Everyone has a different idea of what it takes to be successful in optometry school. Here are a few things that helped me have a successful first semester at PCO:
1. Get involved
Try to participate in at least one extracurricular activity at school. There are so many opportunities available to you on campus. You could get involved in student council, work as a campus tour guide, attend American Optometric Student Association (AOSA) meetings, join a student organization, etc. I think it’s really important to make yourself known on campus. It’s never too early to start networking! The upperclassmen and your professors will be your future colleagues. Get to know them!
Optometry school is difficult, but manageable. It’s very easy to get bogged down in the day to day monotony of studying. I found that having a fun activity to look forward to on the weekends helped to keep me motivated and focused on my studies during the week. Planning a movie night, potluck dinner, or night out with classmates is a great stress reliever at the end of a long week. Now, I’m not saying to get too carried away with fun, because school does come first, but it’s definitely refreshing to interact with classmates outside of the academic setting! Everybody needs a break every now and then!
3. Stay connected with friends and family
Your family and friends back home are a crucial support system. Many students (myself included!) reach a point in the first semester where they doubt themselves. It’s nice to have family and friends to lean on when you’re freaking out about school. I know I wouldn’t be where I am today without the support and encouragement of my parents. I think it’s very important to try to make time for phone calls or Skype conversations with the people you care about. Friends and family like to know how everything is going at school, plus it’s nice to hear someone tell you how proud they are of you!
Grad school is very different from undergrad. We’ve all heard the analogy that the first year of optometry school is like trying to drink out of a fire hydrant. It’s true. The sheer volume of material is overwhelming. Don’t be embarrassed to ask for help. Form study groups or take advantage of free tutoring services at your school. The sooner you ask for help, the better! You’ll be surprised how quickly the first semester flies by! Midterm week will sneak up on you before you know it!
Anybody have advice to share from their first semester of optometry school? Comment below!