Thursday, January 22, 2015

OT Student Corner | Applying to graduate school

I receive a lot of emails from prospective OT students about what they can do strengthen their application for graduate programs in occupational therapy. Since it's been a decade since I applied to graduate school ( did that happen?), I don't really consider myself to be an expert in this area, as I'm sure some things have changed since I applied (like this thing called OTCAS). With that said, I'll share a few general tips and then I'll send you off to someone who is much more up to date on graduate school applications than I am.

Some general tips for applying to graduate school in occupational therapy:

  • Observe, observe, observe. I believe this is still a requirement for OT school applications, but even if it's not, it's definitely good practice. It helps solidify that you actually want to be an OT as well as better understand exactly what OTs do. Observe as many OTs in action as you can. Don't limit yourself to just the practice area that you think you want to work in. Believe me, that will change several times as you make your way through school. Observe school OTs, hospital based OTs, hand therapists, etc. Anyone you can make a connection with and will allow you to observe them. I recommend going through your state OT association to locate an OT to observe.
  • Volunteer. Do volunteer work with a population that you are interested in working with in the future. This could be seniors at retirement home, children with disabilities, veterans, etc. Volunteer work is also a good place to get letters of recommendations, which leads me to...
  • Letters of Recommendation. You will definitely need letters of recommendation for you graduate school application. This is something you don't want to leave until the last minute, so think about who could be potential letter writers for you. Previous employers, supervisors at volunteer positions, and instructors are good places to start.
  • Meet with a guidance counselor. If you are currently completing your undergraduate degree, it is a good idea to meet with a guidance counselor at your school to make sure you are on track to meet all of the prerequisites that will be required for entry into OT school.

Now, for some advice from someone who has recently applied to OT graduate school:


First of all, if you are a prospective OT student, I highly recommend that you follow the blog, Gotta Be OT. Lauren is the author of Gotta Be OT and she is currently in the trenches of grad school and doing a great job of documenting her journey. Lauren has a series on her blog called, Gotta Get Into Grad School. It is comprehensive and will probably answer most of your questions. Here are links to all of the posts in the series so far:

Part 1: All of the Best Personal Essays Start with a Good MEAL
Part 2: References and Recommendations
Part 3: Planning, Composing and Finalizing Your OT School Graduate Essays
Part 4: OTCAS - A General Overview
Part 5: OTCAS & Academics
Part 6: Gotta Have a Great Interview

**And a bonus post from Lauren: Choosing an OT Graduate Program

OT Student Corner is where I answer questions about the field of occupational therapy that I’ve received from students and prospective students. Have a question you’d like to see answered? Leave a comment below or send me an email at [AbbyPediatricOT {at} gmail {dot} com] and I’ll try to answer it in an upcoming post!
For more OT Student Corner posts, click here.

1 comment:

  1. I'm glad to be introduced to a new OT blog! The main thing I remember about applying to grad school was running through the hall of my college to the post office to overnight my application. Probably should have been a little more organized :-)


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