Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Doing Good

One of the best things about PUCO, I think, is the fact that we belong to and participate in a larger campus community.  Pacific University has about 1600 undergraduate students, and about 1600 graduate students (mostly in the health professions, including Physical Therapy, Pharmacy, Occupational Therapy, and more).  I feel particularly struck by how lucky this is when the university community comes together to do good.

And we are doing good together now.  First, our Office of International Programs has organized the campus community to donate to the Red Cross to aid the country of Japan in the wake of the earthquake and tsunami.  With many alumni and friends either living in or connected to Japan, this crisis impacted us here at Pacific in profound ways. 

And second, our Center for Civic Engagement is hosting a "Gifts for Good: Craft Night", where students and other community members can come together to make crafts from recycled items.  The crafts will be sold on campus during Earth Week to benefit local community organizations.

I am proud to work in an environment where caring and the Pacific family extends so broadly. 

Monday, March 28, 2011

Clarification: Rolling Admissions

When I was in pastry school, there were two things I never perfected.  The first was peanut brittle.  And the second was pie.  Or more specifically, baking my pie so that the bottom crust didn't end up underbaked and soggy with a perfectly baked filling or deliciously crispy and brown but with an overbaked, smushy, baby-food-type filling.  Pie crust haunts me to this day.

So I consider it no small feat when I embark upon a homemade pie.  This weekend, as I was rolling out my pie crust, I was thinking about the idea of "rolling", which (since my brain is constantly being racked for blog topics), led directly to an admissions question I receive quite often: "What does rolling admissions really mean?".

Here at Pacific, we operate under a true rolling admissions process.  What that means is that, as applications are received and completed, they are also reviewed.  So if you apply in August, you will likely know your final application status by September.  Similarly, if you apply in January, you will probably know in February.

So this begs the question- how does the rolling admissions process impact when you should apply?  Basically, it means that in general, the earlier you apply, the better.  Why is this the case?  Well, imagine you attend the first Interview Day.  At that time, we will still have 90 seats left in the incoming class, so if we like all the applicants that interview that day with you, we could, in theory, admit you all.  Now let's imagine you are at the second-to-last Interview Day, and there are only maybe 6 seats left in the class.  Imagine the admissions committee wanted to admit all the applicants at your interview day- but we can't, right?  Because there are only 6 seats left.  So instead, we pick the strongest, most competitive 6 applicants for those remaining seats.  So it is more competitive at the end than at the beginning, because towards the end, we are limited in how many students we can admit.

That said, the rolling admissions process does NOT mean that you have to apply the first week the application opens.  Don't let the rolling admissions process stress you out- if you are on a family vacation over the summer and won't get to the application until September, no worries. Typically, a good rule of thumb is that, if you are happy with your academic profile, you should aim to apply by November 1.  If you are concerned about your GPA (think below 3.2), and think that your Fall grades will help your application, you should aim to apply by January 1 (after your fall grades have posted).

Of course, keep in mind that the sooner you apply, the sooner you know if you are admitted (and it is always exciting to make a big "I got in!" announcement around the holiday dinner table!). 

If you aren't sure when you should apply, give me a call.  I am happy to work with you one-on-one to determine when your application will be most competitive.

P.S. Any tips/hints on how to get a brown bottom pie crust without making your apple filling into applesauce?  If so, post in the Comments section.  And as always, keep in mind that the advice given here is for Pacific only- I am not sure how other schools handle their rolling admissions process.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Restaurant Round Up: Restaurant St. Jack

So here's the thing: Eating is quite possibly my favorite thing in the whole world.  My husband Zach and I spend a ridiculous amount of time and money cooking, shopping at Farmer's Markets, participating in a local CSA, and going out to dinner.  In another, pre-Pacific University life, I even got my degree in pastry arts from the Cordon Bleu program in Portland (I make a mean chocolate chip cookie, I tell you).  This is perhaps why Portland is the perfect place for us.  The food culture here is amazing.  Let me repeat that. The food culture here is amazing.  Having moved from Los Angeles, I thought it couldn't get any better than that, but let me tell you, Portland chefs have managed to capture a certain something that I just haven't found anywhere else.

So I would be completely remiss if I didn't share some of my favorite eats with you, not only because they tell you so much about what living here is like, but also so that, if you come and visit, you take advantage of some of our delicious haunts.

Last week, Zach and I went to Restaurant St. Jack for the first time, and had a lovely time.  A french bistro-style restaurant, we were there for Happy Hour, and for only $60, were able to enjoy a cocktail each, 46cl of white wine (interestingly, they don't sell whole bottles of wine, only 46cl bottles, which is basically about 2/3 of a normal bottle- during happy hour, our 46cl bottle of a pinot gris/chardonnay blend was only $12!), the happy hour hamburger, pomme frites, an herbed goat cheese spread, some homemade salami, warm olives (charmingly served in a teacup, the saucer just perfect for the pits), and desserts (madeleines made-to-order and an absolutely delicious pistachio ice-cream). 

The ambiance was utterly relaxed and warm- candlelight, flowers, a chalkboard that listed the beers on tap... all in all, I think I can say that we will be back!

