Occupational Therapist Centralized Application Service (OTCAS)

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Once you think things won’t change, they do. When I applied to OT school, you looked up each school’s admission requirements and followed each one’s guidelines. You felt bad for your references, “Hey I need another reference letter” and then you had to send your transcript out to each individual school. It felt like a never ending cycle of checklists and fees for each little thing.

The game changed.

Enter the Occupational Therapist Centralized Application Service (OTCAS) brought to you by AOTA. Many schools use this platform to help with getting rid of the redunant nature of the application. Applications open on the OTCAS website July 16 and close October 1st, annually. The coronavirus has extended most deadlines until December 1, 2020. Unfortunatley not every university uses this platform however if you plan to apply to multiple schools you will likely find several schools using it. You can upload your observation hours, letters of reference, school attended, transcripts (send each one from every school you attended to OTCAS), achievements, and the actual school’s Occupational Therapy application.

Photo by Ketut Subiyanto on Pexels.com

What to expect with OTCAS – this is not an official guide put out by OTCAS but a breakdown of interacting with the application and making sense of each section.

  • My Profile
    • Your basic information such as email, name, identity, passwords
  • Personal Information
    • You will answer information regarding: contact, citizenship, race/ethnicity, and others misc information such as military, felony/institutional infraction, or previously attended another OT school.
  • Academic History
    • High school diploma, every college you attended or if you took coursework at another school to fulfill requirements for your application
    • Transcript entry: Applicants must arrange for OTCAS to receive a sealed official transcript directly from EVERY regionally accredited U.S. institution they have attended. You cannot fax or provide your own transcript to OTCAS even if you have your own personal copy.
    • Transcript Request Form: It is not required, howeve it is recommended that applicants submit the OTCAS transcript request form for every regionally accredited U.S. institution attended.
  • GPA calculation:
    a. Enter all the GPA for all the courses that you completed.
  • Standardized Tests: Enter GRE score or TOEFL test scores, list each one if you took the test more than once.
  • Supporting Information:
    Evaluations (Letters of Recommendation):
    • Read each application very carefully. Each school may ask for different number of letter of recommendations.
    • OTCAS requires 3 letters of recommendation. Make sure they are sent in well ahead of the deadline to ensure verification.
  • Observation Hours
    Enter all of your occupational therapy (OT) observation hours into the OTCAS
    • Use “Add Observation Hours” for providing all hours
    • OTCAS does not verify hours, so you may need to use a separate form or document that provides the facility name, location, your state/end date, total hours for verification to the program. Upload this form to the “Documents” tab.
    • For 2020 application some schools may be waiving hours due to the pandemic.
  • Experiences
    There are 12 different topics in which you can include up to 12 different experiences/activities per
    topic. Areas include: employment, extra curric activities, healthcare experience, internships/clinicals, research, teaching experience, and volunteering.
    • Provide specific information regarding your experiences such a the name of facility, contact information, title, start/end dates and the total hours you participated in those activities
    • It may or may not be your professional reference who wrote your recommendation but it may be a good idea to provide some reference or contact to verify your participation
  • Personal Statement (listed as “Documents”)
    • Per OTCAS, “Your personal essay should address why you selected OT as a career and how an Occupational Therapy degree relates to your immediate and long term professional goals. Describe how your personal, educational, and professional background will help you to achieve your goals,”
    • You’re limited to 7500 characters total – this will be the personal statement that goes to every school.
    • Be authentic! Use this as a change to showcase your experiences to schools and why your preparation to apply over the past year has been adequate for being admitted to OT school.
  • Program Materials
    • Every individual school will have their own supplemental materials for their applciation. While the OTCAS will provide you with the common application, once you reach this supplemental section you will then need to provide each school additional information that they require for admissions.

Good luck guys! It’s such an exciting time when you’re applying yet a stressful time. You always think to yourself, “Did I do enough?” “Should I have written it like this?” You will always second guess yourself throughout the process, but be confident that you put for your best effort and most complete application for yourself.

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