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Most students enter optometry school after they have earned at least a bachelor's degree. There are 17 accredited schools and colleges of optometry in the United States, each with its own specific requirements and admission policies, so we urge you to work closely with your advisor and to research each school's prerequisites.

As a preoptometry student, you will find many activities on campus that interest you. You may wish to join or form a good and serious study group. An organization of particular interest is the Pre-Optometry Club. There will be many demands on your time with classes, shadowing experiences, and student activities. Plan carefully to manage it effectively.

Overview of the Application Process

In contrast to medical or dental school, there is no centralized application service for optometry school. You must request information from and apply to the various colleges individually. We suggest that you apply during the summer between your junior and senior years. When all application material has been received and reviewed, selected applicants will be invited to visit the optometry school and interview with members of the admissions committee. After the interview, the committee either accepts or rejects the applicant or places him/her on an alternate list. Do not procrastinate. Many schools begin accepting students as early as October or November.

All schools and colleges of optometry require that applicants take the OAT (Optometry Admission Test). The examination lasts approximately 5 hours and has four sections: 1) natural sciences: biology, general chemistry, organic chemistry; 2) science reading comprehension; 3) physics; 4) quantitative reasoning. The OAT is offered in February and October. If you are prepared, it is wise to take the test in February so that you can complete your application promptly or, if necessary, retake the test. You can obtain registration material for the OAT in the Pre-professional Advising Office or by calling (312)440-2693. Sample OAT questions are included in the registration brochure. You can supplement your OAT study with a commercial preparation course, review books or software. This is a very important test. Take it seriously and prepare well.

The Competitive Applicant

For 1998-99 the average GPA of applicants was 3.37 and the average OAT score was 330. Bear in mind that admission standards vary widely from school to school. Normally, your GPA, OAT scores, letters of recommendation and your optometry school interview will be the most important factors in a school's decision to admit you. Other relevant considerations may be your interpersonal skills and your record of extracurricular, community, health-related, optometry-related or research-oriented work. Some schools suggest that you take electives in psychology, business, interpersonal communication or computer literacy. Organic chemistry labs are not required for your major or for admission to Ohio State. However, some optometry schools do require them, so you should check their web sites. Every applicant to professional school should have a backup plan. Investigate some of the alternatives, such as a career in orthoptics or graduate study in biology or public health.

Applications to The Ohio State University College of Optometry can be submitted as early as July 1 of the year before you plan to enroll. The College of Optometry requires three letters of evaluation, including one from an optometrist and one from a professor. OSU hosts an Annual Optometry Open House and Career Day in April. In 1998 the average GPA of students applying to OSU's College of Optometry was 3.60. Their OAT scores averaged 353. For further information on OSU's admissions procedures, visit the web site or call (614)292-2647.

School Selection

We urge you apply to several schools. Optometry school web sites and Schools and Colleges of Optometry: Admission Requirements, a directory published by ASCO (Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry), provide information about each school's application procedure and timetable, admissions criteria, average GPA and OAT scores. The directory is available for your use in the Pre-professional Advising Office.

Wherever else you may decide to apply, you should also apply to the public optometry college in your home state. State residents receive preference for admission to their state schools and pay much lower tuition. Conversely, before you apply to public schools outside your home state, remember that most of them accept relatively few out-of-state students and that tuition is high. If you are applying to schools outside of your state, private schools may be your safest bet.

Financing Optometry School

Loans are the most common form of financial aid to optometry students. The financial aid offices of the optometry schools that you apply to are important sources of information, as are the sites listed on the Internet Resources page.

Some words of caution about debt: A history of unpaid bills or late credit card payments can lead to a poor credit rating, and this could prevent you from getting the loans you need for your professional education. Since your credit report may contain errors that could cause problems, you should check on your credit status. You can obtain a copy of your credit report from companies such as Experian, TRW Information Services, Equifax Credit Services or Trans Union Credit Information.