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Optomcas Application?

Discussion in 'Pre-Optometry' started by opto2, May 5, 2012.

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  1. opto2

    opto2

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    Pre-Optometry

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    So I am new to the whole application process, and I heard that it's best to apply early so I plan on doing that when Optomcas opens up in a couple of months. I just had a question regarding transcripts; since I graduate May 2013 and want to apply early, I plan on sending in all my transcripts from every college that I have attended to Optomcas when it opens this year, but I still have two more semesters left of undergrad; when I finish those two semesters and if I plan on retaking some classes can I send those after? Will I still be considered as an early applicant?

    Also, do I need to have my LOR's and personal statement sent in as well all together to be an early applicant?


    ***I apologize, I probably should have just added this question to my other thread!
  2. optoapp2012

    optoapp2012

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    That's fine - your final transcripts will just be sent to the school where you are accepted and not to OptomCAS, since that will happen way down the road after the application process.

    You do need to have your LOR's and personal statement together. You can submit without the LOR's (but you MUST finish your personal statement before you submit your application, because you can NOT add it later). The LOR's do not need to all be in when you hit submit, but realize that most schools will not review your application until all of those are in. Ask your writers early and follow up with them frequently until they have submitted their letters (which you will be able to see through OptomCAS when they do submit or if it's still outstanding).

    If you plant to re-take classes, it's up to you when to apply. If you apply early, then what you have done up to that point will be sent to schools. If some of the schools want you to retake classes, they might put you on hold and wait for you to complete the courses and turn in a new transcript (they are NOT holding a spot open for you...they are just shelving your application...so when you finish those classes is when you will become part of their applicant pool). Some schools might deny you in that time if they are unhappy with your grades, and you cannot reapply there within the same cycle. So make sure that you are at least confident that they could admit you with what you send in early. If there's any doubt, I would contact the admissions office of each school where you are applying and ask for their guidance on whether to apply early or retake classes and then hit submit.

    Also, you can submit your OptomCAS application before all of your transcripts have been processed by OptomCAS. But once you hit submit, you cannot edit anything else on it (including the grades you self-enter from your transcripts). So be sure you are done with those things and know what schools will allow you to directly communicate with them regarding any changes.
  3. opto2

    opto2

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    What exactly is considered "early"? I want to try to send in all my stuff hopefully by the end of this year and probably retake a couple courses next summer; will the schools not accept those retake's since those few classes grades won't be in when I turn in my application beforehand? I will talk to them again about that like you mentioned, but I was wondering if you happened to know! Because when I asked the schools I was interested in about retaking courses, they said that some C's are fine, but to be a competitive applicant, you should have A's and B's. I want to get A's and B's in those classes that I didn't before, so I will warn those schools that I plan to retake them so hopefully they can add it into the system later or put me on hold like you said.

    When you are on hold, what are the chances of still being accepted?

    When did you send in your application and receive an acceptance letter from your school choices? And did you apply early?

    Thanks again for your advice!! :):thumbup:
  4. optoapp2012

    optoapp2012

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    I applied at the end of September and felt like I was late...but I was really early. I didn't realize how late tons of people apply (would NOT recommend that!). The schools have said that they get a huge wave of applications in July when the system opens, then it drops down for a few months, then another huge wave in November/December, then it drops down, then another huge wave in Feb/March.

    If you aren't going to re-take the classes until next summer, then it's really not worth retaking them at all. That's because the schools will only make their decision on you based on grades they have in hand. By next summer, they will have their classes filled and just be pulling off an already long waitlist as they fill spots from people shuffling around which school they will attend (if they were accepted to multiple ones) or people deciding not to pursue optometry school and go for any other programs they got into. You want to have your spot by at least February (and Feb spots go to people who submit in Nov, interview in January, and get an acceptance in Feb...remember schools shut down for about a month between Dec and Jan and don't process applications).

    So yea...I think that's really too late to take the classes again. But honestly, you should get into programs even with a couple lower grades. Where do you want to attend? If those classes are the only thing making you wait to apply, then I would submit sometime between July and September to really make things easier for yourself!

