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If you want to get in to OT school, read this lesson learned(opinion)

Discussion in 'Occupational Therapy [ O.T.D ]' started by EastCoastHope, Jul 24, 2011.

  1. EastCoastHope

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    If you want to attend a school go VISIT them, meet with the students, and sit in on a class FIRST.

    When I applied to undergrad, I blindly filed the application and waited for news.

    I thought the same was the case with grad school and have since learned it is not.

    The OTCAS system is brand new and has lots of problems with its design and the fact each school is using it differently. I've discovered that schools missed reading supporting documents that were mailed to them directly.

    You are just a number through OTCAS and need the personal visit to stand out.

    When I visited the schools where I was not accepted, if it wasn't for OTCAS glitches, every school has said I would have been competitive and asked me to re-apply.

    Luckily, some schools did read what was mailed to them and I have a home for the fall.

    Best wishes and go visit the schools!!
     
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  3. Califaith21

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    What are some of the glitches with the new OTCAS system and is there any advice that the schools gave you to insure that you don't have the same issues again?
     
  4. STHERE

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    I noticed one of the schools I am applying to has stopped using OTCAS. hmmm wonder why?!?! lol I thought the system was a pain in the @ss to be honest from my first experience.
     
  5. gymnastau

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    My head has particularly been hurting today thinking about the issues the OTCAS caused me. Simply put, my head hurts from crying and being irritated at filling out details on the OTCAS system AGAIN!

    100% agree with this post! Reading this, you have no idea how much it helps in how I am feeling. I seriously thought I was the 1 random person out of thousands that this happened to.

    What ticks me off the most? OTCAS does not keep any of our previous files. So more $$$ I have to spend again to have everything sent. The second thing, that we could not see what or when schools downloaded our materials. That for me would have changed everything. I would have seen quickly that schools weren't receiving materials.

    Thanks for posting & sharing this information with everyone. It is exceptionally important advice. For me I am financially strained after the last application cycle so I will probably not be able to visit places. I will do everything in my power to not let these errors occur again and whatever I learn is the best way to go about controlling that I will share.

    Forgive any typos or run ons, my head actually hurts that much today as I work on reapplying. ;)
     
  6. gymnastau

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    Curious as to which school that is STHERE? I know the Unv. of Toledo told me that the issues they had with my application were "not the 1st time".
     
  7. otsomeday

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    Although it was a pain in the rear to fill out all the specific information I did not have any trouble with otcas not getting my info to any schools.
     
  8. gymnastau

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    otsomeday or anyone for that matter, did you find any tricks that worked to make sure they got all your info? Winston Salem for example, despite multiple attempts of emailing and leaving messages, never responded. I never received a letter of rejection either from them. It is simply like I didn't exist, haha!
     
  9. Califaith21

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    If a school "misplaces" your information it's a sign that you probably don't wanna be in that program.
     
  10. gymnastau

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    For me the school didn't misplace my letter. I was told on the phone that they log in to a different system then what we see but still supported by the OTCAS. They can download different parts of your application. In the section for my letters of recommendation there were only 2 listed to download/print., not all 3. On my end I had proof it was received and when, which I did send to the school.

    I will say I find it unfortunate that I was not informed that this letter was missing earlier since they had my application for months. I did email programs following applying asking if they received everything they needed. However, I have been told by most of the schools that their applicant numbers are at a record high. So for them I understand the amount of paperwork they are going through daily.
     
  11. STHERE

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    University of the Sciences Philadelphia I noticed used it last year and not this year.
     
  12. FutureOT2013

    FutureOT2013 Occupational Therapist
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    When I was applying for the Fall 2011 cycle, about half of the schools I wanted to apply to were using OTCAS so I started the process with them. IMO I think it was unnecessary extra work because while OTCAS did have a generalized personal statement, many of the schools had supplemental questions which were basically a personal statement in short answer form and they wanted me to send these directly to the school. I could have just packaged my transcripts with the supplemental forms to ensure it got there. On top of that I had to contact OTCAS numerous times to calculate my GPA because they were not reporting it close to deadline time, they are definitely not on their game yet. I also noticed most of the highly ranked programs I was looking into did NOT use OTCAS yet, and none of my top two choices used it either. Fortunately for me I ended up not applying to the schools using OTCAS, so they didn't have a chance to screw me over.
     
  13. lizzo76

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    How many people have been required to use OTCAS for applications? None of the schools I'm applying to use it. Is it broadly-used yet?
     
  14. EastCoastHope

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    In response to posting #12.

    Thank your lucky stars if the schools you want to attend don't use it.

