Inside Optometry Admissions Interview Day

By Jennifer Bennett MSEd, Director of Student Affairs

Maddie Howland

“[The ambassadors] went above and beyond and I could see myself in them.” Maddie Howland (‘21)

More than a year after her admissions interview, Ohio State Optometry student Lauren Schneider (‘22) remembers feeling a sense of “excitement and anxiety” as she arrived on campus. Looking back on that day, Lauren realizes now that she was “searching for the place I will become the person I’m going to become.”

After applying to multiple schools and colleges of optometry, Lauren’s first interview was with Ohio State. After interviewing with six other schools, Lauren chose Ohio State ultimately because she saw “the mentors I want to have” in the faculty members sitting around the table that afternoon.

Fareedah Haroun

“They acted like we were going to be colleagues someday.” Fareedah Haroun (‘22)

Today’s admissions interviews are not only an opportunity to meet and holistically assess the potential of a candidate. The interview day has evolved into an important piece of the prospective student recruitment process. Given that we admit the top candidates in the country, those we interview will receive offers of admission from multiple schools and have many factors to consider in their decision-making process. Given this, our interview day is designed to showcase our academic, research, and clinical strengths as well as leverage the benefits of belonging to the engaging and dynamic Ohio State optometry community and living in Columbus.

Nationally, the optometry application cycle kicks off at the beginning of July each year when the centralized application opens for all schools and colleges of optometry. During interview season at Ohio State, which begins in July and wraps up in April, we welcome candidates to campus nearly every Friday. Because we use a rolling admissions process, we typically extend our first offers of admission in early August and continue until the class is full. The interview day schedule includes a college tour, detailed information about didactic courses and clinical training, lunch at the Blackwell with current student ambassadors, and a formal interview with the admissions committee, chaired by Associate Dean for Academic Affairs Mike Earley (OD/MS’88 PhD’92). The day provides multiple opportunities for candidates to ask questions of faculty, staff and current students to learn what differentiates Ohio State from other schools.

Lauren Schneider

“[I saw] the mentors I want to have in the faculty members sitting around the table.”
Lauren Schneider (‘22)

During the formal interview, a panel of admissions committee members engage candidates in a conversation about their exposure to the optometry profession, leadership skills, resiliency, and unique personal characteristics. Fareedah Haroun (‘22) remembers the admissions committee interacting with her “like we were going to be colleagues someday… they asked for my opinions. I really appreciated that Dr. Earley asked about my background in public health and that he and Dr. Davis (Jackie Davis, OD’81, MPH) were even talking about how this interest could fit into my experience in optometry school.”

Interaction with the current student ambassadors often contributes to why candidates choose Ohio State for optometry school. Jaime Antonio (‘22) recalls that during his interview day “I was really impressed by the student ambassadors … having them reflect on their first year was impactful. They helped us see the dynamic between students.” As the president of the current student ambassador group, Maddie Howland (‘21) is motivated by the opportunity to impact the optometry school decisions of future students. When Maddie arrived for her interview day, she was leaning toward attending another school. Her interactions with the ambassadors caused her thinking to change, “They went above and beyond and I could see myself in them.”

Jaime Antonio

“I was really impressed by the student ambassadors … having them reflect on their first year was impactful.”
Jaime Antonio (‘22)

We want our candidates to get as much as possible out of their interview experience. Jaime Antonio (‘22) would suggest that candidates, “Experience the city, take advantage of the student ambassadors, and see if you can connect with them after the interview.” Fareedah Haroun (‘22) would tell future candidates to, “Study yourself, be able to talk about strengths and weaknesses, really know why you want to go into Optometry … how would you fit in, what do you bring that’s unique, not just to the school but to the profession.”

When asked if her first year of optometry school met the high expectations that were created during her interview day, Lauren Schneider (‘22) said with an enormous smile, “I could not be happier.”

Original article from the Spring 2019 BuckEYE Magazine.