    Have you taken the OAT? If not, doing really well in the sections where you got lower grades will *really* help your case! Study hard in those sections!

    What classes are your C's in? What's your overall GPA? And science GPA?

    Like I said, I applied at the end of September. I got my first interview offers about a week after OptomCAS finished processing my application (took a couple weeks because one of my transcripts was just arriving - have those sent EARLY). I interviewed and was accepted to one school at the end of October, then another two schools by the end of November. I turned down one interview since it was lower on my list than those three schools. I interviewed at Berkeley in Feb (they just have one interview day for everyone) and was accepted there in March, so that's where I'll be going! I was still finishing 3 pre-req classes during the fall semester when I applied, so don't stress if you have some left.

    As for being put on hold or on a waitlist...both are important and unique. There's "on hold", which means that they are waiting for you to finish something or redo something - maybe a class, maybe the OAT. To get off of that, you need to have significantly improved something and submitted it to them. They will hopefully give you an idea of exactly what type of improvement they are looking for - it would be silly for a school to leave you in the dark on that. Communicate a lot with the admissions office if that happens to you. Waitlist is the other important status. Getting on the waitlist means that they aren't looking for any changes in your application - they just want to see more of the applicant pool before deciding on you. They usually pull off the waitlist sometime between March and August and your chances of getting in from a waitlist vary considerably every year because they applicant pool can vary a lot. Some schools make huge waitlists, other schools maintain tiny ones. It really varies a lot in that case. If you get put on a waitlist for your top choice, but get in somewhere else...it's worth putting the deposit down where you did get in, and then just sacrificing that later if you get off the waitlist at your #1. Since my Berkeley interview was months later, I went ahead and put down a deposit at my #2 school so that I would definitely be going *somewhere*. I ended up losing $500, but that's tiny compared to what optometry school costs ;). Schools give you anywhere from 2 to 6 weeks to accept or decline admissions there.

    Hope that helps! I know it's a crazy process that seems pretty foreign when you first start it :) This forum helped me a lot, but I think the #1 thing you can do to put yourself in a good position is to stay in constant communication with admissions offices. It boggles my mind how some people wait 2 or 3 months and complain on here that they haven't heard from a school, but they also haven't bothered to call or email the school. I'm sure what happened to me was a rare one, but I actually didn't receive an interview offer to my #2 school for what seemed like a long time to me. I had heard from all the other schools, so that seemed weird to hear nothing (not even a no). So I called them and they said they'd sent it out a week before. Somehow it didn't come through to my email (even though they had the right email). When they resent it, both of the emails popped up in my gmail. Kind of weird, but if I hadn't checked with them, I would have had no idea about the interview offer!
  5. Eyecandy09

    Eyecandy09

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    I'm a new applicant as well and I had a question, can we have access to anything on the application before the July open date, or is that the first day you can log in and make an account and start working?

    Also, when we are getting our LORs, what exactly are we telling our writers to prepare to write? Is it just a one page letter and some sort of form that they need to fill out?
  6. opto2

    opto2

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    Ahh I see :/ I feel like I am going to have to crunch my time!! I still have a couple more classes left for my major as well as two more pre-reqs! I am taking one pre-req this summer as well as retaking the first semester of general chem. Maybe i'll squeeze in physics somewhere too :/ The schools that I plan on appyling to are ICO, WesternU, Midwestern. I haven't taken the OAT yet, I plan on doing so by August hopefully, I just really want to be on the safe side because looking back now I knew I could have done a lot better and it kind of makes me upset that I didn't focus as much :/

    These are my science grades:

    general bio 1-C
    general chem 1-C
    physics 1-C
    physics 2-A
    organic chem-B

    and then I took general bio 2 and chem 2 in the same semester and got D's, but I retook general bio 2 and got a C and general chem 2 at a community college and got an A.

    My overall GPA is 2.98, and I'm hoping to bring that up to a 3.0 in the next two semesters, if not slightly higher. And I am not sure what my science GPA is since I took two classes at a community college, so I'm not sure how they will incorporate that with my University GPA.

