Tuesday, May 26, 2009

I DID IT!!

I got off the fence! I signed on the dotted line. I paid my money. I'm filling out my forms.


McMaster, here I come!!

It seems like I may have put myself through the wringer for nothing, because I clearly was leaning toward Mac in the first place. But it was part of my process. I needed to "try on" the different options to make sure I purchased the one that fit... in a manner of speaking. I'm thrilled with my choice and I feel all the more certain about it for having really wrestled with the decision. As you can probably tell by the rest of my blog as well... I don't take these things lightly.

Anyway, now is the time for celebrating! I feel like I can finally enjoy the success of being admitted now that I don't have the big decision looming over me.

And for those of you on the wait list for Western and Queen's OT... one spot just opened up on each list!! Hang in there! ;)

If you're reading this and also become a member of the McMaster MSc OT Class of 2011, drop me an email! We're classmates!!

:)SweetPea

Fence Sitters Anonymous...

Hello. My name is SweetPea. I have been sitting on the fence for 10 days now. Sometimes I tip one way and I think I'm going to get off the fence, but then I tip back the other way and I get nowhere. I want to kick my fence-sitting habit and commit to one yard. My butt hurts.

I debated about whether to make this post or not, but I thought the decision making that has been torturing me for the last 10 days has been a significant part of my journey thus far. While most people won't have to deal with this, some will... and I want you future choice-makers to know you're not alone!!

My paperwork is not in yet... so it's not like I'm off the fence and can speak from experience. However, I'd give this advice based on my own trials:
- Find someone who will listen to your convoluted thought process about how to decide and not judge you.
- It's helpful if this person knows what they're talking about... either knows you really well or knows the programs you're deciding between.
- It's more helpful to have people's opinions rather than just their support. You might not adopt their view as your own, but at least then they've articulated some arguments for or against a choice that you might not have considered.
- Be kind to yourself. Beating yourself up with ideas about what you should do is unhelpful. It's also self-defeating if you pile anxiety about choosing on top of anxiety about the choice itself. Believe me. I know.

I'm feeling very close to a decision and I think it's for real this time. Wanna know how I know? One option makes me certain that I won't second guess the choice, even if it's a tougher row to hoe.
I'll let you know when I've signed on the dotted line and sent in my monies!
:)SweetPea

Sunday, May 24, 2009

So... How Was the Open House Experience?

In a word... Influential!

I went to the Open House hosted by the Queen's University School of Rehabilitation Therapy thinking that it would simply help me to be sure about the other university whose offer I thought I would accept. Boy was I wrong. They completely changed my mind.

The faculty were wonderful. They were not only approachable, but actually approached the students to strike up conversation and get to know them. They reiterated many times that they wanted to be sure we left with all the information we needed to make an informed decision. And it wasn't just the instructors... staff in the clinical education centre, the library, the anatomy lab... everywhere we went the people were friendly and made me feel at home. And that's the impression I left with... I felt like I was home.
Now, before I go into detail gushing about some of the highlights of my visit, I want to extend a special thank you to the students who led my group's tour. Chelsea and Andrew (I didn't write down their names :S I hope those are right!!) were wonderful... and SO patient about answering all of our questions. It was very clear that they loved the program and they represented it admirably.

Okay... now to gush!

The clinical education centre is super cool, with volunteers from the community coming in to serve as practice patients. It's a great space and a great system for learning skills.

The library was impressive. It's in a great location with a stunning view. And it looks like it's a very welcoming place to do some serious studying and group work. Given that I expect I'll be spending a lot of time in the library no matter which school I choose, that was a big seller.

And THEN... 9 floors up from the library is the anatomy lab. Or should I say, The Anatomy Lab of Awesome! I held a femur and a clavicle and I wiggled a spine. And then I went into the "hands-on" squishy part of the lab and held a BRAIN and a liver and a heart and I gawked at a human rib cage that looked disturbingly like it ought to be slathered in BBQ sauce. The techs up there were great... answering all of our questions and laughing at our (I'm sure completely lame) jokes. Plus, the view from the windows was stunning... really really stunning. Unfortunately, no cameras allowed in the lab itself.

