If you applied to PA programs and didn’t get in, you face a tough question: “What do I do now?” Maybe you were really counting on being in a program this fall. Instead, your future course is now totally uncertain. It can feel a little like you’re hanging from a bunch of helium balloons, wondering where the wind will take you.
What To Do If You Didn’t Get In
First, take some time.
Rejection hurts. Your big dream has not come true, and a little discouragement is totally understandable. Before you make any rash decisions to “scrap the dream,” or to reapply yourself to it by taking new classes or getting a new health care job, give yourself time to rest, accept it, and adjust. Let the emotions settle so that you can think clearly. Give yourself permission to take a few weeks to decompress. Be patient with yourself. You would do the same for a good friend in the same situation, wouldn’t you?
Reassess your motivation.
When you’ve had time to clear your head, it’ll be time to ask yourself an important question: is this still what I really want? Before you again launch yourself headlong at PA school, take the opportunity that you have been given to make sure this is still what you really want. Maybe since taking all those classes or working in a hospital or clinic your thinking has changed. If so, THAT’S OKAY. Sometimes we don’t get things that we want because we don’t really want them, or because we don’t want them enough. If that’s you, be honest with yourself and admit it now. Realize that you’ll save yourself a lot of time, work, and money by moving on to whatever might suits you better. You don’t need to know what that is now — you will figure it out in time.
Reassess your application.
If PA school is still what you want, then it’s time to figure out where you fell short. Take an honest, unflinching look at your PA school application and decide where you think you are weakest. Is your essay clunky or boring? Have trusted friends and family members read it and give you their opinion. Request a meeting with an admissions officer at one or more of the schools where you were rejected and ask them for their feedback. Some schools will tell you exactly how far you are from acceptance and what you can do to get the rest of the way (of course, many won’t — they’re busy people — but try!) Listen, take notes, and thank them. They have given you priceless “intelligence.”
Resist the urge to personalize it.
It’s fine to ask yourself “What might not getting in this cycle say about my application?” but too often applicants end up asking some variation of “What does this say about me?”
Some people think that a rejection means you’re a reject — it doesn’t.Not being admitted to a program says exactly nothing about your worth as a person. It just means that someone who doesn’t even know you decided that you weren’t as good a fit for their program as someone else (that they don’t even know). Heck, they might have even made the wrong call. If you really want this, realize that nobody ever got to the movies by blaming their driver for running out of gas on the way. If you run out of gas, get hiking.
Make a plan.
It’s usually best to concentrate on improving your application in its weakest area (two areas at most). This will allow you to focus. Need to repeat some classes or retake the GRE? Write out the steps you’ll need to take to get it done. If you’re overwhelmed, put more steps in your plan, but make each a little smaller and easier to complete. Give each step an intended deadline and stick to it. If your application needs more time than one season, plan for it — think tortoise and hare here — because the tortoise always wins.
Sometimes seeking the assistance of a professional can make all the difference. A trusted advisor, PA mentor, or experienced PA admissions coach can help you:
- Understand how your application may be perceived by admissions committees
- Identify the areas that need the most attention
- Do damage control on weak areas
- and decide if you are applying to the right schools
In the end, the worst failures are the ones that we don’t take the time to learn from.
What can you learn from this one?