In our last post we started talking about your PA school application by introducing you to CASPA, the Central Application Service for Physician Assistants. If you haven’t read CASPA Application, Part1: What is CASPA? you should check it out before reading today’s post.
Today, we get familiar with the CASPA application, and begin to think about what yours will look like when it’s done. There are two tasks for today.
Task 1: Go to www.casaponline.org and sign up for a CASPA account.
It’s pretty simple, but it’s important. I know, I know. Even after reading Part 1, you still don’t feel ready to apply. Fine.
- The CASPA application is free
- You don’t need to submit it
- You don’t even need to fill it out, if you don’t want to
- No PA program will know that you have an account – they don’t get anything until you submit it and provide all the necessary materials.
- Think of this as a dry run for your application.
Task 2: Collect Intelligence
Think of the application form as a clue to what schools are looking for. Most applicants don’t bother to look it over until it’s time to fill it out. And it will show; their application will be poorly organized, and lacking important details because they didn’t put much thought into it. This is the only information that schools will have when they decide to interview you or not — it needs to read well.
Now that you’re signed up for CASPA, you’re free to peruse the online CASPA application, and collect that intelligence. The application is fairly long, with many questions. Some are simple check boxes, some are fill-in (like “Rewards Received,”) and others are free-form (notably the Narrative essay). There are also instructions you need to read before you dive in.
Becoming familiar with the application helps you in several ways:
- You’ll know exactly what kind of information PA schools will have in front of them when they consider you
- You’ll begin to think about areas of weakness that you might have time to improve before submitting your application
- You’ll have a more organized application because you will have spent some time thinking about it
- If there is something you really feel schools need to know about you and it isn’t asked for, then you know it will probably need to go into your Narrative (essay). Thinking about your essay now will help you loads when it’s time to write it.
Voila! You are already planning your application (at least a little).
Also, read the instructions for the following CASPA application sections:
- “References,” so you know how your letters of reference will be collected, and how much time it will take. Do you have three people in mind yet? That’s okay. But start thinking about it now, and start building those relationships now.
- “Coursework,” so you will know how your GPA is calculated.
- “Health Related Training,” and “Work and Volunteer Experience,” so you will know how these sections differ.
Preparation is one of the most important tasks for completing a compelling and sparkling application. So do your homework!