So this is a harder subject for me to talk about as I can’t talk from personal experience, but here are some of my tips about what to do if you have a lower GPA (obviously, these may be wrong butttt hopefully some will be helpful).
- Figure out why this happened. Don’t pull the “that teacher was unfair and had it out for me” or “I could have done better if I applied myself”. Firstly, teachers are there to teach. Granted I have also had some incredibly hard teachers who challenged me past what I thought I could handle, but all of them wanted their students to succeed. Secondly, you should always apply yourself. Schools aren’t going to want to hear these as an excuse.
- think about why you didn’t succeed. Did you not study enough? Did you fail to do assignments? Were you distracted by personal events?
- How could you have changed how you did if you could go back in time. Would you have studied in a different manner? Would you have taken advantage of tutoring options?
- How have you grown from the experience? Do you think that this has made you more driven to become a PA? Has this made you realize anything?
- These are going to be important questions to have answers for. Maybe a PA school will ask you this during an interview. Maybe you want to address this in your personal statement or a supplemental essay.
- How have you made yourself stand out past your GPA?
- Have you retaken those classes? or have you taken harder classes and done well since?
- Is your GRE or patient contact hours astounding? Do you have lots of volunteering? What makes you more than just a GPA. Focus on this! You’re still a great candidate!
- Figure out if your GPA limits you in any way. Some schools have a requirement for GPA (i.e GWU doesn’t accept lower than a 3.0 GPA)
- You’re not going to want to waste money applying to schools you’re not eligible for. Most of the time the program will just not look at your application (they get thousands and have those guidelines for a reason)
- Do you want to address this in your personal statement? I honestly can’t say whether this is a great idea or not; I don’t know and don’t have any experience with this. But, my advice would be to do this only if your GPA is on the lower end-maybe lower than a 3.3. Or, only do this if you truly think you need to!
- Try and talk about your GPA in a positive light, this is where points 1, 2, and 3 come in to effect. Talk about what you learned and how you grew as a person. How this challenge has made you a better PA candidate.
- You want to spin weakness in a positive light. For instance, when you are asked about your greatest weakness, say something about how you’re so hardworking that sometimes you get consumed by your job (or something along those lines). So…spin the GPA positively.
- Make this a paragraph, not the entire focus on your paper. Your personal statement should be Why you want to be a PA not how my GPA affected me.
- If you don’t address this in your personal statement, some schools will give you the option to write more information to the admissions board or will have a specific question for you to fill out about in regards to academic performance.
- Be positive! Learn from your mistakes and move forward! You can’t stress out over the past now!
Hopefully this helps! When you get an interview, keep these same items in mind! You want to focus on the GPA in a positive light and not portray yourself negatively.
My one little blurb of personal experience- I retook Organic Chemistry 1. The first time I took it (in Spring) I was struggling with a bunch of personal issues including harassment. It was a challenging time in my life and I felt like I needed to be in control of one of my stressors, so I dropped Orgo. When I retook it in Fall, I was in a much better place and was able to succeed in the class. When I wrote about it (one of the schools provided a space to fill out any academic issues) I only wrote two or three sentences. I simply explained that I was overwhelmed due to personal events. I then wrote about how my personal experiences made me a stronger person and how I knew I could overcome challenges in my way since I later did so well in the class. It was short, sweet, and to the point. Morale of the story was that I thought that was adequate enough explanation and ended up getting an interview at that school.
So don’t stress out too much! Everything happens for a reason and you will definitely succeed if you put your mind to it!
Comment below on your experience applying with a lower GPA, and what you found helpful.
Make sure to subscribe to my blog via email for more PA school posts, from applying to tips to surviving the didactic year. You can also follow my social media channels (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter) to stay in the loop about what’s going