Starting optometry school can be a big transition, especially when moving to a new area, surrounding yourself with new people, and immersing yourself into an entirely new environment. All of this adjustment is in addition to being expected to learn the whole new language of optometry. Now that the first semester is complete, we invited Breanne McLain, one of our Student Ambassadors, to write about her experiences. Remember, if you have any questions or would like to get in contact with a current student, visit the Student Ambassadors section: http://www.pacificu.edu/optometry/admissions/ambassadors.cfm
A 20/20 View of 1st Semester at PUCO
On my flight to Oregon from New Orleans, LA., the only thought that completely filled my mind was optometry school. “What will classes be like?”, “Are they hard?”, “WILL I HAVE LIFE OUTSIDE OF BOOKS????” and several other questions. I was anxious and nervous about my new life as an OD student. On the first day of class, all of my classmates including myself resembled the young characters from the film “Children of the Corn” because we were quiet, stiffly attentive, and stared directly at the professors. I believe the professors were more nervous than we were because they walked into a classroom of staring, motionless students watching their every move. After about a week, the entire class knew everyone, and the dynamics changed completely.
Upon acceptance into PUCO, I knew that school was going to be NOTHING like undergrad. There is more reading, studying, practicing clinical procedures, and did I mention studying? In the midst of reviewing school work for so many hours, there are fun things to do during your free time such as free bowling and movies in Forest Grove, Saturday Market in Portland, Amigos’ Eye Ball, Beach Trip, Trailblazers NBA games, and countless occasions and outings with friends and classmates.
My favorite part about my 1st semester at PUCO was my classmates. After all of the hours of reading and studying, the primary factor that will help you to get through optometry school is your class. During my interview day, the student ambassadors always referenced to PUCO as a family. Having the opportunity to be a student, I can attest that it is most certainly true. While some classes may be more challenging than others, our class supported and helped each other to get through each course successfully. Next to my class, PUCO professors are AWESOME!!! They will provide you with the necessary knowledge that will help you to be an effective and successful optometrist. They truly want everyone in the class to achieve. Each professor has an “open door” policy if any student has a problem or doesn’t fully understand the lecture topic. They are great with answering questions and making sure you DON’T leave their office until you know what’s going on, trust me I know!
During 1st semester, there were A LOT of tests and quizzes. Sometimes you will wonder if your brain has the capacity to hold all of that information. The professors always told us “Treat optometry school as a marathon”. Every night, study and review your notes to prepare you for upcoming tests, even if the tests are weeks away. Cramming is definitely not an option in optometry school because there is a lot of information. If you cram, you will look like a deer in head lights the day of the exam. By taking it one day at a time, you can fully understand the topics and appreciate it by applying it to clinical situations.
Now in 2nd semester, I believe that 1st semester was an initiation process to prepare you for the rest of optometry school. If you can make it through 1st semester academically, you will make it through optometry school. In my experience this far, in order to be successful 1st semester you have to study, utilize classmates and professors, sleep, and enjoy the experience because one day you will be a busy practicing optometrist!!!