General Admissions & OTCAS How to improve my app before applying in 2020?

Dec 10, 2017
14
8
11
Status
Psychology Student
Anything I should add or change? I'm currently a sophomore and will apply at the beginning of my senior year.

Current resume: 3.0 GPA (definitely needs the most help, I know. I'm confident that my schedule next year will allow me to bring this up at least a 3.2/3.3 by the time I apply). I'd say my projected pre-req GPA will be a 3.5-3.7 (I have all 4.0s and one 3.5 in everything so far except anatomy - 2.5. :( Retaking in spring. Taking physio in fall). Taking GRE in the fall. ~40 current shadowing hours, with the majority in outpatient peds. Currently doing outpatient/hand. I really want to hit minimum 100 by the time I apply. I also have ~60 hours as a research assistant in a psychology lab, ~15 hours as an English tutor to an international student. Fundraising & Development Chair in a club partnered with a mental health nonprofit (will be Vice President next year).
Future plans: This summer I will be doing research on gross motor behaviors in children with autism. This will be about 160 hours and I could potentially present at my school's undergraduate research forum. I also plan to volunteer with my school's adaptive sports club this summer and throughout next year. I also want to become more active within my school's Pre-OT club and possibly be on the e-board as a senior. Obviously, I want to bring up my GPA, nail the GRE, and get a lot more observation hours.

I'm also in the process of interviewing to do ABA. I feel obligated to take a shot at paid patient experience but I might decline the position because I'm not sure if I'll have time. Also, I'm not quite sure if I'm cut out for the job, as I know a girl who currently works for the same company and she has not had good experiences with them. Any opinions on this matter would be greatly appreciated.
 
Oct 17, 2018
27
4
1
Hi! I just went through the process of applying myself and will be starting OT school next month, so while I’m not a student just yet I believe I can offer some perspective on the application process. What I say is not the end all be all though, I just want to offer some personal considerations from my own experience applying.

It looks like you have a pretty solid plan so far!! Before I say anything about the application process I’d like to emphasize that you should definitely take your time!! You’re a sophomore with a clear focus and that is a great thing, but definitely make sure to enjoy the ride as you prepare to apply!

Your projected overall GPA seems good, it definitely clears the threshold for every school I applied to, and the same goes for your projected prerequisite GPA. Your plan to get more observation hours is also good! Shadowing is not only a critical part of the application, but a key learning experience for you as well! I’d definitely look into shadowing in a variety of settings if possible. This can help you decide where you’d want to work as an OT, will help strengthen your application, and help you stand out.

Regarding ABA, I don’t have much of a perspective on that field in particular but extra patient experience is never a bad thing. I’ve spent the past year or so working as an aide at two different physical therapy clinics and it’s certainly given me a good perspective on rehabilitation and strengthened my drive for entering the field. It’s also helped me with anatomy, as I’m able to ask the therapists questions and see certain everything in action. But like I said, regardless of what you choose the more patient experience you can get the better off you’ll be.

Other things that you should keep in mind are the personal statement and letters of recommendation. It’s never too early to start working on (or at least thinking about) the personal statement!! It’s definitely a process to write and fine-tune. I’d recommend that you start thinking of why you chose OT as a profession and what personal and professional experiences led you to selecting it. I think your lab experience this summer would really shine in a personal statement for instance! Also make sure you get letters of recommendation from people you are confident will write you strong letters, as you won’t get to see the letters they submit. This is actually another benefit to shadowing in multiple settings, as some schools require letters of recommendation from multiple OTs.

Let me know if you have any questions!! I think you’re on the right track so far and have a good frame of mind and a good plan in place :)
 
Dec 10, 2017
14
8
11
Status
Psychology Student
Hi! I just went through the process of applying myself and will be starting OT school next month, so while I’m not a student just yet I believe I can offer some perspective on the application process. What I say is not the end all be all though, I just want to offer some personal considerations from my own experience applying.

It looks like you have a pretty solid plan so far!! Before I say anything about the application process I’d like to emphasize that you should definitely take your time!! You’re a sophomore with a clear focus and that is a great thing, but definitely make sure to enjoy the ride as you prepare to apply!

