beyoutiful_sunshine

2+ Year Member
Dec 26, 2015
324
219
Huntsville, Tx
Status
Pre-Physical Therapy
I'm getting ready to submit my PTCAS application and the last thing I'm working on is the main PTCAS essay as well as the supplemental essay for one of my schools. I'm spending a lot of time on those essays making sure they are a good reflection of my writing skills, my personality and my desire to do PT, but it brings me to the question... how much do those essays really matter?

I know it's school dependent, I was just interested in hearing from some PT faculty, or PT school students or applicants from previous cycles... have you heard anything about some schools putting a lot of weight on the essay? Have you had an admission committee member mentioning your essay during the interview?

Thank you!
 

nd_dpt

2+ Year Member
Nov 12, 2015
187
149
Status
Physical Therapist
I'm getting ready to submit my PTCAS application and the last thing I'm working on is the main PTCAS essay as well as the supplemental essay for one of my schools. I'm spending a lot of time on those essays making sure they are a good reflection of my writing skills, my personality and my desire to do PT, but it brings me to the question... how much do those essays really matter?

I know it's school dependent, I was just interested in hearing from some PT faculty, or PT school students or applicants from previous cycles... have you heard anything about some schools putting a lot of weight on the essay? Have you had an admission committee member mentioning your essay during the interview?

Thank you!
The essay is what sets you apart from the rest of the applicants. Everyone that applies has good grades and a lot of experience. The school can gain a sense of who you are as a person, student, and future pt from your essay. In almost every interview I had, they brought up points from my essays. Take your time with them and have someone proof read them. Every aspect of your application matters so make sure it would be something that stands out to the admissions committee and shows your passion!
 
  • Like
Reactions: turtlot

hopefulpt1

2+ Year Member
Jan 30, 2016
44
48
Status
Pre-Physical Therapy
They are looked at behind GPA, GRE, Hours, and extracurricular activities. Even the best essay in the world can't make up for a poor GPA/GRE.

That being said, they are important for schools to get a feel for who you are as a person.
 

starrsgirl

7+ Year Member
Oct 5, 2010
1,021
556
Status
Physical Therapist
If you meet the minimum qualifications in all categories, the essay matters a lot! The essay won't make up for deficiencies but it sets you apart. I had a faculty member bring up something in my essay last semester. (2 years after I applied!). I think most students make a big mistake of not making the essay a personal narrative, no matter what the prompt. It should be personal and interesting.
 
  • Like
Reactions: beyoutiful_sunshine
Aug 26, 2015
17
11
Status
Pre-Physical Therapy
It's definitely a good thing that you're working on the essay early and giving yourself time to think about it and refine it. For me, I am always stumped by open ended prompts and procrastinated on the essay, but luckily my final draft turned out well after having it critiqued.

The essay is definitely subjective from school to school, but it help give you the edge above other candidates. Out of the schools I applied to, only one of them had an interview while the other 3 viewed the essay as the only chance to get an idea of who I was as a candidate. For the school that I did have an interview, they definitely inquired about my essay. For the school that I ended up attending, I feel that my essay is what got me into the school because my other stats were average to slightly above average. Best of luck to you applying!
 
  • Like
Reactions: beyoutiful_sunshine
Feb 12, 2016
47
10
Status
Pre-Physical Therapy
I too have a question regarding the essays for applying so it's probably best if I just post here.

So I know there is the big essay for PTCAS "what is professionalism in the context....." However, my question is with the school-specific questions do we really need to respond with an "essay" or just thoroughly answer the question? I see people say write good "essays" so it's kind of confusing.
 
OP
beyoutiful_sunshine

beyoutiful_sunshine

2+ Year Member
Dec 26, 2015
324
219
Huntsville, Tx
Status
Pre-Physical Therapy
I too have a question regarding the essays for applying so it's probably best if I just post here.

So I know there is the big essay for PTCAS "what is professionalism in the context....." However, my question is with the school-specific questions do we really need to respond with an "essay" or just thoroughly answer the question? I see people say write good "essays" so it's kind of confusing.
Look at the maximum character requirement, if it's an essay it will most likely be 4,500 like the PTCAS essay. If it's a question that you just have to answer it will be around 1,200.

