Application Service Process
Many educational programs have already utilized central application services and optometry schools and potential students have access to this system with the inception of OptomCAS, Optometry Centralized Application Service. OptomCAS was implemented by ASCO, Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry, on July 15, 2009 with the 20 schools and colleges of optometry participating in the program. The service acts as a central hub for applicants for optometry school and collects applicant information including educational institutions attended, biographical data, coursework, work experience, personal statements, extracurricular activities, awards and honors, and up to four letters of recommendation. OptomCAS also calculates GPA information from official transcripts into many different categories and verifies accuracy and insures credentials. Once an application has been verified, the information is forwarded to each optometry school that the applicant has requested and applicant information is tracked with statistics in different areas such as number of total applicants to each school.
OptomCAS Benefits for Students
For potential optometry students, in the past applying to several optometry schools took time and effort as there was the need to fill out several applications and request and send out several official transcripts and letters of recommendations. Now, applicants only have to fill out the OptomCAS application, fill out the optometry school supplemental application if necessary, send in official academic transcript, and submit up to four letters of recommendation. The system also helps eliminate errors in filling out several different applications and provides validation rules to assist applicants. Applicants also have access to see the status of the application to the designated schools. The applicant will pay for the application fee and then a fee for each school additional school beyond the first one. As of 2009 the application fee was $125 and the cost for each additional school was $45.
OptomCAS Benefits for Schools
For optometry schools, the burden of paperwork and verifying applicant information is lessened with OptomCAS. Verification of coursework and other information is left to OptomCAS which also calculates GPA in several categories. This leaves the school to handling only the necessary institutional paperwork for accepting applicants. The schools have access to applicant information online and receive electronic applications on a weekly basis. Schools can also create and tailor supplemental applications to meet the specific requirements of the program and can request paper copies of application material. Statistical information is also filled out online as schools can input data about the school’s decision on each applicant. Optometry schools also receive monthly and year end reports on many aspects nationally and specific to the school. OptomCAS acts as a middleman for the optometry schools and does an efficient job.
Applicant Tips for Using OptomCAS
Fill out the application early and get all necessary information like official transcripts sent to OptomCAS and OAT scores sent to each school applying to. Many schools use rolling admissions and it is better to apply early even before the deadline.
Before applying to a school, check each school’s prerequisites because the service does not verify this.
Check and complete supplemental application if necessary. Most schools provide detailed information on filling out these forms and what is required.
Before submitting letters of recommendations, check to see the specific requirements of each school and try to match these. For example many schools require letters of recommendation from specific individuals like an optometrist or health advisor.
Double check the information, coursework, and other material entered before electronically submitting the application as corrections may require contacting the optometry schools directly.
Access OptomCAS at http://www.optomcas.org