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  • Lauren Aguilar

“Mind the Gap”

When I began my applications to optometry school, I had concerns about the gap years I took between my undergraduate education and what would be the start of optometry school. Some of my apprehensions have been valid, while others haven’t affected me in the slightest.

One of my fears was that I would feel an age gap between myself and my fellow classmates.


Thankfully, this has not been a concern to me after starting at ICO. Not only are there many students in my shoes, but there is such a diversity of ages and previous life experiences for students that it would be hard to put a label on the “most common” path to ICO. I’ve met students who have been out of school longer than I, students with master’s degrees, and even students who took part in a 3-year program and have yet to receive a degree.


On the other hand, the transition back into academia after taking such a long hiatus has proven to be every bit as difficult as I was expecting. Not only did I have to “learn how to learn” again, but I was learning harder material at a faster pace than ever before. Optometry school is a challenge for anyone to take on; I think there is an added element of difficulty with training yourself to be a diligent student after having some time off. I have had to strictly discipline myself in order to accomplish my goals. I have also had to adjust my expectations of free time and plan my study time in advance.


Even though getting back into the role of a full-time student has taken some hard work, in no way do I regret the time I’ve spent outside of the classroom. It gave me the time to make a confident decision about what direction I want to go with my life. Clinically, it has given me a different perspective and appreciation for the roles each person plays in an office. I’m very happy with the road I took to ICO. Any road you take will have bumps along the way, but as long as you remember why you started, you’re bound to enjoy the ride. 

#firstyear #gapyear #ICOillinoiscollegeofoptometry #optometryschool

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Chicago, IL 60616

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