely applying to: Northern Arizona, Samuel Merritt University, Western University of Health Sciences, Idaho State University, Cornell University, PACE University (Lenox Hill) 

Maybe applying to: Carroll University, Salus University, Sullivan University, Albany Medical College, Touro University 

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2 minutes ago, MT2PA said:

You're an average applicant with below average PCE.  You have average chances.  You want a rating?  5/10.  50%.  

Do you think if I reapplied and accrued ~2000 more PCE hours after my gap year my chances would be significantly higher? What would you recommend doing before this cycle?   

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If you're set on applying this year, it will come down to your personal statement. Write, edit, have a number of people that will give you honest feedback read it, edit again... etc. With an average GPA and sub-par PCE hours, your personal statement will give you the best opportunity to stand out. Also, apply early! Make it a goal to submit by June 1st. As soon as CASPA opens start the application process, order transcripts, and probably start talking to your letter writers now so there won't be any hold up on submitting early. The application process is very time consuming.

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18 hours ago, tareyng said:

Do you think if I reapplied and accrued ~2000 more PCE hours after my gap year my chances would be significantly higher? What would you recommend doing before this cycle?   

YES. This is exactly what happened to me. I hated having "two," gap years (if it was up to me, I'd have liked to start the fall after graduating undergrad) but it really did take that long to accrue PCE and be ready (personal statement in my pocket, LORs, experience, maturity) to apply early (early June, seriously). 

YAY, fellow Idahoan. How do you feel about working in underserved communities post-graduation? Do you plan to practice in Idaho? Especially rural Idaho? If so, USE this to your advantage as much as you can. Talk about the qualities of the area you grew up in and how this has shaped your passions (sounds funny, but, depending on the school you apply to, having a disadvantaged background can count for a lot). 

I see that you plan to apply to some schools in the west, but I'm curious as to why you left out OR/WA/NV and the other two in AZ. And, I hate to say it, and I know it's your only option for ID, but I do not think applying to ISU is a good fit for you. Are you familiar with how they review applications? Unless this has changed since I applied a couple of years ago, they add GRE + GPA scores, then review apps from the highest - down. I had a similar sGPA, cGPA of 3.74 and an above average GRE and they didn't even come close to even looking at my application. 

I am not familiar with the other schools you plan to apply to, but I do have a friend from Idaho currently attending Western. 

Message me if you'd like. Signed - Idhaoan attending NAU in the fall.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Annnd if you skip this cycle you could potentially miss out on starting your journey earlier. People will discourage you and I am not sure why. My hours are similar/less than yours and my GPA slightly higher. I had 3 interview invites this cycle. 2 interviews I attended. 2 schools accepted me. Do not let others discourage you with their 1 million hours. Go for it. Also, MDA is amazing. I have hours with the organization from the summer camps. 

Message me if you want more details from my situation this past cycle.

Again. Do not let others discourage you! It wouldn't hurt to try. Yea the applications are expensive and it sucks, but you definitely dont want to feel regret if you dont apply this cycle, you know?

Trust me, many people apply with lower GPAs and lower hours, etc. apply to schools. Dont call yourself average.

Just make sure your recs and personal statement are pretty strong, as well.

Edited by Gbpmk399132
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On 3/24/2019 at 3:40 PM, tareyng said:

I am taking a gap year following my undergraduate at the University of Idaho, and applying this cycle in May of 2019. I am terrified of being denied entry, I feel that there isn't much that stands out in my application. I am doing an impressive internship this summer, but will be applying before it begins. I hope to matriculate into a surgical career, but am keeping my options open at this point. Please give me your 100% candid feedback. I'm an Idaho resident, from a medically underserved area btw. 

cGPA: 3.54

sGPA: 3.5

Paid PCE: ~800 hours as a surgical floor CNA

Unpaid PCE: 221.25 hours ED volunteer 

Scribe Hours: 45 hours Free clinic 

PA shadowing: 80 hours (FP, Surgical Speciality)

MD shadowing: 15 hours (FP, Orthopedic Surgeon) 