For instance, I'm applying to TWU and they ask my campus preference and why: that's an answer. They also ask if I speak other languages and how long I've been speaking them: that's an answer as well. Then they have an 'interest essay' and ask about why I want to pursue a career in PT, etc: that's definitely an essay.
Not every school will have supplemental essays but the one that do it's usually pretty clear that it's an essay.
 
Feb 12, 2016
47
10
Status
Pre-Physical Therapy
Look at the maximum character requirement, if it's an essay it will most likely be 4,500 like the PTCAS essay. If it's a question that you just have to answer it will be around 1,200.

For instance, I'm applying to TWU and they ask my campus preference and why: that's an answer. They also ask if I speak other languages and how long I've been speaking them: that's an answer as well. Then they have an 'interest essay' and ask about why I want to pursue a career in PT, etc: that's definitely an essay.
Not every school will have supplemental essays but the one that do it's usually pretty clear that it's an essay.
Thanks for the clarification! How many characters are you planning for your essay to be around? I know the max is 4500 and I have a rough draft of around 900 right now but I don't see myself using more than maybe 1200-1400 characters just because I already feel like ive gotten my point across for the most part and don't want the essay to be long and boring
 
Jul 2, 2016
30
14
Status
Pre-Physical Therapy
If you meet the minimum qualifications in all categories, the essay matters a lot! The essay won't make up for deficiencies but it sets you apart. I had a faculty member bring up something in my essay last semester. (2 years after I applied!). I think most students make a big mistake of not making the essay a personal narrative, no matter what the prompt. It should be personal and interesting.
The prompt for this years essay is - What is professionalism in the context of being a student in a doctor of physical therapist degree program?

Do you have any tips on how to make this prompt personal? I am really struggling with this :/
 
OP
beyoutiful_sunshine

beyoutiful_sunshine

2+ Year Member
Dec 26, 2015
324
219
Huntsville, Tx
Status
Pre-Physical Therapy
Thanks for the clarification! How many characters are you planning for your essay to be around? I know the max is 4500 and I have a rough draft of around 900 right now but I don't see myself using more than maybe 1200-1400 characters just because I already feel like ive gotten my point across for the most part and don't want the essay to be long and boring
Hey, I just wanted to make sure that we're on the same page: the 4,500 character limit includes individual letters and spaces. (On Words, if you click on the word count at the bottom of the page, it gives you the character count as well).

My essay is 4,497 characters, which is slightly more than 1 page... 900 characters would be around one paragraph .. :/ For me that's about the size of my introduction. If you really did write 900 characters I honestly think that you need to write more... did you try making an outline?
 
Feb 12, 2016
47
10
Status
Pre-Physical Therapy
Hey, I just wanted to make sure that we're on the same page: the 4,500 character limit includes individual letters and spaces. (On Words, if you click on the word count at the bottom of the page, it gives you the character count as well).

My essay is 4,497 characters, which is slightly more than 1 page... 900 characters would be around one paragraph .. :/ For me that's about the size of my introduction. If you really did write 900 characters I honestly think that you need to write more... did you try making an outline?
I was looking at the wrong number lol. Apparently I have 5373 characters right now with spaces and 4504 without, my bad haha. I guess now I need to work on condensing my ideas
 

starrsgirl

7+ Year Member
Oct 5, 2010
1,021
556
Status
Physical Therapist
The prompt for this years essay is - What is professionalism in the context of being a student in a doctor of physical therapist degree program?

Do you have any tips on how to make this prompt personal? I am really struggling with this :/
Sure....here are some ideas off the top of my head:
- Talk about your idea of professionalism. How were your ideas developed? What stories/experiences do you have that created that idea of professionalism?
- How have you demonstrated professionalism (i.e. story)? How will that be similar/dissimilar to that required as a student?
- You can center your whole essay around a personal narrative of a time that either led you to have to choose professional behavior or even one where professional behavior was missing but you learned from it.
- What is your definition of a professional? What are the components? How have you personally developed each component?
- what will you contribute as part of a professional class? Which type of student will you be and share some examples to drive home your statements.
- how have you directly impacted the professional environment where you shadowed/worked/observed? Share some examples and touch on the patient impact.

