low gpa pa schools
9 tips for low gpa pa schools
- Ensure your GPA is at least 3.0
First thing’s first: you’ll need to raise your GPA. Most PA schools are looking for a minimum of a 3.0, with some programs requiring a score as high as 3.5 or higher (the average cumulative GPA is between 3.2 and 3.6).
- Take a post-baccalaureate pre-health program
A post-bac pre-health program is an excellent option for students who have completed their bachelor’s degree but still need to improve their grades, complete any required medical school prerequisite courses, and prepare for the MCAT (unless you’ve already taken and passed it). Post-bac programs range from online self-paced programs to full time campus based studies that can be completed in one year or less (or more if part time study is desired). When choosing a program look at the overall curriculum, the type of student support services offered, what percentage of graduates secure admission into medical school or other health professions training and how long it takes them to secure admission after graduation from the program..
1. Take a Post-Baccalaureate Pre-Health Program
If you graduated with a low GPA, a post-baccalaureate pre-health program is an excellent way to boost your grades and demonstrate the academic ability required for PA school.
Post-baccalaureate pre-health programs are designed for students who are applying to health professional programs, including PA school. They can be completed in one year or less and involve completing a series of prerequisite courses.
2. Apply to PA Schools Early
- Apply to PA Schools Early
This is another general tip, but it’s worth repeating: apply early. If you are unsuccessful in your first cycle, this gives you the time to reapply and hopefully improve your chances during the next cycle. It also allows you to get additional experience if your application is still weak in a given area when you submit it. There are a lot of benefits to applying early, which I’ll talk more about below!
3. Strongly Consider DO Programs
If you’re a low GPA applicant, strongly consider applying to DO programs. While the gap between the average GPAs of MD and DO matriculants is closing, it still exists and DO programs are more focused on the holistic application of their applicants. Additionally, research has shown that most DO programs are less competitive than MD programs and may not weigh your GPA as heavily in their admissions process. However, I do not recommend applying only to a handful of osteopathic schools just because they have lower GPAs (and please don’t apply to an osteopathic school only because you think there will be less competition from other pre-physician assistant students). Apply to both osteopathic and allopathic medical schools and see what happens!
4. Apply to International PA Programs
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5. Re-Take Medical School Prerequisite Courses
Re-taking courses can be a difficult decision. There are many advantages and disadvantages to consider before making the decision to retaking a course. The first, and most important factor you should consider is knowing what courses you should retake.
The advantage of re-taking courses is that when you receive an A in a class, you will replace your original grade for the grade you earned in the retake. For example, if you received a D in Anatomy and Physiology I, but then retook it and got an A, all schools that see your application will see the A instead of the D (unless they request official transcripts).
One disadvantage is that some schools may not accept grades from multiple versions of the same course when calculating your GPA. It’s critical to know this before deciding which classes to retake.
If you choose to take courses at a community college or even at another university in order to improve your overall GPA, one thing that can be beneficial is taking prerequisite courses over again. This strategy allows PA schools to recalculate your prerequisite cumulative GPA based on these new grades (assuming they transfer). Since each school calculates their own GPA differently based on their policies, it’s important to know how this will impact your application specifically with each school of interest.
6. Talk with Admissions Committees about Your GPA
- He/she/they: If you decide to apply to PA Programs with your low GPA, it’s important that you speak with the admissions committees about your GPA.
- You: Be sure to explain why you think you will succeed in their PA program and give evidence that your GPA will not be a problem.
- He/she/they: It is also important for the admissions committee to know that you have taken steps to improve.
- You: One of the most important steps is gaining experience as a healthcare professional.
7. Good Medical Experience is Key
As such, one of the most important things to do is gain as much medical experience as possible. This should be your primary focus while in undergraduate school, and you should strive to get more and more hours of experience under your belt each year.
Start by volunteering at a local hospital or clinic in a patient-facing volunteer position. If you can’t find anything like that, try an administrative position instead – just make sure you’re spending time around patients and learning something about the healthcare system.Once you’ve gained some volunteer hours, move on to paid work. Paid work is always better than volunteering because it shows that the facility was willing to pay you for your expertise in that area, which demonstrates real value. If you are getting paid even minimum wage to provide service, it’s a step up from freely donated labor.
Some examples of good medical experiences are: CNA / MA / LVN / PT Aide / Scribe, etc., Nursing home volunteering or working as an activities assistant (engaging patients), Hospital phlebotomy or lab technician (hands on with blood draws), Local clinic receptionist (understanding the business side of medicine), Patient transport driver (interacting with patients on a day-to-day basis).
8. Study and Do Well on the GRE or MCAT
You will have to take either the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) or GRE. The Medical College Admission Test is a standardized test used by medical schools to assess whether you will succeed in medical school. The Graduate Record Examination measures a range of skills, such as verbal and analytical reasoning. Most PAs are expected to take the MCAT. However, if you want to go above and beyond, taking the GRE can only help your application stand out from the rest. To do well on either test, start studying early and focus on your weak areas by taking practice tests until you feel comfortable with them.
9. Write a Strong Personal Statement
When you write your personal statement, stay positive. While it’s ok to admit mistakes, focus on what you learned from them and how they helped you grow and develop as a person. Show that these lessons have made you a better candidate for the PA profession and will help make you an asset to the PA school class and program. This is also your opportunity to show why you’re a great fit for their specific program. For example, if the school has particular training opportunities or is known for something specific – highlight it! If possible include specific faculty members whose work interests you or mention connections with people who work at that hospital system/clinic/etc. Don’t underestimate this aspect of the application process; schools want students who are truly interested in attending their school; not just any old PA school will do! Finally, don’t be afraid to talk about your commitment to the profession and how becoming a physician assistant fits into your overall career goals.
Many PA programs will accept applicants with low GPAs, but they will expect you to take extra steps to succeed in their program
When you apply to a program, think of it as your chance to talk directly to the admissions committee. Your background and interests are the only things that matter, but remember that the committee members and your interviewer (for either in-person or Skype interview) will also be looking at all of your application materials, including your GPA. If they see that you’re struggling in one area, they won’t accept it as part of their admission criteria. If you don’t have an excellent GPA overall, but have made improvements in certain courses and can explain how those courses relate to your other academic achievements in other areas (such as extra-curricular activities or leadership), then it’s more acceptable for the committee members. If the low gpa is related to some characteristic that would make you a poor fit for this program (such as poor communication skills or a history of getting into trouble with the law), then being honest about this is more important than having high GPAs overall.
Find out what type of programs are accepting applicants with low GPAs. Most PA programs will do so if they want strong candidates who are committed to making an effort to succeed academically and otherwise—it’s just up to you whether you want them on board with this philosophy.