Volunteer hours: ~300 Muscular Dystrophy Association, Environmental, Greek 

Definitely applying to: Northern Arizona, Samuel Merritt University, Western University of Health Sciences, Idaho State University, Cornell University, PACE University (Lenox Hill) 

Maybe applying to: Carroll University, Salus University, Sullivan University, Albany Medical College, Touro University 

I'll echo what's already been said by @MT2PA. You're working with average to above average statistics GPA wise, and I don't even see a GRE score listed. My cGPA and sGPA were in the 3.4-3.5 range. I had around 1,200 hours at the time of application and 1,800 in the midst of my interviews. I had around 2,000 volunteer hours. I see you're from Idaho so you will probably want to keep most of your target schools within a drive-able distance, but I'd recommend applying to 20 schools. I applied to 19 schools. I got 8 interview invitations, and from those 8 interviews I got 1 acceptance, 5 waitlistings, 1 rejection, and 1 interview I decided to not even attend. You shouldn't be applying to any less than 15 schools, but I'd really aim towards that 20 number. It's better to be accepted your first cycle than have to sit out another entire year. 

One school I cannot recommend enough (and I am not attending this school but it was my #2 preference of all the interviews I went on) was South University (Richmond campus). The Richmond campus is in the nicest and most easily accessible area of every interview I went on. Most of the places you can live are walkable, there's a huge community built around the school where everything you need is within a mile radius, a Whole Foods is directly across the street, the program is under 100K for out-of-state students, and the majority of applicants who were at my interview date were out-of-state which reaffirms what I previously said. It's quite a ways away from where you live, but it was from where I live too. It's a January state date, so you could finish 6 months before most people.

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Aside from what others have said, I really think that WHERE you apply matters. I am not familiar with most of those schools, but when I applied I created a spreadsheet of school, location, tuition, and then all the average stats for matriculating students. I then chose 15 to apply to that were seemingly within reach.

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On 3/24/2019 at 2:40 PM, tareyng said:

I am taking a gap year following my undergraduate at the University of Idaho, and applying this cycle in May of 2019. I am terrified of being denied entry, I feel that there isn't much that stands out in my application. I am doing an impressive internship this summer, but will be applying before it begins. I hope to matriculate into a surgical career, but am keeping my options open at this point. Please give me your 100% candid feedback. I'm an Idaho resident, from a medically underserved area btw. 

cGPA: 3.54

sGPA: 3.5

Paid PCE: ~800 hours as a surgical floor CNA

Unpaid PCE: 221.25 hours ED volunteer 

Scribe Hours: 45 hours Free clinic 

PA shadowing: 80 hours (FP, Surgical Speciality)

MD shadowing: 15 hours (FP, Orthopedic Surgeon) 

Volunteer hours: ~300 Muscular Dystrophy Association, Environmental, Greek 

Definitely applying to: Northern Arizona, Samuel Merritt University, Western University of Health Sciences, Idaho State University, Cornell University, PACE University (Lenox Hill) 

Maybe applying to: Carroll University, Salus University, Sullivan University, Albany Medical College, Touro University 

Fellow Vandal here, heading to ISU in August.  While I can't speak for the other schools you mentioned applying to, I'd say you have a reasonable chance with ISU.  From my understanding, the GPA factors in the most heavily at getting past their first gate, which is the minimum file score they review.  The formula for the file score is your prereq GPA + percentiles (as decimals) from your verbal and quantitative GRE scores.  Total points possible is six.  On average, the last five years the minimum file score has been 4.91 (trending upward; for 2018 it was 4.94)  So if you can get an average of around 75th percentile between verbal and quantitative that should put you pretty safely past this first gate for 2019.  My prereq GPA was 4.0 but I only had 500 hours as a non-emergency transporter and about 20 hours of shadowing.  The vibe I got during the interview was that they wanted to get to know you, your character and your potential for success in a graduate level program.  This was the same for the other two schools I interviewed at; more forward-looking than dwelling on the past.  I think the reviewers gave me a lot of credit for my previous career where I spent six years in the professional, albeit non-health care, world as well as some volunteer experience.  Looking at your PCE and volunteer hours I think as long as you get past the first gate, these things will play a much more important role in your potential acceptance.  Even though you won't have entered the internship at the time of application I would still mention it in your personal statement and talk about the attributes, work and qualifications that got you into it and talk about what you plan to learn and take away from it and how it will benefit you as a PA student and PA.  As a little bonus, if you make it to the interview, as an Idaho resident you'll get an automatic bump up in your scoring following the interview.  Hope this helps; feel free to send me a PM if you want to discuss anything.  I'm more than happy to answer any questions and share my application documents if you want them.  Several folks did the same for me when I was applying and I'm a firm believer in paying it forward.

