Student Ambassador Blog Articles

Applying To Optometry School Late In Undergrad And Setting A Realistic Timeline

A series of articles written by SCCO Student Ambassadors.

Applying To Optometry School Late In Undergrad And Setting A Realistic Timeline

by SCCO Student Ambassador, Nari Sin

nariIf you are starting your optometric journey late into your undergraduate or even after, you are in the right place!

My interest in optometry didn’t bloom until my later years of undergrad. I was already well on my way to completing my pre-med courses and shadowing when I met a legally blind Native American patient that changed the course of my career. I learned that the man was diabetic, resulting in the amputation of both his legs above the knee, and blindness in both eyes. I realized later that an annual eye exam could have caught the signs of diabetic retinopathy sooner and saved his vision. His story and my own experiences at the optometry office made me appreciate the duality of optometry. While it can provide immediate correction to one’s vision, it can also diagnose and prevent life-impacting disorders. I started developing a passion for optometry from then on and started taking the necessary prerequisites for optometry school. 

While it was great that I finally knew what field I wanted to go into, new challenges arose with having to apply to optometry school. I was a first-generation college student and didn’t have any relative optometrists to reach out to. COVID also hit when I graduated in 2020 so I didn’t have many places to go to for advice. I had taken a few prerequisites needed for optometry school, but upon graduation, I still had many other classes that I needed to take, an OAT to study for, shadowing hours to fill, and personal statements to write. I felt very overwhelmed, behind, and honestly didn’t know where to begin.

When you first start your application journey you might also be feeling overwhelmed with planning out a timeline for applying. You are not alone, you can reach your goal, and making a realistic timeline to apply will really help you. 

As someone who was in the same boat, here are some tips:

  1. Make a checklist of the things you need to do.tastea
  • Complete prerequisite courses
  • Take the OAT
  • Get letters of recommendations
  • Write your personal statement
  • Write supplementary essays depending on your schools
  • Complete the OptomCAS application
  1. Fit those things into a grand timeline, while being honest/realistic about how long those things will take.
  • Some things will have a set time on how long it will take (like prerequisite courses) but other things like studying for the OAT or writing a personal statement depend on your studying habits. If you know you take longer to understand certain concepts or write essays (like me), allow more time in your timeline for those tasks.
  • There are certain tasks you can finish concurrently. For example, you can ask your professor that is teaching your prerequisite course for a letter of recommendation. You can also work or shadow part-time on the days that you don’t have classes. (Of course, you can get a letter of recommendation from the optometrist you are working with during that time as well). It all depends on your preferences. If you can handle multi-tasking, I would highly recommend doubling up on tasks. If you would rather study for the OAT while taking classes, or any other combination- do that! Personalize the timeline for you.
  1. Try to make your deadline sometime before December.
  • Applying earlier increases your chances of getting in, and anything before December is considered early. Of course, the earlier the better though so if you can make the deadline even earlier go for it!
  1. Take things one step at a time.
  • It can be overwhelming to see the huge mountain of tasks ahead of you. Tackle them one at a time and be proud of each mini-goal you reach!
  1. Don’t forget to leave room in your timeline to have fun and relax.
  • You don’t want to get burnt out so take care of yourself too!
  1. Don’t compare yourself to others.
  • Please don’t compare yourself to your family, friends, or even random people on the internet. You have your own unique story, circumstances, and pace that you are working at. You will surely meet your goal! If your timeline calls for taking a gap year, take the gap year. (I took two!) Just focus on sticking to your timeline and press forward.  

I hope this article was able to help you, and I am more than happy to answer any of your questions or help you plan your timeline. Feel free to reach me at 🙂

Click here to read Nari’s bio and meet other Student Ambassadors at



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