General Admissions & OTCAS Tips for first time applicant?

jmoneyjones

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May 25, 2020
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Hi everyone I’m applying for OT schools this upcoming cycle and I have a couple questions that have been really bugging me so I was hoping someone could provide some insight for me :oops:

(1) Would it weaken my application if I were to get 2 LORs from the same clinic?
The pandemic has kind of stunted my opportunities to further my experience/shadowing, I really only have close relations within 2 settings (never really got close to professors bc the classes were so large)
LORs would be from 2 PTs (same clinic) and 1 OT

My total exp: 120 Hand/OT Clinic, 300+ PT Aide, 50 Hippotherapy Clinic, 500+ In-Home Support Giver, 80 Student Nurse Rotation

(2) should I retake the GRE?
or any classes?

I scored a 151 Q, 154 V, 4.0 W
GPA: 3.67
PreReq: 3.55 (made poor decisions freshman year) :dead:
 

OThopefully183

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1) I think its best to have LORs from OTs and a professor. I don't think it would weaken your application as long as they know you well and can write an awesome letter for you. Looking at your hours you have tons of experience so I don't think they'll look down upon that. But I do strongly recommend having one from a professor. I almost didn't get into my school since I did not have one. Fortunately as I was finishing my art pre-req and took ceramics, the professor graciously wrote me one last minute. I suppose it depends on your program.

2) Honestly we have the same GRE stats so as long as you meet the minimum requirement for the schools you want to apply to I don't think its too big of a deal. If you do have time and the resources, I do suggest taking pre-reqs again. I brought up alot of my pre-req grades from B and Cs to A. Sure that didn't bump up my GPA too significantly, but I like to think they see that as my willingness to improve?

I would strongly suggest working on your personal statements early. I am pretty sure spending more time on it helped me and improved my chances.

Let me know if you still have any questions and feel free to message me always happy to help! :)
 
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sngot

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Agree with OThopefully183. It is unwise not to have one from a professor because they want someone to validate your skills as a graduate student applicant. My only concern is that the 2 PT would write a similar one. Their assessment (what they think) will be a little different but the objectives (what they see) are the same. The letters are for the school to get to know you. It is more advantageous to have a diverse set of letters of recommendation.

I would only retake GRE and classes if you have the means and if you think it will actually make a difference. Do you think your GRE has room for improvement? What classes would you retake? That depends on the individual schools you apply to. Your overall GPA will not change much but your latter half and pre-req will. Ideally, If you are taking classes, GPA will only be amended when you submit grades for December. Considering application deadlines. Submitting applications earlier is more advantageous for those with rolling interview releases or admission.
 
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jmoneyjones

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May 25, 2020
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Thanks for the feedback so far, I sincerely appreciate it! I contacted the admissions counselor for my top choice school I’m shooting for (USC) asking whether they would prefer to have at least one LOR from a professor.
She answered “it does not matter which professional references you select, I would encourage you to choose recomenders who know you well and are able to attest to your skills and abilities as it relates to becoming an OT.”

I’m just afraid a professor would write a very generic letter. I’ll give it a shot though and reach out to a professor!
But if that doesn’t work out, I’ll guess I’ll just do 2 LORs from OTs and 1 from a PT?

As for my pre-reqs they’d be A&P I & II which would likely make me push my apps to next cycle. So I might as well apply with what I have and if it comes to worst case scenario and I don’t get into anything I’ll just retake them then and reapply next cycle :arghh:
 

sngot

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Thanks for the feedback so far, I sincerely appreciate it! I contacted the admissions counselor for my top choice school I’m shooting for (USC) asking whether they would prefer to have at least one LOR from a professor.
She answered “it does not matter which professional references you select, I would encourage you to choose recomenders who know you well and are able to attest to your skills and abilities as it relates to becoming an OT.”

I’m just afraid a professor would write a very generic letter. I’ll give it a shot though and reach out to a professor!
But if that doesn’t work out, I’ll guess I’ll just do 2 LORs from OTs and 1 from a PT?

As for my pre-reqs they’d be A&P I & II which would likely make me push my apps to next cycle. So I might as well apply with what I have and if it comes to worst case scenario and I don’t get into anything I’ll just retake them then and reapply next cycle :arghh:

Sounds like you got your game plan! This in my opinion is the hardest part of the OT process. Whether or not a school values you over other applicants is daunting. Not to compare individual worth but just schools have a limited number of spots. Be resilient!