    If you don't fit into their "pre-designed" box of what an OT student should be and should have as a background then basically OTCAS puts you at a disadvantage.

    I bet more schools will join it, if not just for financial reasons they'll join most importantly to be able to say that their application numbers are climbing. It is so easy to click a button and send an application to another school. But does it really mean that you truly would have applied if it had required more than a button click?
     
  15. Whistle Pig

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    I'll swim upstream here. The OTCAS is a god-send for students applying to a number of the more competitive schools. Many programs are using this with more on the come. It is not w/o some glitches, but generally, very impressive as to how it has worked in the early going. Generally, have heard of very few problems like some have noted here.

    The major word of counsel that would hold true in any case, were the common app there or otherwise, stay on top of the process. Make sure that all parts of your application are received in total and timely fashion. Simply having a common procedure does not alleviate responsibility for managing and overseeing the process. It is however, a great screener to weed out those who may not be ready for initiating and completing a competitive program where few spots are allocated among large and growing pools of applicants. When candidates are applying to 10-15 programs, the issues and details faced using a common app are miniscule to what would be the scenario doing same independently. I'm baffled by this moaning, frankly.
     
  16. gymnastau

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    Are you applying for next cycle WhistlePig? What schools are you looking at? I recall you joining this past winter but don't recall where you are looking at going.
     
  17. lizzo76

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    For schools which want people to apply through OTCAS, are prereqs consistent? Or do you still need to meet a bunch of different prereq requirements (neuroanatomy here, gross anatomy there, physics there, etc..) and it merely streamlines the rest of the application process?

    If the prereqs and curricula of the various programs were made more uniform, I would applaud that.
     
  18. gymnastau

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    No the prereqs aren't consistent, nor are the observation hrs and other little things. Here are some examples.. Sorry it's not in the most organized fashion as I am sitting in an airport.

    Ex: Concordia Unv. (WI): A&P, Exel and Word...No GRE, essay only on OTCAS, transcripts from OTCAS, no hrs of observation if I recall, pay & apply through OTCAS only. Though there was confusion about whether you had to apply directly to the university as well, I received a letter stating I needed to and did. Later was told I didn't have to. So the school itself is getting used to the new system. Never did get my $40 bucks back. ;)

    vs

    Ex: USC: All the normal prereqs but they have to be within the last 5 years. You have to personally send your transcripts to them even though the OTCAS provides them to the program, essay on the OTCAS and then an essay that asks the same thing from USC directly, observation hours pulled from OTCAS, pay through the OTCAS and apply and pay using the general graduate application from USC as well.

    Places like TheUnv. of Toledo and Creighton also required additional essays and other things on top of your OTCAS personal statement.

    Even though you apply in a central place you have to double and triple check with programs that you had done everything the way they wanted. Sometimes the university's program profile on the OTCAS (which breaks down the requirements) is not always up to date. Suggestion for anyone applying is to print the requirements from the dept. website and from the OTCAS then look for discrepancies.

    Lizzo if you are still thinking of applying to Tufts, their application and support for the applicants is outstanding.
     
  19. FutureOT2013

    FutureOT2013 Occupational Therapist
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    Nope. OTCAS only calculates the GPA for you on their system. Actually you have to calculate your own GPA, input it, then when they calculate your GPA and it doesn't match up then your application isn't completed. It's still your responsibility to complete the appropriate prereqs for each school you apply to. What gave me a headache were the different deadlines, Samuel Merritt wants the application by 11/1 (switching to OTCAS this year), another school by 1/1, another school by 1/15, 12/15, and so on. Some schools have hard deadlines, some rolling, some early admissions and regular cycles. Any school using OTCAS should adhere to a similar deadline, but it wasn't the case last year so as soon as I got into one school I dropped every school on the OTCAS process. They also reported receiving some of my transcripts and not the others, and I know they got there in a timely manner, it was just a matter of inputting them. It is still a process where you need to follow up with them and get on their butts to make sure things get done.
     
  20. FutureOT2013

    FutureOT2013 Occupational Therapist
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    Not true when the OTCAS portion of your application isn't the entire application. Most if not all programs using OTCAS still have supplemental forms and questions they want sent directly to their OT depts AND to their graduate office of admissions. OTCAS essentially ends up being an extra place to send your crap when you can easily throw your personal statement into the same manila envelope. In the end you still end up sending documents to each individual program. It's a good concept, but not really taking away from the hassle of applying to each school separately. Plus most of the better programs I started apps for like USC, Columbia, NYU, and Chapel Hill had their own school based admission application, which is only a click away, were seemingly designed with the exact same format. It was a matter of cutting and pasting all the information into the new application and not so overwhelming if you've done it before. I'd rather be in correspondence with the school directly then rely on OTCAS in its beta stages.
     
