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Hello! I’m a 1st-year contributor to the SCO student blog and I am so happy to be able to lend my experience to those who are considering optometry school and Southern College of Optometry. Here in my initial blog post, I will tell you why I chose optometry and why I chose SCO. There are many career options out there for those who appreciate medicine and there are many options for where you can study to be an optometrist. Deciding where I wanted to go to school after my undergraduate education was tough- every school that I considered (about 10 schools in the US) were incredible! My decision to go to SCO involved a very long pro/con list and many plane tickets across the US, but ultimately, came down to an overall impression that I experienced at SCO. More about this in a moment, I would like to explain what experiences led me to pursue optometry school and how I overcame a less-than-perfect condition that culminated in a happy ugly-cry phone call that changed my life.
One of my first shadowing experiences was following a well-established optometrist in my hometown. In fact, after shadowing this practitioner, I encouraged my mom to consider making this optometrist her primary eye doctor. Within a year or so, the optometrist found a quickly-developing stromal ulcer in my mom’s right eye that resulted in a responsive treatment schedule and ultimate remission of the ulcer. My fascination with the eyes and optics became my purpose as I was inspired by this optometrist and other clinical experiences over the years. From that point, I went out in search of job openings in the optometric field and landed a position as an optometric technician. I gave myself the opportunity to back out if I didn’t like working in the practice or if I found that optometry wasn’t for me. However, there was no doubt in my mind- I absolutely loved it! I found that optometrists can help people see their world clearer in many different clinical environments.
Like so many other students, I was overworking myself and not putting in the time required to stay around the 3.5 GPA that most optometry schools expect from undergrads. I contacted every admissions director of the 10 schools to which I was applying. I received very specific instruction from each director to make my application “more competitive”. I would encourage anyone considering optometry school to reach out by phone call to the admissions office for personalized advice! After I knew what I had to do, I increased my GPA by completing a biology masters and I increased my score on the OAT using OAT destroyer, the Kaplan OAT practice tests, and “Chad’s videos”/Coursesaver. The first admissions phone call that I received was from SCO - I was admitted into SCO for the Class of 2022! It is still surreal being able to say those words. If you think that your application isn’t “good enough” for optometry school, reach out to those who can help you and never allow yourself to give up.
I am so excited to start my education in optometry, and particularly, at SCO. I was drawn to SCO because of the Eye Center, the external clinics, the diverse clinic-centered curriculum, the Hayes Center, and the unique student experience. The Eye Center is the community and research clinic on campus that cares for about 40,000 patients a year and houses every nearly subspecialty of eye care. Walking through the clinic, you know you are somewhere special. I knew that clinical studies were going to be the focus of my education at SCO when I looked at which classes were offered in the first year. I feel so welcomed by the students, staff, and professors at SCO. I cannot wait to get started!