So, in a nutshell, I'm saying two things:
- Queen's is awesome.
- The programs that do not have post-admission offer open houses are losing out on a great opportunity to help students make their admissions decisions.

:)SweetPea


video

Photos from the Open House at Queen's, May 2009



Images from the Queen's University Open House, May 2009.

The Rehab Sciences Building... also houses the clinical education centre for the medical, nursing and rehab programs.
Reception - The wonderful Laurie Kerr helping a visitor get signed in.

The dedicated Health Sciences Bracken Library - on the first floor of Botterell Hall.

The Stauffer Library - Main undergrad library

Porch of the Grad Club peeking through the trees. Famous for good pints and live music.

View from the 9th floor, on the way to the anatomy lab.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Arrived In Kingston!

Drove to Kingston today for the Open House at Queen's tomorrow!

My parents live here, and I've always used their address as my "permanent address", so this is also where all of the schools sent my acceptance packages. I've been pouring over them thinking that somewhere in their pages will be the key piece of information that swings my decision one way or another. No luck so far though. There isn't really any new information in them that I didn't already know.
That's not to say that there aren't pros and cons to attending each school. But I think that what makes a school good or bad for a particular person is a very individual assessment to make.

Anyway, I'm hoping to take a few pics tomorrow and I'll post them once I'm home!
With any luck I'll have an epiphany that helps to make my choice more clear.

I'll see some of you tomorrow!!
:)SweetPea

Friday, May 15, 2009

Presents from the Acceptance Fairy!

What a great way to start the long weekend!
I woke up this morning to find offers of admission from both UWO and Queen's in my inbox. :)
That makes it a clean sweep for me! Woot!

For anyone wondering, I didn't apply to UofT. That choice had nothing to do with the school or program, both of which are excellent. I simply didn't want to pay the cost of living in Toronto.

I'm not going to be making any decisions until after the Queen's Open House next Friday. Although I am leaning toward one program in particular, I want to be certain about my choice. So, if anyone else is planning to attend the Queen's Open House please send me an email!! I'd love to meet some people at the event. And, if you're thinking about Queen's but can't make it to the Open House... I'll be taking my camera with me and will try to post some pics & video, so check back next weekend and I'll let you know what it was like.

Congrats to everyone!! And, if you got waitlisted... hang in there!! No one I've spoken to got only one acceptance... if they got one, they got more. And that means that in the coming weeks those waitlists are going to start to MOVE! Keep thinking positive thoughts... the admissions fairy might just be running a little late to your house ;)

All the best,
SweetPea

ACCEPTED AT MAC!!!

Woohoo!!
The ORPAS site is not updated (yet?), but one of my commenters suggested that I was incorrect about that and it won't be updated. What we all need to do is check the email account that we indicated on our applications.
Anyway... no news from anyone else yet.

But I got in at McMaster!!!!! Woooooohooooo!

SweetPea

p.s. I'm totally freaking out... I'm giggling, I'm crying, I have a smile that won't wipe off. This just feels so surreal. Probably because it's after midnight so I can't call any of the people I normally would to celebrate this news with. *happydances*

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Decisions, Decisions

First, I would just like to say:
ONE MORE SLEEP!!!
And I know I won't be the only one who stays up way past midnight tonight to repeatedly check the ORPAS site in case they update early! (although I recognize that it's not likely)

So the thing that's on my mind lately is:
If I get more than one offer, how do I choose?

I thought I knew which program I wanted to get into, but the more I consider the options the more I see how each of them has advantages. In the end I don't think that one is better than another and I'll be thrilled to get into any one of them. But that makes the decision even harder in some ways. There is no clear singular choice, only equal but different choices.

