You did it! Congratulations! The time has come. You have finished your undergraduate career, maybe taken some time off, applied, and received your acceptance to optometry school. Phew! Regardless of where you chose to attend (I’m clearly a big ICO fan), there are a few pieces of advice I would like to share as you head into your first year.
My biggest piece of advice is to try not to stress out about school, but keep in mind that it is a challenging program. At ICO, we have a professor who likes to say, “You’re in doctor school now.” It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it!
That being said, although optometry school is challenging and you will probably spend more time studying than you thought possible, don’t be afraid to get involved and have fun. A common misconception is that during the first year of school you have absolutely no time for anything. False! At this point, you’ve gone through enough schooling to hopefully know yourself and understand what you can and cannot handle. Everyone works differently. If you want to get involved with clubs or a job and you know that you can manage your time well, go for it!
Something to keep in mind when getting involved at your school, especially at ICO, is that other people understand what you’re going through. This means that most of your bosses or the people running your club are very flexible; they get that you are busy with studying and classwork. Upperclassmen, especially, are generally willing to cut you some slack because they’ve made the adjustment to optometry school before.
On that note, I also recommend trying to get to know the people in other classes. Some of the people most influential to my experience at ICO thus far have been upperclassmen. They are full of great advice and have successfully made it through their first year. They can tell you places to study, places to hang out, people to contact, and are full of tips for doing well on exams. They can also tell you what not to do.
Lastly, be prepared for the fact that sometimes friends and family will not understand why you are working so hard, studying so much, or why you can’t call as often as you did before. I remember studying at a ski lodge during Christmas break for a midterm we had 2 days after vacation. Roughly every 5 minutes, one of my uncles (there are quite a few) would come up and say, “Put the books away. You work too hard!” The thing is, like anything else in life, it’s all about balance. Sure I was still studying a lot during the break, but I was also taking time to hit the slopes and relax with my family.
Altogether, it’s a wild ride. It’s an adjustment, but a doable adjustment. If you enter school with an open mind and a healthy work ethic, you’ll do great. Just don’t forget to have fun!
Welcome to the wonderful world of optometry. Eye have faith in you 😉