Hey there! My name is Bergomy and I am currently a first year DPT student. Right now I don’t matter, but YOU DO! I am talking to you – the people who do not have sufficient stats to go to Physical Therapy school. I’m here to tell you that it’s ok. I had low GPA and GRE scores, yet I was able to turn it around. It seems impossible but you can do it too. You are only limited by the barriers you set for yourself! Break them!!
This was me after the only school interview that year. Getting there took me two and a half years of hard work. I graduated with a 2.6 and had been looking to switch careers as I realized Biology was not the right fit. I took my chance in the 2014-2015-application cycle and forwarded my transcripts and other necessary documents to 4 schools. My GRE scores were 143, 145, 3 for verbal, math and essay respectively. That year I also racked up about 70 hours of clinical observations. Clearly I underestimated the process and felt depressed for many days after four rejections. So if you are in the same predicament or think your stats are not good enough, IT’S OK!!! Out of the ashes, YOU SHALL RISE! The next few steps show what I implemented to increase my chances for the following application cycle.
First, do the unexpected. After collecting 4 rejections, I realized that I had to make some changes. It’s obvious that I had to continue retaking a few classes but I still felt it wouldn’t be enough. So I proceeded to look for books on how to improve my application and myself. The book “ So you want to be a Physical Therapist” suggested I go to the schools and talk to a few PT professors. It has proven to be a great idea. More than 500 people apply to a DPT program in a given year; out of that number very few applicants solicit face-to-face conversations with the professors before the application cycle? YOU WANT TO BE AMONG those very few in order to show your personality, your drive for the profession, and most importantly you want to get their input on how to improve your application. Doing that will without a doubt make a long-lasting impression
Secondly, double down on your clinical hours. Increasing your science GPA by retaking classes is important, but not as much as doubling down on your clinical hours. You want to make sure you compensate for your average grade by having lots and lots of clinical observations. Make it the strong point of your application. You want the admission staff to be in awe when they look at your observational hours. Your grades may be average but they will know your determination isn’t. I had 70 hours the first time I applied. The second time I added 300 all the while working 40 hours a week at a non-PT related job. I also made sure I diversified my clinical hours as well. If you work in a PT clinic then you obviously have more hours than you can count. However, Admissions will not be impressed. Even observing for 4 hours at a different setting can set you apart from other applicants.
Thirdly, find an internship. One of the pieces of advice a PT professor gave me when I sought her help was to find a job as a PT-aid. Luckily a clinic 20 miles away from where I live was excited to take in young people who were willing to work for free. I interned at that clinic 20 hours a week for 4 months and it was one of the best decision I made that year. I had the opportunity to learn materials that I had not even learned yet at PT school. My four months of industry and everything I learned was summarized in a very nice recommendation letter, which made a huge difference as a second year applicant.
Last but not least, stay motivated. The journey to get into PT school is tough and even tougher the second time you apply. You must be prepared for a second rejection. That’s how tough it is to get accepted and that’s why you need to find ways to stay motivated. Find your WHY-FACTOR. Figure out why you want to be a Physical Therapist so badly. When you get discouraged, and many people will discourage you because of your grades, your why-factor will be your fuel to keep going.
Once I found my why-factor, I proceeded to implement what I learned from the book: The Secret. Notice what I glued to my wall: “Dr. Bergomy Jeannis DPT”. I looked at it every day. It was the first thing I saw when I woke up and the last thing I saw before going to bed. Every time I was succumbing to procrastination, this post put me right back into working mode.
On March 8th of 2016, I received a congratulation email from MGH IHP, informing me that I was taken off the waiting list and that they were excited to offer me admission. I received one interview that year and I made the best out of it because of how well I prepared for the 2015-2016-application cycle. You might call this a gamble. You might think you would be wasting your time because the odds are so low, but you can’t say it is impossible. I did it and so can you!