Mar 7, 2014
11
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Hello, everyone. My new professional goal is to become a physical therapist. I am a non-traditional student. After reading through posts on this site, I'm afraid that I may not get into a DPT program.

I am in my older 20's, married and have 2 kids, so I will have to go to schools close by. I plan to get my bachelor's degree next semester, and would like to continue into DPT school immediately after (I've had enough time off as it is.)

Here's my situation briefly. I've attended 3 undergrad schools. I went away for the first college and it was great. However, I had a serious health issue and after a semester there, I had to go back home to make sure my health was okay. My GPA in this school was around a 3.3 overall.
So, I enrolled in a college at home; I wasn't going to let this health issue stop me from getting an education. I went to this college for 3 semesters and ended up with a 3.6 GPA. When my health was better, I wanted to go back to the first college I attended. My husband and I enjoyed the way-of-life in that area and it was so much more peaceful over there. I also loved that college. However, since I registered at the second college, I had to be re-admitted as a transfer student, so I didn't get my scholarship money back.
So, I went to a different college close by so that we could stay in the area. Now, in this third college, my husband and I decided to have our first child (it was a personal decision based on everything we'd been through.) I got pregnant, but had an extremely sick pregnancy. I was hospitalized for weeks at a time, and my grades showed this. My GPA in this college after taking 7 courses was a 2.5 overall. I had to stop going to this college after 2 semesters because the economy dropped that year, and I couldn't take out a loan to help pay the tuition.

After a few years, I am finally back in this college to finish getting my degree. Even if I get all A's this semester, my GPA will only go up to a 2.88 overall (this college doesn't factor in the grades I received from the other schools). I would like to apply to DPT schools early next year, but I'm afraid that they'll reject me immediately if they see a 2.88 GPA at a school. I will try to get a 4.0 my last semester, but these grades will not be posted until after the application process.

My overall science pre-req GPA might be exactly a 3.0 (I received B's in chemistry, physics, & biology). If the other pre-req courses are included (psychology, statistics, etc), my GPA will go up somewhat (I got mostly A's and one A- in psychology). By the end of this semester, my overall GPA combined from all 3 colleges might be around a 3.3 (this is a rough estimate because I don't have the transcripts in front of me.) I just don't know if this will be good enough to get in. I have yet to take the GRE.

On the application, is there an essay? Is there any place to describe my situation? If not, I cannot see why any school would even look at an applicant with such substandard grades and so many different colleges.

Thoughts? Any advice on what I should do? I can always call and explain my situation about my health issues, but I don't want to sound like I'm just making excuses.

Thanks in advance!
 
May 3, 2014
190
177
Phoenix
Status
Physical Therapy Student
There is a section on the PTCAS application where you can explain why your grades don't match your academic capabilities. Regis allows a 2.75 on prereq coursework and a 3.0 cumulative, and I believe there are some other schools as well. There are also some schools that look at the last 60 or 90 credits of coursework. You could probably call the schools you are interested in and see if they use some kind of filter for grades (automatically eliminating GPAs that are too low), or if they have a soft cutoff where they will still look at your application.
 
OP
T
Mar 7, 2014
11
0
Thanks for your reply. The schools that look at the last 60-90 credits would be even worse for me, because I got the 2.5 GPA during my junior year of college, so they would be counted. I still have one semester after this one, but even if I get all A's, the schools will not see my transcript with these grades until May, way after applications were sent. Would the schools look at last 60 credits posted if a student is still in school? If so, it may be okay because the 2.5 GPA is only 24 credit hours.
 

DesertPT

5+ Year Member
Apr 22, 2013
2,656
1,872
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Physical Therapist
Your 2.8 at the third college you attended won't be looked at, school-specific GPA's aren't really part of the application. Your cumulative GPA from all the college coursework you have every done, as well as your pre-req GPA, are what will be looked at. If those are a 3.3, you will have a decent chance if you apply to a reasonable number of schools (maybe 6 or 7??), especially if you have an above average GRE score (aim for 75th percentile+ on each section). There are lots of people who have gotten in with a 3.3. Getting straight A's in the rest of the classes you take will show the trend of improvement that you need.

There is a question on the application that asks you "does your academic record accurately reflect your capabilities?" You can describe why not, but you only get 175 words, or about 8-10 sentences. If you are able to offer a convincing description of why you are answering no to that question and have straight A's in your last year of college to back it up, you might be alright. If you don't have a convincing story it might just seem like your making excuses. But your story seems legit.

Alternatively you can just say yes to that question, figure you are going to get an interview somewhere with a 3.3, and then tell your story in the interview if need be.

There are hundreds of threads on this forum offering advice on getting in with a bad GPA. If you search for them you will learn a lot.
 
OP
T
Mar 7, 2014
11
0
Thank you. I've read some "bad GPA" threads, but everyone's story is different, so I just thought I'd ask anyway. I can probably write in that I had serious health issues and explain in 8 sentences or so. I'm glad to hear that the cumulative GPA will be looked at, and not the individual GPAs. So do the schools see the individual transcripts, or just the overall classes and grades from PTCAS? I still don't know much about how the admission/PTCAS-application work.
 

DesertPT

5+ Year Member
Apr 22, 2013
2,656
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Physical Therapist
I don't honestly know if the individual schools look at the individual transcripts or if they just look at the data PTCAS spits out. But I do know that the cumulative and pre-req GPAs are what they are going to use to rank you in the vast majority of cases.
 

okramango

7+ Year Member
Apr 4, 2011
724
171
Status
Physical Therapist
If your overall GPA, combining all the colleges you've gone to, is over 3.0, your application won't get thrown out immediately. 3.0 is the minimum qualification for most schools. They won't look at the GPA listed by your individual colleges, just the overall, combining all schools you've gone to. When you apply, you enter every class you've taken into PTCAS, then send transcripts from each school to PTCAS so they can verify. It sounds like you should avoid schools that only look at your last 60 units, because your overall GPA will appear lower in that case.

