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  • Writer's pictureLFaits

Working Hard vs. Working Smart (and Hard???)

I’m sure many of you can think of numerous accounts when you worked really hard to achieve a goal. Maybe you studied days in advance to crush your next exam, or you worked out hard in the gym to achieve a personal fitness goal. However, sometimes we put in all that work only to come up short!

An important lesson I’ve learned in my time here at ICO is the difference between working smart vs. working hard. Everyone has their own strengths and weaknesses. Acknowledging an area of deficiency and working to either improve or compensate is the first step towards turning a weakness into a strength.

Throughout undergrad, I was what you consider a one-trick pony when it came to studying. You know what they say: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!” Having survived my first two ICO quarters, I can attest to the importance of being able to adapt study methods on the fly.

What do you do when your strategies for success aren’t working as well as they have in the past? You may answer, “Work harder, increase time and effort, cut out distractions,” etc. All of these are valid, but the question that I’ve recently learned to ask is, “Is this the most efficient way for me to go about approaching this task?” If your answer is no, you very well may be setting yourself up for disappointment.

One of the things that I am truly appreciative of is ICO’s effort to provide multiple branches of support. As long as you are willing to look for it, help is always available. Some examples include tutoring, teaching assistants, bigs/littles, academic coaches, lecture recordings, printed note services, and office hours, just to name a few.

At my large, undergraduate university, it almost felt as if the students were nothing more than a number. It was almost impossible to attend office hours, depending on your schedule. When you were able to finally schedule an appointment, it had to be brief due to the number of students that were also scheduled. This ultimately would discourage many from returning in the future. Here at ICO, it is the exact opposite. With all the various avenues available, you’d be doing yourself a disservice to not take advantage!

In the words of one of our professors, Dr. Bakkum, “Asking for help doesn’t make you dumb; not asking for help when you need it does!”

During my two quarters here at ICO, I would say the most important lesson that I’ve learned, outside of course material, is how to adapt academically. Being someone who is accustomed to following a routine, I’ve found it difficult to willingly change my study methods/partners on a course by course basis.  Stepping outside of my comfort zone, however, allowed me to realize that there are multiple ways to solve the puzzle of optometry school!

Being dynamic and keeping an open mindset in your approach may allow you to solve that puzzle even faster, it’s all about finding the best way that works for YOU.


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