In this strange and ever-changing time known as the “new normal,” we find that we must be both persistent and adaptive in our efforts to achieve the goals that we set for ourselves. Never has this been truer as applicants begin ramping up for the current optometry school admissions cycle. It is likely that pre-optometry students will find that the current state of affairs requires them to be flexible and creative in order to be a competitive applicant. Here are five things that could potentially impact you during this admissions cycle:
- Prerequisite Courses
Out of safety for their students and faculty, many colleges and universities have modified their course offerings during the summer and fall due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This has resulted in many courses either transitioning to an online platform or being cancelled altogether. Luckily, many optometry schools recognize this shift and are accepting online credit for science and lab-based courses. Of course, it is always best to consult the optometry schools to which you are interested in applying just to confirm that your classes will be approved.
- School Tours
Since optometry schools across the nation have either closed their campuses or are practicing social distancing, many have elected to give video tours. These virtually-guided tours still allow the applicant to get a sense of campus life, interact with current students, and ask the staff and faculty questions.
- Job Shadowing
One of the largest concerns for optometry school applicants during this pandemic is having enough job shadowing hours. Closed practices and social distancing requirements have proven to be a road block when it comes to earning the recommended amount of shadowing experience. However, that does not mean you are completely out of luck.One alternative to shadowing would be to conduct an informational interview with an optometrist. This proactive approach shows admission boards that despite the current circumstances, you are still committed to furthering your experience and knowledge of the industry.
As if taking the Optometric Admissions Test (OAT) wasn’t stressful enough, now students are having to do it during a pandemic. Be cognizant of the fact that testing centers are operating at lower capacities and this may cause delays in securing a test date. It is best to plan ahead as much as possible. Confirm your test date in advance and ensure that you are aware of all protocols and operating procedures that may have been implemented because of COVID-19 since you last checked.
Admission interviews are traditionally done in a face-to-face environment; however, we may not find this to be the case during the 2020-2021 admissions cycle. Rather, it is likely that virtual interviews with platforms like Zoom, Microsoft Teams, or Skype will be utilized. When preparing for a virtual interview, it is important to exercise best practices to ensure you are adequately prepared. Consider practicing mock calls with friends and family for audio and picture testing, make sure your internet is reliable, choose a quiet and appropriate location, and as with any interview, demonstrate professionalism and suitable interview techniques.
Schools want you to succeed, so they are more than happy to help answer any questions you may have. When in doubt, reach out to a school admissions counselor with any concerns you experience.
These are trying times for everyone, so don’t be discouraged or anxious about your optometry school application. Just do your best and remember, we are all in this together!