There are many reasons to pursue an education in optometry.
Whether it’s a passion for corneas, a family history in the profession, or a pursuit of financial stability, an advanced optometry education can satisfy your personal and professional goals, while taking your career to the next level.
If you’re wondering where to the start, the following post is dedicated solely to your path to an optometry education.
The Optometry Admission Test
Optometry schools require potential candidates to successfully complete the Optometry Admission Test, more commonly referred to as the OAT. The subject matter of the OAT is not optometry-specific, but according to the test makers, measures “general academic ability, comprehension of scientific information, and perceptual ability.”
It is recommended that applicants take the OAT before September 1of their application year. The test costs $220 and can be applied for online or via paper mail. Tests are computer based and conducted at Prometric Test Centers around the country.
While the testing organization does not endorse any particular test prep courses, there are many available for the OAT. Be sure to plan in advance of your test date for the exam.
Apply to Optometry Schools
Your first step in applying for an optometry education is making sure your grades and OAT scores are up to par. Average GPAs for accepted optometry students range from 3.2-3.7, and average OAT scores range from 310-358 (out for 400). If your grades and OAT scores do not match these numbers, but you are determined to pursue an optometry degree, you may want to enroll in a few community college science courses to improve your record or complete an OAT prep course and retake the test.
When choosing where to apply, you’ll want to make certain that the schools to which you are applying are accredited by the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry (ASCO). If your education is not accredited, you are legally unfit to practice optometry.
An optometry school application will typically entail an application fee, a generic application form, an official transcript from previous schools attended, letters of recommendation, official OAT scores, a personal statement, and an interview.
Financing Your Optometry Education
Before applying for an advanced optometry education, you should be prepared financially. The entire application should cost a minimum of $2000, including application fees, OAT fees, and travel to onsite school interviews. Some of these fees can be waived with demonstrated financial need, so do your research well in advance of the test.
Of course, pursuing higher education can be a huge financial endeavor, and an optometry education is no exception. Before you begin applying, make sure you have a solid financial plan for covering your tuition and expenses. Research scholarships from the optometry schools you’re applying to and other scholarship opportunities.
If you plan to take out loans, consider how and when you will repay them and try to stick to government supported educational loans. Fortunately, optometry can be a lucrative business, but it requires time to set up a practice, and you cannot expect to repay all of your loans in a day.
Of course, once you’ve been accepted into an accredited optometry school, the hard work has only just begun. In the following years, you will study, practice, possibly hold a residency, and prepare and complete the NBEO Applied Basic Science (ABS) exam, with the assistance of a thorough test prep course, such as OptoPrep’s internet-based, interactive study guide.
Best of luck on your application process! The world of optometry looks forward to your contributions!