What’s the application like? What do the schools need from me?
Application to a Health Profession school is a process. To maximize your chances of having a successful application, you will be wise to approach this important task as a project that takes several months to complete. The actual application is a synthesis of all the work and exploration you have done since you first considered the health professions, perhaps many years ago.
An important and often overlooked step as you begin the application process is to answer the following question:
When is the right time for me to apply?
Students often rush to complete prerequisite courses, working out the logistics of taking the necessary courses as quickly as possible in order to apply as soon as possible, usually in the spring/summer after their third year of college. Successful applicants apply after their third year, but others apply after their fourth year or after completion of their undergraduate degree, perhaps many years after graduation. So how do you decide when the time is right for you?
Apply when you can present the strongest possible application.
Professional schools value maturity, strong problem solving skills and dedication to one’s chosen profession.
A rushed application says volumes about your decision making ability and readiness to start a career in the health professions.
Consider whether taking another year to study, volunteer or work in clinical settings might benefit you. If financial concerns are a major issue, consider graduating and working a year or more as you continue building a stronger resume, taking more upper division science courses or working on research that enables you to have a top quality letter of recommendation.
A delay of one or more years when compared to the 40+ years you may be practicing is inconsequential in terms of time but can be invaluable in terms of producing a successful application.
Most health profession schools use a centralized application process and an entrance exam designed for a particular profession. For example, allopathic medical schools require an application through the American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS) and completion of the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT). Dental schools require the American Association of Dental Schools Application Service (AADSAS) application with Dental Admissions Testing (DAT). A complete list of links to the web sites for centralized applications is found under Professional School Admissions.
These centralized applications are quite extensive, are submitted online and require you to compile information about your completed and projected course work, volunteer and paid work experiences as well as a personal statement. We offer a workshop to help U of A students with this type of application each spring.
A vital part of your application is your personal statement, a short essay that allows you the opportunity to compel the admissions committee to admit you with your skills and personal characteristics. A successful personal statement is well written, demonstrates the positive qualities that admissions personnel are seeking and is your opportunity to tell your story. This may seem like an impossible mission for a one-page essay but with enough thought and time you will write an essay that explains who you are and why you should be admitted. The Pre-Health Professions Advisors can critique of your personal statement. Keep this in mind as you get closer to time for you to apply.
The centralized application is sent to the schools you have indicated on your application. There, each application is reviewed and ranked and then schools will send out secondary applications to the students about whom they wish to learn more. The secondary application generally requests that you send additional materials including answers to essay questions, usually an additional fee and it is at this stage that your letters of recommendation will be sent. These materials will help the admission committee decide whom they will invite for interviews.
For further information, see the Planning Guide for Current Applicants page.