Minority Pre-Optometry Students Resources

Resource Guide for the Canadian Student Planning to Attend U.S. Optometry School

Canadian students planning to attend grad school in the U.S. inherently have additional considerations.  Here is how SCCO supports our Canadian students with this process…

Pre-Admission Personal Counseling:

Connect with SCCO’s Office of Admissions: As a fundamental step in the process, know SCCO’s admissions advisers are eager to help. Start by emailing any questions to ODadmissions@ketchum.edu. We will answer your questions and/or provide links to even more helpful information. You may also call in at 714-992-7827. If necessary, arrangements can be made for advice from your peers by directly connecting you with Canadian students in our program.

Questions About Prerequisite Course Requirements:  U.S. words/concepts like “semesters,” “quarters,” and “grade points” may be confusing for the Canadian student.  Here’s an FAQ explaining to the Canadian student how the U.S. calculates GPA, as well as some other FAQs from Canadian applicants.

We have formatted pre-approved coursework for several Canadian schools. This pre-approved coursework is commonly referred to as Articulation Agreements.  Use this link to SCCO’s website to access the Articulation Agreement for your Canadian undergrad.  If you don’t see your school listed here and you have a question about a prerequisite course suitability, feel free to email questions along with a course description to ODadmissions@ketchum.edu and we will be happy to assist.

SCCO accepts courses completed online for prerequisites that do not require a lab. Be advised that not all online programs are suitable as some are not properly accredited. Here’s advice in the form of  SCCO’s Online Course Policy


After You’ve Been Accepted and Making the Move to the U.S.:

Transitioning to the U.S. for Grad School: There is indeed planning ahead for the Canadian student transitioning to life and study in the U.S., but we can promise that you will have plenty of help and support from SCCO’s administration, faculty, and students who have gone through this very process themselves.

SCCO student, Mariam Alkawally, wrote a comprehensive article to help her fellow Canadians navigate their move to the States. This article provides answers to the questions you should be asking such as “Do I need a U.S. driver’s license?,” “Should I get a U.S. cell phone plan?,” “Do I need U.S. health Insurance?,” and more.  This article was written in 2017, and some information may have changed. Be encouraged to use her information as a catalyst for your own research.

While not from Canada, two SCCO students who moved from a long distance share their experiences in these two articles providing support and resources for those moving into this area from a distance:

Support While You’re a Student in SCCO’s Program: 

SCCO, part of MBKU, is a small community of around 400 optometry students. With around 100 students in your class, you’ll soon get to know everyone as friends and feel like part of the family in no time. While your classmates naturally help make SoCal feel like your home-away-from-home, we also have designated others to help with other specific questions incoming students may have:

Peer Advisors Assigned to Every Incoming Student:  For personal assistance, the Peer Advisor assigned to you will reach out as early as the spring/summer term that precedes fall matriculation. He or she will help with questions regarding housing, moving, and with most anything else you need.  Through the Peer Advisor Blog, they write various articles to help all incoming students transition and get ready to make the most of their time at SCCO.  The Peer Advisor Blog Articles may be found here.

Designated Financial Aid Counselor:  Barbara Breffle has been with SCCO/MBKU for many years, serving as chief Financial Aid counselor for all international students. She’s extremely knowledgeable about the financial needs and concerns unique to Canadian students. If you need to speak with her, arrangements for a phone consultation may be made through ODadmissions@ketchum.edu. Once you’re here as a student, she welcomes you to stop by her office anytime to ask a quick question or just to say hello!

Canadian Faculty Mentor: Each incoming student is assigned a faculty mentor to assist with career guidance and general questions about navigating life as an optometry student and on to being a practicing OD.  For Canadian students, your Faculty Mentor will be either Dr. Raman Bhakhri  or Dr. Dawn Lam, both of whom were Canadian applicants when they applied to optometry school way back when.


Skype with SCCO Admissions: Want to learn more about SCCO and what it has to offer?  SCCO’s Office of Admissions would be happy to arrange to present to your pre-optometry club via Skype.

Other questions?  As always, please feel free to contact us personally at any time at ODadmissions@ketchum.edu

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