Why I Chose Occupational Therapy

When I was in junior high and high school I enjoyed working and volunteering with individuals with disabilities. Because of this, I chose to get my undergraduate degree from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in Human Development and Family studies. I went through a few career ideas while in college but ultimately knew working with children was something I wanted to do.

While in college a family member needed occupational therapy and I observed some sessions. I fell in love with the profession when I saw the growth and outcomes she received from therapy. After doing some research I discovered that many people across the lifespan need OT. At this point I was working with children who also received occupational therapy so I was able to see the growth from therapy. I observed a few pediatric OTs and a certified hand specialist before deciding to apply to OT school!

I spent my two gap years working in ABA therapy as a registered behavior technician and as a paraprofessional at school for individuals with special needs. I also worked at special recreation association with children and adults.

Ultimately I chose occupational therapy because I want to help make a difference in people’s lives. I’m so excited to be able to learn all about the different specialties involved!

Thanks for reading!

Dos and Dont’s: Applying to OT School

With the Occupational Therapist Centralized Application Service (OTCAS) opening soon I wanted to include some tips for applicants.

DO: Apply Early!
Personally, I think this is the most important tip. Many schools have rolling admissions or early acceptance dates. Use this to your advantage! Typically you will have less people to compete against and can find out your results or get an interview earlier. Also, if you are applying while still in school, applying early can help lessen the potential of feeling overwhelmed during the application process.

DON’T: Wait Until the Last Minute
It might sound obvious but it is so much better to apply early! There are many components of applications from your information, transcripts, letters of recommendation, personal statement, etc. Also, your application needs to be verified in order for schools to receive it. Verification could be the same day but during peak times it could take weeks. If you wait until the last minute you could miss a deadline!

DO: Include ALL of Your Experiences
When it comes to volunteer and work experiences, research, awards, etc., include it all! It is all important. I don’t believe anything is too small, if you did it, then include it. What I personally did was create a spreadsheet and organized all my experiences including dates, which helped me just transfer all my information precisely.

DON’T: Take the GRE Over and Over Again
The GRE (Graduate Record Exam) is an exam that may or may not be needed for your application. If it is needed, study and take it 1-2 times. In my opinion it is not worth your time and money (because it is EXPENSIVE) to take it over and over again. Remember, it is just one small piece of your application.

DO: Ask For Letters of Recommendation Early
You will most likely need to ask for 2-4 references to write you letters of recommendation. My advice is to ask early, especially if they are professors. Another pro tip is to tell your recommenders to upload the letters 1-2 weeks before you actually need them. That way, if you need to send a reminder email (remember: professors get busy too) the letters will still be on time!

DON’T: Apply To Schools You Wouldn’t Go To
That may seem like a no brainer as well but I have seen it happen. Do your research. Think about location, price, and what kind of program you want to attend then put in all your effort to apply to the schools that fit your criteria. Don’t waste the money on schools that you really do not want to attend because you want to apply to more schools.

DO: Get Someone To Read Over Your Personal Statement
It can be anyone; a friend, a coworker, a family member, or the career center at your school. Have at least one person read over your personal statement to make sure you capture yourself in your writing. Remember, not all schools will have interviews so this may be the biggest opportunity a school has to understand why you want to be an OT.

If any potential students have any questions about applying to OT programs I’d love to answer them.

Thank you for reading!