Appendix I: Timeline for Optometry Program Applicants

Applying in 2 Years (typically fall of Sophomore Year)


  • Look through the Pre-Health Handbook.
  • Choose courses very carefully to meet optometry schools' prerequisite requirements but avoid overloading yourself with difficult courses (grades are much more important than they were freshman year).


  • Meet with your advisor and keep him/her abreast of your progress and problems.
  • Take a look at the OAT schedule (entrance exam for optometry programs) and plan when you will take the exam in the future.


  • Meet with your advisor to discuss summer plans such as research, shadowing, volunteer work, and classes.


  • Arrange summer experiences early in the semester before the mid-term crunch.


  • Complete summer experiences, either research projects or shadowing, as these will increase your chances of being accepted to OD programs.

Applying in 1 Year (typically fall of Junior Year)


  • Touch base with your advisor to bring him or her up to date on your plans. If you have any questions regarding course selection, contact your advisor early. Course decisions are very important this year.


  • Look at the current Pre-Health Handbook to check for changes from last year that might affect you.


  • Touch base again with your advisor.
  • Make good course selections for second semester.
  • Register for an OAT course or buy OAT preparation books.
  • Take a look at the OptomCAS applications when it comes online just to become familiar with it.
  • Approach trusted professors for letters of recommendation. Make sure that all of your letter writers have a current copy of your resume and any other information that will assist them in writing their letters. One of your letters will need to be from an optometrist.


  • Complete a draft of your personal statement.
  • Finalize your list of letter writers for your recommendations.
  • Make a tentative list of optometry schools to which you plan to apply.
  • Update your resume.


  • Meet with one of the pre-health advisors to outline your personal essay for the OptomCAS application.


  • Begin working on your OptomCAS personal statement.


  • Ensure that all recommendation writers know where (OptomCas) and when to send their letters.
  • Submit transcript request forms to the CSA office to be sent directly to OptomCAS.
  • Complete your personal statement and have it reviewed by a pre-health advisor.

In the Year of Application


  • Make sure you have taken the OAT by this point so that you have the scores back before you apply.
  • Decide on the basis of your first OAT scores whether you will want to take them again over the summer.
  • Check periodically to see if letters of reference have been submitted
  • Send polite reminders to recommendation writers if their forms have not been submitted.
  • Draw up a flow grid or neat checklists to chart the progress of each of your applications from initial contact through interviews. Create folders for each school.


  • OptomCAS will begin accepting applications in July. It is best to apply as early as possible, but many schools will accept applications through the fall and into the winter months.


  • Save money for interview trips.


  • Begin calling schools to ensure that applications are complete.
  • Talk with your advisors before heading off for interviews to review strengths and weaknesses in your application and how to deal with them.


  • This is interview season.
  • First acceptances  are mailed by December 1st. However, interviews and acceptance will continue through the spring.
  • Things to consider when choosing your school include quality, location, and financial aid package.



  • If you do not receive any interviews, alternate plans should be considered. Talk to a pre-health advisor before re-applying.


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