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Friday, September 1, 2017

Entering Students Offer Advice to Applicants & Prospective Students: 2017 Edition

It's September 1st and I know many are immersed in the application process. It's been several years since I asked ADMITTED/ENTERING students if there's any advice they could provide to FUTURE APPLICANTS.  Several jumped at the chance to help you out. It's certainly easy for me to provide advice, as I always do, but to hear it from those who were in your shoes one year ago -- well, that's golden!

If you could offer a single piece of advice to an applicant who is applying to UCSF School of Pharmacy, what would it be? What would you say?

“There is not one single formula to concoct the perfect application. My best advice is to make sure your LORs are from professors/managers that know you very well and will take the time to attest to your character and accomplishments. Good luck!”  -Stephanie

“My million-dollar piece of advice would be to step outside of the "pharmacy" paradigm, and truly think about how other external factors have influenced you to pursue pharmacy. It doesn't have to be related to school, it can be a hobby, person, or interest.”   -Jimmy

“Focus on staying true to yourself and your experiences as you put together your application, and not on trying to fit what you think the admissions committee is looking for. They'll see through it anyway once you get to the interview.”  -Annie

“Take time to reflect on what forces have pushed you the hardest but also how you became a force that positively pushed others. I found my self-worth when I thought about this deeply and how my narrative can one day positively influence my community.”  -Jennifer

“Staring at a blank Word document can be incredibly discouraging. One specific approach I took when writing my essays was to step away from the computer, take out a pen and paper and start freewriting (absolutely anything), the old-fashioned way.”  -Grace

“Breathe, you're going to get through this. Keep calm and let your personality shine. You're ready to take this leap. We have all been where you are right now, you can do this.”  -Nate

“Take a lot of time to think about the essay questions - maybe even about a month of rapid, uncensored brainstorming! It's a great idea to speak/write your mind, completely unfiltered for every question so that you can form the most genuine answer.”  -Rebecca

“Be yourself every step of the way! You are more than a GPA or PCAT score, more than a club leader, more than a [insert science here] major; you have life experiences that make you interesting, and they should be reflected in your essays and during the interview.”  -Jessica

“Think about both why YOU enjoy pharmacy and why the field of pharmacy will enjoy having you. What qualities do you have that make a good pharmacist?  As Sun Tzu said, if you know others and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles.”  -Jina

“Don't take the PCAT lightly! It's your chance to redeem and/or prove your academic ability, in addition to your GPA. Particularly if you did poorly in a certain pre-req, the PCAT can be a way for you to prove that you have learned since and are ready.”  -Michelle

“Although UCSF isn't rolling admissions, still start the application and supplemental early! I can't emphasize that enough. The supplemental required a lot of thought, so starting early and having the time to brainstorm and edit will definitely help.”  -Christina

“Instead of worrying about one particular area of your application that may be weak, focus on the present and how you can strengthen other areas (supplemental essays, PCAT, LORs, etc). View every requirement as an opportunity for you to shine.”  -Julie

“Be as thorough, yet concise, about yourself on your written application as possible. Knowing yourself is an important factor for not only the next step (e.g. the interview) but also your success in the profession.”  -Megan

“Take the time to truly reflect on your personal, academic, and extra-curricular experiences because the lessons you have learned make you unique. Be confident that these moments of personal growth will make you a great candidate for UCSF.”  -Monica

“Give yourself a good amount of time during the application process. The supplemental questions will require brain power and critical thinking. Be true to your experiences leading up to the application and your passion for pharmacy will shine through.”  -Tony

“Be receptive to others' advice, even if it's tough criticism. Learn from your mistakes, but remember to stay positive and focus on what you have instead of what you lack. Let it help you work towards becoming the best candidate that you can be!”  -Cynthia

“Be yourself. Don't pursue activities for the sole purpose of making your application more competitive. Explore your interests, discover your identity. You will find it easier to express yourself in your personal statement and essays.”  -Emily

“Breathe. You don't have to come up with an answer for the essays immediately. Be sure to take your time. Contemplate and write something that embodies your passion and ideals. Your experiences are unique because they're through your perspective.”  -Calvin

“Start early! The supplemental questions are NOT easy and they really force applicants to delve deep and think hard about what inspires and motivates them to choose pharmacy. Take time to think about the questions and draft thoughtful responses!”  -Sharleen

“Tell your unique story. Every applicant has a different way of finding pharmacy. Take advantage of the essays and share your experiences. Be brutally honest and show your passion for the profession. There are no right or wrong answers!”  -Kristine

"Check to see if you embody these important characteristics/skills: oral communication, written communication, intellectual ability, leadership, ethics, empathy, reliability, judgment, interpersonal relations, adaptability, professional appearance.”  -Cindy

“This is a cliché, but be yourself. Understand yourself and your strengths and weaknesses. Think about all your experiences that have shaped your perspective on healthcare and how they impact the change you want to see as a future pharmacist.”  -Sally

“Do not compare yourselves to others, whether it be in grades or extra-curricular activities. The most important thing is being able to look at your own strengths, and see your true value.”  -Nhi

“Believe in yourself, stay aware of deadlines, and be genuine/honest in your personal statements and interviews. Applying to schools can be a stressful - remember to take a deep breath and let your true self shine through!”  -Christine

“Most importantly, an applicant should know why he or she wants to go to UCSF School of Pharmacy. In other words, an applicant should do some research on the school (more than just looking at ranks, average GPA, etc.). Also start the preparation early.”  -Jonathan

“Just be yourself. This is your opportunity to show UCSF who you really are whether it is through writing or through the interview. Remember that you ARE unique in your OWN way.”  -Natalie

“Don't be afraid to be who you are! I have consistently doubted myself throughout the application process by comparing myself to other applicants and thinking I wasn't enough. Be confident because no one else can be a better you.”  -Janelle

Responses from several years ago can also be helpful. Check out the 2014 version here!

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