With more and more PA programs hitting the scene, you’ll have to wade through schools and decide which programs are right for you.
The best way to do this? You should create a comprehensive list of schools you’re looking for and include a few key categories to make it easy to apply to. As you progress through the CASPA cycle, you can update the list as you see fit.
As an added bonus, I’m going to share an example spreadsheet you can use and modify to get your list started at the end of the article.
Why & How to Begin
The whole point of the spreadsheet is for you to do all of the research upfront and consult the spreadsheet later in a glance.
When I made my PA Program list, I wrote down schools in a notebook with a pen. Nowadays, I prefer to use Google Sheets to make my lists. You can also use Microsoft Excel or something similar.
I understand that many of us are lazy. You’ll want a pre-made list. But the best part about making your own program list is that you can customize it in so many ways:
– Your spreadsheet can include all of the programs you’d like to apply to OR just the schools you have a good shot of getting into
– You could order the schools in order of your preference (say school #1 on the list is your top choice)
– You can use colors in a variety of ways. For example, color coding school names based on the likelihood of acceptance (red = long shot; yellow = possible; green = safety net)
When making your own PA school spreadsheet, there are a few categories you definitely should include:
School AND campus (if there are multiple) – this category is self-explanatory
Program length – should be stated in months
Tuition – important in decision-making and you should know what type of debt burden you’re signing up for. I would just specify the total expected tuition and not break it down into semesters/terms.
GPA & Patient Care Hours – you should list the programs minimums. You could include a column for the science GPA and one for the cumulative. For my example spreadsheet, I only included the cumulative.
These are categories which you might find useful to include into your spreadsheet:
PANCE Pass Rate – this is oftentimes between 95-100% across the board, so you can leave it off the sheet if you want.
Start Date – might be important during you CASPA cycle
Deadline – might also be important to know, but CASPA tracks this so maybe you won’t have to
Class / Cohort Size – maybe you want to specify if the PA Program will have 20 seats or 50 seats. The higher the class size could possibly mean a better chance of PA school acceptance.
Attrition Rate – if you can find this information, how many people were kicked or dropped from the program?
Supplemental Application / Requirements – could serve as a reminder to complete the application. Or you can avoid schools that include one.
GRE? – if you don’t plan on taking the GRE for PA school then you should include this tab. That way, you make a mental note that you researched the GRE requirement beforehand.
I created an “all prerequisites?” category. If yes, you’ll know you can apply to the program at a future date without any problem. If no, you can write down what you need to improve or do in order to be an applicant.
This category can help you save money and prevent you from applying to programs that you didn’t meet all the minimums. It can also be an eye opener for you down the line. Say hypothetically, five programs on your list want you to have some form of organic chemistry, but you only took biochemistry. After seeing five of your dream schools require it, you’ll find it worthwhile to pursue.
My Sample Template
You can view this free example spreadsheet I made on Google Docs to get started. You can download my copy and start forming your own spreadsheet or simply use the categories as inspiration.
To download the list, go to “File” then “Download As…” and make your selection.
To add a column, right click and “Insert column” if there is a category you’d like to include that I skipped. Likewise, you can delete columns or rows as you see fit.
The schools included are just random examples, and the PANCE pass rates are from 2018. So if you’re accessing the list at a much later date, some of the information may not be accurate.
Making a list of PA programs is a helpful way for you to organize your plan of attack for the upcoming CASPA cycle. I hope the categories and post was helpful in getting the ball rolling.
Physician Assistant – Founder
John is a current Physician Assistant. He attended The Pennsylvania State University (2014) for a double major and Salus University (2018) for his PA education. John is an avid lover of France and the French language.
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