By Carolyn Rath, Class of 2020
In October of this year, I had the privilege to return to my alma mater, Duke University, for a recruitment event for the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy (ESOP). The event was called Graduate and Professional School Day, and was catered towards undergraduate students interested in pursuing business, law, and – my personal favorite – health professional programs. When I arrived at the event, I joined Aaron Todd, the Assistant Director of Student Affairs at ESOP (check out his Twitter if you haven’t already – @UNCpharmAaron) at the UNC table. Throughout the evening, Mr. Todd and I had the chance to talk to students about our program and the myriad opportunities available in the field of pharmacy today. And then, after many pleasant conversations with interested students, a vivid memory suddenly came to my mind.
It’s late October of 2015. I am in the same room where the professional school fair is held, but it looks different. Instead of the rows of representatives brandishing brochures, there are tables scattered throughout the room where students are studying, chatting, or eating a quick lunch between classes. I am simultaneously trying to scroll through my emails, update my weekly calendar, and enjoy my plate of pasta before rushing off to Physics lab. And then, just when I am about to close my laptop, one last email comes through with the subject line “UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy – Invitation to Interview.” In that moment, all thoughts (read: fears) of Physics lab disappear as I literally jump for joy, paying no attention to the stares from my peers. This is really happening!
As I stood at the UNC ESOP table, reminiscing on that happy day, I started to think about my pharmacy school application process. While it all worked out in the end (thankfully), there are several things that I would do differently if I could go back now. If you are currently applying to pharmacy school, planning to apply in the future, or just enjoying my blog post here (which I completely understand), this list of tips is for you:
- Ask for advice. The process of applying to pharmacy school can be stressful! While you might be navigating territory that is unfamiliar to you, remember that many before you have forged a path to success. When you have questions or feel overwhelmed, seek help from advisors, admissions officers, and current PharmD candidates. Asking your questions now can save you from uncertainty or anxiety down the road.
- Show gratitude. Take a minute to think about all of those who have supported you on your pre-pharmacy journey thus far. Have you let them know how much their time and advice has meant to you? Have you kept them informed about your application and interview progress? A quick thank-you note or email update can mean a lot to your biggest fans.
- Celebrate the little moments. If you’re applying to schools right now, I know what you’re thinking – can’t I just get accepted to pharmacy school already?! During my application process, I was so focused on checking off boxes on my to-do list that I missed chances to celebrate the small things, like presenting myself well in an interview, receiving my first acceptance, or looking fabulously professional in my interview suit 🙂 Taking time to appreciate the small victories will help you to enjoy the process more!
- Be kind to yourself. It’s easy to become so wrapped up in the application process that you lose track of life a little bit. If you’re in your last year of college, don’t miss out on those invaluable, top-of-the-bucket-list experiences. If you’re working, continue to engage with your work and strive to make an impact. Spend time with your family and friends, and pursue activities that bring you joy. It might seem like your application process is the only thing that matters – but remember that your health, happiness, and relationships with others should be top priorities too.
- Think beyond the acceptance letter. When I received my first acceptance to pharmacy school, one of my best friends said: “You’re going to be a pharmacist!” Her simple statement reminded me that pharmacy school was not my end goal, but rather the beginning of my journey towards serving patients in the future.
I was so grateful for the chance to return to Duke as a representative of UNC ESOP. Not only did I have the opportunity to share the vision of ESOP with prospective students, but I also had time to reflect on the steps I have taken to get where I am now. To those of you who are applying to pharmacy school, I wish you the best of luck for the beginning of this promising journey, and I hope you enjoy each step along the way. And while I don’t yet have the power to flash forward to the future (still working on that), I have a good feeling about the next class of student pharmacists that will join us at UNC in 2017.