March 22, 2018 | POSTED BY | Articles, Optometry School, Pre-Optometry School
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I thought about going back to school long before my life became a melodramatic episode of some cheap sit-com. I was going to go to a physician assistant program. I figured out what I was going to do, I told everyone what I was going to do, and promptly did nothing about it. Until my girlfriend, now wife, told me, “do it, or shut up about it.” I knew right then and there, I was going to marry that woman.

I began to take night classes at the local community college for the prerequisites of the physician assistant program I was planning on applying to.

I ran into one little snag though, I needed organic chemistry.

The last time I took any chemistry was over seven years ago and no university was going to let me, just take organic chemistry, without retaking chem I and chem II. Trust me, I tried. As it turned out, I also needed microbiology, physics II, and calculus.

I wasn’t going to be taking a few night classes and then apply. Not going back to school was seeming like a better idea. However, the doctor that I was working with was in jail awaiting his trial, and my contracting company wasn’t going to pay to relocate me. I saw the writing on the wall.

I put in my two weeks notice and became a full-time student. I began working for my father in law,  an optometrist (yes, I did marry that woman).

I began working part-time when I wasn’t in school in order to help make ends meet. Being curious and having a father-in-law who is eager to teach, I began to learn. I suspect my father-in-law knew that once I learned how to use a phoropter and a retinoscope I would become hooked. He was right. I vividly remember the moment that set me into the field of optometry. I remember un-occluding the patient’s right eye after I refracted her left eye. I asked the patient how the chart looked and her response was,

phoropter“Oh, oh my gosh, it looks crystal clear, thank you.”

I was six feet off the ground. What could be more rewarding than helping people see? Why would you ever want to do something else?

My path to optometry was unconventional and I changed my mind, a lot. If I could give one suggestion, it would be to shadow as much as you can. If you’re lucky, get a job in whatever field you’re planning on going into and listen to those the people you are shadowing. Chances are, they’ll tell you to get into optometry.

  • Melissa Herbert

    If you don’t mind me asking how old were you when you got into optometry school. I want to go but feel as though I’m to old now.

    • Eyenspire

      Melissa, I would also like to know his age. I feel the same way you do. I’ve been married for 5yrs and have a 3 yo. I always wanted to go into the optometry field and I’m graduating this summer with a BS in Biology and worked in an ophthalmic clinic for 5years. Additionally, 4 more years at my age(30) seems like a very long time. However, a optometrist at my job said she didn’t get her degree until she was 37 so it dosent make me feel as old.

      • Melissa Herbert

        Well That makes me feel better thanks I just turned 27 I have two kids and also have been working in the field as a technican since 2012 did the AS in ophthalmic tech complete waste of time cause I knew teching wasn’t what I wanted to do. Congrats on completing your bachelors I will have the prerequisites by summer 2019 and just a few classes before graduating. Will hopeful apply to Nova

        • Eyenspire

          Haha, I also did the COT path and it wasn’t until my mentor, whom was an OD, told me don’t stop there and go to optometry school. I had the same thoughts as it being a complete waste of time but at least you accomplished it and have that extra bit of knowledge. I enjoyed dissecting a cows eye during my coursework and originally wanted to do med school and specialize in ophthalmologist but that’s not as family oriented as I would like. Nova is a good school. Are you applying to at least 3 more schools? Are you close to FL? Or are you as stressed as I am with the thought of having to relocate your family? Nova is in my top 3 along with PCO. I’m in Maryland, so PCO is definitely the top choice for me right now.

          • Melissa Herbert

            I also thought of doing ophthalmologist but again not as family oriented as optometry. I live in Florida so the closest optometry school and the only in Florida is Nova. The cost of optometry school is already a lot I don’t think I could be able to relocate my family. I did however consider doing over seas at puertorico or Trinidad due to a medical student I knew saying he was taking that route due to the chances of getting in and finishing greater. However the reviews on Puerto Rico aren’t good and I don’t want to waste my time or money.My mentor an optometrist I work for graduated from southern college of Optom however I get discouraged with him at times cause our paths aren’t the same. He graduated went to college and finished optom by like 23. They didn’t need bachelors back when he graduated though.

      • Melissa Herbert

        Even at 30 and graduating at 34 you still have over 30 years to put into the profession and make back the cost of going plus self accomplishment of chasing a dream you sound like you’ve had as long as I have. Good luck and don’t give up at the least your accomplishing a dream.

        • Eyenspire

          Awww thank you for the encouraging words. Good luck in your journey as well and maybe we’ll cross each others paths as Optometrist. Dana Whitener, OD and Melissa Herbert, OD sounds great! Lol

          • Melissa Herbert

            It does sound great and I won’t give up thanks to your words of encouragement and you shouldn’t either. Would be nice to meet someone like you in school to help me get through. Stay in touch

  • Nick

    Hey, sorry for the late reply to your questions. To answer your questions I was 30 when I was accepted into optometry school I’m not even the oldest in my class (close though). I’ll be 34 if I went to optometry school or not, don’t let your age hold you back.

  • Peter Jacques

    You are definitely not too old to start optometry school! The oldest in my class at UMSL College of Optometry is 50 years old! I was also a optometric technician before starting school and found the experience very helpful for the clinical aspect of optometry school. You guys will be ahead of the curve! One thing I recommend you do before choosing a school is to check out their boards pass rates. You need to have a doctor of optometry degree, pass all three parts of the NBEO, and pass your state licencing exam in order to practice optometry. You can find details about each schools pass rate here: