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Saturday, November 1, 2008

Off and running.... in search of authenticity!

We've officially admitted the class of 2012, closed the waiting list, relocated files and moved on -- to the class of 2013! The application deadline is around the corner. On one hand it's refreshing to be able to work with a whole new group of applicants. On the other hand, it's daunting to think we will receive a record number of applications again this year. Yikes!

Our Initial Review Team met in early October to begin the process of file review (no we don't have early or rolling admissions -- our application deadline is November 3rd). In order for us to get through all the files by the end of the year, we need to start the file review before the actual deadline.

We were lucky to have Mary Anne join us.

["Mary Anne?" you ask. If you are an applicant asking this question, you haven't done your homework. Let's take a moment and get you up to speed. Mary Anne Koda-Kimble is the Dean of the UCSF School of Pharmacy. I could go on-and-on-and-on, telling you how great she is -- but in a nutshell, she's a dynamic leader that provides the direction and leadership necessary for our school and program to remain top-rated in the country. For a more thorough bio, visit our website. In addition to all the scholarly and fancy pharmacy stuff, she's just a fun person to work with and for. ]

So, let's get back to the point... Mary Anne joined us for the meeting -- which was cool to have her input in terms of what we should be looking for, from her perspective, in our applicants.

Her input was not surprising -- but still refreshing to hear. I've had many conversations with her over the past few years regarding what types of students we should look for -- meaning "what students will make the best fit for UCSF." Mary Anne believes we should take a very close and serious look at applicants that share the same characteristics that describe UCSF and the faculty/staff/students that make up our community -- bold thinking, innovative, hard-working, passionate, cutting edge, committed to excellence, unique, and values teamwork yet is not afraid to step out on their own. These are all characteristics of the staff and faculty so it's no surprise she expects this in the students as well.

During our meeting, one word surfaced MANY times -- authentic. In a nutshell, we are looking for authentic applicants. Authentic in all aspects -- in their experiences, in their written applications, in their on-site interviews -- you know, "the real deal". Not some made-up and make-believe applicant with a phony application. (Haha! I haven't used the word "phony" in a long time!)

Those characteristics that we are looking for can really only be found in authentic applicants.

As you can imagine, we review LOTS of applications. When you've read hundreds and hundreds of files, it becomes very easy to separate the authentic applicants from the... from the... from the... well, the PHONY ones! The fake ones.

When we talk about "authentic", what do we mean? We want to read and meet (and ultimately admit) applicants who are *honest and real* -- both on paper and in person. We don't want applicants engaged in altruistic activities in order to make themselves stronger applicants; instead, we are interested in applicants that help others because that's really who they are and what they are about. We don't want applicants who attend a certain university because they think they will have a better chance to be admitted to pharmacy school; instead, we are interested in applicants that chose to attend a specific school that was a great fit for them -- a place where they could learn and thrive. We don't want applicants who respond with answers they *think* we want to hear; instead, we are interested in hearing real voices. Real authentic voices.

I'm always amused at reading questions on forums that ask "What do you think they are looking for when they ask about ____________?" [Usually in reference to the "human condition"!].

What we are really looking for is how authentic and inspired your answers are; the degree of introspection and intellect you display in your responses; the level of maturity and insight evidenced in your approach to the questions. This can only happen with a certain degree of authenticity. Attempting to *give us what you think we want* will likely end up sounding like hundreds of other applicants that are taking the same approach.

Completing our application not only takes a lot of time physically (typing can be very time-consuming) but also mentally -- if you really want to impress the admissions committee.

Be authentic.

Be real.

It will show on your application.


Anonymous said...

Awesome blog! I really hope that UCSF keeps their promise in reading all the essays! I hope my GPA does automatically deter you from touching it!

Anonymous said...


Joel W. Gonzales said...

If your cumulative undergraduate GPA (as calculated by PharmCAS) is at least a 2.8 and your file is complete, we will review it (which means "reading all the essays".)

Anonymous said...

This is the most helpful information that I have read on the application process. Thank you for providing this valuable service. It is not always possible for everyone to attend the workshops, so your advice is a valuable service to future applicants!

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