So the OptomCAS for the 2015-2016 application cycle opened up July 1st and I’ve been working on it for the past two weeks or so. I just wanted to make a quick post with some tips while they were fresh in my mind. It’s a pretty lengthy process, but I did a few things that saved me a lot of hassle.
First of all, have your unofficial transcript in front of you when you sit down to put all of your classes in. It makes it so much easier to glance down at a paper than to keep clicking back and forth on your computer and scrolling all around. I didn’t think it would be that big of a deal, but it kind of took forever.
Secondly, write your personal statement before the application even opens. The prompt doesn’t really change much from year to year. Basically tell the schools you’re applying to why in the world you want to be an optometrist. Try to avoid being too cliche because they are reading hundreds and hundreds of these things and you want to stand out. I really hope this isn’t the first time that you’ve stopped to think about why you want to do this, so it shouldn’t be as intimidating as it sounds. Also, the essay is limited to 4,500 characters and spaces count! One of my biggest challenges has been cutting mine down because I am not a concise writer at all. I like long sentences with lots of words. It’s just the way I talk and write.
Finally, start identifying who you might ask for a letter of recommendation months before you start the application. It’s good to give them a head’s up because you can’t submit/finalize your application until all of them have been sent in. It also gives you an option to give them a deadline, which I found most of the people I asked to evaluate me wanted. It gave them some sort of timeline for when to have it done.
1. Use your unofficial transcript to fill in your classes.
2. Get that personal statement out of the way so you have plenty of time to edit it. (Also, shout out to everyone who has helped me cut mine down!!)
3. Figure out who you want to write those letters of rec and ask them early.
Hope this helps!