"What can you contribute as a student to the school of pharmacy?". It's a common question that is likely to come up in your admissions interview or as one of the prompts for a pharmacy school personal statement. Either way, to tackle this question, you need to prepare well in advance. With the world of admissions being more competitive than ever, most pharmacy schools have a holistic admissions process. This doesn't mean that having a competitive GPA, taking courses, and relevant extracurriculars don't work in your favor. They definitely do, but there are hundreds of other applicants who also have those qualities. This means that your interview skills and personal essays play a significant role in the admissions process because they are the application components that tell the admissions board about the person behind the numbers and statistics, and how that person can contribute to their pharmacy school community. In this blog, we'll address what you need to know to tackle this difficult question - why it is often asked, how to answer it - and we'll share sample answers with you to help you prepare.
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Before deciding which pharmacy schools to apply to, you probably took the time to look at different schools and figure out how those schools and your chosen program will contribute to your life. Maybe you have plans of owning your own pharmacy someday, so you've decided to apply to a university with a great pharmacy school and a strong business program because you know it will give you the knowledge you need to achieve your goal. Maybe you want a school in the countryside away from the hustle and bustle of the city so that you can minimize distractions. Whatever your preference, you were likely looking for schools that fit that bill.
It is important to remember that and Canada also have specific goals and desires for their student body. Some pharmacy schools aim to provide students with as many diverse perspectives as possible while others have a strong community focus and want applicants who will actively participate in the various groups they have on their pharmacy school campus.
Whatever the case is, when you are asked about what you can contribute as a student to the school of pharmacy, your response will tell the admission committee what you have to offer as a candidate, and they can decide whether or not it aligns with what they're looking for. Later in this blog, we'll tell you more about how to find out what a pharmacy school may be looking for, but the key is to remember that whether you are responding to an interview question or writing a , your answer to this question should convince the school that you are not only a good fit for their school, but that you are also going to have a positive impact on your college campus community.
We know it sounds like a tall order, but with the right strategies, you can craft a strong response that will do just that. How? We're talking about it in the next section, so keep reading.
As with most personal , such as , there is actually no right or wrong answer to this question. This is simply because of its personal nature. That said, there are weak, adequate, and strong answers. A weak answer would be something that is generic and applies to 80% of the other applicants or something that is not related to the school at all. For example, suppose your response focuses on your aptitude for sports, and you mention wanting to play for the school's baseball team when the pharmacy school that you're applying to does not have a baseball team. In that case, it'd be considered a weak response.
In contrast, a strong response would talk about your unique point of view, a particular personality trait that you have, or even one of your interests or passions and how they can make that specific pharmacy school community a better place for its members. Such an answer would be more memorable and is, therefore, most likely to convince the admissions committee that you have something to contribute to the pharmacy school community.
To help you create a response that will be strong and compelling, we suggest that you follow this three-step strategy: Research, Reflect, and Respond.
Want to know how to answer other common pharmacy interview questions? Check this out:
To figure out what you can contribute to your pharmacy school as a student, you need to know as much as possible about that pharmacy school and its community. Remember that a strong response needs to be specific to the pharmacy school you are applying to. Therefore, it is crucial that you take the time to learn about the school in question to provide an answer that will show the admission committee that you are a strong candidate.
We recommend starting with the school's website. Specifically, you can start with the pharmacy school's mission statement, the "about" and "student life" sections, and messages from the dean or other faculty members. The school's descriptions will give you a pretty good idea of the pharmacy school's philosophy, the traits and qualities they look for in candidates, and the kind of learning environment they seek to foster.
Schools actually provide a lot of information on the types of students they are looking for on their websites. Sometimes, they will explicitly state that they value a specific quality, while other times, they will simply use specific adjectives several times to describe their student body. We, therefore, suggest looking for keywords that seem to come up repeatedly and writing them down. Keep track of those words that keep coming up and look for recurring themes as well. These items will tell you about the pharmacy school's core values and the type of students they are interested in. In your personal statement or interview answer, you should mention how your values and/or skills align with those of your chosen pharmacy school.
For example, you may notice that a school talks about scientific discovery and advancement quite a bit on its website. In that case, we can deduce that this pharmacy school values curiosity and research. If you are interested in pursuing research of any kind or being part of an academic group, you should talk about that in your essay or interview. Alternatively, maybe you notice that another pharmacy school you're interested in seems to emphasize the work that they do in their community. In that case, you may want to talk about specific endeavors with which you'd like to get involved.
Once you've identified some of the core values of your chosen pharmacy school, you will have a better idea of the qualities that they wish to foster. It will then be time to reflect on your motivations, talents, interests, and passions. Consider how those things may align with what you found out about the school. Consider your reasons for choosing this particular pharmacy school, most importantly, what you can bring to it.
If you were asked to , or if you've already written a personal statement or , then you most likely already had to think and write about this to some extent. So if you have notes you used to prepare those application components, you may want to refer back to them. Additionally, we recommend that you ask yourself the following questions:
It may seem obvious, but because this question is quite open-ended, students can easily provide an answer that doesn't actually respond to the question. When you are asked what you can contribute to pharmacy school as a student, it is important that you do more than tell the admissions committee about what makes you unique or the traits that you have. You also need to tell the pharmacy school how you plan on using those things to better the pharmacy school or the school's community.
For example, let's say that you are a very curious mind with research experience, and your research has shown that this particular school is very interested in innovation and research. In that case, your answer should talk about that previous research experience, but it can't end there. A strong response will also mention that you are still interested in pursuing research. You can even go further and talk about a specific topic that interests you or a professor at the school that you'd love to work with.