So I'd like to ask... and I sincerely want feedback from others if you're willing to share... how are you making your choice?
Is it based on features of the program?
The university? City?
Is your choice based on practical considerations?
Or maybe personal and emotional ones?

Please comment with the program you will choose/have chosen and the reason you selected it.

I wish the best of luck to everyone!
Good, bad or ugly... at least tomorrow the wait will be over!!

SweetPea

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Admission Offers, Provisional Acceptances & Waitlists, Oh My!

In doing my research and reading for this blog I do a lot of hunting around the internet and integrating information from different sources. I keep track of where I get most of my information, but in cases where the info is repeated a number of times on different sites in different ways I sometimes lose track. This is what has happened with the admissions information and now that I've found some conflicting information it's a problem.

A couple of posts ago I stated that:
"If you get in at one place but waitlisted at the place you really wanted to get into, you can provisionally accept the one you got and then there will be an option you can select that will keep you on the waitlist of the 2nd institution. However, I think all provisional acceptances need to be made firm by June 5th. Or maybe it's the 12th? They'll tell you anyway."

I know I didn't make this information up... but I can't find the original source where I read it. The ORPAS site does note a June 12th deadline for provisional acceptances to become firm acceptances, but does not explain what that means. To make matters worse, I've since read this little tidbit of information posted in a 2007 document from Queen's:

"If an applicant accepts an offer from another Occupational Therapy Program through ORPAS, that applicant will in effect be taking themselves off the waitlists for any other OT programs. Alternatively, if you accept an offer from Queen’s occupational Therapy Program, you will not be eligible to remain on the wait lists of other Occupational Therapy Programs. Since there is no provisional acceptance to the OT programs through ORPAS as of 2007, you will need to respond to only one offer. When you accept the offer you are agreeing that other OT programs will cancel your application as you have firmly accepted an offer of admission. If you have applied to physical/Physiotherapy (PT)programs, your application to PT may remain active."

So, if you find yourself in this situation... you are waitlisted at the university you really want to get into, but accepted at another university... read the instructions in the packet carefully with regard to how you should proceed. And, I'm sorry if my previous post caused confusion for anyone.

Less than a week to go now! And I'm freakin' out! Fortunately, the course I'm TA-ing starts this week, so that will provide me with a little bit of distraction at least. It just feels like there's been SO much build up... and everyone I know who applied to a non-rehab program has already found out where they'll be next year. :(

Here's hoping this week goes by quickly and that Friday brings good news!!!

SweetPea

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Got a Summer Job!

This is not an occupational therapy related post... but there's nothing really new to say on that front other than "Still Waiting." This IS a good news post though... I've got a summer job!!

My undergrad university has hired me to TA one of the workshops for a third year statistics course this summer, two nights a week. I'm really excited about it because:

a) I like statistics and tutored this course all year.
b) I like teaching statistics! I know. I'm weird.
c) It will be a great experience to build up my CV.
d) It's only two days a week and enough money that I'll be able to pay my bills... which is all I was looking for!

I applied for another full-time job with the government (had an interview on Monday), and have worked for them before. It's a lot of work, but the money has always been excellent. This year... for the new job I applied for... they only want to pay $12/hour, and the interview guy said it in a tone of voice that implied he thinks it's a great deal. I thought "Forget it. I'd rather have more time off." In the end it will only make a gross difference of about $2000, but it will make a HUGE difference to my sanity and quality of life.

I got thinking, this will be our last free summer as students EVER! The OT programs all go through the summer term, with just a short break for a few weeks in August between 1st and 2nd years. And after graduation we'll be looking for jobs and entering the working world. So for me, as long as my bills are getting paid, my time was more important to me than anything this summer.

So... what are YOU going to do this summer to celebrate getting into an OT program and to restore the balance in your life before jumping into the intensity of grad school?
I believe I'm going to reacquaint myself with my local YMCA and take full advantage of patio season! Throw in a wedding in July (someone else's, not mine!) and a camping or rafting trip... I think it's going to be a great summer!

