Academic Admission Factors
The prerequisite sheets supplied by BYU-Idaho list classes generally required by health profession schools. Schools may require a few classes more or a few classes less than what is listed on the prerequisite sheet. If you want specifics for an individual school, contact that school, either online (through their website) or by phone. It is always better if you can find something in writing that can be used to support the information you find.
Because requirements for professional schools are constantly changing, it is important to make sure you stay current on the changes. When you check as a freshman, one class may not be required at a school you want to attend but could be added as a prerequisite by the time you apply. Because of this, it is very important to check requirements multiple times.
A competitive GPA varies among the different health professions. The average accepted GPA should not be confused with the school's listed minimum GPA they will accept. Many schools will list a GPA of 3.0 as the minimum requirement. However, the competitive average for students accepted could be around 3.7. Check each school you are interested in.
Grades and test scores are a pivotal part of applications. Many schools use a formula or initial screening criterion that only forwards applications to an admissions committee if the combined GPA and exam score are above a certain target level. In general, a strong academic performance during your undergraduate years will indicate to the admissions committees your ability to succeed in rigorous professional school course loads. It also shows them your level of commitment and natural abilities.
It is common for students to struggle early in their schooling and improve as they go. For instance, a student may receive lower grades as a freshman but higher grades as an upperclassman in more difficult classes. While the optimum situation is consistently good grades, admissions committees look favorably on positive trends (meaning increasing grades as the student continues). However, this may not compensate for a low overall GPA in the admissions decision. It is very unfavorable for students to have negative grade trends. This indicates an inability to excel in difficult classes and shows that a student may struggle later in professional school.
Retakes, Withdraws, and Pass/Fail
Recognizing the importance of grades, you may wonder what your options are if you are doing poorly in a class. Generally there are two options: keep the class and the possibility of receiving a poor grade (and possibly retake the class later), or drop the class and take a "W." There are only two cases where retaking a class is recommended. The first case is receiving a letter grade of less than a "C". Most professional schools require a "C" or better in all prerequisite coursework for the student to be considered for admissions. The second case is if you don't feel you understand the material well enough to succeed in the next course in a sequence, (i.e. not understanding CHEM 105 well enough to succeed in CHEM 106). Then it is strongly recommended to retake the class. Check the BYU-Idaho catalog for official policy on retakes.
Withdraws are not considered when calculating GPA, but too many can have a very negative effect on a school's view of a candidate. If a student has multiple W's on their transcript (generally three or more) schools will be concerned the student is not dedicated enough to work through a difficult situation. It may also reveal the applicant is unaware of his or her own limitations, as displayed by their constant need to discontinue classes after having initiated them. The lack of knowledge the student displays about themselves in regards to their abilities could damage their credibility in the eyes of an admissions committee. (Note: this doesn't mean students shouldn't attempt difficult tasks; it does mean they shouldn't repeatedly assume responsibilities which they cannot fulfill.)
Many professional schools average grades from retake classes. All schools which use a Centralized Application Service (CAS) average the two grades in classes which are retaken. Students should check with individual schools to make sure it is consistent with the CAS policy.
Finally, when a student can choose a pass/fail grade instead of a letter grade, the letter grade option should always be taken unless the student is certain they will receive a D or lower. Pass grades may be calculated as a "C" on transcripts to professional schools. As an additional note, audited classes aren't factored into admissions decisions.