Applying to Optometry School: OptomCAS Personal Statement Writing

In case you missed the memo, the OptomCAS aka the big dental school application for next fall is officially opened! The Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry (ASCO) uses the OptomCAS aka the Optometry Centralized Application Service as a general application when applying to Optometry schools and it allows you to use one application to apply to multiple of any of the 21 programs in the U.S. If you’re planning to apply for Fall 2015, it’s time to start the process and by the way there is a PERSONAL STATEMENT required **cue the music** Although the essay is about YOU, you still have an agenda: it still needs to be written in a professional manner and highlight your professional skills, experiences, and interests. That doesn’t have to be so scary! Think of it kind of like answering that classic job interview inquiry: “Tell me about yourself.” Oh no. Did I just make it worse? **cue the music again**

tell me about yourself

Your OptomCAS Personal Statement is a place for you to “describe what inspires your decision for becoming an optometrist, including your preparation for training in this profession, your aptitude and motivation, the basis for your interest in optometry, and your future career goals” oh and do it in under 4,500 characters (including letters, spaces, punctuation (like on twitter)), which is only about a page long. So exactly why are you are seeking a optometry education? You need to articulate that you motivated, academically prepared, plus knowledgeable and passionate about the profession. This can be a little tricky; the key is balance. You want to sell yourself professional while remaining personable. By no means is this a creative writing piece; you want to be clear, concise, and professional. Keep in mind: optometry schools are making first judgments on you based on the OptomCAS application, and the OptomCAS Personal Statement is the ONLY place to make a case for yourself IN YOUR OWN WORDS!

One especially cool thing about the OptomCAS is that your Personal Statement is a school-specific question in the application. This means you can tailor your essay to each program you’re applying to and talk about specifically why this school is the best fit for you!

Remember that you’re selling yourself as a great addition to the profession. This is where you talk about your strengths, passion for the field, and all your extra-curricular hard work you’ve done in preparing for optometry school (and let’s face it also for this particular essay here).

Three key points to hit:

o   Why Optometry? – The lifelong childhood dream is all good and fine really but if that’s not the case be candid and honest and talk about your road to discovery, that’s interesting! Your journey to writing this OptomCAS Personal Statement may be long and winding. How did you land on optometry?

o   Shadowing or Assisting Experience – Talk up your observation hours in a optometry’s office setting and how these times increased your knowledge and understanding of the field. These experiences show you really know what’s like in the real world application of the optometry school.

o   Volunteerism – show your interest in working with/for the community and commitment to helping other. It’s important to include both volunteer activities that are relevant to the field and even some that isn’t. For example, working at an animal shelters shows your well rounded not just in a pre-opt mode all the time. Also include the volunteer work related to the optometry profession that you may have done with a Pre-Opt society (that’s how you work that you were active in the club in the essay too)!

The ole phrase “writing is rewriting” rings true here this case. Have a trusty professor or an optometry professional read it and give you feedback. They know what admissions committees are looking for and have insight on how to relate your experiences to the field. Final piece of advice: you can still upgrade your OAT Cracker account and unlock the all the practice tests for $49 instead of the regular $99 sooooo go do that and you’ll have gleaming OAT scores to match this beautiful essay!