When I first applied to OT school in 2018, I was denied at one school and waitlisted at another. Once I decided I wanted to apply again I knew I needed to amp up my application. I just want to share the steps I took to improve my application. I was accepted to all four schools I applied to last year and I believe that it was due to these steps!
- Finish all (or most) prerequisites: Most schools say it is okay to have some courses not finished when applying. I think you can, however, when I contacted a school about what I could do to improve my application the school told me I received less points due to a couple courses I was finishing. The school gave points and ranked their applicants for admission. So while I was finishing my prerequisites, other students who were finished had higher scores. So if it’s possible to finish your prerequisites before applying I would recommend it!
- Increase Observation/Volunteer Hours: In a year I was able to double both my observational and volunteer hours. This showed I was using my time wisely, had drive, and wanted to be in the field all the time. Also helps you network and volunteering is how I found my part-time job!
- Vary Observational Experiences: Some schools may not have a requirement (some do) but make sure to vary your OT observation hours. The first year I had only pediatric outpatient hours. I thought since I had multiple clinics that was enough. I decided last year to observe an adult certified hand specialist. I was able to see an entirely different type of therapy practice.
- Healthcare Professional/Occupational Therapist LOR: Some schools require it, but I think this made a big difference in my letters of recommendation. I asked an occupational therapist I observed to write me a LOR. We discussed that she may not know my background or experience but she can talk about my interest in OT, willing to help out, and punctuality. Obviously I did not read her letter but her eagerness to write me a LOR told me she thought positively of me!
- More ~Personal~ Personal Statement: A personal, personal statement sounds redundant. However, I think one of my mistakes the first year was that I shared my reasons for why I wanted to be an occupational therapist but did not dive deep enough. My personal story is about a family member and was afraid if I talked too much about someone else it would no longer be my story. In addition to all of my experience, I made sure to include my personal story on why occupational therapy is the career for me.
I personally took all of these steps and was able to improve my application to eventually become a graduate student!
Thanks for reading!