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Can GPA be too perfect for PA application?

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I realize that this is not the typical question, but a college professor recently commented to another student during class that a 4.0 GPA is more detrimental than 3.8 on a PA application because "they'll assume you're a perfectionist, and no one wants to teach a perfectionist". Is this legit?

My goal in my classes has been to learn the material well so I have a solid foundation to draw from in the future when I am treating patients. I am maintaining a 4.0 GPA with a full-time course load and without sacrificing sleep or a life. I was taught to work hard for my passions and I enjoy delving deeper into subjects that interest me personally, so I'm a bit taken aback by my professor's comment.

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Having a 4.0 will definitely not hinder your application to PA school.

Since your grades are perfect they'll likely pressure you on other areas of your application. If your application is somehow perfect (4.0 Biochem student with 5 years paramedic experience who volunteered in Peru etc..) rare but it happens they can find something nitpicky about your personal statement or other experiences just to see how you respond. Lots of schools are turning to the MMI interview format. So although you might be a near perfect candidate on paper you might be a terrible or subpar interviewee.

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Not true. Assuming you meet the other requirements, you will likely be offered one of the early interview slots.

They may, however, probe your personality a bit more during the interview process (team player, not overly OCD, etc.) Human nature.

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I was decidedly not a 4.0 student, and after explaining why in interviews, multiple program directors told me they were looking for students who know how it feels not to be successful all the time. Maybe they were just trying to make me feel better, but they put a lot of weight on resilience and how I faced challenges without buckling under the pressure. (I also selectively applied to schools that didn't emphasize an amazing GPA, so take this with a grain of salt.) While a 4.0 is a tremendous achievement and you'll certainly be extremely competitive for PA school, I'd prepare a few interview stories of times when you struggled and what you did you overcome those struggles.

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1 hour ago, nichole96 said:

I was decidedly not a 4.0 student, and after explaining why in interviews, multiple program directors told me they were looking for students who know how it feels not to be successful all the time. Maybe they were just trying to make me feel better, but they put a lot of weight on resilience and how I faced challenges without buckling under the pressure. (I also selectively applied to schools that didn't emphasize an amazing GPA, so take this with a grain of salt.) While a 4.0 is a tremendous achievement and you'll certainly be extremely competitive for PA school, I'd prepare a few interview stories of times when you struggled and what you did you overcome those struggles.

This is perfect advice.

I don't think you're going to have a problem getting interviews/acceptances. However, you might start hearing more about this once you start didactic. The majority of our class is straight from undergrad (meaning high GPAs, lower end of PCE), and they have had to be told MANY times "STOP TRYING TO GET ALL A's!" - because in PA school it's impossible and you'll really kill yourself if you try to keep on pushing for that 4.0 in PA school. There are so many exams and so much information in PA school. So understanding early on that you WILL fail some things and you don't need to get straight As on everything is soo important. That said, be proud of what you've accomplished, go in to those interviews confident, and remember that once you start didactic the emphasis needs to be on really understanding the material so that you can treat patients well and pass the PANCE - the emphasis does not need to be on maintaining perfect grades. 

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Thank you all for the responses! I certainly won't have a "perfect" application, so they'll have other things to poke at. 😃 I'll keep doing what I'm doing and work towards my goals, without killing myself in the process.

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