So, You Have Submitted Your Application
It is that time of the year when potential students are pressing that “submit” button! If that is you, congratulations! Completing applications is undoubtedly the most stressful part of applying to schools. You have completed all of your pre-requisites, spent several hours observing, gathered recommendation letters, wrote an impressive personal statement, sat 4 long hours to take the GRE, and maybe did a couple of interviews as well– CONGRATULATIONS! Please give yourself a pat on the back. Those are a lot of steps; You have already accomplished a lot.
But, nobody talks about the waiting game. This is also a very stressful time. I remember the big sigh of relief when I turned in all 9 of my OT school applications (Thank goodness for OTCAS am I right?). However, the feeling of relief was fleeting. Getting into OT school is a very competitive process and it only gets more competitive each year. The daunting question of “What if I don’t get in?” crossed my mind soon after submission.
I also had feelings of guilt because the number of things on my plate had significantly decreased. When applying, I was working, taking classes, observing, and studying. After, all I had to do was work. I was no longer extremely busy, and I felt weird about it. Was I doing enough? Should I be doing more?
I was also on OT blogs and OT reddit posts non-stop. Once people started posting their acceptances and rejections, the anxiety was unbearable. I started having dreams about checking my email!
It should not have been that stressful. That should have been my time to take a step back and breathe. If you are going through the same challenges that I went through, here is what you should do:
Create a Plan
Honestly, rejections happen. Sometimes it takes more than one try to do anything and that concept applies to getting into OT school. But it is not the end of the world. So, let’s not think of it that way. Instead, have a just-in-case plan ready. That way, if you are not accepted this time around, you will have action steps in your back pocket.During the wait, get the contact information for the directors of admissions at each of the schools you applied to. Most programs will allow you to reach out and ask about ways to strengthen your application. This way, you can have concrete suggestions on what to do instead of wondering where to start. For USC, the admissions team contact information can be found here.
Because we are all our biggest critic, you probably already have areas of your application that you would like to improve. For example, do you feel like you could have done better on the algebra section of the GRE? Do some practice algebra questions from time to time. Now that you have been through the process once, you have an idea of what you should focus on.
Stay (kind-of) Busy
Now that you have gotten into the routine of preparing your applications, it can be hard to break it. You don’t have to! Not all the way, at least. There’s no need to take more classes or revise your personal statement—that’s done. However, you can continue to observe and volunteer. It never hurts to increase your understanding of OT. See what the OTs in your area are doing in a variety of settings. Are most of your observation hours in pediatrics? Try mental health. Combine the two and try pediatric mental health. Did you mainly volunteer at camps? Try volunteering at a nursing home this time. This way, you are not only learning more about the profession, you are building your network. And continue to document these hours because..why not. Again, it doesn’t hurt.
Put Your Phone Down and Close Some of those Tabs
Why are you frantically checking your emails? It’s still September. They aren’t even sending out acceptance letters yet. Oh, and close all 6 of those forum tabs. The two YouTube videos named “how to get into OT school” is enough.
You spent more than enough time on your phone and computer during the application process. You have already seen and noted what’s on these forums and in these videos. Take a bit of a break.
Waiting is tough. Feeling like you are in lingo is challenging. But you have already done what needs to be done. Be patient with yourself and patient with the process. Add some time to your sigh of relief.