To myself and my fellow aspiring health professional classmates the career fair is an event that we have never ventured upon nor witnessed first hand. As a senior Interdisciplinary Health Services Major obtaining a job in my interested field is not obtainable to myself at this time. At the end of this school year I will earn my bachelors, however, a masters’ in occupational therapy is the degree that I yearn for. In order to become an occupational therapist I was required to apply to programs at the end of August and have been anxiously awaiting the results that may not come for many months. The moment I submitted my applications was one of the most relieving moments that I have ever experienced. If you are an underclassmen, like I once was, pursuing a similar field you may wonder, just as I did, how you will be able to experience a similar moment. To help someone else out going through this same process I am going to share some graduate school application tips:
1. Research: You will not make progress in your application process if you do not research the different programs available. Each program has their own list of prerequisites that are vital to their application. Prerequisites include minimum GPA, standardized tests, courses, observation hours, letters of recommendation, transcripts, etc. In regards to observation hours you should research if your desired programs have a program specific observation form before you shadow a health care professional . A great general source for information regarding your desired profession is the national association website such as The American Occupational Therapy Association, Inc (https://www.aota.org/Education-Careers/Find-School.aspx) or the American Physical Therapy Association website (http://www.apta.org/PTEducation/).
2. Resume: Build your resume. It will represent who you are and will be an important source of marketing for yourself. It is never too soon to start working on this. (https://sites.sju.edu/careers/)
3. Centralized Application Services: Many health professions masters or doctorate programs have a centralized application service. Become familiar with this system, however, be aware that every admissions cycle the system is updated.
Occupational Therapy: https://otcas.liaisoncas.com/applicant-ux/#/login
Physical Therapy: http://www.ptcas.org/home.aspx
Graduate Study in Psychology: http://www.apa.org/education/grad/psycas.aspx
Public Health: http://sophas.org
Speech Language Pathology: https://csdcas.liaisoncas.com/applicant-ux/#/login
Physician Assistant: https://caspa.liaisoncas.com/applicant-ux/#/login
4. Finances: Graduate school applications are extremely expensive, therefore, start saving your money as soon as you can. You’ll thank me later.
5. Health Professions Advisor: At Saint Joseph’s University our health professions advisor is amazing. Any question you have, she knows it. Visit http://www.sju.edu/int/academics/cas/resources/healthprofessions/ for information on how to visit her.
6. Apply Early: Some programs have rolling admissions, therefore, apply to those as early as you can! Programs are EXTREMELY competitive, therefore, give yourself the best chance that you can.
7. Stay Motivated: If applying to graduate school for health professions is where your passion lies then pursue it. If this is what you desire then you have to be dedicated to it by giving it your all and by making sure you are on schedule to apply.
I hope these tips will help you pursue your dream and become a successful individual in the field. Remember, no dream is too big and you can do anything you put your mind to.
Stay motivated Hawks!