Applying to pharmacy school can be difficult to navigate on your own. Trust me—I’m a fourth-year pharmacy student enrolled in a six-year Doctorate of Pharmacy program. Based on my experiences, I’ve compiled 7 top tips to help you when applying to pharmacy school.
- Consider shadowing or interning
The first thing you should do before applying to pharmacy school is ask yourself, “Why do I want to become a pharmacist?” Pharmacy is an exciting and rewarding career, but it’s not for everyone. It’s a big commitment academically and financially—make sure to research all career options before you commit.
In order to get a good understanding of what being a pharmacist entails, consider shadowing a pharmacist. The summer before my senior year of high school, I interned at a pharmacy and it ultimately helped me decide that I wanted to be a pharmacist. During my internship, I learned about the diverse roles pharmacist can play in different settings and their responsibilities.
- Research, research, research
Research schools that are both accredited by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE) and offer a PharmD or Doctorate of Pharmacy degree. There are many different paths you can take to obtain your PharmD, such as 0-6, 2+4, or 4-year programs. As long as you maintain the required GPA, a 0-6 pharmacy program will accept you right out of high school and you’ll graduate with your PharmD. A 2+4 school is similar, but may require you to take the PCAT after completing two years of undergraduate study. A 4-year pharmacy program requires you to finish four years of undergrad, take the PCAT exam, and then apply to a 4-year pharmacy program.
- Don’t focus on school rankings
I strongly believe that you shouldn’t focus too heavily on the ranking of pharmacy schools. You can make the most out of any school if you get involved on campus and take full advantage of the services and activities the school offers.
- Take a tour
Tour a few school the summer before your senior year of high school. Campus tours allow you to get a feel for what you like in regards to size, location, and amenities (their websites can only show you so much!). Walk around the campus. Talk to students and faculty. Sit in on a class. And trust your gut! The summer before my senior year I toured six different pharmacy schools and it helped me determine the best fit for me.
- Read blogs or forums
If you’re unable to visit campus, check out the blogs or forums that students write. Students speak frankly online and you’ll get a sense of what campus life is really like.
- Reflect on what’s important to you
The school’s location can be important if you want to be close to your friends and family. I decided to go to a school a little over an hour away from my house, which allows me to easily go home for long-weekends and holidays. It’s also important to consider what opportunities that location may grant you for internships and jobs. You’ll possibly be spending six years at this school, so you want to make sure it will provide you with the college experience you’re looking for. Check out their extracurricular activities, sports teams, and other services offered.
- Apply to a range of schools
As you compile the list of schools that you’re interested in, try to consider schools with different ranges of acceptance rates. I applied to two safety schools, four match schools, and two reach schools. Safety schools are schools that have high acceptance rates, match schools are schools that are in line with your GPA and SAT/ACT scores, and reach schools are schools that have low acceptance rates. You should also look up deadlines and prerequisites for each school because some schools may have different requirements.
Finally, remember to have fun! While applying to pharmacy school may be stressful, it’s exciting to begin a new chapter in your life. Good luck!
Written by Sierra L. Swaby, St. John’s University, College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences