Which Optometry School is Right for You?

Posted by Paige Pence

Oct 15, 2014 2:40:00 PM

You can get a great education at plenty of schools and colleges of optometry, but to really make the most of it, you’ll need to look beyond the brochures. Ask yourself what you need to succeed in the career you are envisioning for yourself and what factors are most important to you when you think about how you’ll be spending the next four years. Your answers will lead you to the school that is the best fit for you.

Reid Cluff, now a second-year student at the University of the Incarnate Word Rosenberg School of Optometry (RSO), chose what school to attend based on his three primary criteria, which were the institution’s reputation and the affordability and family-friendliness of the surrounding area. “As much as I was attracted to some of the schools in bigger cities, they weren’t an option for me because of their high living expenses,” he says. “For me, being married with three kids, RSO has the whole package. It’s a mission-driven school with great faculty and excellent class size in an affordable yet fun city in which to live,” Reid says.

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The Optometry School Admissions Interview: Be Ready if You Get the Call

Posted by Paige Pence

Sep 16, 2014 3:12:00 PM

All roads to optometry school lead through the admissions interview. This is the campus visit and sit-down with school or college representatives that you’ll be invited to attend if they think you would be a good fit after reviewing your OptomCAS application materials. If you get “the call” — these days it is usually “the e-mail” — it means you are considered a competitive applicant. It doesn’t mean, however, that you’re guaranteed to be accepted into the program. You’ve got to do well on your interview day. Here are some tips to give you an idea of what to expect and what admissions officials do and don’t like to see. 

1. Start with the Basics

  •  Be on time for the appointment. The admissions interview/campus visit at schools and colleges of optometry is typically an all-day affair that begins in the morning.
  • Dress professionally. Showing up in jeans and a sweater doesn’t make a great first impression.
  • Know the specifics of the day. Each institution handles the admissions interview differently. Some do one-on-one: one student and one faculty member or administrator. Others interview by committee, and current students may be part of the process. Schools’ interview periods differ as well. You might get your invitation as far in advance as a year before you would enter the program or it might come closer to that date.
  • Act professionally. Believe it or not, there are real-life examples of applicants behaving badly on interview day, including one who argued with the campus tour guide about the accuracy of information. “What you do is just as important as what you say,” advises Teisha Johnson, MS, Senior Director of Admissions at Illinois College of Optometry (ICO). 
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Applying to Optometry School - Getting to Know OptomCAS

Posted by Paige Pence

Jun 16, 2014 4:50:00 PM

 

It’s the Web Portal You’ll Use to Apply to Optometry School 

If you’ve been working on your game plan for becoming a Doctor of Optometry, July 1 is the day you can really put it in motion. That’s the first day this year you can apply to one or more of the U.S. (including Puerto Rico) schools and colleges of optometry through the Optometry Centralized Application Service (OptomCAS). OptomCAS, which is brought to you by the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry (ASCO), is a real time-saver for applicants to optometry school. It allows you to use a single web-based application and one set of materials to apply to multiple schools and colleges of optometry. To be accepted into optometry school and start classes in 2015, you need to get in on the current application cycle. It begins on July 1, 2014 and closes on June 2, 2015. You initiate your application process by creating an account at www.optomcas.org.

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Diversity Awareness and Cultural Competence in Optometry

Posted by Paige Pence

Jun 5, 2014 12:30:00 PM

Diversity Awareness and Cultural Competence in Optometry

We use this blog space most often to provide information to folks who are considering pursuing a career in optometry. This time, we visit a topic that pertains to everyone in the field, now and in the future. Technically, it’s two topics — diversity and cultural competence — but as you may know, they are closely related. The U.S. population is increasingly racially, ethnically, religiously, linguistically and culturally diverse. When health professionals aren’t prepared to care for patients in the context of their individual cultural norms and beliefs, access to quality care for entire groups of people is compromised. Therefore, increasing diversity among healthcare providers and ensuring they are able to communicate effectively with all patients and recognize and advocate for their unique needs have been ongoing goals across medicine. As listed below, the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry (ASCO), with support from industry partners Walmart and Alcon, has been spearheading many efforts designed to help the eyecare profession meet these goals. 

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Optometrists Make a Difference in Daily Lives

Posted by Paige Pence

May 15, 2014 3:17:00 PM

Making a Difference Every Day 

By the time Ryan Corte, OD, graduated from optometry school, he had a clear picture in his mind of how he wanted to practice. He planned to provide full-scope care, from prescribing glasses and contact lenses to diagnosing and managing eye diseases and the ocular complications of systemic conditions. “During my rotations at Ohio State, I realized how much I appreciate being able to treat ocular disease,” he says. “After graduation, I completed a residency in ocular disease and primary care at the Illinois Eye Institute. In my mind, if I wasn’t going to be offering my patients everything I could, whether it relates to low vision, binocular vision conditions, specialty contact lenses, disease management, etc., I wouldn’t be serving them properly.”

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A Day in the Life of an Optometry Student

Posted by Paige Pence

Apr 30, 2014 5:36:00 PM

Whenever we move forward to a new phase in life, it’s reassuring to have at least some idea of what to expect. To give you some food for thought as you look ahead to attending optometry school, we asked two current students, one first-year and one third-year, what their typical day is like. They’re working hard, but they also describe what they’re doing as productive, interesting, informative and fun.

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Are You Ready for the OAT?

Posted by Paige Pence

Apr 15, 2014 1:48:00 PM

As you probably already know, all of the schools and colleges of optometry require applicants to take the Optometry Admission Test (OAT). In addition to having the right prerequisites and a good GPA, the OAT is another important checkpoint you’ll have to clear on your road to a career in optometry. Each school ranks the importance of OAT scores differently as it considers whether to admit you to its Doctor of Optometry program, but poor scores are a nonstarter across the board. The high stakes can certainly be stressful — but much less so if you’re properly prepared.

So where to begin? First, download and read the official OAT Guide provided by the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry (ASCO). The Guide contains a complete overview of the testing process as well as key details such as how to apply to take the test, the subjects you will be tested on (with sample questions), how the test is scored, the breakdown of the four-hour and 40-minute test day, items that you won’t be allowed to take into the testing area, fees, and FAQs. In fact, when you actually apply to take the test, you’ll be required to confirm that you have read and understand the information in the Guide. 

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What Makes a Competitive Applicant to Optometry School?

Posted by Paige Pence

Apr 2, 2014 4:10:00 PM

For the 2013-2014 academic year, 6,676 students were enrolled in the 21 schools and colleges of optometry in the United States and Puerto Rico. If you’re aiming to join them in a future class, you’ll need — to steal a phrase from the famous book and movie about the dawn of America’s space program — “The Right Stuff.”

Without a doubt, your undergrad GPA and your score on the Optometry Admission Test (OAT) will be heavily considered by any program to which you apply. But, as you work your way through the admissions process, other factors become very important as well. “Solid communication skills rank right up there with GPA and OAT scores as the most important attributes a candidate can have,” says Michael N. Robertson, Director of Admissions & Enrollment Services at Southern College of Optometry (SCO) in Memphis, Tenn. “We have interviewed our share of ‘smart’ candidates who just couldn’t communicate, and they were not admitted.”

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Optometry Virtual Fair on April 17

Posted by Paige Pence

Mar 20, 2014 11:21:00 AM

DON'T MISS THIS FANTASTIC OPPORTUNITY TO GET ANSWERS TO YOUR MOST PRESSING QUESTIONS ABOUT OPTOMETRY SCHOOL!

Registration is now open for the 2014 Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry (ASCO) Optometry Virtual Fair. The fair, ASCO’s second, takes place on April 17. No matter where you are that day, you can hop onto the Internet and live chat with admissions representatives from any or all of the 21 ASCO member schools — all for free!

Any questions you may have are fair game. Still trying to figure out whether optometry is the right field for you? Wondering which program is best for you and if you’re on track with prerequisites? Curious about when you’d actually start working with patients? Contemplating whether your OAT score and GPA give you a good shot at being accepted? Have questions about student housing? No problem, ask away! Also, it’s not required but you can upload your resume prior to the event so the schools and colleges can get to know you better, too. Each school chooses the hours during which it will have representatives available. (It was an all-day affair for many last year.) After you register for the fair at www.CareerEco.com/events/Optometry, you’ll be notified of each school’s hours.

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A Day in the Life of an Optometrist

Posted by Paige Pence

Mar 13, 2014 3:56:00 PM

If you’re considering pursuing a career in optometry, you’ve probably already started researching how to apply to optometry school. That’s a great place to begin, but it’s never too soon to start thinking even further ahead. A key question to ask yourself is what exactly you picture yourself doing once you have your OD degree in hand. We called on two well-established and highly respected doctors of optometry to help you get your wheels turning in that direction. They shared with us what they do during a typical day.

John Warren, OD, is the sole owner of the practice he opened in Racine, Wis., just under five years after graduating from optometry school in 1992. Prior to venturing out on his own, he had been working for an ophthalmic surgeon. “He’s a great guy, and the experience was great,” Dr. Warren said. “He focused on surgery and I took care of everything else that came through the door. But, as I got busier and busier, I realized I wanted to have more control over my earning potential.” Dr. Warren described the experience of getting his own practice up and running as “exciting, fun, and a bit scary.” He devotes about one day a week to a company he co-founded, which provides a cloud-based electronic health record/practice management system.

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About Eye on Optometry

Welcome to Eye on Optometry, a new blog from the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry (ASCO)! The main goal of the blog is to provide timely and useful information to anyone who is interested in applying to optometry school. It’s all part of one of ASCO’s many strategic objectives, which is to help the schools and colleges of optometry develop a large, diverse and highly qualified national applicant pool while getting the word out about the attractiveness of a career in the profession.  We will also blog about other optometry-related topics from time to time.

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