Things to consider, should I delay for a better application? Should I cast a wide net this round? Should I be selective during this round? Just things to consider and there is truly no right or wrong answer- it is a personal one.
 

OThopefully183

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Thanks for the feedback so far, I sincerely appreciate it! I contacted the admissions counselor for my top choice school I’m shooting for (USC) asking whether they would prefer to have at least one LOR from a professor.
She answered “it does not matter which professional references you select, I would encourage you to choose recomenders who know you well and are able to attest to your skills and abilities as it relates to becoming an OT.”

I’m just afraid a professor would write a very generic letter. I’ll give it a shot though and reach out to a professor!
But if that doesn’t work out, I’ll guess I’ll just do 2 LORs from OTs and 1 from a PT?

As for my pre-reqs they’d be A&P I & II which would likely make me push my apps to next cycle. So I might as well apply with what I have and if it comes to worst case scenario and I don’t get into anything I’ll just retake them then and reapply next cycle :arghh:

You are welcome!

I agree with sngot. I know I was super devastated when I got rejected the first time I applied, but at the end I think having another year was to my benefit as I was able to reassess. I realized wow I really was not taking this as seriously as I could and was naive to think that minimal effort would get me into OT program. After reassessing and replanning, it definitely helped the second time around. Anatomy and Physiology are really important pre-reqs so if you do have to delay a year in order to do well in those courses, I would strongly recommend it. :)

As for the LOR, you are right the most important thing is to have people that know you really well and can attest to your ability to become an OT. Just make sure you check with your schools. I don't want you to have the same experience as I did where I scrambled for a letter. If it comes to it and you do need one, perhaps have 4 letters? Like one from a professor which will just fulfill that requirement and the three really strong ones from OT/PTs.

So if you do decide to apply this year, just go with the flow and realize that if not there is always next year. I know it is easier said than done. Good luck!
 
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jmoneyjones

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I’ve taken movement anatomy and exercise physiology more recently in addition to general A&P and got an A and A- in Botha day the rest of my pre-reqs are As, so I hope the boards recognize my growth in focus and effort.
I just truly made poor academic decisions freshman year bc I was studying a completely different major and was not planning on attending grad school during that time.

But again, thanks for your guys’ input and helping me realize my “game plan” lol
 

Nonameiwant

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As others have stated, try to find the specific letters of recommendation necessary. Some schools will automatically not accept you if you don't have it, some schools might give you an opportunity to provide the correct source. It is a way to show responsibility and that you follow instructions. Personally I think that LOR from professors etc are typically pointless (from past experience most have been a standard run of the mill letter they just change a few things around and don't get too personal).

Also another tip. Set a deadline on when you want to submit your applications. Once you have determined that, tell your LOR providers a date two weeks ahead of that. Sometimes they get busy and you'll have to remind them. This sets you up to stress less because you still have time to meet your deadline.
 

Skeletonia

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Everyone here is giving great advice about the letters. I'd also emphasize to start as early as possible. I started early and still found myself cutting it close to a few deadlines. I'd contact LOR people first, as you never know who might drop the ball (I had to find a backup writer at the last minute).

Also, check each school's submission requirements. One school I applied to required a double submission. My LOR writers had to submit through OTCAS AND the school's website portal. You don't want to have to chase up your reccomenders a second time.

Definitely start drafting your personal statement ASAP, too. I found it helpful to let each draft sit for a few days before revising.
 
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OThopefully183

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OThopefully183

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When is an ideal due date?

So let's say the due date was 10/15, I would have started in July. Since the letter of recommendation requests and personal essay which is the hardest part, would definitely need all the time I can get. I would set the due date last week of September and for the letter of rec even earlier like first week of September. This way it gives my writers time and also time for me to find a backup in case one falls through. Ideally I'd ask four people just so in case one falls through you still have three so that you can submit your app.
 

OTnv46

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Jun 7, 2020
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Hi! I have a few questions on how to enter experiences in OTCAS:
1) Do you recommend adding current experiences in which you only have a few hours in (I just started a few volunteering positions, so I only have a few hours, but I would like to add them onto my application)? If so, do you recommend including the estimated number of hours into the description. box? Also, when you enter the hours per week and number of weeks, is this information referring the the work you've already completed or the work you have yet to complete?
2) If I submit my application with an early experience (like the one mentioned above) in August, and I submit a second round of applications in November, will the second round. schools only see that I accumulated a couple hours in that area? Or do you think they will look at the expected number of hours?
3) What points do you recommend discussing in the description box for experiences? Is this similar to what you would do for a resume or do you need to include more personal information/specific experiences?
4) Do you need to submit your GRE scores directly to OTCAS or can you just send it to the school itself?
Sorry for the extensive list of questions! I am just super confused on how to go about this!
 

