Advice for a DPT applicant (summer '24 application cycle)

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Sep 20, 2023
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Hey all!

I'm currently in the middle of my last year at college (at the University of Colorado Boulder) and I'm unsure of what to take in the spring. I am a slightly nontraditional applicant in the sense that I will graduate with a degree in Environmental Studies and a minor in Geography, I realized my interest in PT pretty late but made the switch and am almost done with my prerequisites. That said, between getting injured and needing to get surgery, working, and taking heavy course loads (20 credits) the last few semesters I'm getting pretty burned out. After this semester (fall '23) I will need to take one biology lab and two psychology classes to finish fulfilling the required prerequisites and graduate. My initial plan was to take the biology lab, psych classes, and then also biomechanics and exercise physiology in the spring before I graduate, but I'm not sure if adding exercise physiology and biomechanics is worth it anymore. The programs I am most interested in (CU Anschutz, Regis, OSU Bend) don't explicitly require those two classes, and I'm not sure if I have the motivation/energy to take another 18 credit semester and do well. My stats as of right now are:

total cumulative undergraduate GPA: 3.7
prerequisite specific gpa: 3.89-3.91 depending on school
shadowing hours: 76 in outpatient (pt aide) and have plans to complete ~40 inpatient in the spring

Would it be better to focus more on rounding out my application (getting more hours in different settings) instead of taking exercise physiology and biomechanics? I'm not sure how important/helpful it is to have those classes on my transcript. I don't want to have just the bare minimum, but I'm also not sure if that matters.

I appreciate anyone who read all that, good luck to everyone who applied/is applying this current cycle!

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If you are applying next cycle, I would recommend spreading the prereqs out if possible. Do you need those classes to graduate? If not, I would recommend taking what you need to finish your degree, then take the remaining prereqs at a CC. Don't overwhelm yourself when you don't need to. You can still have classes in progress when you apply to schools next year.

As for exercise physiology/biomechanics, those classes will definitely be helpful to have under your belt in PT school but it is not required. Plus, if you don't do well in those classes, it can possibly hurt your application. In the mean time, I would work on getting more hours in a variety of settings. You can learn a lot through shadowing.

I applied to CU Anschutz and OSU this cycle, so I wish you luck in applying next year and congratulations on graduating soon!
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I'm a first year in PT school and Biomechanics and especially exercise physiology is very important and a topic you will dive deep into during school so having a base understanding is absolutely non-negotiable.
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One of the PTs I shadowed used to be on the UNC admissions board and he told me the most important thing is that you meet the programs minimum requirements and pre-reqs. If you don't meet their minimum GPA, GRE, observation hour, etc. requirements or are missing any pre-reqs, they won't even consider your application. When making your decision I would review all of your potential schools requirements and make sure you will meet those.

After you meet the minimum requirements, there is no part of the application that is more important than another. Every PT I have shadowed has emphasized the importance of a well-rounded application. Just having a good GPA won't guarantee you get into PT school - make sure you have strong essays and form a good relationship with the PTs you shadow, having strong letters of recommendation is really important.
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Every school does things differently. I've worked with students who haven't met the GPA/GRE requirements, but got in anyway because their essays and other parts of the application were strong. You don't have to take any classes that aren't required. I never took exercise physiology or biomechanics, and neither did many of my classmates. Maybe we were a little behind in the first semester, but after that, everyone ends up on the same playing field. Skip the extra classes and get more PT experience. Besides helping your resume, it will also just help you as a future PT.