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Bobby's Declassified Optometry School Survival Guide

As Winter Quarter at ICO neared, I couldn't help but think about how time had flown- through Orientation week, the whole Fall quarter and exams, and finally, this long-needed break. I reflected on how to better tackle my next quarter in comparison to my previous one.

I've compiled a list of do's and don’ts that I feel will benefit me this upcoming quarter. I figure this list would get me into good habits. Then, if the quarter starts to get intense, I won’t feel too stressed out. I’m sharing this list so that it may be helpful to my fellow colleagues and anyone else reading this, as well.

Time Management

Don’t: leave everything until the last minute.

Do: figure out what task is going to take you the longest and allocate more time to that.

I’m a victim of procrastination. I hate it when I’m stressed and leave everything until the last millisecond. There have been way too many close calls this semester where I almost left something incomplete due to my lack of time management skills. Making a schedule and sticking to it has been my saving grace. What I do is: 1. Find out what task takes the longest and allocate more time to that. 2. On particularly busy days, use the less mentally demanding tasks as “breaks” from the harder tasks. 3. Stick to my schedule by setting alarms and reminders on my phone, iPad, and laptop applications. This is more effective than keeping mental or written notes, because if I lose track of time or forget to look at my notebook, my phone will still ring. After doing this, I found my productivity to be higher, without the unnecessary stress of procrastination.


Don’t: stare at notes hoping the information is being absorbed into your head.

Do: actively study using different methods.

One thing that I have learned throughout the last quarter is that every course requires a different way of studying. I can’t study for anatomy the same way I study for optics. In general, talking out loud and explaining concepts to other students helped me solidify what I know. In addition, writing my own consolidated notes helped me better ingrain information into my head.


Don't: skip leg day (or any day, for that matter)

Do: engage in physical activity as planned

My worst habit was telling myself I’d go to the gym, then that I'd go tomorrow, instead, only to not go at all. I planned to go to the gym 3-4 times a week and found it a miracle if I went twice. Going back to the idea of time management, if you make a schedule, stick to it. Set a reminder on your phone, and when it dings off, get moving to the gym! Another good piece of advice is to change up the types of exercises being done. Don't run on the treadmill every time you go to the gym, rather, incorporate some weight training and sports too for example.


Don’t: eat sweet potato fries for every meal

Do: be mindful of what you’re eating

When it was busy during the quarter, I found myself eating whatever food was quickly given to me. After gaining a little tummy, I wanted to create a diet goal. Using a calorie counter app helped me monitor how much I was eating so that I could lose a little weight. My favorite app right now is MyFitnessPal; I strongly recommend it to those who are strict with their calorie and macronutrient intake.

Being Social

Don’t: study 24/7 at the expense of relationships

Do: say "Hi" to people and make friends

I used to be antisocial back home in Toronto. I learned there’s really no reason to be. Friends are cool because you can support each other through difficult times, teach one another things (from school concepts to life stuff), and help one another grow. Grades are important in optometry school too, I get it. Everyone has their reasons for wanting to do exceptionally well, but sometimes the friends next to you can teach you more than a few notes can. This means learning to have better communication skills, engaging in public speaking, and even performing better in group-oriented activities.

Using these key tips, I found myself doing better near the end of last quarter. I trust that this list will help me throughout the rest of optometry school here at ICO.

This is the first year EyePod, where a lot of time had been spent studying for optometry practicals.


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