One of the things I was most curious about while applying to PA school was the application timelines of accepted students. I wanted to know when accepted students applied, if they received application under review notifications, when they were offered interviews, when they were accepted after the interview, etc. The best place to gather this information about the specific PA programs you are applying to is the Physician Assistant Forum- my holy grail as a PA school applicant. I suggest going to the PA Forum, finding the programs you are applying to, and reading through the application forum from the previous cycle. Doing this will give you a good idea of the program's application process.
I thought it would also be helpful to share my application timeline with all you pre-PA peeps to give you a general idea of the application process. Everyone, including myself, suggests applying early- between May and mid-June. I would have loved to apply in May, but my PCE hours were too low due to a clerical error with my CNA license. So I had to wait until I had at least 250 PCE hours to apply. Personally, I do think applying in late June/early July negatively affected my chances of acceptance to certain programs. Some programs, like U of Colorado, only hold 4 interviews per cycle and applying early to those programs is absolutely necessary for acceptance. However, most programs do not work this way, so just know the programs you are applying to! Alrighty so to start off, here is a generalized timeline of events that occurred before and slightly after submitting my CASPA apps:
As you can see, I submitted most of my CASPA apps before my 3rd LOR was even completed. CASPA will work on verifying your application as long as it is consider "complete." According to CASPA, an application is considered "complete" if the the application is submitted, payment is received, transcripts have been received, and 2 out of 3 LORs have been completed. As the application cycle approaches June-August, the amount of time it will take CASPA to verify your application increases. So you may want to consider submitting your CASPA applications for verification before you have your 3rd LOR complete.
For a more detailed look at my application timeline, I decided to share with you my timelines for each program I applied to. I submitted applications to 10 PA programs (organized by rank- although that is not a huge deal): U of Colorado, Shenandoah U, U of Florida (UF), DeSales U, Arcadia U, James Madison U (JMU), Jefferson College of Health Sciences (JCHS), South College, Penn State, Nova Southeastern U- Orlando (Nova). I was offered interviews by 6 of these programs, attended 3 interviews, and cancelled the other 3 interviews to save money (interviews are NOT cheap- flights, hotels, food, etc).
Making these timelines really brought back all the application process feels- mainly anxiety! After submitting CASPA apps in June/July, I may not have heard a single thing until the rejection email arrived 5+ months later. When I applied, I checked my email like a hundred times a day every day for approximately 6 months... This is a very long, arduous process that takes a toll on you mentally, but try not to let it get the best of you! Remember that the committee is not only reviewing your applications, but also teaching at least 2 classes of PA students. Although it is very difficult, try to be patient! The emails will come whether you stress about them or not.
Now you may have noticed that some programs provide you with an application received or application under review email, while others only provide you with silence... nothing you can do other than be patient, sadly. Most programs will communicate with you and invite you for interviews via email, but some will send you letters in the mail or call you. My favorite interview invite was over the phone. Something about seeing that program's area code pop up on my phone just filled me with so much excitement I teared up! Some programs will invite you for an interview months in advance and other programs will invite you for an interview only days in advance. So save up some money, make some friends at work who will be willing to switch days with you, prepare yourself for interviews before the invites arrive, and be flexible!
In my experience, programs will offer interviews to applicants in the order that they submitted their CASPA application. So if you are following the PA forum for your program's application cycle, pay attention to the CASPA submission dates of those who were offered interviews. Every time a program started offering interviews to those who applied after me, I received a rejection letter from that program (just several months later...). Now this will not apply to every one, but I believe it to apply to the majority.
Hopefully you found this information helpful and appreciate me putting all my rejections out there in the world! If you have any questions please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or message me on IG @alexisleighpa_s. If you are applying to one of these programs and have a specific question about their application process, please feel free to reach out! I am very happy to answer any questions you may have, but I will not tell you the specific questions asked in a program's interview. I know that interview invites are starting to go out now or pretty soon, so I will be writing quite a few posts about interviews- stay tuned!