A HELPFUL ARTICLE
Tips for CASPA
It is the moment you have been working towards for what feels like an eternity…CASPA is OPEN and its time to apply to PA school! Suddenly, all of the anticipation has become a reality and you fight the urge to freak out. Whether you are a first-timer or re-applicant, the process can be overwhelming, which may result in mistakes and delays to your application status. Transcript entry, letters of recommendation, supplemental applications..AHHHH. Take a deep breath, I am here to show you exactly how to avoid messing up your CASPA application.
Do NOT Rush. You are excited, maybe sweaty, you want to get this submitted as soon as possible, you want to be an early applicant, etc. But I guarantee if you rush through this process, you will make mistakes. Take the time to work on each section diligently, however long it takes. Your personal information is typically the quickest and easiest, so start there to gain some confidence. Transcript entry and patient care experience/health care experience tend to be the most tedious, so work on these one at a time. Avoid jumping from section to section as this will confuse you and make you more stressed. Try to set time limits for how long you are working on one area of the application. Spending hours at a time on one section will make you tired, and when your tired, mistakes happen. Be sure to take breaks at least every 20-30 minutes to keep your mind fresh on focused.
Set a target date to submit. As you know, it can take weeks (up to 5 or more) for your application to go from submitted to “verified”. Until it has been verified by CASPA it will not be sent to your school selections, so you want to ensure you choose a date early enough to meet the application deadlines. This will also allow you to set clear goals for yourself to complete the process on your end. If you are awaiting a pre-requisite course to be completed, you can always submit with courses “in progress” or planned as these can be updated even after your application has been verified by CASPA. This will allow you to submit earlier in some circumstances. Yes it is more beneficial to apply early, but you want to ensure it is done correctly the first time even if that takes a little more time than you anticipated.
The dreaded transcript entry. This is probably the most mistake-prone area of the application. You MUST request a copy of your transcripts be sent directly to CASPA, they do NOT do this for you, even if you are using their transcript service. While you are on the phone, request a copy for yourself if you are planning to enter the information. You need to ensure what you enter is EXACTLY the same as on your school transcript. You do not want to risk your application being put on hold for an error during the verification process. The earlier you start this process, the better it will be since you will have more time to ensure the data is correct. If you are awaiting a class that will likely boost your GPA, DO NOT hit submit until you are absolutely ready as CASPA only calculates your GPA ONCE. If not and you have entered all of your information and have double or maybe tripled checked your work (possible with a PA counselor :), move on to the next section. *Note: if you have attended more than 3 schools, transcript entry can become extremely difficult and time consuming. You may want to consider using the CASPA transcript entry service which starts at 69$ for 1-3 transcripts, 95$ for 4-6, and $145 for 7 or more. But again, you still have to request the transcripts be send directly to CASPA yourself.
Letters of recommendation. When choosing your references, it is important to select individuals you feel will not only give you a strong recommendation, but complete it in a timely fashion. I also typically recommend one or two PAs if at all possible as references. This section is anxiety producing because you are essentially at the mercy of someone else. Hopefully, your references are responsible and have invested enough in you to do this as quickly as possible. The good news is, CASPA only requires two of them to be completed before the verification phase. With that being said, ask your references early, send them a reminder just before you enter them into CASPA and set a reminder to follow up with them at weekly intervals. This will help you stay on top of the process.
Program requirements. Once you have worked through most of the application, you will move on to the section where the schools you selected may ask for additional materials. This can be time consuming depending on how many programs you are applying to. You must upload all of the information required for each school before your application moves to “complete” so be sure to check each one with a fine toothed comb. Its a great idea if you have not already, to make a list of each school and the requirements prior to uploading so you don’t miss one and it will ease your stress.
Understanding the CASPA timeline. The CASPA timeline is as follows can seem confusing so I broke it down here:In progress- You’ve created your account and your working on the application.Received- Submitted but you are missing materials.Complete- Once you are here you are in line for verification which typically takes about 2 weeks. Verified- You’re application is processed and GPA sent to programs. Once you are here, you are done!!
Keep in mind that CASPA has an amazing help section with a lot of great information to help you, but to help ease the anxiety and make the process a little less daunting, I offer a CASPA review and submission service! On a face to face virtual call, you will walk me through each section of your application via a screen share. We can make sure you avoid any costly mistakes or even simple ones.