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Will making a few C's hurt a student chance of getting accepted when applying to pharmacy school?

I'm in my junior year of college and I'm trying to be realistic about whether I will be competitive enough to get accepted. I would like to know if I have above a 3.0 with a few C's, would that make me less competive academically? #pharmacy #pharmacists

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Dianna’s Answer

Focus on doing well on your core classes and the pre-requisite courses required for admissions, especially the math and science courses.

On a side note, if you aren't doing well in the core classes, ask yourself if you really want to be studying pharmaceutical sciences for another 4 years?

But if you have a legitimate reason for your grades being less than stellar, use your personal statement as an opportunity to explain why your grades aren't an adequate representation of your potential. For example, if you were working two jobs to support a family, include that in your essay and emphasize how this life experience will make you a better student in the future and better pharmacist (eg, learning the importance of time management, ways to stay focused, how to prioritize life goals, and multitask, etc.).

Best of luck to you! Hope this helps! :)

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Mary Jane’s Answer

In most cases, a few C's will not prevent someone from getting accepted to a pharmacy program. It will depend on what classes the C's were in and what the pattern looks like -- Did you start out rocky as a freshman and get stronger over time? Has your GPA remained flat, slid downward, or is it increasing? Are the C's in prerequisite courses for Pharm programs or are they in other courses? The programs do a holistic review so they look at the big picture of how your grades progress over your undergraduate years along with your preparation in high school (not everyone starts from the same place so some people take longer to get up to speed!). They also will look at other experiences you bring to the table, like work, extracurriculars, community service, exposure to the profession, etc. Sometimes experiences and maturity can help offset slightly lower grades, especially if they help explain the low grades -- a student who was getting C's while working full time to support a family brings different skills than a student who was getting C's while not doing any work or extracurriculars.

The average GPA in 2019-20 for accepted applicants to pharmacy school was 3.28 cumulative, 3.13 in the sciences. Remember, that means admitted students will have GPAs that are both higher and lower than those numbers. It sounds like you are close to a competitive GPA and if you do well as a senior, you may be very close to the average.

Schools will consider the PCAT score in relation to the GPA -- if you can score at or above the average, it may offset a slightly lower GPA. I would recommend that you not rush to take the PCAT. Take all the time you need to study and prep, and don't take the test until your practice test scores are competitive -- even if it means delaying your application a year or two. You can be working as a pharm tech to gain experience and insight into the profession while you are prepping for the exam.

I encourage you to reach out to either your undergraduate pre-health/pre-pharmacy advisor or to the admissions office of your in-state pharmacy school. They should be able to help you evaluate your grades and resume so you can make a plan for becoming a competitive applicant. It may be that your trajectory is on an upward trend and the C's are not a concern at all, or it could be that the C's are more recent and there is some work you can do to get stronger before applying. An advisor who can sit down with you and look at everything you've accomplished at this point will be able to give you a better sense of the road ahead so that you can decide if you want to continue on or make a new plan. Good luck!