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What are my chances of getting into PA school? Feeling disheartened...

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I graduated in May 2012 with a B.S. in Psychology and a minor in Business. My final GPA was 3.26. I started taking my science courses in that last semester. I took Chem and Microbiology and got a B in both (these were taken at a community college). I work as a Physical and Occupational Therapy aide to acquire my patient contact hours and have 377.75 so far (the programs I'm looking into require 500). I also have about 100 hours working with Autistic and Developmentally Disabled children at my other job. I still need to take 2 semesters Bio, 2 semesters Chem, A and P 1 & 2, and Biochemistry.


I wish I would have known earlier on that I wanted to go into this field but it wasn't until I started to work at the hospital and saw that I didn't want to become an Occupational Therapist (the reason I got the aide job in the first place), that I shadowed PA's and decided I wanted to be a PA. The more I researched everything about it, the more it made sense that this is what I wanted to do. I've talked with several PA's and MD's and they feel that I'm making the right decision.


So here is my problem:


When I was in high school, I was taking all honors courses (even took 2 college courses) and my parents thought I was going to do really well when I went away to school. When I first went to college at 18, I dropped out after the first semester (because of major depression) and my grades were an F, D, and A. Then when I returned home, I took another stab at school the next semester and also got a C and F. Fast forward to age 24 and I entered community college again going part time and my GPA was more along the 3.6 area. Two years later at 26, I worked very part time and went back to school full time. When I transferred into my four year college, they didn't carry over my previous GPA and started me off at a blank slate. The very first semester I was at that college I had an awful professor for 2 classes out of the 4 I was taking and got C's in both (statistics and social psychology). I had not gotten any bad grades (besides when I was 18) and it was very disheartening. My GPA ended up being something around 2.6 or something like that for that semester. Every semester after I got A's and B's and finally brought it up to a 3.26. I know I am capable of a higher GPA but I just couldn't come back from that low GPA even with all of my high grades.



My question is, once I have all of my hours, and I complete all of my pre-reqs, do you think that my 3.26 GPA is going to hurt me? I TRULY want to go to PA but I'm not sure if my GPA is going to cut it since the minimum is 3.0 and we all know that minimum GPA's don't really mean anything. Also, I've been taking my pre-reqs at a community college (because it is more cost effective and what I can afford), but I want to know if PA schools are going to put their noses up in the air at my courses since they aren't at a four year college. I'm 30 years old and need to know if I'm even considered a valid candidate at this point. I don't want to spend money taking all of the pre-reqs and incurring more debt on top of my undergrad loan, only to have to find another career at 32 or 33 with nothing to show for all of my hard work.


What do you think about my stats? What do you feel are my chances of getting into PA school? Can anyone give me advice on what to do to be a better candidate? Or do you think I'm not even close to being considered? Please be honest with your answers and don't sugarcoat it.


Thank you so much for taking the time to answer.

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I don't know how the competitiveness of PA schools is currently, having graduated 12 years ago (it was still competitive then), but my gut reaction after reading your story is to reach out to your local PA programs, specifically the ones you are wanting to apply to. I don't think your GPA would prohibit you from being a viable candidate, especially if the rest of your application is strong, but often putting a personal story behind an application goes a long way. Set up a meeting with the program director. You don't need to get into the minute details of your history but basically summarize what happened in the past, what you are doing to become a strong candidate, and ask *them* what you can do to be a strong candidate for their program. Go in armed with research about their program beforehand too - treat it like an interview. Know *why* you want to go to that particular program and tell them so. Then when it's time to apply for PA school, and you have beefed up your application based on their recommendations, they will already have some familiarity with you personally which may work in your favor. Best of luck!

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I graduated in 1998, with a BA, and stuck around for an extra course or two to bump my GPA all the way up to 3.02. Then I worked for a while, not really having much of a plan.


I eventually did a couple hundred hours as a volunteer in an ER, then got EMT-B certified, then got hired part-time as a tech. This was while also doing my day job. I amassed maybe 750 hours working, then went to a Post-Bacc program for all my science. I was still not a stellar student, but worked hard and pulled out some A's and a bunch of B's. I then returned home, working full-time now, while getting CASPA together.


All in all I had like 2500 to 2800 hours of work experience, plus much better grades in post-bac as I'd had in undergrad seven years prior. I then proceeded to get a 1400 on the GRE and write a kick-*** essay. I applied to a handful of schools and got into all of them.


In short, know what's not great about your total application package; do everything you can to fix that; and work even harder on the things that are going to stand out as good. It's a different mix for everyone, and the biggest mistake people make is adopting some strategy that's simultaneously too cookie-cutter and too specific.

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some schools have a min gpa in the low to mid 3's ... many have no minumum. 3.2 is not competitive for PA school .. but does not rule you out. Applications offer a chance to explain. Hopefully you are challenging yourself right now with work, healthcare hourse, and pre reqs and showing that you can get high marks. Keep in mind .. PA school is essentially double the amount of coursework than your freshman year (probably more) .... and it is coursework that gives you a career where errors ruin lives .. so they will want to be sure you can handle the material. How can you demonstrate to them you can ace a huge course load loaded w/ heavy science and clinical coursework ? Try and emphasize that in your application.

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Research schools. There are several schools that look at Science GPA and recent GPA as much as or more than overall GPA. Getting a ton of HCE can only help you. Balance out your application with strong grades in sciences and other outstanding areas (volunteer work, HCE, great GRE, etc). If you really look at all the schools nationwide you will find several that you could apply to and be competitive. I just got in with a 2.89 overall, but my Sci is 3.6 and my last 60/Post bacc is a 3.84. I also have 3000+ HCE hours, medical mission trips, PrePA club leadership, and a solid GRE (160/160/5.0). And I targeted schools who would look at that. You can do it!

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Depends on the school, but most schools look at both the GPA and HC hours. IMO, you are short on both of those. I agree with posters above that you could reach out to some schools you are considering to see where you'd stand. Our average GPA of a given admission class is about 3.55 and HC hours are about 1100. As I said, programs differ.

Good luck.


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It really depends upon the program. I know that's a generic answer, but it's true. I really feel like for most programs your HC hours, GPA, and relevant experience is just to get you that entrance interview and once you're there in front of them, the rest is up to you. I did notice that a lot of people in my program had an abundance of HC hours. I think our program minimum was 500 but I had 2,700 and most of my friends had 1000+. I think that shows more of an initiative, and like somebody else said, allows you to apply to many more programs.


Just keep working, pile up those HC hours, and bump that GPA. If you work hard and want it, the results will come.

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Well my CASPA gpa was 2.94 and I have 0 hours of healthcare experience, and I got accepted. It really does depend on the program. I did have a 3.97 science gpa, however, so I'm sure that boosted my overall scores. I'd say your stats are good enough to get in SOMEWHERE, and once you complete the rest of your pre-reqs, your gpa should be higher. If it's really what you want to do, DON'T GIVE UP!!!

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Well my CASPA gpa was 2.94 and I have 0 hours of healthcare experience, and I got accepted. It really does depend on the program. I did have a 3.97 science gpa, however, so I'm sure that boosted my overall scores. I'd say your stats are good enough to get in SOMEWHERE, and once you complete the rest of your pre-reqs, your gpa should be higher. If it's really what you want to do, DON'T GIVE UP!!!


What program was that if you don't mind me asking?

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