Student Life

Moving to SCCO From Out of State: A Student Perspective

Moving to a new state can be difficult, especially when starting doctorate school. Below are two first year student’s perspectives and advice they believe is important when moving from out of state:

Being from Minnesota, there is no choice but to choose an optometry school out-of-state. The big decision for most, then, becomes how far away from home are you willing to go? For many students, moving away from home can be intimidating, but most students are very happy with their decision to jump some states and move to California. For me personally, I really wanted to set aside the distance and pick a school that felt right. And hey, being able to venture out and live somewhere I never imagined I would be able to was an added plus!

The main concern being from a small town is moving to a heavily populated area, especially when it comes to traffic. The Real Housewives of Orange County can definitely be misleading as to what the area is really like. First, Fullerton is such a friendly and safe area. Even though the area has over 100,000 people, it still feels like a small community when you run errands. As far as traffic goes, the freeways are still intimidating at this point, however, traffic in town is very manageable.

Being from Minnesota the only opportunity I had to see the area was when I was in town for my interview. This meant when it came time for choosing a place to live classmates, Facebook, and pictures all became helpful resources. The first time I saw the house I currently live in was the day I moved in. My advice for out-of-state students is to get involved with your class on Facebook as soon as possible to find potential roommates and living situations!

Overall, the best part of moving to an entirely new place is being able to explore. SCCO hosted an entire week of events called “Lens be Friends week” to allow all of the students to get to know one another and to see the surrounding area. Within the first two weeks of living in Fullerton, my roommates and I had ventured to the ocean, an Angels game, and plenty of delicious restaurants. Us out-of-state students really do rely on the students from the area to help us get acquainted with our surroundings. And have no fear, you will have plenty of classmates willing to help you feel at home!

One of the major struggles for most out-of-state students is not being able to go home on a regular basis. It is a sacrifice you should be willing to take but with all the technology we are blessed with today, social media makes it so much easier. Not to mention you become so busy with school, time seems to fly at the speed of sound and you hardly have time to notice it’s been 2 months since you’ve been home. Travel is more expensive and less frequent for out-of-state students but if you are willing to make the sacrifice to try something new, it is completely worth it!  

Jessica Bartl, SCCO class of 2016

As an out of state student from Arizona making the move to California was my first “out of state” experience, but the move wasn’t as drastic or daunting as the moves some of my classmates had to endure from across the country. Even though it only takes me six hours to get from Fullerton, CA to my home in the Grand Canyon State, finding a place to live and understanding my financial aid options was at times stressful and confusing.

As Jessica wrote above, finding a roommate is the first step you need to take and probably the easiest when it comes to housing. As soon as you are accepted to SCCO you are added to a special Facebook Page where all of the students who are looking for roommates can talk to each other and figure out housing situations. Finding a house or apartment to live in can be more challenging from out of state. I live in an apartment complex within a mile of school, which I was very hesitant about due to reviews on websites like “” and “”. What I’ve found is that you really have to take the reviews on websites like this with a grain of salt. My experience at my apartment has been the exact opposite of the descriptions I read online (which were very, very negative), and now that I live here, I couldn’t be happier. If you have been accepted to SCCO and are moving from out of state and need a recommendation on where to live, feel free to contact any of the upper classmen by email or Facebook, we will always give you great advice, because we only have your best interest at heart.

As far as financial aid is concerned, I learned about a wonderful program called WICHE (Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education), which is available to students from Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Hawai’i, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming. I found out about this program late in the game, which is why I thought it was important to spread the message through this blog. Through their Professional Student Exchange Program, each WICHE state may be able to support students studying optometry financially, for students that choose to study in a state other than their own. Each state supports their students differently so it is important to go on to the WICHE website and read more into what your state could potentially do for you at If you are reading this entry right now and have found out that your state’s WICHE deadline has already passed, DO NOT FEAR. This is what happened to me, I applied anyways, and was granted a full WICHE “scholarship”. It is a great program and I encourage anyone from the participating states to learn more about it, and to apply!

Liz McMahon, SCCO Class of 2016

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