NotThisAccount17

2+ Year Member
Oct 16, 2016
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  1. Optometry Student
Hello everyone I wanted to write this to give those in pre-optometry or considering optometry an idea of what to expect and tips about going through the process. I wished someone had put something like this out there when I was going through the process, so I figured I would try to help you all. I completed the application/acceptance process so I wanted to write this to help anyone currently applying or planning on applying in the future. Most of what I will discuss are things that I did or wish I had done, so I will be speaking a lot about my personal application process. Also, if anyone else would like to leave advice please feel free.


WARNING it would be almost impossible for me to write out this without expressing MY OPINIONS on certain subjects. Please do not take my opinion as the absolute truth.

PROCESS OF APPLYING

1) START WAY EARLIER THAN YOU THINK YOU SHOULD, STUDY, SHADOW, STUDY AGAIN!
If I could give one HUGE piece of advice it would be to plan ahead to start really early, and then start even earlier than that. Everything you do will have a cascade effect and if you get behind it only continues to get worse as you go though the process. My first step after I had decided on optometry was to go online to a bunch of schools websites and see what their requirements were. If you need to take classes to qualify then plan accordingly. Once that is out of the way you need to start shadowing and studying for the OAT. I would try to leave AT LEAST 3-4 months to study. Study for 10-14 hours a week for the first 2-3 months and the last 1-2 months you should be studying every waking second. I only used the big blue Kaplan OAT book that came with online practice tests to study (I think I bought it on amazon).

2) SPEAKING OF STUDYING
The OAT will test you on all of the major sciences you learned in college: physics, biology, chemistry, and orgo chem. There is also a reading comprehension section. The reading comprehension section seems easy and not something you need to worry about, but I would devote at least a couple of hours each week to reading through any sections you can find and answering questions. Improve your skills for this section through practice. Next, I would start with whatever section/s that you feel the most comfortable with and read through the entire big Kaplan book section of it. Make sure you get those sections down perfect first before you move on to the other subjects. Then do the same with the other sections that you are less confident. Once you have read and highlighted through the entire book, go back and study what you did not know the first time until you have everything in the book down. At this point, I would take your first practice test. Also, at this point I would try and be AT LEAST 3 weeks from the actual exam date. See how you do and study what you are not good at. I found that the Kaplan practice exams were about the same or even a little bit harder than the actual test.

3) WHEN TO TAKE THE OAT
Plan on taking the OAT as soon as possible. If you do not do well on your first attempt there is a time period where you have to wait to take it again. Again, with the cascade effect it will put everything else behind, but if you take your first OAT early enough it still leaves you with enough room to still be ahead of the crowd which is key. If you get the scores you want your first go around then great! Now you can complete you OptomCAS apps and get your applications in way ahead of time. DO NOT FORGET IT TAKES A LONG TIME TO VERIFY TRANSCRIPTS AND YOUR APPLICATION (like weeks). I would make sure to send in transcripts way before you want to turn in your OptomCAS.

4) SHADOWING
I didn’t have a family friend that was an optometrist or anything like that so I had to do it the old fashioned way by calling around and sometimes just showing up at practices. It is very easy to ignore emails, DO NOT EMAIL. Showing up in person is a lot more difficult to ignore. I would also advise shadowing more than one optometrist and in more than one type of practice. For example, one private practice and one at pearlvision. This was suggested to me by an admissions advisor at one of the optometry schools and helped me out a lot. It shows to schools you have a better understanding of the profession.

5) “IF YOUR NOT FIRST, YOUR LAST” -RICKY BOBBY
Get in your applications and secondary’s ASAP. I had all my applications in as soon as they started accepting them. Trust me, with rolling admissions it makes all the difference. Also, getting your applications in early IS A HUGE determinate on if you will be offered scholarships. If you get offered a scholarship late in the cycle it might be because their first choice turned it down.

6) LETTERS OF REC
Plan ahead to get these. Know what your professors usually require for letters of rec at the start of the semester, so you know what you have to do. Try to get letters from multiple optometrists that you shadowed and from science professors. Also a character letter from a manager, TA, etc doesn’t hurt. I ended up needing to submit more letters than OptomCAS has space for and sent them directly to the schools.

