You should begin the process of selecting schools long before the application date. There are many factors to consider when applying to professional school. Some factors are associated with the school's standards, while others are associated with the school's environment.
First, consider the school's average GPA and test scores of accepted applicants. Also consider, if applicable, how many out of state residents the school accepts. Residency affects both tuition and the likelihood of acceptance. Look at the prerequisite coursework each program requires prior to application. Regardless of other qualifications, a student who has not completed all prerequisite courses will not be considered by an admissions committee. Schools may accept similar classes as substitutes for specified prerequisites; however, each school should be contacted directly regarding specific questions.
After academic criteria are analyzed, personal preferences should be considered (e.g. big city vs. small town, etc.). Cost of attendance and living expenses varies significantly and may play a role in determining which schools to apply to.
Many applicants also find it extremely beneficial to visit schools before applying. If an opportunity to visit a particular school presents itself, take time to visit with students of that school. As you attend school, you will likely develop an attitude and demeanor about healthcare similar to other students who attend that school. Ask the admissions director what particular attributes they look for in an applicant.
Students are generally advised to pick one school to which they are likely to gain admission, one school that is a "long shot," and a number of schools in between. The number of schools to apply for is solely up to the applicant. Applying to a large number of schools does not play a role in the admissions committee's decision.
Students from any program may encounter two applications. The primary application is provided by a centralized application service (CAS). Applying early often makes the difference between acceptance and non-acceptance. After the successful submission of a primary application, many schools require a secondary or supplemental application.
All primary applications offered through a CAS portal are divided into different sections. These sections require information such as biographical data, course work, work/activities, letters of evaluation (LOE), test scores, schools to apply to, and a personal statement. This information is intended to represent your achievements, show how you have utilized your undergraduate opportunities, and articulate your reasons for pursuing your designated career. Visit your individual profession's CAS website for more information.
Application progress on the CAS website can be monitored by checking the status of pending and missing documents. For example, the letter of evaluation section will say "pending" until your letter writers submit their LOE. Some information (like transcripts) requires time for the application service to process before they submit the application to the schools you wish to apply to. It is very important to allow adequate time to complete, submit, and have all documents processed in time to meet the opening application date.
Secondary applications are sent directly from each school after the primary application has been submitted and reviewed. Supplemental applications are filled out in conjunction with the primary applications, but are completed directly on the individual schools website, not in the CAS. Criteria on who is sent a secondary or supplemental application varies.
Secondary and supplemental applications commonly require applicants to provide why they want to attend that particular school. You should look on schools' websites and research other resources for information to effectively articulate why you wish to attend that school. Also, secondary applications often have questions similar to questions on the primary application. Applicants are strongly advised not to repeat any information given on the primary application. Finally, some schools track how quickly applicants return secondary applications. It is important to return them in a timely manner (generally one week is preferred).