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Is it too late to have an upward trend?


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I’m planning on applying to PA school 2022 cycle and will be taking organic chem by then. I’m taking genetics, microbio (second time) and chem (second time) and just received my official grade of a C in genetics. I received a C in micro/chem the first time around so I’m hoping for higher grades in both. I also have a C in anatomy that's officially on my transcript. I know I can handle the work for PA school, but at the moment I have to work two jobs (one full-time and other is part time) due to both my parents dying & me having minimum family support. 

I have mostly A’s/some B’s in my other prerequisites but I’m really worried that this C (plus the anatomy course) will make my application look bad.

All in all, how bad does this look?

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I mean as long as you retake the courses and get at least a B, preferably an A; then that will show an upward trend.  Now depending on how many total science classes you've taken it will raise your sGPA to get better grades in all of those but the more classes you take the less the increase will be if that makes sense.  As for how it looks, the better GPA and sGPA the more competitive you will be of course; make the rest of your categories as best as you can; PCE, personal statement, shadowing, volunteer, and rock the GRE if the schools you are applying to require it.  

Edited by stat1177
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First off, I'm really sorry to hear about your parents. I can't imagine what you're going through, and any normal person would absolutely struggle in a time as difficult as you are having. Totally agree with everything @stat1177 is saying! Every application and every cycle is a little different, but there are some general rules of thumb that I've seen in my previous experience. Higher GPA and sGPA will almost always get you more interviews and give you more acceptances but you shouldn't count yourself out if you've struggled and persisted.

A little backstory, I applied last cycle (first try), and I applied to 29 schools, got interviews at 6, waitlisted by 5, and ultimately accepted to 1 (withdrew my waitlist spots from the others, so still a chance I could have gotten off more waitlists I guess). I had a D+ in calculus, a C in Chem 1 that I retook and got an A-, a C in biology 2 that I retook to get a B, and a C in Chemistry 2 that I retook and got a C+ (Not my smartest move). Most of my other science grades were A's or B's, but overall my science GPA was not strong.

Not telling you this to influence your thought process one way or the other, but rather to just say that if you really want to be a physician assistant (you like helping others, you like science, you like problem solving) then you should keep persisting. Try to retake the C's if you truly believe you'll improve upon them. As I said, I retook chem 2 and only went from a C to C+, which didn't help show the admissions committee that I improved my study skills or understanding of the material. 

Be critical with yourself in terms of what's feasible to retake. I'd rather you try to either retake that C in anatomy OR take pathophysiology, which builds upon anatomy than retake chem and do just as bad (not saying this would happen, but it happened to me so that's my perspective). I took pathophys at a community college while not taking any other classes. I learned a ton, and had time to focus on the material which was great! Maybe try to retake genetics OR micro, to show that you can do well in upper level science, but don't waste time retaking every single class, especially because it seems as though you have extenuating circumstances. 

Lastly, I'd say to try and beef up your sGPA with some more medically inclined classes like nutrition or an EMT course. I did this and honestly it really helped the GPA and gave me some interesting insight into more niche parts of science and medicine. Work on building your application with shadowing and patient care! Also I'd say that in my experience, most of my interview invites came from programs that were started a long time ago or ones that were provisional. Most of the programs that started about 5-10 years ago seem to prefer candidates with a solid GPA and few C's, whereas really well established schools definitely seem to take into account strong patient care and extracurriculars! 

Best of luck to you during this exceptionally difficult time. Please reach out if I can help in any way! Don't give up, I didn't think I'd make it here and I'm really enjoying it! 

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