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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Virtual Pharmacy School Fair: Meet us in space!

This is sooo 2014, right? A Virtual Pharmacy School Fair.

We are excited to have our outreach and admissions team participating in the two-day fair this year! I'm not totally sure how it works (yet) but I've heard great things from other schools and students who found "attending" the event to be quite helpful and worthwhile.

The best part -- you can show up in your pajamas. For free. Meet us there!

Event details are available online.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Fall Preview Sessions: Register to attend now!

We've scheduled and posted our fall 2014 Preview Session schedule!

These presentations are designed to introduce prospective students/applicants to UCSF's PharmD program. Although I'm pretty biased, I think this is an excellent event. While we are careful not to provide information that is not readily available on our website, attending a preview session can provide prospective students with a chance to hear from current students (via a panel discussion) as well as take a tour of the Parnassus campus. Preview sessions include:
  • Overview of UCSF's PharmD curriculum
  • Admissions process and timeline
  • Current student panel
  • Parnassus campus tour
While there is no fee to attend, registration is required.

Please visit our website for more information and registration instructions.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

2014 Application Presentations Scheduled!

We get it. We get it. UCSF's Supplemental Application can be challenging. But it's only challenging if you aren't willing to put forth three things: time, effort and thought.

We started offering Supplemental Application Presentations many years ago as a way to "walk you through the supplemental application." Do we give away secrets? There are no secrets to give away. Can you be a successful applicant without attending a presentation? Absolutely. Do you help applicants develop their essay responses? No, no, no.  But attending a presentation can sometimes provide the motivation for applicants to get started on the application.  (Don't tell anyone this... but it also gets us in the mind-frame to gear up for the next admissions cycle.)

We are offering seven presentations this year:

It's possible that we will be adding additional presentations (Southern California? Webinars?) If so, we will announce those on our website and here on this blog. 

Visit our webpage for more information about attending a Supplemental Application Presentation.

In the meantime, I trust that you have already started working on that application!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

In Their Own Words: Timothy

(Note: I remember meeting Timmy when he was an undergrad student. He was in San Francisco one summer as part of UCSF's Summer Research Training Program and asked to meet with me to discuss the PharmD program. The pre-pharmacy student I met back then is the exact same 4th-year PharmD student I know today. Let me explain. As you can imagine, I meet a lot of pre-pharmacy students. Some end up entering our program. It can be both fascinating and frustrating how some present themselves as applicants versus how they carry themselves as students. Not so with Tim. His inquisitiveness, compassion, passion for social justice, and gratefulness for the opportunities that have been provided to him -- all characteristics I saw when he sat across the table and asked me thoughtful questions as a pre-pharmacy student -- are evident to this day. There are no illusions. There are no pretenses. With Timmy, every person who comes in contact with him gets the benefit of the doubt. Really. It was a no-brainer to have Timothy serve on the Admissions Committee.)

Name: Timothy
Year: Class of 2015
Hometown: Oakland, CA
Previous institutions attended: University of California, San Diego (UCSD)
Undergraduate Major: General Biology

Why did you apply to be a member of the Admissions Committee and what have you enjoyed the most?
My motivation to be a member of the Admission Committee comes from being inspired by my classmates. Each person comes with experiences that have shaped him or her into a conscientious individual with a goal to advance care through pharmacy. Being an Admission Committee member allows me to participate in the process of selecting change-agents, while gaining a glimpse of future leaders in healthcare.

Reading applicant stories was exhilarating. It allowed me to learn about the world through the eyes of others. I gained perspectives that I would never have the opportunity to experience because of our unique differences. I am grateful to be a member of the Admissions Committee because it has expanded my horizons surrounding struggles and challenges that others face, and how pharmacy can contribute to improving them.

What surprised you most about UCSF’s admissions process?
The amount of care that each applicant receives! For an applicant that is admitted, there are many individuals from the Admission Committee who review either the application or the interview. Since each spot in the entering class is highly valuable, we look at every detail of an applicant to build a community of the best and the brightest.

In your opinion, what are the most common mistakes applicants make?
The most common mistakes are grammatical errors and impassionate essays. Part of being trained as a pharmacist is to have an eye for detail. Misspelled words (especially if it’s your own name) hints at carelessness. Essay contents tell us about your ambition to become a leader in pharmacy. After reading many applications, it’s easy to determine which set of essays was given tremendous thought versus those written on a whim.

What stands out to you on an application?
Applications that leave me with a great impression are those that catch me off guard. They are bold in their academic preparation and involvement in organizations, creating experiences that allow them to expand their minds beyond the sciences. They take risks with their essays and bring them to life. Every word is meticulously chosen to convey their thoughts. At the end of reviewing their application, I feel as though I know them AND gained a unique perspective of the world.

What are your pet peeve(s) when interviewing an applicant or reviewing a file? (What drives you crazy?)
My pet peeve during an interview is when an applicant replies with answers they think I want to hear. It’s incredibly easy to detect insincerity. Just be yourself and speak with your own voice! We just want to get to know you.

