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Best Optometry Schools

Simple Guide to Choosing the Best Optometry Schools

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The decision to become an optometrist is a big commitment and should result in you choosing one the best optometry schools. These educational programs require scholastic excellence, unparalleled dedication, and the ability to get into one of the optometry residency programs.

Upon completion, you will be tasked with one of the most important aspect of people's lives - their ability to see the world. However, it all starts with selecting one of the best optometry schools to help you achieve your goals. Continue reading to learn more about what you should consider when choosing an optometry school for your education.

Evaluating the Best Optometry Schools

While there are several factors to consider in choosing a school, some carry more weight than others. A few of the top questions and areas of concern are:  

  • Workload - What is expected of the students in the program? Are you able to keep up with the curriculum?
  • Reputation - Which institutions in your list of schools have the best reputation? Is a prestigious school the best decision for you?
  • Curriculum - Which optometry schools have the exact programs you're interested in? Are there any prerequisites?
  • Cost - Should you consider the best private or public optometry school? What are the cost of living at the schools you are considering?
  • Size and Location - Would you consider relocating? If you will, would you prefer a school in a rural area, large city, or a combination of both? Which locale will best serve your needs?

Develop an Optometry School Application Strategy

The key to getting into one of the best optometry schools is to have a clear understanding on where your best chances lie. One way to perceive how the optometry school will view you is to create a fact sheet. This fact sheet should include:

  • Optometry Admission Test scores
  • Overall collegiate grade point average (GPA)
  • GPA in your major or minor courses
  • Previous work experience
  • Any relevant outside activities
  • Publications
  • Internships

Once you have this data compiled, compare it to the median of the accepted students. You can gain access to this information through published ranking guides, which include the median GPA, acceptance rates, and OAT scores. Use your GPA and OAT scores alongside the median of other schools of interest to you.

This comparison and analysis of the best optometry schools will give you a general overview of where you stand in comparison to other students. However, it's important to understand GPA and OAT scores are not the only admission criteria. It's important to develop an application strategy because it will guide you toward the school with the highest likelihood of acceptance.

Browse the Best Optometry School's Philosophy

Each optometry school should have a mission statement or philosophy. This should express what the school hopes to accomplish as an institution. The mission statement or philosophy will serve as guidance for all things the school does and looks to achieve.

This mission statement should be something completely agreeable with you. Most importantly, the mission statement will be directly related to the curriculum. Considering every optometry school will have to gain accreditation, you can rest assured you will learn the necessary components of being an optometrist.

However, there may be a long list of variations in class offerings, especially with electives. Some schools will have a heavy focus in some areas, such as neuro-optometry or business. Choose a school with the philosophy and curriculum that closely aligns with your needs and wants.

Speak to Other Students

Although the website can provide you with volumes of information, it doesn't tell you everything. However, the students can provide you with information about what it's like to go to the school, which will prove to be unparalleled. At the same time, student interviews will give you first-hand impressions about the optometry residency programs.

Students can provide advice, perspective, and other vital tidbits of information about the program. Each school should have students designated to answer any of your questions about the program. These same students should be available for interviews at open house days.

How Are Involved Are Students in the Clinic?

Depending on the optometry school, there will be variations to the structure of the clinical curriculum. Some schools are driven to get first-year students into the clinic, so they will quickly start seeing patients. On the other hand, some schools will delay entry into the clinic until their third year.

In either case, there is no wrong or right way to clinically educate students. It's just the preference of the school. Even if the school doesn't have second or first-year students seeing patients, you should check student organizations for any outreach opportunities.

These opportunities may exist to get involved in vision screenings or other related activities as a first-year student. Since you are a prospective student, it's up to you to determine how you would prefer your clinical education. Once you have developed your expectations, you should find the schools that closely match your preference.

About the Author Eugene VanArsdale

Eugene is the Director of Marketing Communications at Keeler Instruments. He has been with Keeler since 1982 and is co-holder of two patents for the company. Eugene has a true passion for the eye care industry and has dedicated himself to understanding the ins and outs of the optometric and ophthalmic equipment market.