By: Mathew Hilton, PT, DPT, MS
In my last post, I discussed the importance of achieving strong GPA and GRE scores for physical therapy admissions. Easier said than done though right?
Though these scores are important, it’s important to recognize that GPA is not a direct reflection of your intelligence or ability. For example, if a tragedy occurs in your family and your grades don’t pan out as well as you wanted, then you shouldn’t feel bad about yourself. DPT programs will often leave you an opportunity to address these situations during the application process with a question, such as:
“Do you feel that your academic record is an accurate reflection of your ability?”
Even if you consistently scoring low grades, you’d shouldn’t feel that your academic ability is limited. You can optimize your GPA with careful planning, solid habits and a healthy perspective. Here are some ways that you can work towards your best GPA:
1. Plan Your Schedule Strategically - Focus on Prerequisites
Most DPT programs consider both your overall GPA and your prerequisite GPA in the admissions process and your prerequisite course grades will affect both numbers. Therefore you should focus especially on these courses to help build your best advantage to physical therapy school.
Don’t overload your first college term with extra courses--set yourself up to succeed! Identify the best professor for the course through review sites, such as RateMyProfessor (or your university's equivalent). If you’re not confident that you can earn a strong grade at your university, consider enrolling in summer school or a community college course to satisfy the prerequisite. Also be sure to balance your schedule to include not all prerequisite courses, but also courses in other subjects that will be less stressful for you.
2. Study Effectively and Efficiently
This is obvious, but I feel that the key to successful studying is finding out what works for you and also being open to change when your grades are not going where you need them. In terms of methods, I feel that this article provides some clear study strategies that are supported by research.
3. Ask for Help
There’s no shame in asking for help, whether that means seeking out classmates, TAs or professors. Chances are that if you’re not getting stuck somewhere in the course that you might not be fully engaging the material. Make it a personal goal to think of at least 3 questions for each lecture and to attend office hours each week to get these questions answered. Doing so will also help you build your rapport with a professor to maybe even lead you to asking for a letter of recommendation in the not-so-distant future.
Keep in mind that you’ll also need to study in groups as a student physical therapist because a good amount of the DPT curriculum involves practicing techniques on another person. Therefore you should get comfortable working with classmates by studying in groups.
Do you have other ways to maximize your GPA? Let us know in the comments below!
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