SweetPea

Friday, May 1, 2009

Hanging Around in Limbo Land

I don't know about anyone else, but it seems that lately I've been doing a lot of busy-work and waiting. I think maybe it's just the big exhale after the mad rush of the last weeks leading up to the McMaster interviews. Suddenly I find myself with TIME on my hands... which I'm filling up with wonderful tasks such as packing!! OOooo... fun packing times. It's just so weird to be loading all my stuff into boxes without yet knowing where I'm going to be moving. For this summer I've applied to two jobs, each in a different city. And then in the fall I'll be going somewhere, but where?! And which job will I get this summer? It's just weird. I'm used to things being much more certain. And I'm NOT used to having time to relax and stuff, lol. How pathetic >_<

Anyway, while I'm hanging around I thought I'd post some info that might be useful in two weeks time when we all get our offers of admission (I'm trying out some positive thinking ;)

For those who don't know, the offers will be posted on the ORPAS website on May 15th. Technically they could be later than that... but it's the long weekend and I can't see them making us all wait till the following Tuesday. PLUS, Queen's asked for people to RSVP to their open house by the 18th (which is the Monday) so we'll have to have found out on the Friday. Makes sense, right?

Anyway, this does NOT mean that you will get your admission packages in the mail that day. So if you want to know if you got in anywhere, don't stand by the mailbox waiting to jump the letter-carrier; log into the ORPAS site! You'll also need to know your application ID number (starts with "IT", will also be printed on the verification form they mailed you in February) and your password. If you're not sure where they are you may want to look them up now... the ORPAS customer service people will be swamped on admission-offers day and it would suck to have to wait.

So once you're in you'll see which of the schools has or has not offered you admission. I'm not sure what the actual status labels will be, but there are three possibilities here:
  • Offer of Admission (*happy dance* Break out the champagne!!)
  • Waitlisted (hopefully they give you your number on the waitlist too)
  • Declined (which sounds marginally nicer than "rejected", I really hope they don't go with that particular label).

If you're a super-fabulous smarty-pants you might even get more than one offer!!! Fancy! If you're lucky enough to have that happen to you, just remember that you can only accept ONE offer at a time, even if you're having a hard time choosing.

If you get in at one place but waitlisted at the place you really wanted to get into, you can provisionally accept the one you got and then there will be an option you can select that will keep you on the waitlist of the 2nd institution. However, I think all provisional acceptances need to be made firm by June 5th. Or maybe it's the 12th? They'll tell you anyway.

Once you accept admission to a school then you have to do a few things:

  1. Send them money. All schools require a deposit. They'll tell you how much to send and how to pay it. It's usually around $500.
  2. Get your health record check completed by a doctor or nurse practitioner (maybe registered nurses can do it too, but I'm not sure). Do it early! You never know how long the lab will take to get your serological proofs back and you may need updates to some vaccinations. You'll need the two-step tuberculosis skin test too.
  3. Get your criminal record check for working with vulnerable populations. It's better to do this in your home town, or where ever you've lived the most in the last 5 years. For those who haven't done one before, you give the police your addresses for the last 5 years and if you've lived in other cities then they have to call the other municipalities, which takes time.
  4. Some programs require you to have Basic Rescuer First Aid (C) and CPR (Red Cross and St. John's Ambulance are two organizations that offer this. SJA calls the course Standard First Aid with CPR-C, it takes two full days and costs $135 according to their website). Even if the program you choose doesn't require this certification I highly recommend it. All it takes is needing the skills once in your lifetime and you'll see it's well worth the time and money it cost you.
  5. Fill in the Transcript Request Form on the ORPAS website to have your University forward over your final transcripts.
  6. Enjoy your summer!!!! This will be the last real break you'll have for the next two years and after that it's working-shmoe status for you, so enjoy your freedom while it lasts!! Oh... and you probably want to make some money at a job too. You won't have time for a job once your program starts!

I can't wait to find out!!! Fourteen more sleeps!!!

SweetPea