is a pa school coach necessary?

Do You Really Need a Pre PA Coach?

Healthcare professional programs are highly competitive. PA school is amongst the hardest to get into. Students often search for mentors or coaches to help with the admissions process. An expensive process that’s frequently changing and becoming more tedious. But the answers to 99% of questions asked by prospective applicants are found online, which leaves me to wonder, is it help students seek or validation?

Do you need a pre-pa coach? Every so often, I’ll speak with a prospective applicant who wants help with every step of the admissions process or ask for a second pair of eyes before submitting their CASPA. During our brief consultations, the questions being asked tell me that it isn’t help they are seeking but validation or a confidence boost.

Should I apply this cycle? Is my application good enough? Can you look over my essay one more time? Do you think I have a shot at getting in? Should I apply to more schools or take extra classes to boost my GPA? 

These questions are laced with insecurity and anxiety. Understandably so, like I said, these programs are hard to get into.  

The most exhausting part is when the responses/advice provided go into one ear and out of the other, followed by no progress—with students circling around some time later to ask the same questions.

Example:“I’m worried my classes will expire; what should I do?” then circle back 1-2yrs later with the SAME EXACT question.

“Quite frankly, it’s annoying, which is why many PAs offer mentorship/advice for a fee.

There is so much information available online at absolutely no cost. The application process is expensive enough without adding the additional price tags of validation seeking help.

I remember being there myself once

Feeling overwhelmed by the admissions process and not knowing where to begin. I asked questions incessantly and often compared myself to other applicants. The temptation to invest in a pre pa coach was intense, BUT instead of spending $400 on a 1:1 coaching session, I decided to get serious about pa school and did some digging of my own. CASPA, pa program websites and speaking with their academic advisors, sitting with undergrad pre-health professions advisors, joining the pre pa club, and of course, reading various blogs, social media & forums were how I found the answers to my questions.

The way I saw it, no one could give me the validation I was seeking. 

If the pre pa coach told me I was an ideal applicant, I would’ve seen it as false hope. If they told me I didn’t have a chance (which many undergrad advisors will do for free, so why pay for the confidence jolt?), I’d still apply only to prove them wrong. 

Either way, I would apply when I was damn good and ready, scared and all. 

The worst-case scenario was a rejection letter. Which would hurt and I’d probably cry about it, then eventually, move on.

What are you really looking for?

A mentor to take you by the hand and walk you through every step? Are you willing to pay the cost? Do you understand their time is valuable and limited? Have you searched for the answers you seek online first? What about the application process is scariest/most daunting for you? Be clear about what it is that you want or need. True that applying is a lot and competitive but not as daunting as it seems. Once you start doing the work, you will gain so much clarity.

Take home message

What do you want? Begin by doing thorough research. You will quickly realize that you don’t need the “help,” and if you do, that’s when you seek (pray for) a mentor that will be honest and can relate to you—someone who shares a similar background or core values.

My mentors weren’t moms, but they understood me culturally and had identical long-term goals.

With your knowledge, genuine concerns, and legitimate questions, mentors will usually be more than happy to walk with you towards your PA-C goals.

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