    Nice, congratulations on your acceptance!:)
    Yes it definitely is a foreign process! That's why I am so glad and thankful that I came across this forum, otherwise i'd be so lost!! Huh, that is strange! Well that's another good tip that I will have to keep in mind then! What were your other two school choices besides Berkely, and why did you chose to go there? Also, if you don't mind me asking, how was your GPA?

    Thanks alot for your help and time, I appreciate it like no other!
  7. optoapp2012

    optoapp2012

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    No, you can't access the application until then. If you made one now, it would delete it and complicate things next cycle in case the system gets confused like you've applied before. Better to wait. Everything should open July 1st, and then you can get going. You can't do the formal LOR requests or transcript requests until then, because you have to do the LOR's from within the system and print off a page with a bar code for your transcripts.

    I told my letter writers that they would have to write an actual rec letter, but then there are also some multiple choice or short answer questions they do on there. I never actually saw what they did, so I'm not sure the format, but there are a few other short questions for them to answer. The letter can be copy and pasted into the system I think. In any case, you need to know their first/last name, phone number, and email to put into OptomCAS. They will receive an email with a link. If for some reason they don't or they lost it, you can have the system send them an email again. You also need to know whether your writer prefers electronic submission or mailing in the letter, because you have to indicate that when you designate them as one of your letter writers. Most writers just do electronic, and that's what I would recommend.
  8. optoapp2012

    optoapp2012

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    Yea, that's a little tough with your GPA and those grades. I would definitely call the admissions offices to get their counseling, because each school will tell you something different as far as what their expectations are for what you'll need to re-do. When you are studying for the OAT, hit all your natural sciences hard (especially biology and chemistry). If you can perform well above average on those, then I think that gives you a great position with the schools. Obviously the OAT only covers a select set of what you learn in the classes, but the point is that you have gone back and are able to learn and excel with that material. Plus if you can show an uptick in your grades from THIS semester, that will be another talking point about how you have learned to manage your time, study better, etc...even if it's not redoing any of the classes above.

    I can't remember how the community college classes will factor into your GPA. It doesn't matter that they were at a community college, but what matters is that at least the chem 2 class was taken at your university, and then retaken at a different place. That changes the way they average grades but I can't remember how. Either way, the higher grade will help out big time, even if just to show them how well you CAN do.

    I also applied to SCCO, Houston, SCO in Memphis, and Indiana. SCCO was my 2nd choice. I got into all but Indiana, because I decided not to go to my interview there. I had a pretty good GPA, because I was a post-bacc student going back to school to do all the science pre-req's. And like you've seen, you learn a lot better study habits over time :) So I had around a 3.7 science GPA and maybe a 3.5 or 3.6 overall GPA (I forgot and am too lazy to check!). I studied suuuuuper hard for the OAT too and got a 390 TS/380 AA.

    I chose Berkeley for a number of reasons, but each school had different things that appealed to me. I felt like Houston had the strongest clinical program (mostly because they work hard to push the boundaries are what's within the current scope of practice). I liked the student climate at SCCO and they had a good clinic too. But Berkeley was my favorite because I love the Bay Area, their clinic has lots of eye disease (which is what interests me most) with a diverse population, their class size is small, they are part of a larger university - which appealed to me over doing just a stand-alone optometry school mostly for the overall school climate and perks (gym, sports games, etc), and the academics are pretty much unparalleled. I felt like the overall clinical program wasn't as cutting edge or pushing the boundaries in terms of scope of practice (like at all - they JUST stick to what is currently legal....which doesn't help OD's make the case that they CAN do other things)...but I didn't feel like I was going to be missing out big time in the end.