These are just thoughts from 1 person....there are many ways to tackle this, but I do think a personal narrative works best. Your readers should have a great idea of who you are just from reading the essay. They don't want to read dictionary definitions of professionalism nor read some philosophical meandering of professionalism in physical therapy. Boring! What is unique about you? Why are you different than other applicants? Start with those ideas and then work to pull the essay back to the prompt.
 
Jul 2, 2016
30
14
Status
Pre-Physical Therapy
Sure....here are some ideas off the top of my head:
- Talk about your idea of professionalism. How were your ideas developed? What stories/experiences do you have that created that idea of professionalism?
- How have you demonstrated professionalism (i.e. story)? How will that be similar/dissimilar to that required as a student?
- You can center your whole essay around a personal narrative of a time that either led you to have to choose professional behavior or even one where professional behavior was missing but you learned from it.
- What is your definition of a professional? What are the components? How have you personally developed each component?
- what will you contribute as part of a professional class? Which type of student will you be and share some examples to drive home your statements.
- how have you directly impacted the professional environment where you shadowed/worked/observed? Share some examples and touch on the patient impact.

These are just thoughts from 1 person....there are many ways to tackle this, but I do think a personal narrative works best. Your readers should have a great idea of who you are just from reading the essay. They don't want to read dictionary definitions of professionalism nor read some philosophical meandering of professionalism in physical therapy. Boring! What is unique about you? Why are you different than other applicants? Start with those ideas and then work to pull the essay back to the prompt.
Thank you so much you are a rockstar. I can't wait to finish this stinking thing!!
 
OP
beyoutiful_sunshine

beyoutiful_sunshine

2+ Year Member
Dec 26, 2015
324
219
Huntsville, Tx
Status
Pre-Physical Therapy
@starrsgirl , wow thank you for taking the time to type all of this! My essay is almost ready to go and I will probably e-submit tomorrow! It's nice to see that some of the things you mentioned are things I've included in my essay :)

Thanks to everyone else who answered this thread also! Applying is really stressful as you probably already know ahah so all of y'all's insight is appreciated and not taken for granted :)
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: starrsgirl

starrsgirl

7+ Year Member
Oct 5, 2010
1,021
556
Status
Physical Therapist
My other piece of advice is to be SPECIFIC. Instead of saying "I am very professional at work", instead describe your professionalism with a specific action/story "I took the initiative to start calling patients after their first appointment to see if they had any questions for the therapist or see how their home exercise plan was going"

Or instead of "I'm very professional in class" try something like "when there was a conflict with the teacher, I met with my small group to gather ideas and then took the lead to meet with the instructor during office hours to resolve".

You can fill in those very short stories with other personal details or scene setup that help paint a picture of you as the applicant too.
 
  • Like
Reactions: beyoutiful_sunshine
Feb 14, 2016
51
12
Status
Pre-Physical Therapy
I'm getting ready to submit my PTCAS application and the last thing I'm working on is the main PTCAS essay as well as the supplemental essay for one of my schools. I'm spending a lot of time on those essays making sure they are a good reflection of my writing skills, my personality and my desire to do PT, but it brings me to the question... how much do those essays really matter?

I know it's school dependent, I was just interested in hearing from some PT faculty, or PT school students or applicants from previous cycles... have you heard anything about some schools putting a lot of weight on the essay? Have you had an admission committee member mentioning your essay during the interview?

Thank you!
Essays are important; however, like another person said earlier in this thread, the best essay can not save a poor GPA and GRE. So make sure your GPA and GRE scores and respectable first, then do your best on your essay. In my particular case, when I applied, my school specific essays really helped me get into some of my top choices. While GPA and GRE are worth more and have higher priority, having a strong essay won't hurt.
 
  • Like
Reactions: beyoutiful_sunshine