Your projected overall GPA seems good, it definitely clears the threshold for every school I applied to, and the same goes for your projected prerequisite GPA. Your plan to get more observation hours is also good! Shadowing is not only a critical part of the application, but a key learning experience for you as well! I’d definitely look into shadowing in a variety of settings if possible. This can help you decide where you’d want to work as an OT, will help strengthen your application, and help you stand out.

Regarding ABA, I don’t have much of a perspective on that field in particular but extra patient experience is never a bad thing. I’ve spent the past year or so working as an aide at two different physical therapy clinics and it’s certainly given me a good perspective on rehabilitation and strengthened my drive for entering the field. It’s also helped me with anatomy, as I’m able to ask the therapists questions and see certain everything in action. But like I said, regardless of what you choose the more patient experience you can get the better off you’ll be.

Other things that you should keep in mind are the personal statement and letters of recommendation. It’s never too early to start working on (or at least thinking about) the personal statement!! It’s definitely a process to write and fine-tune. I’d recommend that you start thinking of why you chose OT as a profession and what personal and professional experiences led you to selecting it. I think your lab experience this summer would really shine in a personal statement for instance! Also make sure you get letters of recommendation from people you are confident will write you strong letters, as you won’t get to see the letters they submit. This is actually another benefit to shadowing in multiple settings, as some schools require letters of recommendation from multiple OTs.

Let me know if you have any questions!! I think you’re on the right track so far and have a good frame of mind and a good plan in place :)
Thank you for taking the time to reply to me, it means a lot. Everyone else's stats always seem so much better than mine so I tend to get freaked out. I'll definitely start thinking about my personal statement and LORs. I'll also try to seek out a variety of settings for observation hours. Thanks again :)
 
Oct 17, 2018
27
4
1
Thank you for taking the time to reply to me, it means a lot. Everyone else's stats always seem so much better than mine so I tend to get freaked out. I'll definitely start thinking about my personal statement and LORs. I'll also try to seek out a variety of settings for observation hours. Thanks again :)
Don’t mention it!! I had the exact same feelings you did with other peoples’ stats; don’t let them get in your head! I know it’s easier said than done but if you get caught up too much in the numbers and comparisons then you’ll only be hurting yourself
 
Nov 16, 2017
61
15
11
Status
Pre-Occupational Therapy
Hi!! Good job to you for planning and looking ahead. This was my second year applying. My first year applying I graduated my undergrad a year early and only applied to 2 schools. Also, my GPA was a 3.45. This year I applied to 6 schools and raised my GPA to a 3.69 and between a 3.9 - 4.0 prerequisites (depending on schools). I have been accepted to 3 schools so far.

My advice is retake as many classes that are C's or below and get your prerequisite as high as possible. Make sure you have a impressive and unique personal statement. I had 5 college professors edit my statement just to get as much feedback as I could. The GPA and GRE score and statements seems to be what gets you the interview but after you receive an interview make sure you sell yourself to stand out from the others that are interviewing.

Lastly, apply to as many schools as possible. Some people that might be 15 schools others it might be 3. Whatever you can make happen, I would strongly considering applying. Sadly, with a low GPA some schools will automatically throw your application out. You just never know. Be open to your placement and it will all come into place. Also, do your research some big name schools get over 500 applicants for 50 spots. Other schools aren't as competitive and only get 180 applicants and take 30 spots.

Good luck!!! I'll be rooting for you. Anymore questions feel free to message me.
 
Feb 21, 2019
8
1
1
Status
Pre-Occupational Therapy
Great thread - I, too would sincerely appreciate any tips. My plan so far, as a career-changer currently taking prerequisites with the goal of applying for admissions into a 2020 program:

GPA-wise: My undergrad GPA was 2.67, but I've been working hard and am projected to complete 27 units by August of this year. My goal is to get an A on all my prerequisites and am well on track.

Observation hours: I currently have 74 hours of observation and will continue to volunteer on avg. of 6 hours/week until year's end. That would come out to ~170 hours total come August of this year.

Additionally:
-
I recently started to work as an Early Interventionist, conducting home visits primarily working with premature babies.
- Designed and teaching a course for foster parents to set safety parameters on different technology platforms.