7) Visit schools
This isn’t super important, but if you live close to a school try to attend a open house or take a tour. I did this with one of my schools and not only shows initiative, but also introduced me to a lot of future classmates.

8) INTEVIEWS
These are really nothing to stress about with one exception (Salus Scholars, I will go into detail later in this section). That being said make sure you prepare. Also, each interview ended up costing me around $500 between the flight, rental car, hotel, etc, so plan accordingly. Mostly they consist of interviews which are just a back and forth conversation where they ask you questions followed up by you asking a couple questions at the very end. Don’t ask how the weather is. Do ask something like “I know that _______ program has many great things it can offer me from career counseling, state of the art facilities, and clinics with diverse patient populations, but some of the other schools I’m considering offer similar opportunities. What is a characteristic of your program that sets apart from the pack?” Shows you’ve done your research on what their school offers and is a chance to get unique insight. After the interview, everything else is easy and fun. Food, tours, presentations, etc. I will include a list of possible interview questions that you should be ready for and you will see questions similar these.

Salus Scholars= Interview is much much different. Do your homework for this one and practice. It is a multiple mini interview (MMI). They will bring everyone interviewing that day (4-7ish people) into a hallway and there will be scenarios on the doors. You get a couple of mins to read the scenario and write down notes. Then they say “Go ahead” and you knock (make sure you knock, made this mistake and threw off my rhythm) on the door and enter. From there make sure to introduce yourself and shake hands. Sit down and explain the scenario to the person so that you are both on the same page before you start. Then just do your best. They are not looking for specific correct answers, but more that you can handle pressure, form cohesive and relevant arguments, and most importantly that you have social skills. That means make sure you are smiling, dressed professional, and be engaging. They want to make sure that you will be able to speak to patients and develop relationships with them and your colleagues. Also, make sure that you use all of your time, or at least try to. There was one interviewer where I could tell he wanted to talk a bit and ask questions, so I adjusted and made it more of a conversation. After that it is just a quick writing part and then the rest of the day is like every other interview. This link is a pretty good idea of how the process should go:


SAMPLE INTERVIEW QUESTIONS


1. What are your weaknesses
2. What are your personal strengths
3. How do we know optometry won't bore you later and you'll want a new career
4. What would you do if you caught someone cheating on an exam
5. What are the differences between opticians, optometrists, and ophthalmologists.
6. What are the differences between clinicians and technicians
7. What influenced you to get into optometry
8. Why be optometrist
9. Tell me about your background
10. What was the last book you read which was not an assignment
11. What is low vision (or any other specialties)
12. You have a pediatric patient, and you had to put some eye-drops on him, and the kids father is not present (you had previously told the father of the kid to go to the cafeteria or something), and the kid starts to throw a fit, but you really need to put the drops on him, how would you deal with the kid?
13. What do you know about the AOA - American Optometric Association
14. What could you contribute to the student body
15. Which inventor would you like to meet? Why?
16. What are your hobbies
17. What volunteer work have you done
18. What is your optometry experience
19. What are the sub-specialties in the field of optometry
20. How many different settings can an optometrist work in
21. Can you continue education after finishing optometry school?
22. Are you a good memorizer?
23. What brings you to an interview at our program? What is it that stands out about our program?
24. What made you choose Optometry as a profession out of any other health related profession such as: dentistry, ophthalmology, medicine, pharmacy?
25. Do you know how many units are in a quarter at our program? Do you think you have a problem handling it?
26. Why would you consider an Optometrist as a primary care provider?
27. What do you expect to get out of an education at our program?
28. What do you know about the scope of Optometry? What do you see for the future of Optometry?
29. What type of practice do you hope to pursue and why?
30. Have you been keeping up on the news lately? What is a current issue that you have been concerned with?
32. What types of optometric instruments have you worked with?
33. Define Professionalism. What about yourself helps define professionalism?
34. Would you continue to see a patient if they wouldn't follow your suggestions/treatment
35. Would you see a patient again who didn't pay their previous bill
36. What's the difference between a professional handyman and a professional doctor
38. Know about current legislation!!!
39. Where do you see optometry in 5 or 10 years
40. What do you do for fun
41. Tell me how you handle stress.
42. Where else did you apply. Why?
43. What experience do you have dealing with the community?
44. What was the most difficult situation you have had to overcome?
45. Clinical experience?
46. What is an optometrist

COST OF TUITION AND EXPENSES ARE ALSO MAJOR FACTORS TO CONSIDER.

