First year PA student, Kathryn Allen, gives CASPA application tips for both first-time applicants and reapplicants.

So, you’ve decided to apply to PA school; that’s so exciting! You are making a great choice! Before even beginning your application, take a deep breath and congratulate yourself for getting to this stage. Getting to this point is not easy and you should be proud of your achievements thus far. Unfortunately, this process doesn’t exactly get easier from here, but that’s where I come in. I applied to PA school 3 times before getting accepted, so I like to think I know a bit about the application process, so I am passing my wealth of knowledge on to you.

  1. Do your research! There is nothing worse than wasting time and money on an application that is not even going to be reviewed because you don’t meet the minimum requirements.
  2. Start working on your personal statement early! This is your one opportunity to tell your story! Have multiple people read your essay; if they can’t identify the prompt, you didn’t adequately answer the question.
  3. Don’t try to complete your CASPA application in one day! It is a beast of an application and can be overwhelming if you try to tackle too much at once.
  4. Know which programs have rolling admissions (i.e. they review applications as they receive them). You will want to apply to these programs ASAP (the earlier the better).
  5. Be aware of deadlines! Be sure to submit your CASPA application at least 4 weeks prior to the deadline because it can take that long to process.
  6. You don’t have to submit all of your applications at one time. You can submit more later on, but you won’t be able to edit any previously entered information on CASPA; you will only be able to enter new information.
  7. Be prepared to play the waiting game! Every school is on a different timeline and it will likely be months after you submit your application before you hear back. Waiting sucks, so channel your energy into work, your family and friends, or a new hobby to take your focus off your pending applications.

For my reapplicants: know that you are not alone. I was a 3-time applicant and I know many of my classmates applied multiple times or were pulled off of the waitlist. Getting into PA school is HARD! It is mostly a numbers game; only about 20% of applicants are accepted every year! This rejection does not define you and does not mean you will not be an awesome PA in the future. Here are some specific tips for you:

  1. Good news! If you choose, most of your information will cross over from your previous CASPA application! The only information that doesn’t cross over is anything school specific, letters of recommendation, and your personal statement.  Everything else (including transcripts and GRE scores) will be saved! That just saved you a bunch of time and headache; you’re welcome!
  2. Reach out to the programs you applied to for feedback on your application, particularly if you received an interview. If you received an interview invite, the program(s) liked you on paper, so brush up on those interview skills with a mock interview.
  3. Edit your personal statement. Be sure to include how you handled the rejection and what you have done since your previous application.
  4. If possible, broaden your application pool and apply to more schools; probability will be on your side.

Whether you are applying to PA school for the 1st time, 2nd time, or the 5th time, it is an intense undertaking. It is like having another job, so be sure to take breaks and take time for yourself during this process. Good luck; you got this!

Kathryn Allen, PA-S1