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Tips on Admission

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Tips to maximize your opportunity for admission to a College of Pharmacy

AWARENESS

  • Read the following information:
  • Go directly to the source. If you plan on applying to multiple pharmacy schools, visit that program’s website to learn about admission requirements and deadlines, and then contact an academic advisor at that school if you have further questions.
  • Don’t rely on rumors. Be cautious about taking the advice of other students. Confirm all information before making any decisions.

RESEARCH

  • Research prospective colleges and request brochures and catalog.  However, most of this information is most likely on a website for the college of pharmacy.
  • Be familiar with the curriculum and history of each institution you apply.
  • Be aware of all admission test preparation materials and programs (PCAT review books, Kaplan Review).

PREPARATION

  • Be certain to fulfill all the academic prerequisites for admission.
  • Maximize your exposure to a variety of test preparation materials for the PCAT and plan to review over a prolonged period of time. Take your admission test preparation seriously and start preparing early.
  • Register to take the PCAT only when you are maximally prepared to perform at your best. Completion of the general chemistry and general biology course sequences as well as calculus is recommended.
  • Take the initiative to make sure your professors know who you are in every course you enroll in. They might be your reference when submitting letters of recommendation.
  • Make a habit of attending classes diligently and attempt to sit in the first seven rows.
  • Study hard and learn as much as you can in all of your classes. Earn high grades as a function of learning a lot.
  • Be willing and able to learn using online education technology.  Here is a list that might help.
  • Maintain your commitment to studying hard even though the course or professor may not be the most interesting or enjoyable. Remember learning in courses is the primary goal, not being entertained or liked by the professor. Demonstrate maturity by doing well in courses that you do not find the most interesting or challenging.
  • If you are having difficulty in a prerequisite course, evaluate your options. Consider using tutors, visiting with the professor during office hours, changing study habits, studying with peers, or withdrawing from the course and taking it at a time when you have more time or there is another professor from whom you might learn more effectively.
  • Take higher level science coursework when possible (e.g., biochemistry, microbiology, quantitative analysis) to better prepare for pharmacy school.
  • Demonstrate a sustained record of 14-16 credit hour loads per term with two or more sciences. Use common sense in your coursework schedule. Do not take overloads in credit hours per semester in an attempt to complete prerequisites ahead of time.
  • Maintain a comprehensive master calendar and exercise sound time-management skills.

TIMING

  • Avoid procrastination in the preparation of your application materials packet. Complete all applications as early as possible. Mail all applications return-receipt requested.
  • Pay close attention to details such as policies, procedures, and deadlines. Follow instructions completely and accurately.

COMMITMENT

  • Be sure to gain some clinical exposure/experience by shadowing, volunteer experiences, or employment in your area of interest. You need to demonstrate an understanding of the life of practicing pharmacy professionals.
  • Consider participating in one or more preprofessional organizations on campus.
  • Establish an authentic record of service to others through volunteer experiences, extracurricular involvement, leadership roles, tutoring, active membership in service organizations, etc. (as opposed to a paper chase list of organizations you have joined).
  • Be a self-starter. Don’t wait for others to tell you what to do. Be well informed and get off to a good start.

BALANCE

  • Demonstrate good balance between your academic life and your personal life. Sound fun and diversion interests/activities should be in the formula.
  • Remember that if you work full-time or part-time, the strenuous effort involved in maintaining a job and going to school should result in above average academic performance, sound preparation for the PCAT, and involvement in your school and community. Being out of balance with an emphasis on work, even though it is in a pharmacy setting, can result in unsatisfactory academic performance, inadequate preparation for the PCAT, and a non-competitive portfolio of service. The Admissions Committee will not take into consideration the number of hours per week of work as an excuse for a non-competitive grade point average and/or poor PCAT scores, therefore balancing your time and energy is crucial in order to become a competitive applicant.
  • Develop a financial plan for your pharmacy education. Consult with financial aid advisors about federal, state, and private resources to assist in the cost of your education. If you must work full-time, develop a savings plan for your education. It may be better to work full-time for several years, save money, and then go to school full-time while working only 10 to 15 hours per week.

MOTIVATION

  • Focus on this in your narrative or autobiography, but let them know what motivates you to be a pharmacist. You should have more than one or two reasons and you should place these in priority as you discuss them.
  • Remember that motivation cannot make up for unsatisfactory academic performance or low scores on the PCAT. Motivation for pharmacy as a career should translate into above average academic performance and competitive PCAT scores.

INTERVIEWS

  • Take advantage of all seminars, workshops and/or videotapes dealing with the application and interview process. Be relaxed, be yourself, but be prepared. You need to have a sound understanding of the interview process. This is a first impression exercise, and you need to come across as calm, self-confident, emotionally stable, bright, mature, and disciplined.
  • Be certain to retain copies of all school specific narratives and familiarize yourself with what you wrote before you interview.
  • Review your autobiography carefully before each interview.

COMMON SENSE AND COURTESIES

  • After you have submitted your application materials, avoid phone calls and drop-in inquiries related to your uncertainty, anxiety, and uneasiness as the admission process evolves. Do not attempt to force responses sooner than others are prepared to offer them. Patience is a real virtue in this arena.
  • Study hard, as there is no substitute for good grades. Learn as much as you can, but make sure you enjoy doing it. Be prepared to make personal sacrifices to make sure you can compile a competitive academic and non-academic record.
  • Study hints:
    • Set study hours per week
    • Study at least one hour outside of class for every hour in class
    • Study between classes
    • Study consistently and review notes as soon as possible
    • Study in a quiet, well-lighted place
    • Do not mix socializing with studying

Adapted from the Tip Sheet for Admission to Professional Colleges prepared by Dr. O.M. Berringer, Director of Preprofessional Office, University of Central Florida 5/26/06