My application process: A surprisingly painless process

Wooden staircase leading up the atrium

My application process: A surprisingly painless process

Oh the joys of the dreaded application process. The essays, begging teachers for letters of recommendation, the waiting to hear back from schools…it can all be a little stressful.

Especially when most people hadn’t filled out an application since senior year of high school. But I’m here to shed some light on how applying to optometry school pleasantly surprised me, and how painless the process truly is.

When I applied to optometry school in 2018 (I can’t believe that was over two years ago!!) my strategy was to apply to as many schools as I could and not have a top choice. I knew optometry programs were competitive and that there would be plenty of people applying to the same programs, seeing as how there is a limited number of optometry schools in the US.

For the application itself, I stuck with being as open and honest as possible with my personal statement. I have found that application boards care much more about why and how you got interested in optometry, how it has (or hasn’t) made an impact on your life, and what motivates you to get through a challenging four-year program to come out a capable optometrist. They want to get to know you for you, so skip writing what you think they want to hear and just be honest. Whether you’ve seen an optometrist since third grade or never been to one, make it clear why this program interests you and why you believe it is the right career choice for you.

The interview process is arguably the most stress-inducing thinking about it. I interviewed at three optometry schools and surprisingly it was much less stressful than expected. Though as memory serves, I felt the most relaxed when I interviewed at NECO. I’m not sure if it was the people I met or that I fell in love with the school as soon as I walked through the Beacon Street doors, but it was by far my best experience.

With the exception of one, my interviews each felt like a conversation. As I mentioned with the personal essays, they want to get to know you and why you want to pursue optometry. At NECO, the interview was the first thing I did so I was able to enjoy the tour and eating lunch with an upperclassman for the rest of my day visiting.

I tend to talk a lot (a lot) when I get nervous, so I will never forget during my interview at NECO the very sweet Dr. Reilly saying, “Well, you answered most of my questions, so just tell me a bit about yourself!” after asking me the first question on her list. The interview most likely won’t go as perfectly as you rehearsed it in your head – and that’s okay! As long as you’re as genuine as you can possibly be, you will be all right.

The process of interviewing and visiting schools has changed with COVID for sure, but meeting people over Zoom can still be just as enlightening. And just think about the pajama bottoms you can wear during your interview!