OTnv46

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Jun 7, 2020
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Hi everyone I’m applying for OT schools this upcoming cycle and I have a couple questions that have been really bugging me so I was hoping someone could provide some insight for me :oops:

(1) Would it weaken my application if I were to get 2 LORs from the same clinic?
The pandemic has kind of stunted my opportunities to further my experience/shadowing, I really only have close relations within 2 settings (never really got close to professors bc the classes were so large)
LORs would be from 2 PTs (same clinic) and 1 OT

My total exp: 120 Hand/OT Clinic, 300+ PT Aide, 50 Hippotherapy Clinic, 500+ In-Home Support Giver, 80 Student Nurse Rotation

(2) should I retake the GRE?
or any classes?

I scored a 151 Q, 154 V, 4.0 W
GPA: 3.67
PreReq: 3.55 (made poor decisions freshman year) :dead:
Hey! So I think retaking the GRE is totally up to you. Some schools are waiving GRE requirements as well, so definitely contact the schools you are applying or look at their websites to see if they still require the GRE. Additionally, many schools include their previously accepted class's GRE score averages on their websites. If you wanted to use this information to gauge how you compare, it may help your decision on whether or not to retake it. However, do not let this be a defining factor! Schools look at each applicant holistically, and I am sure you have amazing experiences that will improve your application. If you really focus on your essays, that can help too.
Hope this helped!
 

OThopefully183

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Jan 28, 2019
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Hi! I have a few questions on how to enter experiences in OTCAS:
1) Do you recommend adding current experiences in which you only have a few hours in (I just started a few volunteering positions, so I only have a few hours, but I would like to add them onto my application)? If so, do you recommend including the estimated number of hours into the description. box? Also, when you enter the hours per week and number of weeks, is this information referring the the work you've already completed or the work you have yet to complete?
2) If I submit my application with an early experience (like the one mentioned above) in August, and I submit a second round of applications in November, will the second round. schools only see that I accumulated a couple hours in that area? Or do you think they will look at the expected number of hours?
3) What points do you recommend discussing in the description box for experiences? Is this similar to what you would do for a resume or do you need to include more personal information/specific experiences?
4) Do you need to submit your GRE scores directly to OTCAS or can you just send it to the school itself?
Sorry for the extensive list of questions! I am just super confused on how to go about this!

1) Yeah that part was always confusing to me. But I'd definitely include everything. It wouldn't hurt you as I think if I remember correctly you can put it as ongoing or I just put the end date as an estimate of how long I'd be there. I hated entering the hours per a week thing. I'd say as long as the total hours is close to yours actual you'll be fine.

2) I think after you submit your first application OTCAS locks down the submission. So all schools will get the same info. There is a period to add stuff but I think it's only for classes you haven't received a grade in so I would make sure it's all complete before your first submission.

3) I just put what I had on my resume honestly. I didn't see the need to change anything.

4) Hmm when I took the test, I took advantage of the Free reports and sent it to the schools I was going to apply using their code. I think they have one specifically for that OT program in that school. Afterwards I saw it on my app status as received. You'll have to send the scores through ETS portal after the fact. Sorry it's been awhile so I don't remember as much.

Hope it helps! Let me know if you have any ?s.
 

OTnv46

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Jun 7, 2020
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1) Yeah that part was always confusing to me. But I'd definitely include everything. It wouldn't hurt you as I think if I remember correctly you can put it as ongoing or I just put the end date as an estimate of how long I'd be there. I hated entering the hours per a week thing. I'd say as long as the total hours is close to yours actual you'll be fine.

2) I think after you submit your first application OTCAS locks down the submission. So all schools will get the same info. There is a period to add stuff but I think it's only for classes you haven't received a grade in so I would make sure it's all complete before your first submission.

3) I just put what I had on my resume honestly. I didn't see the need to change anything.

4) Hmm when I took the test, I took advantage of the Free reports and sent it to the schools I was going to apply using their code. I think they have one specifically for that OT program in that school. Afterwards I saw it on my app status as received. You'll have to send the scores through ETS portal after the fact. Sorry it's been awhile so I don't remember as much.

Hope it helps! Let me know if you have any ?s.
Thank you! This was super helpful :)
 
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