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I would absolutely NOT apply to Albany Medical or Cornell. I had similar academic stats, much higher PCE (~2600 hours EMT/ED tech), got 10 interview invites, and Cornell never even sent me a supplemental. Also Albany Medical auto-rejected me (it seems from their email that their "average" accepted stats are more like soft minimums.

I think it would definitely be in your best interest to wait a year. Your ED volunteering most likely isn't PCE (hospital volunteering counts as HCE) so you have 800 true PCE hours with meh GPAs (not trying to be insisting - meh is how I describe mine too!!). Would you rather spend >$1K this year to bite your nails for an acceptance, or wait a year and be far more confident in your application? When you're ready, you'll know.

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I had a really similar stats to you and was accepted my first cycle. I say go for it - during interviews I was told that many schools that waitlist will auto accept those students in the next cycle, so even if you didn't get in now it might help for next cycle.

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  • 1 month later...

Honestly, disregard people's opinion's if they only talk about numbers. Some posts here are highly self-referential and the logic behind their advice is: "I failed, therefore you will fail too". This is just counterproductive for you. Honestly, numbers will never tell you the whole story.

Programs care about life experience, fit to the program, your potential as member of the university (extra curricular activities and leadership within PA school), your background, and most importantly.... how your application connects to YOU.

Having 8000 hours of PCE that you hated, learned nothing from, and that didnt connect with your personal narrative will definitely show on your application. Don't just get experience for the sake of amassing stats. Learn from it, get awards, get recommendations, find a good fit for you and your ambitions. There's a difference between performing at a job and being stuck with it.

Admission officers can smell generic applications from far away. After all, they are generic, and they wont make anybody feel curious or like they are missing out. There's a difference between saying "I wanna be a PA to have a job" and "I wanna be a PA to help the undeserved". There's a difference between "I learned about the PA profession from U.S news best jobs" and "I arrived at the pa profession after years of dedicating my life to healthcare".

If you care about, say, helping undeserved populations and your profile, experience and life story show that, then you have a more compelling application than someone who has been hating their PCE for thousands of hours and have made no efforts to expand their healthcare perspective beyond their own practice and what was given to them.    

Some people feel entitled to certain things based on their GPA and PCE, but they also may feel undeserving of higher achievement because their numbers are "not as good" as others. Its a vicious cycle.

GPA: You dont even know what classes made up their GPA
PCE: You dont know the scope of their jobs
Profile: You simply dont know them

Some programs have certain thresholds or minimums (1000 PCE is the most common), so waiting a year will help with that. But honestly, i have seen people get accepted and interviewed in many great schools with little-to-no experience, but awesome stories and clear personal mission and profile as candidates. Don't take advice from people telling you that you are "the same as them" and "therefore you will fail" because thats just missing the point.

I cannot guarantee that you will get into PA school with those stats, but I can guarantee you that if you only measure yourself with numbers, then you'll waste time worrying about them and PA schools will only see you as another generic application.

My advice for your numbers: Take a Gap and amass more hours
My advice for your application: Figure out who you are and what you bring to healthcare

Edited by jdv123
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I think your stats are fine and depending on the quality of your PS and LOR you should definitely hear back from some schools. Depending on how charismatic/how good you are at interviews, you'll probably get accepted this cycle 🙂 I'm from NY so I think your stats should at least get you an interview at PACE. 
I personally took a gap year and it was one of the best decisions I've made. For me personally, I was working by butt off in undergrad, always studying/working/research/volunteering and I never really gave myself time to breath. During my gap year, I worked full-time, but I also traveled, hanged out with friends and just enjoyed life. 

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