Success Story | Caity Sweet, Kinesiology
How did you learn about your graduate program?
When I was researching physical therapy programs I found a number of schools around the country that I was interested in. After looking into the schools I decided to apply to Northwestern because of their great facilities, faculty members, clinical opportunities, and reputation in the field of physical therapy.
Describe your graduate program.
The DPT program at Northwestern University is a 3 year program, for the next year I will be studying anatomy, physiology, kinesiology and clinical decision making processes while working on a research project. The second year of school I will study a variety of clinical management courses specific to different types of injuries and illnesses. The final year of school I will be placed full-time in physical therapy clinics completing 2 clinical internships.
What steps did you take in the application process?
I applied to a number of schools through PTCAS, the centralized physical therapy school application system. In my application I included transcripts, GRE scores, 3 letters of recommendation, and a personal statement. After applying some schools offered interviews or require a supplemental application.
How did you help yourself stand out from other applicants?
To make myself stand out as a competitive applicant I made sure I had good GRE scores and grades. All of the schools I applied to require that you have shadowing hours so I obtained a variety of experiences in different types of settings. During my time at the U of M I made sure to get involved on campus in a variety of ways. Working in CEHD Student Services the past 4 years has taught me how to work in a professional environment, develop conflict fluency, and maintain professional relationships. Through my campus involvement, physical therapy experience, and time spent studying abroad I was able to draw from a lot of experiences to make my personal statement unique and memorable
Looking back, what did you find to be the most helpful during the graduate school application process?
The Academic Health Center on campus has a great online course called 'Personal Statements for a Health Program' that prepares you to write your personal statement. The course had a number of worksheets and tools to help me organize my thoughts. The APTA and PTCAS websites had great information as well. They had information about applying to each specific school and the program requirement as well as basic information such as location, cost, and size of the different schools.
What did you learn during the graduate school application process?
Through the application process I've learned a lot about myself including my strengths and weaknesses, why exactly I want to pursue a career in physical therapy, and what in physical therapy gets me excited. The self-awareness I gained from the application process helped me to choose the school that fit me the best.
Do you have any words of wisdom to share with others about your experience?
I would start studying for GRE early! Summer is a great time to take the test. I also recommend getting a variety of physical therapy experiences starting early. Getting to know physical therapists and your professors is important; you'll need recommendations from them. And remember to ask earlier rather than later for recommendations.
Did you utilize career services? If so, what was your experience like?
I met with Angie in career services to go over my personal statement and then again before an interview. She was so helpful in organizing my thoughts into a cohesive statement. We also did some mock interview questions that helped calm my nerves and gave me practice!