What Are The Most Important Steps In Making My Application To Optometry School Competitive?
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Getting in...7 Sure Fire Steps You Must Know!
Getting into optometry school takes work. And it is always easier if you are given some solid advice from current optometry students and how they "did it". At ScholarWare, we decided to put together some tips that will help you meet your goal of getting into optomerty school.
Step 1-Get as good of grades as possible. When you have a good GPA in your science classes you don't have to make excuses! Your college grades stay with you for quite some time. If you are not making Bís and Aís, increase your study hours, cut back your work, or cut back your play time. Unfortunately, "working full-time" doesnít make a great excuse for poor grades. In your heart you may think different, but you must make the "first cut" or you will already have tremendous obstacles to overcome. Use student loans to supplement your living expenses and cost of education. Try and spend money wisely. There are plenty of students that borrowed a little more and got a little better grades and got in! You donít need a 4.0 to get in. Trust us on this one. But to improve your chances, keep your science grades at a B or better. One C is not going to kill you. But several Cís could hurt you significantly.
Step 2-Apply to the optometry schools EARLY! We cannot stress this enough. Call ahead and get your application packet before hand. Fill out most of it. Write any personal statements and have an English professor read it. Have a friend read it or even an optometrist that you know read it. Come back to it after couple weeks and tune it up. If possible, send in your application without your OAT score if you have not taken the OAT. Schools interested in you will respond with a follow-up letter stating they would like your OAT and letters of recommendation (if required) to "complete" your application. The advantage to this is that you get your application to the school(s) so they know you are sincerely interested (they are already thinking about you!) Be careful not to apply academically too early. You want to apply when you have most or all of the "core science" prerequisites completed. The "suggested" course work can be in progress. This time is usually the summer between your junior and senior year in college.
Step 3-Get some solid letters of recommendation if required. Yes you may have to use a "committee" letter, but make sure your other letters are personal e.g. speak about specific accomplishments and character. Even a committee letter can do this if you "get to know" the people on the committee. There is nothing wrong with submitting three letters plus a committee letter. Donít have the committee letter be your only letter. The admission officers read these letters! It is one of their ways to find out more about you. Make sure your letters speak good things about you. Get those individuals that would write you a good letter to write the letter. Donít have anyone "questionable" write the letter. If you donít have a choice at your school, GET TO KNOW the people who write the letter. It is perfectly acceptable to meet these people several different times to "visit" so they can get to know you better. Be yourself and be genuine!
Step 4-Study for the OAT! The OAT is an important test and should not be underestimated. If you got mostly Aís in your core sciences, you will do well on the OAT (unless you cheated in college!) Since you got Aís, you will likely need to review a little to refresh you memoryÖespecially the chemistry, organic chemistry and physics. You will still need to study for the Quantitative Reasoning and Reading Comprehension sections. If you got mostly Bís in your core sciences, you will want to spend a fair amount of time brushing up on the material. If you got Cís you will really need to work hard and study. You will need to take time off and dedicate 100 percent for a good two months to study the material. No matter what your grades, you should consider the study plan we have detailed in a document entitled "Preparing for the OAT" and obtain our OAT sample test software. The CD-ROM will estimate where you are before you take the real thing.
Step 5-Build a relationship with the optometry school(s) of choice. This is one of the most important steps of all. We cannot stress enough how important it is that the people know that you are interested in their school and recognize your application" when they see it. Call the school and speak with the admissions dean. Tell them you are sincerely considering applying to "their school" and like to come and "tour" the school. Set an appointment (they usually like this). Look around on your own. Ask if you can observe in a clinic. A lot of schools actually a list of who visits and spends time in their clinic. You want to be on that list. Meet an optometry student and become a casual friend. He/she will help you find opportunities get "better known" at the school. Ask when the optometry schoolís open house is and start a relationship then. Doing this shows your true interest in initiative. Don't forget dress appropriately. For any visit, the minimum is dress slacks and a button down shirt (forget the tie until the interview!) Ladies, a casual skirt and blouse or slacks will do. Don't wear sandals. You want to look "business casual" not "casual" and not business. Every encounter counts.
Step 6-Get some optometry experience. Get to know the profession you are interested in. For example, just because you "donít know an optometrist" doesnít mean you canít get to know a optometrist. Someone you know has a friend who is an optometrist. Take advantage of that. In fact, most optometrists are willing to have you "hang out" a little in the office. The optometrist will likely spend an hour or two after hours telling you about optometry. After you do this, tell the optometrist you would really like to spend an hour or two observing and learning. Next thing you know, you will get more involved in his office and become a welcome visitor. What a great experience you will have watching and learning. In fact, take a small notebook for notes. We you that you will get the experience the admissions people are looking for. And think of the neat things you can talk about in your interviews (besides your grades!)
Step 7-Prepare for your interviews. The main purpose of the school interviews is for the school to get to know you better and for you to get to know the school better. The interviews and visit is NOT TO REVIEW your grades. If your interviews are all about grades, than you have not set yourself apart from the others in your group. It is very important that the school understands your commitment to completing the four years (paying your tuition all four years). An empty seat in year two costs the school a lot of money! Be genuine and sincere. If you donít have interpersonal skills, you better start developing them. An optometrist must have good interpersonal skills and you must be able to carry on a mature, interesting and fun conversation with your interviewer. Practice interviewing with your parents or even a neighbor. Yes, be able to answer why you want to be an optometrist. And, yes you probably want to heal the world of disease or want to make everyone see perfectly. They have heard all that before, and that is important to believe. However, be able to guide the interview to topics you want to discuss. This takes practice. You must control the interview, not them. This is accomplished by directing your responses towards the subject you want to bring up next. A perfect example is answering a question and then relating it to a personal experience that indirectly tells them what a great person you are and how you are the best candidate for their school. Be an interesting person and find out interesting things about your interviewer. If your interviewer has a bunch of trains around his office or even a fish tank, there could be an interesting story behind it. Look around and be observant. Donít be nervous and donít just "sit there" waiting for a question. Practice! Think of your interview as a conversion about you, who you are and why you think you will be a great optometrist. An interviewer can often sense sincerity, so donít try and fake it.
GOOD LUCK GETTING IN!