You're prereq GPA and GRE scores are the main numbers that determine how competitive of an applicant you are. Since it sounds like there are only a few schools you can apply to, I recommend contacting those schools to ask them for the average prereq GPA and GRE scores of accepted students. That will give you an idea of where you stand and whether you might want to retake any prereq courses.

The PTCAS application does have an essay. I forget how many characters it is, but it comes out to about 2 pages. There's an additional section where you can list a few sentences to explain if your academic record doesn't match your ability. I think it's totally appropriate to use this section to describe your health issues during those two semesters with low GPA, and point out your much higher grades during other semesters.

Good luck!
 

starrsgirl

7+ Year Member
Oct 5, 2010
1,021
556
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Physical Therapist
You need to sit down right now and do the exact math on your overall GPA. It doesn't matter what the specific college GPA is...pull every course you have ever taken and figure out what your overall GPA is. (I went to 7 different schools myself....some of my school specific GPAs were WAY worse than 2.5). As long as you are over a 3.0, you will at least have a chance to be considered by most schools. And, it sounds like you might even be at a 3.3 or so.....which to me, is pretty good for a non traditional. I do think, as a non traditional myself, they will generally make sure you meet the overall gpa requirements but then look very specifically at your pre req courses and grades (making sure they are all pretty current and with excellent grades....so possibly plan to retake any of those you can to get an A on top).
 
OP
T
Mar 7, 2014
11
0
Thank you. Some of my pre-reqs were taken 5 or 6 years ago. Do I need to retake them? Also, should I retake the pre-reqs that I got B's in, just to get A's.. or will it be looked down upon to take courses more than once? I'd really prefer not to retake the courses over. It'll take more time and cost a lot more (each credit is $500 at my college, so a 4-credit course is $2000. Multiply that by all my science pre-reqs, it'll be an extra $12,000).
 

DPTcoasral

2+ Year Member
Aug 6, 2014
214
102
Status
Pre-Health (Field Undecided)
Thank you. Some of my pre-reqs were taken 5 or 6 years ago. Do I need to retake them? Also, should I retake the pre-reqs that I got B's in, just to get A's.. or will it be looked down upon to take courses more than once? I'd really prefer not to retake the courses over. It'll take more time and cost a lot more (each credit is $500 at my college, so a 4-credit course is $2000. Multiply that by all my science pre-reqs, it'll be an extra $12,000).
I think you answered your own question. GPA is one component of the application process. Do well on the GRE, obtain some solid letters of recommendation, and diversify your volunteer experience. Obsessing over a few grades is not going to do you any good financially or mentally.

By the way, my cumulative is a 3.17. Obtain a 3.5 min past 60 credit hours and you'll be good. So far I've received two interview invites, albeit with a relatively strong GRE score and real world work experience and such. Make the other parts of your application pop, so to speak. There are plenty of students who do poorly when they first start college. My first time around, I never cracked a book and graduated with a 2.7. As they say, you are not alone.
 
Last edited:
Aug 13, 2014
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Don't stress out too much. I'm also a non traditional student. My last 60 semester hours I have a 3.93 GPA. My last four years I have a 3.77 GPA and a pretty requisite GPA of 3.51. However, my overall GPA counting grades from twenty years ago plummets to a 3.06. I have an interview on October 24 with the University of Miami, which is a top ten program. I initially hesitated to apply there because I thought my application would burn up upon entry to the campus LOL. I think any good program will take a hard look at each applicant because there are several factors that go into being a good student. I think you will look good since you have faced and conquered adversity.
 

DRCM

DRCM
10+ Year Member
7+ Year Member
Nov 7, 2007
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Pre-Health (Field Undecided)
Thanks, everyone. I'm beginning to feel better about my chances. I really have to study for the GRE now. At the end of this semester, would I be able to apply without taking the GRE yet? I'd like to take the GRE sometime early next semester, but I'd have the application sent sooner than that. To be honest, I'm a bit afraid of the Verbal Reasoning section, but I think I'd excel in the Quantitative Reasoning section. I just want to have enough time to study and make sure I get a great score.

I need to do a lot of PT volunteer/shadowing work. I am an EMT so I work in medical settings (ambulance/ERs), but I don't work much with PTs. I plan to have at least 100 PT volunteer hours between now and January. Is this enough? It's hard to schedule more because of the holidays/closed offices in November & December.
 

DPTcoasral

2+ Year Member
Aug 6, 2014
214
102
Status
Pre-Health (Field Undecided)
Thanks, everyone. I'm beginning to feel better about my chances. I really have to study for the GRE now. At the end of this semester, would I be able to apply without taking the GRE yet? I'd like to take the GRE sometime early next semester, but I'd have the application sent sooner than that. To be honest, I'm a bit afraid of the Verbal Reasoning section, but I think I'd excel in the Quantitative Reasoning section. I just want to have enough time to study and make sure I get a great score.

I need to do a lot of PT volunteer/shadowing work. I am an EMT so I work in medical settings (ambulance/ERs), but I don't work much with PTs. I plan to have at least 100 PT volunteer hours between now and January. Is this enough? It's hard to schedule more because of the holidays/closed offices in November & December.
That's plenty, just make sure it is varied. No need to do 100 hours all in outpatient. I'm an EMT as well, I feel like the exposure to a wide array of medical and trauma emergencies is beneficial.