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Optometry school at Ohio State raises program sights

Anya Ursu / Lantern photographer

The Ohio State College of Optometry is the smallest and one of the most competitive colleges at OSU, as well as in the nation.

One of only 21 optometry schools in the nation, the college accepted about 10 percent of applicants last year.

At an editorial board meeting Feb. 6, President E. Gordon Gee told The Lantern he couldn’t be happier about the quality of students and number of applicants.

“We have one of the finest schools of optometry in the country,” Gee said. “We have 10 applicants for every slot.”

Last year, the college received 612 applications for only 64 spots, said Justin Griest, manager of admissions and financial aid in the College of Optometry.

The “magic number” of 64, which is the set number of spots available, is one the college isn’t looking to change.

“We like to have kind of a confined number so that (students) get the best education possible,” Griest said.

He said OSU boasts a relatively small class size in comparison with other optometry schools around the country.

Class sizes at other schools ranged from 28 to 162 students last year, according to data from the College of Optometry.

Ann Morrison, a second-year optometry student, said class size was a large factor in her decision to come to OSU.

She said she knows everyone in her class and that “they’re like your family at this point.”

Morrison, who studied marine biology at Kennesaw State University just north of Atlanta, Ga., before coming to Ohio, applied to a few other optometry schools but had her heart set on OSU.

“The reputation here is above and beyond, so it was kind of like a no-brainer for me,” Morrison said. “It’s the best so I had to come to the best.”

OSU also led the pack in academics last year with an average entering class GPA of 3.6, the highest of any optometry school in the country, according to data from the College of Optometry.

In-state tuition was $22,785 last year, comparable to other optometry schools across the nation, while out-of-state tuition was $51,840, significantly higher than most others.

The University of California, Berkley was closest to OSU in out-of-state tuition, $41,904.

Quality faculty adds to OSU’s national reputation and dean Melvin Shipp is no exception, Griest said.

Shipp is the first optometrist to serve as president of the American Public Health Association.

“The biggest strength of (the college) is our faculty,” Griest said. “They are world-renowned in what they do.”

Along with academics and shadowing, Griest said faculty connections made in the OSU Pre-Optometry Club can be helpful to applicants.

“If you come in for an interview and you’re not in Pre-Optometry Club, what have you been doing?” Griest said. “That’s almost a disadvantage if you’re not in it.”

The Pre-Optometry Club is one of the five largest in the country, Griest said.

Club vice president Michelle Miller, a fourth-year in biology, is attending the OSU College of Optometry this fall and said she got to know admissions counselors through her club involvement.

Club president Elizabeth Brubaker agreed club involvement was helpful in the interview process.

“The interview was like chatting with friends,” she said. “It’s definitely a relaxing experience having a familiar face in there when you’re going though such a big deal.”

Brubaker said about 45 students come to each meeting.

Brubaker said she came to OSU with her heart set on optometry and joined the club the second day of her freshman year.

Even though the low acceptance rate is daunting, Brubaker said she is looking forward to applying to the OSU College of Optometry.

“It’s definitely very nerve-wracking,” Brubaker said. “It makes me more excited to apply because it’s a challenge.”

Other optometry schools across the country offer resources and opportunities, but Brubaker said most people in the club only have eyes for OSU.

“Pretty much everyone’s dream is to get into Ohio State,” Brubaker said.

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