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RemiKai

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Hey guys!

Questions:
1) Are my grades competitive?
2) When should I start studying for the OAT?
3) When should I write the OAT?
4) How many shadowing hours and number of optometrist do you need for your shadowing experience to be competitive? I am most worried about this as I currently have no shadowing.
5) Since one semester during second and third year I only took 4/5 courses I need to take an extra semester to get all of my credits for my degree. Will this look poorly on my application?
6) Any tips on finding a shadowing opportunity?
7) What other things should I do during this year to become a competitive applicant?
8) How do you feel about my school choices?
9) Advice on getting started on the essay? I feel completely clueless on this!?
10) How much is the essay weighted in the application process. Nervous because I am NOT AT ALL a good writer :writer::sleep::bang:

Here is some background on me:
I have just recently decided I wanted to look further into applying for Optometry school.
I just finished my third year of studies and I am a Canadian at a Canadian school.
I have an cGPA of 3.69/4.3 and will be finishing 3 more prereq's that a few optometry schools need this year (2016-2017).
So by the end of Winter 2017 (April) I will have all prereq's for the schools I am interested in.
I will be taking full time classes during Fall 2016 and Winter 2017. Then I will be taking 3 courses Fall 2017.
I then plan on working until I hear if I am accepted into an Optometry program for Fall 2018.
During second year in the fall and third year in the winter I only took 4 courses instead of five.
I plan to graduate in May 2018 with a BSc with a major in Biology.

I have never applied to Optometry before, never wrote the OAT, and have no relevant optometry shadowing experience.

I am feeling a bit overwhelmed and don't know where to start in creating a competitive application.

I am hoping to shadow at a local Optometry office for a week before I go back to school. And then possibly try to find a shadow opportunity once a week during the school year.

I want to have my application completed for when the portal opens July 2017 so I can apply early for the Fall 2018 year as I have heard applications are rolling and you have a better chance of getting accepted if apply as early as possible.

My top seven schools include:
1) University of Waterloo
2) State University of New York College of Optometry
3) New England College of Optometry
4) Illinois College
5) Nova Southeastern University
6) Salus University Pennsylvania College of Optometry
7) Southern College of Optometry

Any advice is greatly appreciated! Thank you for your time!!
 
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generallyspeaking

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1) yes
2) at least 2 months is enough; you've already taken the subject coursework involved on the OAT, just have to review it - if you got A's in the courses, the more power to you that you probably already know it.
3) whenever you think you can do well
4) bare minimum in my opinion to be sufficient would be 40hours
5) no
6) talk to your school's career center; cold-call optometry offices
7) anything extracurricular (sports/clubs/volunteer)
8) probably only need to apply to 3-4 schools; anything more seems like a waste of money and time.
9) not sure what "the essay" is since you gave no context of it. If it's asking about you, you should have answer. If it's about another topic that you don't know, do some research. duh.
 

RemiKai

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1) yes
2) at least 2 months is enough; you've already taken the subject coursework involved on the OAT, just have to review it - if you got A's in the courses, the more power to you that you probably already know it.
3) whenever you think you can do well
4) bare minimum in my opinion to be sufficient would be 40hours
5) no
6) talk to your school's career center; cold-call optometry offices
7) anything extracurricular (sports/clubs/volunteer)
8) probably only need to apply to 3-4 schools; anything more seems like a waste of money and time.
9) not sure what "the essay" is since you gave no context of it. If it's asking about you, you should have answer. If it's about another topic that you don't know, do some research. duh.
Great thanks for the response!
The essay is the personal statement you attach to the online portal.
Here is the question:
"Please describe what inspires your decision for becoming an optometrist, including your preparation for training in this profession, your aptitude and motivation, the basis for your interest in optometry, and your future career goals. Your essay should be limited to 4500 characters."
 

generallyspeaking

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That actually seems like an easy topic, since it is essentially what they're going to ask you in your interview.

Preparation for training - this writes itself
aptitude and motivation - you obviously came to this decision somehow of applying if you posted in this forum
interest in optometry - likewise, also shadowing will help see if your interest matches realistic expectations of the job
career goals - you don't have to choose a specific practice modality if you don't want to, just say that you'll be the best optometrist you can be, and success will follow
 

KHE

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As a practicing optometrist, let me suggest that if you are looking for a shadowing opportunity, do NOT cold call. You won't get past the receptionist in 99% of cases.

Your best bet is to make an appointment for an exam and ask the doctor directly then. Most docs will be more sympathetic to your situation than the person answering the phone.
 
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whymisha

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Your grades are great for American schools, and on the low end for Waterloo (although enough to get an interview probably) - you'll have to kill your OAT and/or your interview for Waterloo acceptance...they also prefer a full course load but it's not crucial.

Shadow enough to get a good grasp on what an optometrist does (in layman's terms of course), multiple types of offices helps but isn't necessary. Just be comfortable talking about the profession. I only shadowed in one office 2 times, but I know a lot of other people try to shadow as much as possible, which can't hurt (although it does get repetitive).

Have other interests besides studying and optometry, they'll ask you about these things in interviews and it helps to be a well rounded applicant.

Regarding school choices - it's probably not necessary to apply to 7 schools...I would pick a top 5 max or else you might just be wasting money because it's expensive to apply and then travel to interviews. You'll get a better feel for the schools once you're there. Pick the one that you would feel most comfortable in with an environment you feel you could succeed in.

I put wayyy less effort into essay questions on applications than some of my classmates who took it as seriously as a med school application, but I've always done well on essays. My advice would be to get someone to read it over but just be honest and put yourself in the best light possible - don't stress about it too much.
Good luck!
 
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RemiKai

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Your grades are great for American schools, and on the low end for Waterloo (although enough to get an interview probably) - you'll have to kill your OAT and/or your interview for Waterloo acceptance...they also prefer a full course load but it's not crucial.

Shadow enough to get a good grasp on what an optometrist does (in layman's terms of course), multiple types of offices helps but isn't necessary. Just be comfortable talking about the profession. I only shadowed in one office 2 times, but I know a lot of other people try to shadow as much as possible, which can't hurt (although it does get repetitive).

Have other interests besides studying and optometry, they'll ask you about these things in interviews and it helps to be a well rounded applicant.

Regarding school choices - it's probably not necessary to apply to 7 schools...I would pick a top 5 max or else you might just be wasting money because it's expensive to apply and then travel to interviews. You'll get a better feel for the schools once you're there. Pick the one that you would feel most comfortable in with an environment you feel you could succeed in.

I put wayyy less effort into essay questions on applications than some of my classmates who took it as seriously as a med school application, but I've always done well on essays. My advice would be to get someone to read it over but just be honest and put yourself in the best light possible - don't stress about it too much.
Good luck!

Thank you! This is very helpful and encouraging :highfive:
 

JLopt2020

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Would disagree with the needed shadowing experience. Have been told many times that shadowing is for you not for your application. Even work experience in an office, unless you were an optician and did more than tech work doesn't look any better on an aplication than grades. I would say 2-3 days at seperate offices (private 1 dr, mult dr, and maybe an opthamologist office to see the correlation of work would be fine each 3-4 hrs).
 
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Snakedoctor1

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While it may not be necessary to shadow multiple practices for your application, you're shooting yourself in the foot if you don't. Optometry is practiced differently by different people.
 
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