Monthly questions

Here are some of the questions we’ve gotten from students this month.

Which prerequisite courses do I need to complete?

If you will have a bachelor’s degree completed by the time you enroll in the PharmD program, you need to complete the math and science prerequisites. If you will not have a bachelor’s degree completed by the time you enroll in the PharmD program, you need to complete the math and science prerequisites and the general education prerequisites.

Should I wait to submit my application until after I’ve taken the PCAT?

No! We have a rolling admissions process, so as soon as you submit your completed application and PharmCAS verifies it and releases the application to us, we can start reviewing it. We do not invite students for interviews until we’ve reviewed a completed application (completed includes your PCAT scores), so we will not invite you for an interview until we receive your PCAT scores, but we can begin reviewing the rest of your application.

When do I apply? I want to start the program in Fall 2017.

You should apply this admissions cycle. You apply one year before enrolling, so the application opening in mid-July 2016 is for students interested in starting the program in Fall 2017.

I transferred colleges during my sophomore year; how will my GPA be calculated?

PharmCAS will calculate a cumulative GPA based on all universities attended and all courses taken. Just a head’s up – PharmCAS calculates all courses into the GPA (even if you repeated the course and had the original grade forgiven at your school).

Can I continue taking prerequisites while I’m applying?

Yes. You can indicate on your PharmCAS application which courses you intend to take in the fall and spring semester. You will have the opportunity to log in to your application during the Academic Update period (usually December 15 – February 15) to update fall grades.
All prerequisite courses should be completed by the end of the spring semester (May 31).

The fast track or the traditional track – Part 3

The PharmD program is unique in that applicants do not need to have completed a bachelor’s degree before starting. Approximately 20% of each incoming class does not hold a bachelor’s degree. They enter the PharmD program after 2 or 3 years of undergraduate study – however long it takes to complete the prerequisite coursework.

One of the most common questions we get is in regards to whether an applicant should complete their bachelor’s degree or forgo their bachelor’s and apply early. This is a challenging question, because there is no clear cut answer! Two weeks ago, I wrote about the benefits to being on the fast track, and last week I wrote about the benefits of being on the traditional track. This week, I’m wrapping up this series with some final thoughts.

Ultimately, whether you decide to finish your bachelor’s degree or not before starting pharmacy school is a very personal and difficult choice. There are many factors to consider when making the decision, and the decision might be different for each student. While we certainly see more students starting our program after completing their bachelor’s degree, we have many successful students who complete their prerequisite courses in 2-3 years, and are ready to enter our program afterwards. Whether you’re thinking of taking the fast track or the traditional track, we hope that you take the time to consider the benefits to each side. Which route is the best one for you?

PharmCAS updates…and other updates

Starting next week (on December 15th) you will be able to login to your PharmCAS application and make edits to your coursework. You will be able to update your fall semester grades and indicate any changes to your spring schedule. We recommend that you take advantage of the academic update period (December 15-February 15), to let us know if there are any changes in your courses. For more information visit this page.

We are no longer accepting PharmCAS applications (our Deadline was December 1st). We are continuing to accept supplemental applications. The supplemental application will remain open until January 15, 2016, but I strongly encourage you to complete your supplemental application as soon as possible. We cannot review your application and consider you for an interview until we have received both your PharmCAS and supplemental applications.

We are getting ready to hold another interview day (Candidates’ Day) next week. Our final Candidates’ Day will be in early February. The Admissions Office and Admissions Committee is busy reviewing applications, preparing for interviews, and making decisions on candidates. It’s the most wonderful time of the year in Admissions!


Being A Competitive Applicant

Students often ask – how can I become a more competitive applicant? This is a tricky question – as there isn’t an exact answer. We aren’t looking for a checklist of things in your application which you can complete, and not every admitted student has the same profile or background. Ultimately, we’re trying to build a class of diverse, well-rounded students, who are passionate about pharmacy and want to be leaders in the profession. We review each application holistically, which means we look at the entire application and interview performance when making an admissions decision. Successful students in our program are not only academically qualified, but well-rounded students outside the classroom. We look at your academic performance in prerequisite courses, PCAT scores, extracurricular involvement, work experience, leadership experience, examples of undergraduate or professional research, pharmacy or health-care experience, and how you did in the interview process when making a decision.

So, how can you be a more competitive applicant?

First, have a strong academic record. Aim for A’s and B’s in prereq classes. Study for the PCAT, and aim to get at least a 70 on the composite score, and at least a 50 on the subsections. Our average accepted student composite score was an 87 last year.

Be a well rounded student. What are your interests outside the classroom? Are you involved in a club, organization, or community service activity? Do you have a part-time job? Are you a leader in your job or organization? In terms of your involvement outside the classroom, quality over quantity. It’s better to be highly involved in fewer organizations, and to become a leader in one of those organizations, rather than being involved in lots of organizations with little commitment.

Take the time to explore healthcare and the pharmacy profession. If you have the opportunity to shadow a pharmacist, or volunteer in a clinic or hospital, do it! You’ll be better prepared to write your personal statement if you’ve seen a pharmacist in action, and understand the pharmacist’s role in healthcare.

Much of our curriculum requires high level critical and innovative thinking. We recommend students get involved in research or an experience that requires innovation or entrepreneurship in their undergraduate years to prepare them. Learning to look at a problem critically, developing an argument or solution to that problem, and testing that solution will be a process you utilize frequently in our PharmD program.

We look at all of these factors when reviewing your application to make an admissions decision. Ultimately, we want to make sure you’ll be academically prepared and a good fit for our program.