Letters of Recommendations: I've asked my letter of rec writers and have prompted them already so they can begin to write thoughtful letters of recommendations.

Do you have any tips on:
- How I can stand out?
- OTCA platform readiness - I have an account but am not sure when they will start taking applications for 2020. At this time they're still open for 2019 admissions.

Any & all other tips from those who have undergone the application process would be appreciated :)
 
Nov 16, 2017
61
15
11
Status
Pre-Occupational Therapy
Great thread - I, too would sincerely appreciate any tips. My plan so far, as a career-changer currently taking prerequisites with the goal of applying for admissions into a 2020 program:

GPA-wise: My undergrad GPA was 2.67, but I've been working hard and am projected to complete 27 units by August of this year. My goal is to get an A on all my prerequisites and am well on track.

Observation hours: I currently have 74 hours of observation and will continue to volunteer on avg. of 6 hours/week until year's end. That would come out to ~170 hours total come August of this year.

Additionally:
-
I recently started to work as an Early Interventionist, conducting home visits primarily working with premature babies.
- Designed and teaching a course for foster parents to set safety parameters on different technology platforms.

Letters of Recommendations: I've asked my letter of rec writers and have prompted them already so they can begin to write thoughtful letters of recommendations.

Do you have any tips on:
- How I can stand out?
- OTCA platform readiness - I have an account but am not sure when they will start taking applications for 2020. At this time they're still open for 2019 admissions.

Any & all other tips from those who have undergone the application process would be appreciated :)
Hi!!! Kind of like my advice before is raise that GPA as much as you can. Having a 4.0 prerequisite will definitely help a lot.

Great job on volunteer hours. I would say get as many different places as possible. I had over 150 hours in pediatrics. But about 8000 hours in volunteering. Put all volunteer experience on OTCAS even if it’s non related (church, organization, sports, recognitions you've received for something) this will help you stand out.

Make your personal statement unique to you and why you love this profession. Have multiple people edit it. Finding something unique about you is the ultimate way to stand out while relating it to OT.

Be strategic on where you apply. If you know a school that won’t accept your GPA don't waste your time (or money). Find programs you love and express it.

Otcas will restart their applications starting in July so anything you have in there it will either erase or ask you if you want to transfer the material over.

Good luck!!
 
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Feb 21, 2019
8
1
1
Status
Pre-Occupational Therapy
WOW! Your 8000 hours puts my measly 74 hours TO SHAME. Thanks for the great advice!

Hi!!! Kind of like my advice before is raise that GPA as much as you can. Having a 4.0 prerequisite will definitely help a lot.

Great job on volunteer hours. I would say get as many different places as possible. I had over 150 hours in pediatrics. But about 8000 hours in volunteering. Put all volunteer experience on OTCAS even if it’s non related (church, organization, sports, recognitions you've received for something) this will help you stand out.

Make your personal statement unique to you and why you love this profession. Have multiple people edit it. Finding something unique about you is the ultimate way to stand out while relating it to OT.

Be strategic on where you apply. If you know a school that won’t accept your GPA don't waste your time (or money). Find programs you love and express it.

Otcas will restart their applications starting in July so anything you have in there it will either erase or ask you if you want to transfer the material over.

Good luck!!
 
Nov 16, 2017
61
15
11
Status
Pre-Occupational Therapy
WOW! Your 8000 hours puts my measly 74 hours TO SHAME. Thanks for the great advice!
You just want to put everything you can on OTCAS so I was a cheerleader in my high school and college which gave me a ton of hours. I also volunteered my junior yr of high school - freshman yr of college with Younglife which gave me a ton of hours. I volunteered with the local zoo and also in my church ministry. You want to put ANYTHING you can because you never know the connection you can make with the admissions staff.
 
Dec 20, 2017
186
65
31
Pittsburgh, PA
Status
Pre-Occupational Therapy
I got into 3/4 schools I applied to & waitlisted at the other with a 3.34 cummulative GPA, 3.8 prereq GPA, and a 290 GRE score. I had tons of extracurriculars, job experience in many areas of healthcare along with many hours of shadowing and volunteer. Had 5 LOR and a killer personal statement. There are ways to stand out to admissions without having a 4.0 GPA. Good luck!