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7 Steps for Filling out Your Pharmacy School Application

Now that you’ve begun to navigate the admissions process, you’re probably researching pharmacy school requirements and preparing to fill out applications. Below are several tips to help you successfully fill out and submit your pharmacy school application.

  1. Don’t leave any gaps in your application.

Admissions Committees make decisions based on the information you provide, not the information they’d like to have—so if there are components of your application that don’t make sense, you’re leaving it to someone else to fill in the blanks. Most admissions folks tend to err on side of caution in such cases.

  1. Stay ahead of the application wave.

Most schools use the PharmCAS system to administer their admissions process. Apply early and allow plenty of time for your transcripts to arrive. Keep in mind that many applicants wait until right before the PharmCAS March deadline to submit, so if you want to stay ahead of the wave of applications that floods the system, apply sooner rather than later or consider applying as an early decision applicant.

  1. Yes, your grades matter but they are not everything.

Most pharmacy schools employ a holistic admissions approach. This means they consider and weigh each component of your application differently. Use your application to address any “grade” issues or a poor semester. It pays to be candid and honest.

  1. Solicit strong letters of recommendation.

Most programs require letters of recommendation as a component of the application. When soliciting letters, give your references at least 8 weeks of lead time. Otherwise, the quality of the letter may suffer. Give references a hard deadline and kindly follow up with them to ensure it has been submitted. It never hurts to meet with your references ahead of time so that they know more about you; walk them through why you are applying to pharmacy school and what you’ve done to prepare. The more they know about you, the more likely they are to write a quality letter rather than just the typical “Jane/Joe got an “A” in my class” type of letter.

  1. Write an original personal statement.

In your pharmacy school application, don’t just say you like medications, people, organic chemistry, or that you were just born to be a pharmacist. Introductions like that say nothing about you or your motivation for this profession. Talk about your deliberate steps to investigate the profession and draw from real experiences. Have someone who is brutally honest proofread your statement. Also, leverage your personal statement as an opportunity to address any weaknesses in your application. We strongly recommend not looking at sample essays and writing your own story in your own words.

  1. Quality over quantity of experiences matter.

Make sure your extracurricular, co-curricular, and work experience hours jive with the hours you put in as a student. For example, you cannot be a full-time undergraduate student, have a job that demands 80hrs/week, and have extracurricular commitments on your application that require 300hrs/week. Yes, we do check these things.

  1. Confirm your application has been verified through PharmCAS.

Your PharmCAS application is sent to a pharmacy school only once it’s been verified through PharmCAS. If the pharmacy school tells you they haven’t received your application yet or don’t see you in their system, don’t panic! Instead, contact PharmCAS and follow-up to see if anything is holding up your application (e.g., missing transcripts, slow turnaround times because of the application wave, flagged for plagiarism, etc.).

Now that you’ve successfully filled out and submitted your pharmacy school application, the next step is the pharmacy school interview!

Dr. Kyle Sousa is the Assistant Dean of Student Affairs at West Coast University’s School of Pharmacy in Los Angeles. You can follow him on Twitter @drbiochemistry.

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