What characteristics are necessary in order to succeed in UCSF’s PharmD program?
A zest for knowledge is important! The PharmD program is rigorous and the addition of extracurricular activities can be trying for many students. Amidst the challenging classes, especially non-clinical ones, it’s important to realize that building a strong foundation is important to understanding the complexities of medications. Having a love for what’s taught will make your pharmacy journey exciting and memorable.

What tools or resources would you recommend to prospective applicants?
Joel’s blog!! It was a great source of inspiration, information, and, at times, comic relief! I would also speak with pharmacy students at programs you’re interested in. We always enjoy speaking with prospective students. Students are really honest about the program, so you can get good insight on whether you think a program is a good fit for you.

What single piece of advice would you give to a prospective applicant?
Getting admitted into UCSF doesn’t mean you’ll only interact with UCSF affiliates. We are inherently part of San Francisco, and there are amazing individuals out there. The city attracts the best and the brightest in every field, so imagine all the wonderful people you’ll meet! So include researching the city on your to-do list

Why do you think you were admitted into UCSF’s PharmD program?
Of all questions, I think this one is on par with the human condition question. Perhaps it’s because I took risks on my application and wrote bold statements. Or maybe it’s because I made sure my essays reflected the real me: my past, personality, and ambitions. Only Joel knows

What do you do for fun?
I really like noodles, especially ramen. I’ve been trying to find some of the best Bay Area ramen restaurants! I also enjoy going to the gym. It’s my sanctuary where I can think, reflect, and tune out of the world for an hour. Also, I work out daily so I can eat whatever I want! 

(Note: Timothy is also profiled on our website.)

(To read all previous "In Their Own Words" profiles, click the "committee profiles" label link below!)

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Helpful tip: Always save the course syllabus!

You may not always want to save textbooks or class notes from every college course you've ever completed -- but it's a good idea to save the syllabus! (And super-easy.) Just get a binder and as each course is completed, file the syllabus away!

On many occasions, prospective (and admitted students) have questions about a particular course and whether we will accept it towards fulfilling one of our prerequisite requirements. While a course description is readily available in your college's online course catalog, often times the brief description doesn't provide enough information. If needed, a detailed course syllabus will allow us to review specific course content -- thus being able to provide you with a quicker response.

Trust me, this will make your life that much easier! Rather than tracking down a syllabus from your past instructor, the academic department, or the university -- you can simply refer to your syllabus binder.  You can thank me later!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Decisions made, notifications sent...

All admissions decisions have been made and notifications sent by email. If you are an applicant for entry in Fall 2014, and have not received a decision notification, please contact our office. (Check your email spam folder first!)

To those who were offered admission: Congratulations! We look forward to spending the next four years with you.

To those on the waitlist: Hang in there. No one can predict the future.

To those not offered admission: Knowing that not all applicants will be admitted is one of the hardest parts of the whole admissions process. We are not lost on that fact. Do not let this decision prevent you from pursuing your dreams and goals. Forge ahead.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

We love cookies, but....

(This article appeared in the New York Times last spring. It recently came across my desk and I thought it was a fascinating read. Although, it focuses on the undergraduate-level, it's applicable to the graduate-level, too. I'm thankful that we rank our waitlist from the very beginning. This eliminates the need for students on our wait-list to "re-compete" for admission or to feel as though they need to position themselves in a way that will improve their chances for being admitted -- over others on the wait-list. The admissions process is tough enough -- we certainly wouldn't want students to go through another process just to get off the wait-list. Despite sharing this information with students on our waitlist, every year we receive additional documents -- such as letters of recommendation -- in hopes that it will help them get admitted. It doesn't. Our list is ranked and wait-listed students know their position on a very regular basis.)

On a College Waiting List? Sending Cookies Isn’t Going to Help
By ARIEL KAMINER, The New York Times
May 11, 2013

When Amanda Wolfbauer, a high school senior, received the admissions verdict from Hamilton College, in Clinton, N.Y., she posted on Twitter, “What does one do once they’re on a college waitlist? #frustrated #worsethanrejection.”

A few minutes later she had gone from dejected to dogged: “Well, @HamiltonAdmssn prepare to be dazzled, because I’m determined to get off that waitlist.”

Since then, Ms. Wolfbauer, of Carver, Minn., says she has written the admissions department to tell it “how much I want to go there and why Hamilton has been my No. 1 choice since the beginning of my college search”; she sent in “a lot of high school projects,” including one that won a statewide competition; and last weekend she started filming a video with friends — teachers to be added later — “basically telling them how awesome I am, talking about the positive qualities I have and why Hamilton should accept me.”

Does she ever worry it might be too much? “I more worry that I’m not doing enough,” she said.

Especially not while other students on waiting lists are bombarding their dream schools with baked goods, family photos, craft projects depicting campus landmarks and dossiers of testimonials from civic and religious leaders, to name just a few come-ons that admissions offices have seen over the past month.