    One last thought...have you thought about applying to NOVA? The only reason I ask is that they have had a special program in the past meant for students who show promise but have lower OAT scores and/or GPA. I can't seem to find anything about it online, so they might not do it anymore. But I want to say I heard the dean talk about it within the last year. They admit a few students to that program, which is one year long. Students do kind of a hybrid of retaking the core science classes as well as learning optometry. Then if they finish the program successfully (most do), they are then admitted automatically into the OD program. I think they go into the next 1st year class at advanced standing or something like that. I can't quite remember! But keep that as a back-up idea!
  9. opto2

    opto2

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    Yeah from what it seems like most of the schools I talked to wanted to see more A's and B's, so I will try to cram some of the classes that I need to retake in my schedules somehow! Yeah I think if I study hard for the OAT, my chances may be better like you said! I am in the beginning stages of going over the content right now; a bit worried for the timing portion of the exam since there isn't much given with the amount of questions they ask!

    So it will be worth it all if I retake the classes! It should be a bit easier too since I am already going over the content for the OAT.

    Wow you have great scores!! :) By the way, schools just look at the total score of the OAT right, not just the total science? (just wondering since you wrote TS and AA).
    The bay area is so nice! Disease is interesting too. I'm sure you will enjoy your time at Berkeley very well. :)

    No I have not, but that program sounds amazing! I will see if I can ask their admissions office about that! Thanks for that suggestion, i will definitely keep it as a back up plan! I was also reading some of the posts here about IAUPR, and might consider that as well. Any thoughts? :)
  10. q1we3

    q1we3

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    They look at both science and academic avg. If your GPA is below 3.0 then you should be aiming for 350 or above for TS/AA and apply early. IAUPR should be your last resort.
  11. Eyecandy09

    Eyecandy09

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    Thanks, I appreciate the advice! This is one of those things you don't want to screw up on LOL.
  12. Eyecandy09

    Eyecandy09

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    Also, how crucial is the completion/pending status of prerequisites. I'm selecting classes for senior year, and I'd like to balance the harder science classes between spring and fall instead of just fall. I'd only be pushing one of the prereqs off by a semester, (a&p) and technically, I've fulfilled the upper level bio requirement with other ugly classes, just not the recommended a&p course.
  13. optoapp2012

    optoapp2012

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    That's totally fine. Is that the only pre-req that you'd still be working on? Just aim for having 5 or fewer pre-req's left and you'll be set. I can't imagine many people applying with that many left (maybe if they were applying early in the fall and had a couple pre-req's that semester and a couple in the spring...that'd make sense). I had 3 that were in process when I applied in the fall...and those count the same as if I had been waiting until the spring to take them, because the schools didn't get to see those scores when they were deciding to admit me or not. Not all pre-reqs have to be completed when they admit you - they just want to make sure you'll have time to finish them before starting the following fall.
  14. Tara M

    Tara M

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    Wow thanks for your posts optoapp2012 ! It was incredibly amazing. I'm actually somewhat in the same situation as opto2 . Therefore, I'm counting a lot on my OAT scores!
    I'm taking it for the first time on July 30th and if you don't mind me asking, since you did pretty amazing on it, how did you study exactly? I'm so lost, I have no idea where to start and exactly what to focus on!
    I purchased the following :
    -Princeton MCAT Biology review
    -Princeton MCAT Physics & Math review
    -Kaplan OAT 5th edition comprehensive review
    -Princeton Cracking the MCAT review
    -Mometrix Flash card system

    How do you study and what did you focus most on?

    Thanks!
  15. optoapp2012

    optoapp2012

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    Hey Tara! I'm glad that I can help! I remember how it felt on the other side of the process (before the OAT and admissions decisions) and how unsure I was about how everything worked :)

    I primarily used Kaplan materials - almost exclusively, so I can't tell you how much the other resources would or wouldn't help. MCAT is definintely different in its question format - the MCAT will combine a lot of the sciences into a single question and have more critical thinking to it, whereas the OAT is much more just factual recall. That would obviously mean that the MCAT stuff would make you study harder. On the one hand, that might help because you will have a much stronger grasp on the material. But on the other hand, you might end up over studying and spending lots of time on some things that would be better spent just memorizing more information. So that's a judgement call! Here's the only official practice exam put out by the test makers. I would say that taking a look at lots of different practice tests will give you the best idea of what it was like, because I felt like Kaplan didn't truly capture everything, this sample test didn't truly capture everything, etc. Obviously no single practice exam can cover all the questions, but there were some significantly different things in each practice test that I did.

