- Advising For Your Future
Courses required for admission to optometry schools are similar, although each optometry school sets its own requirements. It is very important that you check the individual schools requirements as you near the application deadlines. The optometry schools belong to a centralized optometry association called the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry (ASCO). Optometry schools require applicants to have completed the pre-optometry curriculum prior to application. The typical minimum science preparation courses for admission into optometry school include the following:
- Principles of Biology I and II (lectures and laboratory)
- Introduction to Chemistry I and II (lectures and laboratory)
- Principles of Organic Chemistry I and II (lectures and laboratory)
- Physics I and II (lectures and laboratory) - prefer engineering physics
- Calculus I
- Psychology and Behavioral Science courses
Most optometry schools require or recommend applicants to take additional science courses. Commonly recommended courses include anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, and microbiology. It is in your best interest to research the individual schools regarding their specific admission requirements.
For the student who expects to complete a degree in four years and go directly into optometry school, the pre-optometry curriculum must be completed by the end of the junior year of college. These courses serve as a common denominator between applicants and are also the foundation upon which students build once in a professional school. As noted above, the pre-optometry curriculum should be considered the minimum science preparation. You should strive to take additional upper division biology and chemistry courses to strengthen your background in the sciences, especially if you elect a major in the humanities or social sciences.
Optometry schools encourage students to seek a broad, general training at the undergraduate level. The CORE classes offered at Saint Louis University include courses which satisfy non-science requirements. These courses include general psychology, composition and other courses which develop communication skills. Students are encouraged to take more than the minimum CORE requirements in humanities and social sciences.
General Academic Preparation
Optometry school admissions committees recognize the importance of a liberal arts education which includes a strong foundation in the natural sciences, social sciences, humanities, and development of excellent communication skills.
Although the completion of a college degree may not be specifically required by an optometry school, there is an expectation that the applicant has pursued some discipline in depth. The successful applicant typically has a four-year degree.
Selection of a Major
Professional schools do not select students based on their undergraduate major. The process of selecting a major should include consideration of interest and your individual strengths and weaknesses. The most important aspect of selecting a major is also considering what careers, other than an optometry career, the major prepares you to enter. Think of the major as a backup plan.
Successful Saint Louis University pre-optometry students have completed majors in many disciplines, both in the sciences and the non-sciences. It is necessary for the pre-optometry students to do well in their science courses to be adequately prepared and viewed favorably by the admission committees of optometry schools.
The Successful Applicant
There are 21 optometry schools in the United States and Puerto Rico and all of the schools currently participate in the Optometry Centralized Application Service (OptomCAS). You can obtain information about the schools and their applications through the OptomCAS website at http://www.optomcas.org.
Diversity within an entering class is considered highly desirable by optometry schools. Avoid the common misconception that admissions committees seek some ideal combination of characteristics in the applicants they select for admission. What is important in the admission process are the following:
- High level of scholastic and intellectual potential measured by overall and math/science GPAs, the Optometry Admissions Test (OAT) scores and a Pre-Health Committee on Evaluations letter.
- Personal qualities including leadership skills, motivation, perseverance, social maturity, curiosity, and sense of commitment deemed important in a dentist.
- Knowledge of the optometry profession, demonstrated by experience in a health care setting, awareness of current events related to the optometry profession, and interaction with health care professionals.
- Demonstration of a commitment to helping people by participating in community and service organizations.
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