Feel free to ask questions if you have any and best of luck!
 
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Stirling

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Dec 22, 2016
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  1. Pre-Optometry
This is a great guide!

I would also like to add that you can start filling out your Optomcas application now and transfer everything (except letters of recommendation) when the next cycle starts. I'm applying in July but I've filled out everything I can, and all I have left is to polish my personal statement. It can take a while if you have a lot of experiences and if you enter in your transcripts yourself.


Sent from my iPad using SDN mobile
 
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WhyNeedAName

2+ Year Member
Apr 9, 2017
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Omg, thank you for this! I'm a first gen college student who wants to do optometry unlike my distant relatives doing medicine, so seeing this was beautiful. How was NSU? I go there for undergrad, but their optometry school always fascinates me
 
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WhyNeedAName

2+ Year Member
Apr 9, 2017
208
93
This is a great guide!

I would also like to add that you can start filling out your Optomcas application now and transfer everything (except letters of recommendation) when the next cycle starts. I'm applying in July but I've filled out everything I can, and all I have left is to polish my personal statement. It can take a while if you have a lot of experiences and if you enter in your transcripts yourself.


Sent from my iPad using SDN mobile
I had heard that once before, but I'm hesitant on that. Do you get double charged for the application for going another cycle? Or is it one big payment you do at the end before you submit the application?
 

Stirling

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Dec 22, 2016
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  1. Pre-Optometry
I had heard that once before, but I'm hesitant on that. Do you get double charged for the application for going another cycle? Or is it one big payment you do at the end before you submit the application?
You only pay when you submit your application.
 
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optom207

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Feb 15, 2018
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  1. Pre-Optometry
IF APPLICATIONS OPEN IN JULY
Thank you so much for this guide!! I am on board with all of your advice, especially planning on applying early. I'm a little confused on how to start the application now since my cycle isn't opening until June 28, 2018. Any advice on how to go about that would be appreciated! Also, can you submit any part of the application without your OAT scores in yet? Thanks!
 
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EyeSee20

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Apr 17, 2018
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  1. Pre-Optometry
Thank you so much for this guide!! I am on board with all of your advice, especially planning on applying early. I'm a little confused on how to start the application now since my cycle isn't opening until June 28, 2018. Any advice on how to go about that would be appreciated! Also, can you submit any part of the application without your OAT scores in yet? Thanks!

I have a similar issue too. I plan on applying in the 2019-2020 cycle. I'm still working on undergrad and my semester will be finished around late April or beginning May. I'm not sure how productive studying will be while in school with a job. I want to have a solid 3 months in the summer to dedicate all my time to OAT but that would mean that I would be applying early August...Would this be too late?
 

helpmeout382100

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Jan 8, 2018
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  1. Pre-Optometry
Im in the process of starting applications now for 2019 cycle and gathering letter of rec. My prof asked me to send a link to where the letter will be given but since optomcas isn't open yet can someone give me advice? Do I just tell him I will follow up when it opens or is there a separate account we can log in?
 

Toofar

2+ Year Member
Oct 26, 2017
20
15
Im in the process of starting applications now for 2019 cycle and gathering letter of rec. My prof asked me to send a link to where the letter will be given but since optomcas isn't open yet can someone give me advice? Do I just tell him I will follow up when it opens or is there a separate account we can log in?

I would just inform him that the letter has to be submitted online when the window opens, and you'd appreciate it if he didn't mind you sending him the link once it is open. If he's willing to write your letter now, he should be willing to do it 3mo from now as well.
 

annglish

2+ Year Member
Apr 8, 2018
2
0
this is awesome!! thank you so much for this, very much needed guide and congrats on your acceptance!! as a new pre-opt this was very informative in the best ways, medical schools have alot of guidebooks so i have to make my own as a preopt, unless anyone has any suggestions. But htis is fantastic!
 
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