This document was prepared by ScholarWare, the premier providers of PCAT test simulation software. Visit us at www.PCATReview.com
Getting in...7 Sure Fire Steps You Must Know!
Getting into pharmacy school takes work. And it is always easier if you are given some solid advice from current pharmacy students and how they "did it". At ScholarWare, we decided to put together some tips that will help you meet your goal of getting into pharmacy school.
Step 1-Get as good of grades as possible. When you have a good GPA in your science classes you don't have to make excuses! Your college grades stay with you for quite some time. If you are not making Bís and Aís, increase your study hours, cut back your work, or cut back your play time. Unfortunately, "working full-time" doesnít make a great excuse for poor grades. In your heart you may think different, but you must make the "first cut" or you will already have tremendous obstacles to overcome. Use student loans to supplement your living expenses and cost of education. Try and spend money wisely. There are plenty of students that borrowed a little more and got a little better grades and got in! You donít need a 4.0 to get in. Trust us on this one. But to improve your chances, keep your science grades at a B or better. One C is not going to kill you. But several Cís could hurt you significantly.
Step 2-Apply to pharmacy schools EARLY! We cannot stress this enough. Find out exactly when the pharmacy school starts accepting applications. Call ahead and get your application packet before hand. Fill out most of it. Write your personal statement (if required) and have an English professor read it. Have a friend read it or even a pharmacist you know read it. Come back to your personal statement after a couple weeks and tune it up. Find out if the schools you are interested in REQIRE the PCAT (not all schools require it.) If possible, send in your application without your PCAT score if you have not taken the PCAT. Do not delay the processing of your application because you donít have a PCAT score. Schools interested in you will respond with a follow-up letter stating they would like your PCAT and letters of recommendation to "complete" your application. The advantage to this is that you get your application PROCESSED in the first few batches of applications. Then take the PCAT (if necessary) and get the score report out to the schools. Plan on the score report taking a few weeks to get there. If you apply late, you will MISS the first couple rounds of interviews. Schools usually start interviewing early. That means that your application must be to the school (and complete usually) before that time! It is okay to have a semester of "in progress" classes. Be careful not to apply academically too early. You want to apply when you have most or all of the "core science" prerequisites completed. The "suggested" course work can be in progress. This time is usually the summer between your junior and senior year in college.
Step 3-Get some solid letters of recommendation. (If necessary). Yes you may have to use a "committee" letter, but make sure your other letters are personal e.g. speak about specific accomplishments and character. Even a committee letter can do this if you "get to know" the people on the committee. There is nothing wrong with submitting three letters plus a committee letter. Donít have the committee letter be your only letter. The admission officers read these letters! It is one of their ways to find out more about you. Make sure your letters speak good things about you. Get those individuals that would write you a good letter to write the letter. Donít have anyone "questionable" write the letter. If you donít have a choice at your school, GET TO KNOW the people who write the letter. It is perfectly acceptable to meet these people several different times to "visit" so they can get to know you better. Be yourself and be genuine!
Step 4-Study for the PCAT! The PCAT is an important test and required for many pharmacy schools. This test should not be underestimated. If you got mostly Aís in your core sciences, you will do well on the PCAT (unless you cheated in college!) Since you got Aís, you will likely need to review a little to refresh you memoryÖespecially the chemistry, organic chemistry and Quantitative Reasoning. If you got mostly Bís in your core sciences, you will want to spend a fair amount of time brushing up on the material. If you got Cís you will really need to work hard and study. You will need to take time off and dedicate 100 percent for a month or two to study the material. No matter what your grades, you should consider the study plan we have detailed in a document entitled "Preparing for the PCAT" and obtain our PCAT sample test software. The CD-ROM will estimate where you are before you take the real thing.
Step 5-Build a relationship with the pharmacy school(s) of choice. This is one of the most important steps of all. We cannot stress enough how important it is that the people know that you are interested in their school and recognize your application" when they see it. Call the school and speak with the admissions dean. Tell them you are sincerely considering applying to "their school" and like to come and "tour" the school. Set an appointment (they usually like this). Look around on your own. Ask if you can observe a day. A lot of schools actually a list of who visits and spends time there. You want to be on that list. Meet a pharmacy student and become a casual friend. He/she will help you find opportunities to get "better known" at the school. Ask when the pharmacy schoolís open house is and start a relationship then. Doing this shows your true interest and initiative. Don't forget to dress appropriately. For any visit, the minimum is dress slacks and a button down shirt (forget the tie until the interview!) Ladies, a casual skirt and blouse or slacks will do. Don't wear sandals. You want to look "business casual" not "casual" and not business. Every encounter counts.
Step 6-Get some pharmacy experience. Get to know the profession you are interested in. For example, just because you "donít know a pharmacist" doesnít mean you canít get to know a one. Someone you know has a friend who is a pharmacist. Take advantage of that. In fact, most pharmacists are willing to share their profession with you. The pharmacist will likely spend an hour or two after hours telling you about their profession. What a great experience you will have watching and learning. In fact, take a small notebook and before you leave at the close of the afternoon, ask questions of the pharmacist. You will get the experience the admissions people are looking for. And think of the neat things you can talk about in your interviews (besides your grades!)
Step 7-Prepare for your interviews. The main purpose of the school interviews is for the school to get to know you better and for you to get to know the school better. The interviews and visit is NOT TO REVIEW your grades. If your interviews are all about grades, than you have not set yourself apart from the others in your group. It is very important that the school understands your commitment to completing the program (paying your tuition the whole time). An empty seat in year two costs the school a lot of money! Be genuine and sincere. If you donít have interpersonal skills, you better start developing them. A pharmacist should have good interpersonal skills and you must be able to carry on a mature, interesting and fun conversation with your interviewer. Practice interviewing with your parents or even a neighbor. Yes, be able to answer why you want to be a pharmacist. Be able to guide the interview to topics you want to discuss. This takes practice. You must control the interview. This is accomplished by directing your responses towards the subject you want to bring up next. A perfect example is answering a question and then relating it to a personal experience that indirectly tells them what a great person you are and how you are the best candidate for their school. Be an interesting person and find out interesting things about your interviewer. If your interviewer has a bunch of trains around his office or even a fish tank, there could be an interesting story behind it. Look around and be observant. Donít be nervous and donít just "sit there" waiting for a question. Practice! Think of your interview as a conversion about you, who you are and why you think you will be a great pharmacist. An interviewer can often sense sincerity, so donít try and fake it.
GOOD LUCK GETTING IN!