Timeline Strategy for Applying with Rolling Admissions

There is so much misinformation and thus misconceptions about SCCO’s application process.  Let this article remedy this misinformation and quell unnecessary anxiety associated with the process. To hear my explanation of the strategy, click on the video link here below :

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Rolling Admissions:

SCCO uses rolling admissions; applications are processed as they are received through OptomCAS. Should an applicant meet the academic criteria, invited to interview and do so successfully, he or she is offered a seat in the incoming class within a few days. This process continues for the duration of the cycle, with interviews conducted beginning late September and finishing up in early May. SCCO fills a class with an average of 100 students.

With rolling admissions, filling the class takes place over the entire season.  The other method of admissions process is when all applications are accepted within a certain cutoff, and decisions are made resulting in a ranked list of candidates who are made acceptance offers all at the same time.

A different strategy is needed for each type of admissions process method.

With rolling admissions, submitting your application early maximizes your chances for success because there are sure to be open seats early in the cycle. For SCCO, our admissions cycle opens July 1 and runs through April 1, so applying early would be “hitting submit” by mid-November.  

Later in the cycle when all of the original seat offers have gone out and then reserved with acceptance-deposits, applicants who interview successfully must be placed on the Alternate List.  While applicants may be admitted off the Alternate List at any time, typically, most acceptances off the Alternate List will take place between April and mid-May (because final non-refundable deposits are due from all accepted applicants by May 15 when seats are becoming available as they are being relinquished by those holding seats at multiple programs who are now forced to make their final choices).

In short, if you successfully interview early, there is an actual open seat in the class to offer you.  If you successfully interview late, you will go on the Alternate List until and if an open seat becomes available.

Once you have submitted your application, it takes 3-4 weeks for OptomCAS to get it fully verified and released/dispatched for secondary processing at the various optometry schools.  It can even take longer should there be snafus in processing any of your application’s various elements. For example, information may be been erroneously entered and needs correction, transcripts must be successfully delivered to OptomCAS, and any other elements that are submitted by other agents on your behalf—all capable of generating hangups in OptomCAS’ processing time.

At SCCO, LORs Won’t Hold You Up:

For SCCO, LORs are optional.  Recommenders may be slow in submitting LORs on your behalf.  For our process and since LORs do not factor in until the interview round of our process,  LORs may be submitted any time and will not hang up the processing of your application should your recommenders be lax in getting them submitted.

Apply Ahead of Taking the OAT:

It takes administrators of the OAT 2-3 weeks to release OAT scores to OptomCAS. Since it takes OptomCAS 3-4 weeks to process and release your application, for better timeline strategy, it is best to submit your application before taking the OAT.

Retaking the OAT?  You Can Still Apply Before You’ve Done So:

If you are retaking the OAT, it is still a better strategy to submit your application ahead of the retake.  All OAT test scores and dates will be visible to admissions officers, meaning that you cannot pick and choose which test scores are part of your application.  For SCCO and should it be your plan, there is an option to state the date you will be retaking the OAT on your application.

Apply Ahead of Completing the Fall Term:

Want your fall term grades to be part of your application?  You can do this by updating your application after it’s been submitted via an “Academic Update.” OptomCAS allows a window of time beginning December 1 to update your application with fall grades. If you apply ahead of fall term grades, you have the option of either submitting an Academic Update or not. Applying ahead of fall term grades thus gives you the option to submit fall grades or not. 

Many of Your Application’s Components Stay “Open” Throughout the Cycle:

Your application is open and active throughout the admissions cycle, ready for updates. Think of it as a “living” document for the entire season. Various elements like retaken OAT scores, LORs submitted on your behalf, and academic updates, and updates to your “Experiences” section, such as shadowing, employment, volunteerism, may be added throughout the cycle.  As your application is updated, OptomCAS prompts us on our end to once again review any changes made to your application.

A common misconception and deterrent to applying early is that you falsely assume, because you have uncompleted prerequisite coursework, that you will not be a competitive applicant. This is not true.

You have through the summer term that precedes fall matriculation into our program to finish unmet prerequisite requirements. At the time they interview, most of the applicants have a list of prerequisite requirements to finish up. On interview day, one of the sessions is to review the plan you have to finish the prerequisite requirements, just to make sure that your plan is realistic.

Having unmet prerequisite requirements in progress does not affect your competitiveness as an applicant.  Avoid making assumptions about the process.  Feel free to call anytime if you have questions at 714-992-7827

We Recommend That You:

In summary, for rolling admissions and because OptomCAS needs 3-4 weeks lead time, increase your chances for success and a smoother process by submitting your application by mid-November. 

If SCCO is your top choice, you will save worry, time, and money by applying early, and securing an acceptance. Because your seat in the incoming class will be secured, you can relax and enjoy summer vacation before you begin optometry school. 

Now that’s how you strategize with rolling admissions!

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