Example #1: In response to the Interview question “What can you contribute as a student to the school of pharmacy?”:
One of the things that I like the most about this program is its location. XYZ university is located in a city that would allow me to work with patients of all nationalities and backgrounds. Coming from a family of immigrants, I appreciate it when an institution embraces values of inclusion and diversity. I can relate to patients coming from different backgrounds on different levels. As the first daughter of an immigrant family, and most importantly, as a future healthcare provider, I feel a strong duty to practice empathy and tolerance and to do my best to make patients feel at home and looked after in whatever country they find themselves. But my main contribution as a training doctor in this residency program will be my ability to communicate with patients in their native languages.
As you can see in my CV, I am fluent in Spanish and speak basic French after spending a year abroad. I understand that communication is crucial to patient care, and speaking three languages allows me to interact with my classmates, teachers, and patients from diverse nationalities and exchange different perspectives. Additionally, speaking a patient’s mother tongue can make them feel more comfortable and understood, and it can significantly improve diagnosis and treatment indications without resorting to an interpreter.
Example #2: In response to the Interview question “What can you contribute as a student to the school of pharmacy?”:
I have always been very community-oriented. I believe that it comes from growing up in a small town. I come from a tiny town in Jersey where we all pretty much know each other, and coming together is just a way of life. For example, my family and I would have our usual celebration during the holidays. Then, we also had to show up for the town Christmas dinner, which was put together by different members of the community.
That kind of thinking applies to my town in times of celebration, but also in times of hardship or even just regular day-to-day life. The community I grew up in has taught me that we all have a part to play in making life better for those around us. That's why I appreciate the fact that there are so many student-led initiatives on the campus of X university.
Back home, we have so many committees responsible for various things in the town, and I am a proud member of two of them: the green initiative and the event's planning committee. I noticed that X university also has a green chapter as part of its student union, and I would love to be a part of helping them make the X university campus more environmentally friendly.
With the end of my senior year fast approaching, I know that I will have to leave my small town and all its lovely people behind for some time, but I am not willing to let go of the values they've taught me. I've seen many of them echoed in the materials that I've read about campus life at X university. So, I look forward to joining the other students who have come together and are improving life on campus for everybody.
Example #3: Pharmacy School Personal Statement
I admire several things about pharmacists, but my main reason for wanting to become one is that pharmacists are on the front lines of defense in patient safety in many ways and that’s where I want to be.
My mother and I moved to Canada when I was thirteen years old, and for the first two years that we spent in this country, she worked two jobs while studying to pass the bar so that she could practice her profession in this country. I appreciate how hard working she is and how difficult it must have been for her, but back then, all it meant was that I spent a lot of time without her around. I remember a particular instance where I was having terrible menstruation cramps, which was new to me. I didn't know what to do, and I was looking for painkillers at the drugstore when the pharmacist came to talk to me.
She talked to me about the correct use of painkillers and gave me some tips on how to be more comfortable during those times of the month. I didn't have a eureka moment after speaking with her, but I did have one much later in high school when I realized how many people around me actually got advice, referrals, and resources from pharmacists in our community.
Typically, when we think about pharmacists, we think about their role as mediators between patients and physicians. Pharmacists put a lot of time, effort, and care into ensuring the accuracy and compatibility of various drugs and ensuring that patients are adequately informed about their use and effects. While that is an essential aspect of the role that I am excited to be a part of, I am deeply fascinated by the other ways that pharmacists serve their communities, from administering flu shots to running methadone treatment programs. In many ways, pharmacists facilitate wellness and not unintentional harm. That is something that I want to be a part of.
1. How hard is it to get into pharmacy school?
The average pharmacy school acceptance rates in the US and Canada are actually quite encouraging, with an average of 89%. However, it is worth noting that pharmacy schools are highly selective and may have stringent admission requirements.
2. Why do pharmacy schools ask what you can contribute to their school community?
In the same way that you chose schools to apply to that could give you the education and environment you needed, pharmacy schools are also looking for something in their students. They want students with fresh perspectives and specific traits and qualities. You should take the time to research your chosen schools and learn what characteristics they value.
3. Is ‘what can you contribute as a student to the pharmacy school‘ a common pharmacy school interview question?
Yes, it is. It may be phrased a bit differently depending on the interviewer, but generally, schools like to know what you can contribute to their college campus community.
4. How important are pharmacy school interviews?
In short, very! The interview performance carries a lot of weight. Most pharmacy schools have a holistic admissions process, meaning that they care as much about your academic background as they care about who you are as a person and the qualities that you possess. The admissions interview gives them a chance to get to know you a bit better and try to determine if you are a good fit for their school.
5. How does this question show up in a personal statement?
This question may be a prompt for your personal statement, part of a prompt, or simply included in the instructions that you receive for your personal statement. Or, it may not show up at all. But it is better to be prepared, in case it does.
6. What should I talk about in my answer to "what can you contribute as a student to the pharmacy school’"?
You should talk about your unique point of view and perspective. Consider your unique talents, interesting aspects of your background, involvements in the community and how all of those things would translate to your life in pharmacy school.
7. How long should my pharmacy school personal statement be?
Unless otherwise stated, your essay should be between 650 and 800 words. Make sure to double-check the instructions provided by your chosen schools and respect the word limit specified.
8. I need help writing my pharmacy school personal statement. Where do I start?
You can start by reaching out to an admissions consultant, and they can provide invaluable help in crafting, writing, and editing your personal statement for pharmacy school.