Occupational therapy is a growing and innovative medical field which needs people who want to learn something new every day and discover new ways to help the disabled. For being such a student, the school to pursue the occupational therapy course must be chosen accordingly. It is important to opt the right school as it is the stepping stone towards a great career.
There are a number of factors that you must consider before enrolling yourself in an OT course. From the level of degree you want to acquire to the opportunities they offer, the cost of the course, and much more. Some aspirants may also want to complete the course online. If you are choosing online course, then there are certain things that you must know before enrolling. So, there are numerous components that play a role in deciding upon an OT school. Here, we have come up with some of the important aspects that can help you choose the right institute and hence, direct your career to the right path.
The very first thing that you must check is whether the school or the institute is approved by Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) or not. To be eligible to sit for the exam National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT), you must pass from an accredited program. Accreditation is also required for using an acronym OTR (Occupational Therapist, Registered) with your name or for getting a job too.
So, whether you are choosing classroom program or online learning program, make sure that the institute provides certified education.
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2. Degrees Offered
Now, another important thing is the type of degree offered. If you want to complete only the occupational therapy assistant program, you can go for any of the school. However if you are looking for bachelor’s or master’s degree, then you should choose your school carefully. For instance, some school might offer either of the two degrees, and if you are looking for both, you have to choose a program that offers credit that is transferable or any other university that offers both or dual program. You can ask the academic counselor or you can personally visit the school to know the details.
3. Classes Schedule
Some of the aspirants already work on a full-time basis and the schedule of a particular school might not be suitable for them as they require some hours of clinical sessions and a certain percentage of attendance. If you are uncomfortable in attending the classes or the clinical sessions, choose the school that offers a flexible schedule like part-time and/or evening classes.
4. Length and Cost of The Program
The cost and length of the program also make a big difference. There is a substantial contrast in the fee of institutes. There are many educational institutes that charge exorbitant fees in the name of providing amenities and high-quality education. But, not everyone offers what they claim. Apart from the cost, the duration of the course plays a key role. Many programs can be completed in two years, while others like Ph.D. may take up to 5 years. So, choose it according to your requirement and convenience.
5. Instruction Format and Class Structure
The next thing on our list is the instruction format. It all depends on the student and what s/he is looking for. There are three types of formats, i.e., classroom, distant learning, and hybrid. Along with this, the class structure means the size and demographics of the class are also significant. Choose a school that has good lecturer to student ratio and a fine demographic division so that it would be easy to learn the things and complete the course.
6. Curriculum and Specialization
Once you have decided the type of degree and other factors, it is vital to check for the curriculum. Though the courses offered by accredited schools have largely the same curriculum, some of the elements will surely differ. Many of the colleges focus on pediatric care while others may focus on elderly. However, these are available as specialization, and if you are interested, then you can choose one accordingly. Some of the courses are also designed in accordance with the Physical Agent Modalities (PAMS) which will make you eligible to get additional certification and thus, increase your value as an OT.
7. Financial Aid
Financial aid is not that principle factor, but it is worth considering. Almost all the educational institutes offer some or other type of aid but what is different is the amount that they offer as an assistance. It depends on numerous factors like scholarship and grants you are already availing, the state you belong to (in-state or out-of-state), and lots more. Apply for the one which is offering a good amount. This may also be beneficial if you have a family to look after. Besides, make sure to apply for the aid every year.
8. What Extra They Offer
Now come the other facilities and basic things. While choosing your school, you must see the additional opportunities and means they provide such as highly professional faculties, batch size, etc. Whether they provide chances to move overseas to provide services of the therapy or not. What is the pass rate of NBCOT examination, employment assistance or placements after completing the course? How many students make-up to the annual conference presentation. Do they actively participate in the events of the OT organized in different parts of the world and provide opportunities to explore all the aspects of the therapy and many such offers.
1) To save your time and money both, limit yourself to the number of schools. Sending multiple GRE scores, the application fee of different schools will only increase the cost and there is no point in applying for thousands of grad programs.
2) Since the occupational therapy is a competitive field, you must maintain high grades in all the prerequisite courses.
3) Submit your application only in those educational institutes where your grades are competitive. For example, if your GRE score is several points below a school’s requirement, then don’t consider the school for enrollment.