With more and more students deciding on careers in high school and even middle school, Early Decision is becoming a more desirable option. Being accepted as an Early Decision applicant affords many benefits. If you are motivated and know optometry is what you want to do, start your planning in high school and be on track to apply using this option.
What is an Early Decision applicant? Is that like a deferred acceptance?
Early Decision is a term used to describe an applicant who applies to optometry school after their sophomore year in undergrad which is one year earlier than would a traditional applicant. To be an Early Decision applicant, you will need to show a commitment to optometry as your chosen profession before starting undergrad and preferably as early as high school. Early Decision applicants must qualify to go through the admissions process a year early, chief to which is being ready to take the OAT and to have done enough shadowing in preparation for the interview.
To apply as an Early Decision applicant, you will need to be ready to take the OAT by March 1st of the admissions cycle in which you apply. For a traditional student, this March 1st deadline would be during their junior year. Ideally, you would have completed all courses for subjects covered on the OAT. The OAT testing subjects include General Biology, General Physics, General Chemistry and Organic Chemistry.
Other conditions required by SCCO that apply to Early Decision applicants:
- You may apply to ONLY one optometry program.
- If accepted, you’d be required to submit a non-refundable $1500 deposit to reserve your seat in the class that would convene a year later.
- You must have a completed undergrad degree and transcripted with a date that precedes the start of fall classes here at SCCO, which is late in the 2nd week in August.
For example, if an applicant declares their intention to apply as an Early Decision applicant during the admissions cycle which runs from July 1st to March 1st of any given year, the traditional student would begin the application process in the summer between their junior and senior year of undergrad; whereas an Early Decision applicant would apply between their sophomore and junior year, one year earlier than the traditional student. For the Early Decision applicant, the admissions cycle would occur between their sophomore and junior year and would begin July 1st and run through their junior year, finishing on March 1st.
Early Decision is not the same as a deferred acceptance. Deferred acceptance is when a student applies in an admissions cycle and then, defers their acceptance one entire year. SCCO does not offer deferred acceptance as an option.
A current SCCO student who successfully applied as an Early Decision applicant explains why she exercised this option:
“SCCO was my number one choice; therefore, I decided to apply as an Early Decision applicant in case I did not get accepted the first time. Having that experience under my belt, I reasoned that I’d have another admissions cycle in which to improve my application and that I would be more experienced with the application process should I have had to go through it a second time. Since I was accepted as an Early Decision applicant, I enjoyed several advantages that I would not have otherwise enjoyed:
- I went on a medical mission trip in my senior year because I wasn’t tied down due to the interview process (i.e. getting application components submitted, being available to interview, responding to follow-up correspondence…etc.).
- Had more time to make moving/living arrangements.
- Had time to take courses I was afraid I would not have time for (i.e. design and music).
- Changed my attention from optometry to other clubs, activities, and volunteering that I put on hold while I was applying.
- I was still on campus and available to help others who were applying to optometry school.
- I saved a lot of money not having to apply to different schools since I had received an acceptance to my number one school of choice.
Overall, it was a great weight off my shoulders. Instead, I spent my senior year looking forward to what I would do in optometry school rather than waiting around for interviews and applications.”
OptomCAS, the centralized application service utilized by SCCO, does not have a designation for early decision; however, you can apply through OptomCAS as an early decision applicant. Complete the online OptomCAS application and then, send a letter or email to SCCO (c/o Office of Student Affairs, 2575 Yorba Linda Blvd, Fullerton, CA 92831 or via email at ODadmissions@ketchum.edu stating your intentions to apply as such. Also, include a brief explanation as to why you feel you qualify as an early decision applicant.
Click here for a PDF version of this article about early decision with even more information about how you may qualify.