Meeting Minutes 03/02/2021

At today’s meeting we heard from our advisor, Shawn Gilbert, and two of our own members regarding the admission process for optometry school. We took extensive notes, so that you can reference back to these minutes during your own application process!

Shawn Gilbert:

Applying to optometry school:

Application Timeline
– During academic years 1-3, take prereqs and complete shadowing

May-june after your 3rd year, take the OAT

  • –  Finish finals and then go all out in OAT studying
  • –  4-6 weeks of studying
  • –  Do not cram! It will not work! You know this material already, but it’s a lot.

July between your 3rd and 4th year, you will want to apply/submit your application

  • –  July to ~ September is when you should submit your application because it is rollingadmission!
  • –  68 spots on July 1st, but when we get to February, likely the class is already half full. Atthis point, a lot of people are competing for fewer spots.
  • –  It will feel good to apply early, be accepted somewhere, and be able to enjoy your senioryear without that extra stress.
  • –  6-8 weeks to get a response back from OSU about an interview

Aim to interview in autumn of your 4th year

Navigating OptomCas:

  • –  Personal information (Standard things about yourself)
  • –  COVID-19 section (at least the next 4-6 years, probably).. What your institution wasdoing about COVID-19, how this affected your classes, etc.
  • –  OAT Pin (automatically uploads entry exam scores)
  • –  Academic history (different universities, high school community college, etc)
  • –  Will transfer into OptomCas transcript/GPA, but not Ohio State transcript/GPA
  • –  Must enter what courses you took in the transcript section and then also submit officialtranscripts to OptomCas (to verify everything you’ve typed is correct)… Can pay more to

    have it automatically entered (~$20)

  • –  AP courses will show up on your OSU transcript.
  • –  Standardized tests (OSU accepts OAT, GRE, etc.)
  • –  But OAT and GRE are the only ones that will automatically upload in OptomCas. If youtook another exam like MCAT, can upload as a secondary document or email them to Shawn
  • –  If English is not your first language, OSU requires TOEFL exam
  • –  Letters of Recommendation (3+)
  • –  Add profiles (add their contact info)
  • –  OptomCas sends them an email
  • –  Don’t have to upload them on your end
  • –  Reach out at least a month in advance, so they are expecting the email.
  • –  You can add a due date for them!
  • –  Experiences: Work/Volunteer/clubs/organizations
  • –  Shadowing, Employment, Optometric
  • –  Ex: Optometric Technician: can put under any of the above categories
  • –  Ex: IDOC: underrepresented minority program through OSU; Totally free! Can put thisunder experiences
  • –  If anyone is interested in applying for the IDOC program, here is the link to theapplication:
  • –  Ex: Interviewing an Optometrist; not super picky what category you put these in because Shawn looks at it all
  • –  Achievements: try to stick to stuff in undergrad!
  • –  They don’t include it in their review if it’s from before undergrad
  • –  Program Materials:
  • –  Essay question
  • –  Pin
  • –  When you’re taking test
  • –  Documents section: Options (CV/Resume, Observation Hours (honor system), other)
  • –  You can upload these if you want to, but you’ll probably add everything into activitiessection anyways
  • –  ‘Other’ is where you would upload other entry exams, not including the OATOnce OSU receives transcripts and application (and verify everything is correct), Shawn is then able to review and hopefully invite you for an interview!

    Applications: 600 Interviews: 130 Admitted Students: 85 Class Size: 68

Apply to other schools, even if you think you know where you want to go!

Interview Day Goals:

  • –  OSU wants to learn more about you
  • –  Evaluate your communication, leadership, and knowledge of optometry
  • –  Want to know things beyond what’s on your applicationThey try hard to be transparent on interview day!
  • –  Aren’t trying to create an intimidating or deceptive atmosphere
  • –  Want you to get to know the program! They realized you are going to have options.
  • –  It’s just as much you trying to sell yourself as OSU trying to sell themselves to you!Interview Preparation Videos:
  1. Financial Aid
  2. Interview day overview and tips
  3. Curriculum overview

Be sure to view all videos prior to your arrival!

These videos allow you to concentrate on developing questions, so you don’t have to memorize material. You will have access to these resources after your interview.

If in-person: loved ones can join you for the afternoon after your interview, lunch, can ask questions.

Interview Day Agenda:

8:30am – Arrive, housekeeping items
9:00am – Interviews begin
12:00pm – Lunch with current students (family/loved ones can go to lunch with faculty) 1:00pm – Tour of College
1:30pm – What separates OSU from the rest
3:30pm – Conclusion

Each interviewee has 30-35 minute spot (~8 students interviewing each day) – Pretty much free time unless you are actively interviewing

2-3 interview committee members and you (two rooms going at once: one with 2 interviewers, the other with 3)

  • –  Try to keep majority of questions you have for group setting (especially if you think it’ll be beneficial for everyone)
  • –  Open file interviews: interviewers have reviewed your file ahead of time
  • –  There will be no trick questions!
  • –  You will receive prep materials ahead of time.Abi Hilvers.8 and Becca Roffe.6

1. How did you prepare for the OAT? Becca: signed up in December; set it for May

  • –  Utilized email service (daily questions; question a day for 5 months)
  • –  Kaplan course
  • –  Supposed to take it in May, but covid → july
  • –  Get results right away! Take a pic and send them to Shawn!
  • –  On OAT’s instagram account they have daily questions as well!
  • –  Applied in late july; heard back in august; interviewed in october
  • –  Interview was very lowkey! Interviewed with 2 of classmates going into next year
  • –  OSU doesn’t ask you anything you’re not expecting
  • –  Shawn called the next week

Best way to prep: Kaplan, a couple of months (books, flashcards)

  • –  Studied the morning of in the car, which was helpful
  • –  Going over notes from classAbi: Signed up during spring break to take the exam; Took exam july 31st
    • –  Kaplan 2 week course
    • –  Reach out to kaplan customer service before your exam for discount codes
    • –  Kaplan flashcards!
    • –  Applied in August, and had an interview in October
    • –  OSU classes prepare you well for the exam

2. How to register for OAT?

  • –  Apply for pin
  • –  They give you step-by-step instructions to apply to take the test!
  • –  Test usually available most days of the week if you schedule ahead of time

3. How many hours/week did you study for the OAT?

  • –  Becca: At the beginning, about an hour. As the exam got closer, around 3-4 hours
  • –  Abi: 3-4 hours a week.. Took sunday off.. Allowed free time to adjust to life/giveyourself free time!
  • –  Beyond 3-4 hours, can get overwhelming

4. Interview Prep:


  • –  Videos OSU sent
  • –  Took notes; wrote questions along the way
  • –  Asked others what they think may be asked by interviewers
  • –  Came prepared with some questions (do your research on the program!)
  • –  Only ~30 minutes; spent mostly on talking about you and your accomplishment
  • –  Felt like talking to friends
  • –  Lunch with students; ask them about their experience
  • –  “What class do you wish you would’ve taken?”.. The students said Immunology
  • –  Most of afternoon spent learning about OSUAbi:
  • –  Talked about mutual people (professionals in the field she’s worked for)
  • –  OSU made you feel welcome and not overwhelmed
  • –  Schedule other interviews first to take the stress off.. Can be a confidence boost
  • –  Write out the top ~5 things you want to make sure you mention in your interview (as areference)

5. How long did it take for OAT scores to come back?

  • –  Right away! Official paper in the mail 2-3 weeks later
  • –  If you’re wearing a mask, try to avoid wearing glasses because of fog 🙁

6. Did you apply right when the application opened? How long did it take you to complete the application?

  • –  Took a few weeks to complete, but could probably complete in a few hours if you really wanted.
  • –  Transcript entry is the hardest part!
  • –  Ask for transcripts in advance! Especially if they’re a smaller college/university.. Mighttake a little bit longer

7. If you haven’t taken all of the pre-requisite classes by the time you apply, is there a place to include those on the application or what is the process for that?

  • –  Yes, there is a section for classes you plan to take, but haven’t yet
  • –  Helpful for Shawn if he knows when you plan on taking these courses!

8. Do any optometry schools have secondary essays?

  • –  Some, not all. If they do, they’re easy questions, for the most part.
  • –  Some schools have multiple interviews

9. How many letters of recommendation? – About 3-4

10. Did you do anything in undergrad that you found helpful when applying?

  • –  Volunteering
  • –  Pre-Optometry Club (may be recognized/created meaningful relationships with people inthe school/in the field)
  • –  Extracurriculars you enjoy!! You’ll have way more to talk about/sound passionate aboutduring an interview.
  • –  Asked about any interest in specialization. If you shadow under a specialty, this is a greatopportunity to get more diverse encounters

11. How many schools did you apply to/how many would you recommend?

  • –  At least 3; have some back ups just in case
  • –  Apply early in case you need to apply to your back ups!12. How did you decide which schools to apply to?

– Look into their programs! (What do they focus on? Clinical, research, etc.)

13. How do people working in admissions perceive a gap year?
– As long as you’re doing something to make you a better student, applicant, and/or optometrist, you’re fine!