In case you missed it, the earlier posts in my Gotta Get Into Grad School series can be found at these links: Part I: Basic Essay Writing Tips || Part II: Recommendations || Part III: Essays in Depth || Part IV: OTCAS Overview
If this is what your brain looks like on OTCAS, read on!
Hello there! In this post, I’m going to discuss questions related to academics and the OT school application process, especially as it relates to OTCAS. Here are just a few of the questions I’ll answer in this post:
- Do OT programs care where I went to school before applying?
- Which are more important for my OTCAS application – great grades or great essays and recommendations?
- What is the difference between OTCAS grades and institution grades?
- Can I substitute a higher level psychology or anthropology course for a program’s introductory course requirements?
- What is the easiest way to enter all of my course credit and transcript information into OTCAS?
Read on to find out the answers to these questions and more! Again, please consult OTCAS and specific program websites for the most accurate information about entering course information, prerequisite courses, and the application review process. And now I present to you the fifth installment in the Gotta Get Into Grad School Series: Academics and OTCAS!
This post is the introduction to several others in the Gotta Get Into Grad School Series that will provide a very thorough, in-depth guide to future occupational therapy students who are using the Occupational Therapy Centralized Application Service (OTCAS) system. My goal is to help people who have never used the system or those who are currently using it avoid common mistakes, organize their application in a way that will be most helpful to reviewers, and feel confident about the quality of the application they submit!
First things first: Why should you trust my advice on the OTCAS application process?
Here is a list of credentials that I feel makes me a reliable source of information about the OTCAS and other health professions’ centralized application (PTCAS, CSDCAS, etc.) processes application process:
- I am a VERY RECENT user of the OTCAS system. I applied to OT programs using OTCAS less than one year ago, and I have a wealth of up-to-date personal experience that I can offer to those who have never used it before or those who are confused or overwhelmed by it like I was!
- I have experience reviewing applications in the very similar PTCAS system. In a previous position I held, I was responsible for matching applicant submitted prerequisites to the school’s list of prerequisite sources in the PTCAS system for 70+ applications. I could also view the previous institutions attended and grades for each applicant. Therefore, I was able to see the common mistakes applicants made and other issues that often arose during the online application process.
- I currently work in an office that serves the needs of students who are in health professions programs alongside coworkers who are experienced in the application process and who handle applications for each of the professional programs. My coworkers have given me a great deal of “insider” information about the behaviors of applicants they speak to, the online application systems and the general application process. Most of them have been working here for several years, and I trust their expert advice on all of the aforementioned topics!
I’m starting a new “Gotta Get Into Grad School” series as a way to share and hopefully help others benefit from my recent experiences applying to occupational therapy graduate schools. I applied to schools during the 2013-14 application cycle, so the information and suggestions I have regarding personal essays, interviews, OTCAS, recommendations and all other parts of the application process are highly relevant and pretty up-to-date! Much of my advice comes from my own personal experience with the application process, but a great deal of it also comes from my college’s Career Center, professional mentors and faculty advisors.
Thankfully, I made it through the whole grad school application mess and you can too!
This series is not meant to be a definitive guide to applying to graduate school – there are plenty of websites, books and other resources dedicated to this topic and I’m not trying to reinvent the wheel! I just know what it felt like to be totally floundering in a sea of occupational therapy application materials, essays and interviews and not knowing what to do or where to begin, and I want to hopefully help others avoid that sinking feeling.
Ultimately, I hope that this series will help people who are applying to occupational therapy graduate programs, but my advice is also generalizable to people applying to any number of other positions or programs. So if you’re looking for help from somebody who’s been through it all before, you’re in the right place!
Stay tuned for the first installment of the series, coming next week! (Since apparently the weekends are a terrible time to post blogs, lol.)