Pre-professional Programs - Occupational Therapy
Nicole Dueland, a 2021 College of Saint Benedict graduate from Cold Spring, Minnesota, was an integrative science major who has been involved in the pre-occupational therapy program at CSB and Saint John’s University.
Why study pre-occupational therapy at a liberal arts college?
I studied pre-occupational therapy at a liberal arts college because of the opportunity to take classes outside of my major and OT prerequisites. This made me into a well-rounded student and person, which is important to becoming an OT because you deal with every aspect of your client’s life, including their activities of daily living, emotional, physical, environmental and spiritual experiences. Every class I have taken at CSB/SJU has prepared me in some way for graduate school and life after graduation.
What makes the pre-OT program at CSB/SJU unique?
The pre-OT program at CSB/SJU is unique because of the professors and faculty. It makes all the difference having an adviser help you make a four-year plan that includes your major/minor, OT prerequisite courses and classes of interest to you. They are also there to offer advice, answer questions, assist you in finding shadowing hours and volunteer opportunities and help you connect with alums. I would not have been successful in this process without my classmates encouraging me in my most challenging classes, and professors who supported me in my classes, answering questions, writing letters of recommendation and prepping me for interviews.
What has your experience with the CSB/SJU pre-OT program faculty been like?
CSB/SJU’s pre-OT program faculty are exceptional. They are so knowledgeable about the application process and individual program requirements. They genuinely want you to succeed, so faculty are involved in every step of your individual process.
How would you describe the workload and/or academic expectations related to this track?
The great thing about occupational therapy is that you can major/minor in pretty much anything, but you must meet the prerequisites courses for each individual program, which differ slightly. Overall, the workload is challenging, and you must have a strong GPA to get into an OT program, but CSB/SJU prepares you to get into these programs and succeed while in it.
What has been one of the greatest challenges you have faced in college?
One of the greatest challenges I faced in college was learning to balance academics, work, extra-curriculars and social life/meeting people. I became efficient at managing my time, while also learning to ask for assistance when needed from TAs, professors and friends.
What advice do you have for students considering the pre-OT program?
Take advantage of every opportunity at CSB/SJU. Get to know your professors and advisors, because it allows you to develop long-term professional and personal connections with incredible people. Be involved within the community, through work or volunteering, because while they want you to have a strong GPA, OT programs also want to get to know who you are. Also, shadow OTs in multiple locations. This is gives you an advantage going through the application and interview process, because you have actual experience to talk about and you will need an OT to write you a letter of recommendation. This is a stressful process, but so rewarding!
What are your plans after graduation?
I will be attending Creighton University’s Doctor of Occupational Therapy Program starting fall 2021.