Would you reduce your college student loans by 25% if you could? Would you like to be able to retire one year sooner? Now, we all know that the cost of college is constantly growing and that students are having to take out more loan money each year. Furthermore, recent grads from optometry school will say their college loans hold them back from opening their own practices or purchasing new equipment to keep up with the standards of care. If you’re interested in becoming an optometrist, here are two programs that accelerate the college curriculum and guide motivated students quickly into graduate school:
Dual-degree programs give students the option to apply to optometry school after three years of college and still obtain a bachelor’s degree. In this program, students receive a bachelor’s of science (B.S.) diploma upon completion of three years of undergraduate work plus one year of optometry school at an affiliated graduate school. While participation in a dual-degree programs may give applying students an advantage over other applicants because they have shown long-term dedication to the profession, it does not guarantee acceptance into optometry school. These programs only guarantee that students will receive a bachelor’s degree if they apply to optometry school after three years of college. For example, SUNY and PCO are offer dual-degree programs.
On the other hand, dual-admission programs go a step further. Not only do they offer a bachelor’s degree upon completion of the first year of optometry school, but they will also save you a spot in graduate school. Once accepted into a dual-admission program, the student has a spot reserved for him/her in optometry school from freshman year of undergraduate college. If the student fulfills certain requirements, he/she will automatically enter into graduate school. These requirements vary between schools and may change every year. Usually, the student must maintain at least a 3.0 GPA, score 300 or better total score on the OAT in all sections, and interview with the college of optometry twice (once before college and once in their third year of college). There are certain stipulations that change, but once the dual-admission contract is signed, the requirements to stay in the program will not change.
This is a golden opportunity for a motivated student because, once accepted into a dual-admission program, there is a reserved spot waiting for that student when they apply. A dual-admission student does not compete with the general applicants. Instead, students in these programs are considered separately, and if they fulfill prerequisite requirements, should expect to smoothly transition into optometry school without nail-biting over whether they have been accepted or not. NOVA is an example of an optometry school that offers a dual-admission program.
That’s dual-degree and dual-admission programs in a nutshell. Bottom line: one will give you a bachelor’s after 3 years but you can still expect to face the stress of applying to graduate school, while the other will save you a seat at a specific optometry school.