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How to Survive the First 6 Months of Optometry School

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5 min read

Optometry school can be difficult especially as a first-year student in a new city and new environment. Here are some tips to make it through.

How to Survive the First 6 Months of Optometry School
Optometry school is challenging enough.
It is particularly difficult as a first-year student in a new environment and oftentimes a new city.
Here are some tips to help you make it through those first 6 months!

Day One of Optometry School

Take a deep breath.
This moment, right now, marks the first day of the rest of your life.
Like many, getting to this point is somewhat of a relief. You’ve worked your tail off, fried your brain from the OAT, nailed your interview, and most importantly, you haven’t backed out yet. Whether you have a 4.0 or a 2.0, YOU DESERVE TO BE HERE.
Within the next 24 hours, you will be overwhelmed, you will wonder how the hell you will ever pass your classes, but you cannot forget the fact that you were hand selected. YOU were chosen over hundreds, maybe even thousands, of applicants to sit in that very seat.
This isn’t undergrad.
Your professors aren’t trying to weed out students or make you fail. These amazing human beings will do EVERYTHING in their power to ensure you become successful, whether that be tutoring, lending an ear, or even acting as a pseudo mom when you can’t keep your life together and just need a hug.
I can’t stress enough, YOU DESERVE TO BE HERE.

Check what 497 optometry students had to say about optometry school in the 2023 Optometry Student Report!

Week One of Optometry School

And the countdown till midterms begins!
Things have become real and you’ve finally understood the insanity that is your course load. But that does not deter you away.
Yes, you’ve got 234879830598 things to do a day, but this stuff is actually interesting. There is no “what year did the battle of Gettysburg end?, What is the proper punctuation for the following sentence?, Jenny is 15 months older than Chris. Brock is 18 days younger than Jenny. What color is Jenny’s father’s shirt?”
What you learn in these courses finally pertain to what you’ll be doing in your near future. So yes it's difficult, yes you’ll want to pull your hair out at times, but man does it make you work that much harder and that more excited to become an optometrist.
Just take a minute for yourself when you start to worry if you can do it, and remind yourself YOU DESERVE TO BE HERE.
If there was only one piece of advice to give, it would be to figure out your study habits now.
Realize they may not be the same for every course. Make up problems and do a few a day. Find a study group and go over confusing topics. Go talk to your professors! In case you missed that, GO TALK TO YOUR PROFESSORS!
Don’t rely on classmates to explain a topic or clear something up. Only your professors know the correct answer. They won’t judge you, they won’t stare at you and say to themselves “who let this dummy in?”. They will be impressed that you took initiative and, best of all, they’ll know your name.
Yes, they are your superiors, but you are in a professional setting. Not only do they have an effect on your grade, but they could be that connection you need to land your first job.
So let me say it one more time. Talk to your professors!

Midterm One in Optometry School

Let me warn you now.
For most people, your grades will be all across the board. You will receive an A in one class and an F in another. You ask your friends how they did and they, guaranteed, will have an expression of ‘I think I’m happy, maybe I’m sad, maybe it’s the fact that I haven’t slept since last Tuesday, I just realized I haven’t blinked in over 5 minutes because I may or may not have overdone it with the espresso’.
When you take the best of the best across the world and put them in a single class, some of those high rollers will become the new bottom of the barrel.
But again you have to remember, your professors are not out to get you. They will try their best to get you to score better on the next midterm and, in most cases, they might even be more excited than you when you pull that F up to a C. Celebrating every success, no matter how small, will keep your sanity intact over the next few years.
After your mini mind break, reevaluate how midterms went and implement a new system for the next rounds of tests.
Maybe studying with a group for a given class didn’t work well for you. Maybe you weren’t taking detailed of enough notes.
Figure it out now, because chances are, you’ll have these professors again.

First Round of Finals in Optometry School

You are officially 1/8th of the way done with optometry school. Whether your grades are stellar or not what you were hoping for, take a break.
Buy a cupcake.
Utilize the next week or so to FINALLY get some real sleep. Spend some time with your family. Eat a real meal. Color in an adult coloring book.
Because any day now, you’ll start the whole process all over again.
Kristin Nelson
About Kristin Nelson

Southern College of Optometry O.D. candidate Class of 2020. University of Iowa Alumni Class of 2016. Driven, collaborative, and well-rounded optometry student known for exemplary clinical skills, excellent leadership, and attention to detail. Combines and balances enthusiasm and patience. Positive in approach to dealing with others and successful at maintaining friendly public relations. Currently seeking associateship in private practice setting.

Kristin Nelson
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