For most applicants to selective colleges, the letters that arrived by April 1 brought an end to months of anxious wondering. But for some small fraction of those students, the tension is only now reaching its apex. They were assigned not to the relief of the yes pile, or the decisiveness of the no pile, but to the slender median of the maybe, with no idea how their application will be resolved, or even when.

The schools generally ask those students to send word of whether they wish to stay on the waiting list or want to be removed from consideration.

“We encourage wait-listed students who remain very interested in Columbia to send a brief letter affirming that interest and updating us on their senior year,” said Jessica Marinaccio, Columbia University’s dean of undergraduate admissions, “and discourage them from sending extra letters of recommendation or other supplementary materials.”

Given the high stakes and the opaque proceedings, however, some students just cannot hold back.

Admissions officers describe the dynamic in terms that sound like dating: hopeful students are trying to express their interest without coming off like a stalker, while colleges are trying to figure out whether the students are courting other institutions on the side.

“Last year, I had a girl who wrote to me every day,” recalled Monica Inzer, Hamilton’s dean of admissions. “She’d send me e-mails; she’d send me letters; she had alums write to me. We all knew that this girl wanted us more than anyone else.”

When a total of three spots in the freshman class opened up, that eager young woman was the first person Ms. Inzer called. “She said, ‘Eh, I’m going someplace else.’ ”

Another applicant eagerly informed Ann Fleming Brown, the director of admissions at Union College, in Schenectady, N.Y., that the college was her first choice — or had become that when her true first choice, Bowdoin, rejected her. It is just one of the many ways, Ms. Brown and her colleagues at other schools say, that students on the waiting list have shot themselves in the foot in recent years.

They have insulted the college’s judgment or taste. They have disparaged classmates who already got in. They have threatened to go over the admissions officer’s head. Showing up and demanding an interview is inadvisable. Showing up with a camping tent, even more so.

And parents are often part of the problem. “There’s a mother who e-mails me every third day — they must have timers on these things,” Ms. Brown said. “There’s one parent who calls up and yells at me: ‘I can’t believe this happened! This is a horrible thing!’ And then he calls 10 minutes later and says, ‘I’m sorry.’ Then he calls and says, ‘I know you don’t like me. I’m being a complete pest.’ ”

To cut down on behavior like that, says David Borus, dean of admissions at Vassar College, “We are very explicit in the communications we send out about what’s going to help you and what’s not going to help you, and we make it pretty clear that if you do do some of this stuff, you’re just going to tick us off.”

What works? Generally, communications that are informed and mature.

“What most students will do is write, ‘I love you I love you I love you,’ ” said Michael Motto, a former assistant dean of admissions at Yale University who now works as a private educational consultant in New York. “While those notes are charming and flattering and warm, these are academic institutions.”

Letters that indicate a deep interest in the college’s scholarly offerings, he and others said, probably go further. (The cookies that a wait-listed applicant to Yale once sent in — spelling out Mr. Motto’s name and employer — did not do the trick.)

No matter what approach students take, there is no way to predict how many seats will become available before the fall semester begins. Right now, schools are counting up how many accepted students have decided to enroll. (Even that number is only a conditional answer, since those committed students could still get word that their first-choice school has plucked them off its waiting list, leaving an opening for a student on the second-choice school’s waiting list.)

Trinity College, in Hartford, Conn., which offers several hundred students a spot on its waiting list, eventually accepted around 30 of them last year. The year before, that number was zero. And the year before that, it was more than 100. At present, Hamilton, the school Ms. Wolfbauer has been trying to impress, does not anticipate taking anyone off the waiting list, though that could change as the months go on.

Given that uncertainty, Ms. Inzer says, “I encourage families to treat a wait list offer a little bit like a lottery ticket — if it comes through and you win, everything’s great, but you don’t plan on it.”

Inevitably, some families will ask about buying their way off the waiting list. At Ms. Inzer’s former employer, Babson College, in Wellesley, Mass., she said one parent went so far as to open a checkbook and ask, “What’s it going to take?”

According to Mr. Motto, at a time when top academic institutions now receive nine-figure donations, there is little point in even asking those questions.

“All parents say they know someone who’s made a contribution” that has turned a spot on the waiting list into a spot in the freshman class, he said. “Has it happened in some instances? I’m sure it has,” but, he added, “I think a lot of it is rumor.”

Which may be why some people turn to other sorts of currencies. During his time at Yale, Mr. Motto said, “Some parent called and offered to buy me two pizzas every week for a year if I admitted the person’s child.” (No one got off the waiting list that year.)

An entreaty that Ms. Brown received last month, from a father of a student on Union’s waiting list, may just top them all. “I was offered free rotator cuff surgery,” she said. “Or, alternately, carpal tunnel surgery. I said, Unfortunately I do not need either surgery. And he said, But you will.”

After Amanda Wolfbauer was put on the waiting
list at Hamilton College, she sent a letter and video
testimonials to the school.
(photo: Ben Garvin for The New York Times)
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