Before applying to Pharmacy School a candidate must take prerequisite courses to qualify. Many people refer to this as Pre-Pharmacy. Pre-Pharmacy is not a major but a set of required courses prior to admission to pharmacy school. These requirements are listed on each pharmacy school website. Each school has different course requirements. It is imperative that you plan out the classes you need to take. Doing this will save time and money.
Taking random classes that are not part of the prerequisite course requirements will just prolong your undergraduate studies. Trying to obtain that bachelors degree is a waste of time as your ultimate goal is being a Pharmacist. Having a bachelors degree will have no role in helping you find a Pharmacist job. Additionally, it is good to understand that some courses are only offered at a specific time of the year. If you miss this window you will have to wait an entire year just to get a prerequisite course completed. This again will delay your application to Pharmacy School.
Keep in mind pharmacy schools can be strict when it comes it prerequisite course requirements. These prerequisite courses can be taken at a 4 year university or a community college.
- Example: Some schools may require a course such as microbiology or human anatomy to be taken at a 4 year university rather than community college. They consider these courses a 300-400 level course rather than 100-200 level at community colleges.
Make sure to check these requirements if you plan to take courses at the community college level. Furthermore, it is good practice to check all your coursework meets the pharmacy program requirements.
Community College or 4 Year University?
Many wonder if they should take their prerequisite courses at a community college or 4 year University. From a pragmatic view it is better to take classes at the community college level to save money. If you are seeking a true college experience, you will not get this at a community college. It really does not matter to the admission committee where you took your coursework. They are mainly looking to see if you fulfill the requirements and pharmacy is your passion. The admission committee will only put emphasis on where you took your courses if you are a borderline candidate.
Community College may be beneficial to you because your GPA potentially will be inflated due to less competition. From my experience at the 4 year university level, students can be cut throat when it comes to grades. You are taking classes with future pharmacists, nurses, doctors, dentists, and all other high level healthcare professionals. They are all competing with you to get the best grades. Not everyone can receive a 4.0 GPA in a class.
- Example: These science courses can have 300-500+ students. You will not see this size of a classroom at the community college level. As you can see you are competing against 300-500 other students at a 4 year university vs maybe 30-100 students at the community college level.
The competitive environment has grown out of control in some schools. Some students may go out of their way to give you misinformation hoping you will do poorly on the exams. Different study guides or class notes may be passed around just to give them a better chance. I recommend to avoid participating in trying to sabotage other students. Instead build your network of friends and connections rather than burning bridges. It is more important to have a solid network than the best grades in the class. If nobody respects you or enjoys working with you, what are the chances they will recommend you for a job?
- Example: You are seeking employment at a University Hospital as a Pharmacist. Your classmate from Pharmacy School is already employed there. The hiring manager notices that you both were in the same graduating class and asks for their opinion of you. This is where your classmate can effectively decide whether or not you get the job. It does not matter if you were the top of your class. You were just called out by your classmate who you sabotaged for better grades.
In conclusion, there is no right or wrong answer to this question. You must weigh the pros an cons for your specific situation. Do you want a true college experience? Do you want a bachelors degree? There is cost differences between community college and the 4 year University. Write down and analyze the questions above to decide what is best for you. What do you think is better? Community College or 4 year University?
I hope the recommendations above will help guide, motivate, and inspire you to achieve your goals. Follow my blog for more tips and advice on how to become a pharmacist. What are your experiences? Please comment below and share your thoughts.