    Practice Test: https://www.ada.org/oat/oat_sample_test.pdf
    (Important to note: the periodic table on this PDF is exactly how the one on the actual test looks. So that's helpful to get used to. Not that any periodic table is too different, but obviously there's no color to it, or lines separating metals/non-metals, abbreviations only, etc. Also, the scoring information at the end is very helpful to understand how the real test is scored as well!)

    I used the Kaplan Lecture Notes book that comes with the online course and read that cover to cover pretty much (ok, I skipped the math and reading sections and only read some of physics. In retrospect, I should've read it all). I read many chapters multiple times. I memorized all the biology, chemistry, and physics flashcards. I memorized some of the orgo ones, but those weren't sticking as well for me. In retrospect, I would've spent more time on those as well. So I think the flashcards will be extremely helpful for you, but not the only resource you should use. Those will get you lots of the factual recall that you need. Then I took LOTS of practice tests in timed situations like the real thing. In the month leading up to my test, I took one every week so that I felt ready on test day. But I also poured over my results to look for trends about what I was scoring low on (photosynthesis? substitution reactions? electricity?) and then covered those subjects again and again. I think repetition will be your friend! Don't just study a subject one time and move on...it will disappear later to make room for something else that you learn ;)

    Bottom line is to spend a loooooot of time studying. It will make things faster and easier for you on test day. It blows my mind that some people flip through a few books just a week before the test. I studied all summer, but did most of it in 4-7 hour chunks through the entire month of July and most of August before taking my test in August. It really pays off - not just in getting you admitted, but I got lots of scholarship offers too. So know that your studying is worth it in more ways than one!

    Good luck!!
  16. Tara M

    Tara M

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    Wow thanks so much! I am actually waiting for the Kaplan lesson book & flashcards to arrive by the end of this week, but meanwhile I'm reading the comprehensive review (which really isn't detailed enough). So I will speed up my pace and try to finish this so I can at least have a month to do practice tests (maybe 2/week) and review the subjects I'm having difficulties in.

    I have a few questions for you actually, I'm quite stressing about my situation and whether/if I would get in or should apply for fall 2013 or wait until 2014.

    I'm currently in my last year of undergrad in biology specialization and I started familiarizing myself with optometry admission requirements and certain things they require specially through this forum.

    I'm really stressed out at this point because of the high GPA and OAT scores and extra-curricular activities and shadowing.

    My GPA currently is really not impressive 3.05/4.3 and I'm scheduled to take the OAT for the first time July 30th. The reason why I'm taking it at this date is because Waterloo University requires the OAT scores to be taken before July 31st 2012 for their fall admission. (I'm planning to apply to Waterloo University, University of Montreal (which I highly doubt I'd get in, they're really only care about high grades and they don't even look at the OAT scores), Berkeley, ICO, SUNY, SCCO, NECO, MCPHS, NOVA). Concerning the GPA, do you think that the admission committees would completely disregard my application if I don't have the 3.3-3.4 GPA when I apply?

    I started shadowing an optometrist and an optician at Greiche&Scaff (I've done around 8 hours). Also, I've tried to shadow optometrists at their clinic, but many tend to say that they do not do that, which makes it very difficult!

    I also want to apply for the CSTEP and the summer program Berkeley offers during summer 2013 (I couldn't this summer, because I wanted to entirely focus on OAT).

    Therefore, I'm hoping to get high grades on my OAT, which I believe is going to be a HUGE factor in my admission, seeing that at the end of this school year my GPA won't be more than 3.3-3.4/4.3. I'm not going to lie, but during my two first years of undergrad it did not go so well, therefore I have a couple C's (3) and D's (3).

    Sorry for the extremely long post and never ending questions!

    Thank you so much!
  17. awty89

    awty89

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    Hi! I had a quick question. Where did you get all the practice tests from?
  18. Optomchick

    Optomchick

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    Mar 5, 2012
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    wow nice job! you probably could have even gotten into med school with those scores :p

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