The whole process of using CASPA can be kind of tricky, and a question that gets asked a LOT is during what cycle you should apply if you want to enter school a specific year. Hopefully, this breakdown will give you a better idea. No matter what, remember that you need to do your own research on when you think is the right time to apply.
Pretty much the easiest way to think about it is to say that you want to apply the year BEFORE you want to start school. So, if you want to start school in 2019, you should be applying in this upcoming CASPA cycle opening on April 26th.
This is why CASPA cycles are labeled with two years.
For example CASPA cycle 2018-2019
This labeling gives us a pretty easy rule of thumb. That first year is the year you apply. The second year is the year that you would start your program.
I talked about the MY APPLICATION TIMELINE from when I applied a while ago, which will give you an idea of when you might start hearing back from schools. But this post is going to be a little more general, and will give a rough breakdown of how things happen on CASPA every year (so even if you’re not applying this year, it’s good information for you to know).
There are three different types of deadlines:
BLUE DEADLINE or E-submitted application: Just the application needs to be received by CASPA; documents are not required to be received. This is definitely the least used kind of deadline
ORANGE DEADLINE or Complete Date required: This means the application has been e-submitted. Additionally, all transcripts, payments, and at least 2 letters of recommendation have been received. To ensure this happens, transcripts and official test scores need to be sent in 7-10 business days in advance. Letters of Recommendation are posted as soon as they are received.
GREEN DEADLINE or Verification application: Applications must be verified – this means your CASPA GPA must be calculated. All documents need to be submitted (application, transcripts, payments, at least 2 letters received). These are the due dates that you need to worry about sending your documents far enough in advance. Depending on when you apply is going to determine how long it takes CASPA to verify your application. CASPA recommends having every submitted 4 weeks in advance; I suggest following that thought (they’re currently suggesting that it takes 2 weeks on average to move to Verified status). There are definitely times during the application period where it will take less time – but you can NOT count on this to be the case for you.
**Once you’ve submitted your application to one school, it will take a lot less time for your next applications to become verified since CASPA has already done all of the work**
When CASPA opens, there will be a wonderful page with all of the information on each program’s due dates – I definitely suggest that you look at it before making any plans! I will come back and link the page once it opens. Until then, you can look at the 2017-2018 CYCLE PAGE
Consensus is that the earlier you submit the application, the better your chances are. This is especially true for schools that are Rolling Admissions (aka they look at applications on a first come, first serve basis). With that being said, if you’re taking a class over the summer and it’s a prerequisite, I recommend waiting to send in transcripts until AFTER that grade has been released. Have the rest of your application in prior to this though – that way you’ll only be waiting on your transcript to be verified and it should take less time.
**this advice is just for prerequisite classes completed over the summer, NOT Fall or Spring**
So now here’s a very general breakdown of how your year of applying will go.
CASPA opens. Get started, and make sure you send out your letter of recommendation email right away (these can take forever to get back depending on who you ask). Take a moment to review all of the programs that you’re applying to and compile their requirements into one place (you should have already done this! but if you haven’t, definitely do it now). Try to plan to take any remaining prerequisites over the summer
“Summer” months (May, June, July):
Continue working on your CASPA and any supplemental applications. Some programs require you complete CASPA before obtaining the supplemental, others don’t. It just depends on the program, but these guys can be long, so you want to start early. Get all of your Letters of Recommendation in now! Now is the time for you to finalize your personal statement as well! I had previously wrote a post with some PERSONAL STATEMENT TIPS so be sure to check that out. There are also some great companies out there like the PA Platform that were created to help applications during this time period.
“Fall” months: (August, September, October)
This is the start of deadlines for CASPA. You also might see some interview dates spread through these months, depending on when the program you applied to starts. Make sure to have a list of all of the deadlines!! You do NOT want to miss one!
“Winter” months: (November, December, January)
These are main interview months, depending on when the program you applied to starts. There are also some due dates in these months for schools with rolling admissions (remember get these apps in early) or who start later (Fall or Spring).
“Spring” months: (February, March, April)
Finish up interviews and start hearing back from schools on their decisions! This is honestly the most stressful time period in my opinion. These are the months were you’ll be stressing out about if you actually got into a program or whether or not you’ll need to start thinking about your CASPA for the following year. I highly recommend taking some time for yourself during these months – focus on your happiness!
You could be starting school now! (You’ll also see interviews for schools that start in Spring.)
So, as you can see, the whole process takes about a year from when CASPA opens to when you could be starting school. When you’re deciding on when you want to go to school, you’ll need to keep this in mind. For example, if you don’t want to take a gap year between undergrad and PA school, you’ll apply in April of your junior year. If you want to take one gap year, you’ll apply in April of your senior year of undergrad. If you want to take two gap years, you’ll apply the April after you graduate. And so on and so forth.
Comment below on your thoughts about applying to PA school, and when you think you’ll be applying!
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