    #19 FutureOT2013, Aug 2, 2011
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2011
  21. OTlg2

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    Back to the original message about visiting the schools that you apply to - When you request to visit a school and sit in on a class, how exactly does this occur? Will someone from admissions or the OT department meet with you and talk to you? It sounds like a good idea to help you stand out, I'm just wondering what the actual interaction is with those whom you wish to stand out to.
     
  22. gymnastau

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    Not sure OTlg2. I know some schools offer orientations monthly or a few times a year. Then others most certainly allow visits. Just a matter of asking I suppose and they will inform you as to when and what you get to see. I'm going to ask a few programs today about visiting and a few other things. I will let everyone know what I hear back.
     
  23. BowlofSunshine

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    The problem with OTCAS is that it is trying to be too much like LSAC, althought it is completely disorganized and confusing.

    The other problem is that each school has different requirements, which can be overwhelming for the student and the OTCAS system.

    With the LSAC website, most law schools have the same admissions requirements, with the only difference being GPA and LSAT scores.

    If OT schools had pretty much the same admissions requirements, namely pre-reqs, it would make streamlining the site better and and more user friendly for potential students.
     
  24. SDCal19

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    The only school I applied to that used OTCAS was USC so it was a huge inconvenience to add in all my coursework and cross all my T's. Apparently many students had issues with it as USC had to push their deadline back in order to allow applicants time to "fix" their info on OTCAS. In the end I still had to send all my transcripts to USC anyway. I also don't like giving a third party SO much of my personal info.
     
  25. FutureOT2013

    FutureOT2013 Occupational Therapist
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    I didn't have to use OTCAS when I got accepted into USC this past year, but I just read on OTCAS that USC will be using it for this year's cycle (2012). That stinks.
     
  26. SDCal19

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    If you were able to apply by a certain date you didn't need OTCAS or if you had the early enrollment. Everyone else had to use it I believe.

     
  27. Califaith21

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    Last year when I was thinking about applying at USC Sarah Kelly said that they started using OTCAS last year, but would require it until this year.
     
  28. gymnastau

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    Sarah is awesome. I heard back from USC very quickly about everything. She really did the work to check to make sure all materials was was received.

    Piece of advice that just came to mind for new applicants. Get a postal confirmation on everything you send out to schools. It really came in handy when USC wasn't able to find the transcripts I sent. Sarah was able to track them down with the confirmation info I gave her.
     
  29. Califaith21

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    how do you ge postal confirmation? I feel like that's a dumb question.
     
  30. gymnastau

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    Not a dumb question at all. You have your choice of several different options of confirmation. I always ask for Priority Mail with Delivery Confirmation. It costs around $5. I was able to tell schools when materials were received. This allowed them to track down where in the mail process it was to their dept. This was for materials I directly sent them.

    Which brings me to another piece of advice. If possible get an additional set of sealed transcripts for yourself in case a school loses or needs them resent quickly. I did this with USC which requires you send transcripts separate from the ones you send to the OTCAS.

    Transcripts that went directly from a university to the OTCAS or to a program I didn't worry about confirming since you have no control over it. For letters of recommendation I simply pre-posted the envelopes for the people writing them and did not worry about the confirmation process since the post office told me I couldn't pre-pay confirmation since I'd have no idea when the letter would be sent.

    Would love to know how others handled this sort of stuff?


    Here is some USPS confirmation info: http://faq.usps.com/eCustomer/iq/usps/request.do?create=kb:USPSFAQ&view%28%29=c[c_usps0301d]&varset%28source%29=sourceType:embedded

     
  31. luky8383

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    Hello everyone,
    I am up for early admission, fall 2012. Now if OTCAS says "please note that this application will be active for the 2011-2012 application cycle ONLY" does that mean my admission for 2012 refers to this form?
    thanks
     
  32. Califaith21

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    Your app will be removed after the 2011-12 application cycle and you will have to resubmit the whole thing next cycle 12-13. Not sure if you can go back and add schools though.
     
  33. ashluk2

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    The issue here was that materials were not received by the OT schools..so how will going to the school and sitting in on classes up the chances that an OT school will receive the materials? Isn't the solution to just apply to the school directly, as in, not through OTCAS..

    I'm not saying visiting schools doesn't make you stand out or is not helpful...I just don't understand how it solves the problem of application materials going missing..
     

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