P.S.  Isn't that yellow door amazing? 

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Nintendo 3DS: Good for Kids?

Have you heard about Pacific's Vision Performance Institute (VPI) yet?  It is the research branch of the College of Optometry, and the Director is Dr. Jim Sheedy (Dr. Sheedy hails from Ohio State, which means that when USC, my alma mater and college football team of choice, played a back-to-back series against Ohio State, Dr. Sheedy's college football team of choice, we had a highly competitive and spirited game-watching in a local sports bar near Forest Grove.  Needless to say, USC won both games, a fact which I like to point out to Dr. Sheedy whenever I see him in the hallway). 

Anyway, Dr. Sheedy was recently quoted in an Associated Press story about Nintendo's 3DS system. Dr. Sheedy's statements can be found at the end of the story. The story appeared nationwide in many newspaper and broadcast news websites, including major publications such as USA Today, the Washington Post, the Boston Globe and more.  Check out the entire article here.

P.S.  Speaking of the Vision Performance Institute, they are just about to host their fifth annual Research Conference.  This year, the topic is actually about 3D, perfect given the content of the Nintendo 3DS article.  Personally, I find the conference description so interesting:  "The virtual 3D environment provides many unique challenges to the visual system, including vision and/or vertigo-related symptoms. There is much yet to be known about the interaction between the human visual system and the virtual 3D environment created by 3D displays. Our primary research objective is to gain an understanding of the major underlying causes of either a poor viewing experience or health-related symptoms, and to be able to guide clinical care and the 3D industry to optimal solutions. The fifth annual Research Conference brings together representatives from industry, research and academia to present the current studies that will guide the future of 3D."

photo via weheartit

Monday, March 21, 2011

Inside the Yellow File: Last 45 GPA

Here at Pacific, all applications get put into a yellow file folder.  It is one of the ways we identify that the application we are working with is, in fact, for the College of Optometry (and not, for example, the School of Pharmacy or Physical Therapy, who have different colored folders).  So with the series of posts called "Inside the Yellow File", we will be explaining some common areas of confusion caused by the application.

One of the most important things we consider when we review GPA's is something that we here at Pacific call your "Last 45 GPA".  This is your GPA for your most recent 45 semester credits (or 68 quarter credits).  Why is it so important to us?  Mainly because it allows us to see trends... to see your academic performance over time... to evaluate your academic profile without that pesky freshmen GPA, when you realized that Gen Chem, Gen Bio, Calculus and Statistics all in one term was a little too much for your first semester... and it helps us see how you perform in upper division classes.

So as you take classes your Junior and Senior year, keep in mind that doing well provides an opportunity to showcase your academic abilities in a very positive way, even if your cumulative GPA is not as competitive as you'd like.  The Admissions Committee loves to see improvement over time, so if your Last 45 GPA is high, that is a great sign to us that you have adapted, developed good study habits, and are ready for the rigors of optometry school.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Getting to Know: Dr. Fraser Horn

Dr. Horn has bright red hair.  He sometimes lectures in a Scottish accent (I'm not kidding.  He actually sometimes does).  He is the Director of Washington County Clinics and teaches the third year Patient Care course and he has also served as the co-instructor for the Sports and Recreational Vision and Clinical Procedure courses. In addition to his teaching responsibilities at the college, he maintains a part-time practice in primary care optometry. In 2008, he was named to the AOA Sports Vision Section Council and is active in this organization.  Not to mention that Dr. Horn is definitely a local guy with optometric blood!  He was raised in Forest Grove, Oregon, and his brother (Russell) and sister-in-law (Jacqueline) are both optometrists.  He enjoys golf, soccer and travel. But what makes Dr. Horn a particularly engaging professor is his open and welcoming attitude towards students.  This is someone who really loves teaching.  So get to know a little more about him!

Boxer Tales: Fraser Horn from Pacific University on Vimeo.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Day One: We Launch

It's official!  After weeks of planning, we are finally launching the new, behind-the-scenes Pacific University College of Optometry blog!  I hope you'll come here to learn about life in Oregon (I moved here from L.A., so I know you might have lots of questions). To educate yourself about what we are looking for in the admissions process.  To learn even more about the profession of optometry.  And, of course, to see what makes Pacific so special (and, in our humble opinion, the best optometry program in the country).  We will feature guest posts (the Dean, perhaps?   How about a student ambassador?), share photos, and even occasionally have a laugh or two. 

It's a lot of pressure, you know, trying to come up with the inaugural blog post.  What should it be?  I decided to go with something that always makes me smile: this video.

Throughout the admissions process, you will here us talk a lot about how we love well-rounded applicants with unique skills and creativity.  This was evident when The Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry (ASCO) announced that Pacific University optometry student Marc Schmitt won ASCO’s 2010 Envision Video Competition.  Eleven submissions were received in the first year of the competition, which ASCO held to develop an online video to increase public awareness of careers in optometry.  So check out Marc's winning entry.

And don't let it end there.  Become a Follower.  Add us to your Blog Roll. Share one of our posts with a friend or a fellow pre-optometry club member.  In short- stay tuned, because this, my friends, is just the beginning!