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Sunday, September 7, 2008

The Seriousness of the Supplemental!

Our Supplemental Application is tough. Really tough. Really really tough. We know it. But how else would we really get to know applicants (via the written application) if we didn't ask so many questions or challenge applicants to really think?

I was at UCLA's Graduate School Fair last year on Halloween (which was the day before our November 1st deadline) and a gentleman stopped by our table to express his frustration at the complexity and length of our Supplemental Application. I could tell that he was panicked in an effort to finish the application by the deadline. (And who wants to be working on applications on Halloween?) I was quite taken aback as he began to create a scene at the table -- while other prospective students looked on. It was the first time that I had been faced with that type of explicit anger as it relates to our supplemental application -- but hey, it was Halloween so I wasn't about to let anything scare me. I challenged him to think about the alternative -- a PharmD application with NO supplemental application required. In that scenario, an invitation to interview would be based solely on 3 primary factors -- academic background, one essay, and letters of recommendation (assuming that the program takes those into consideration). These are the contents collected by PharmCAS. It just seems so limited, don't you think? While all aspects of the PharmCAS are critical to an applicants file, UCSF's supplemental application provides so much more. It provides the Admissions Committee with the ability to assess communication skills, passion for the profession, leadership experiences, commitment to serving underserved populations as a health care provider, intellectual ability, and maturity -- all important aspects in future pharmacists! As the discussion unfolded, a small group had gathered to hear me explain to the angry student why the supplemental application was so important and critical in getting to know applicants on paper. They needed to know, too. We take it seriously. They should, too.

We take it so serious that we actually offer free Supplemental Application workshops -- simply to help applicants navigate their way through the application itself:

Although I was never able to calm his nerves, I think he walked away with (I hope) a greater understanding of the importance of the supplemental application and how it's percieved on our end. I never asked for his name so I wasn't able to track his application/progress through the admissions process. But I'm willing to bet his approach to the supplemental application was reflected in the quality of materials he submitted. Perhaps he was admitted into a program that doesn't require a supplemental application.

1 comment:

Maitong Chang said...

Completing the supplement application is not very tough, it just takes time. The application provides a great opportunity for those who really wants to explain him or herself. Besides, it is difficult to understand a person's potential and ability without asking so many questions.

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