Gap Year: Taking a Break Between Undergrad and Optometry School

Hello Readers!

Have you considered taking some time off after graduating from undergrad or are you already in a full-time position? If so, we’re here to provide you with some insight. Both of us were in the same boat a few years ago and decided to enjoy the real world before applying to Optometry school. Here is what we learned and took from our experiences.

Some of you have already decided on Optometry as your career choice while others may still be searching forums and talking with many health care professionals to figure out your path. Our message we want to convey to you is both mindsets are useful if you choose to take time off between college and Optometry school. Emily knew she wanted to be an Optometrist since junior year of college, while Katie discovered her interest in the profession post-graduation. However, we both found success during our time off.

The one caveat to our success was we both knew our time off from school was only temporary. It changed how we spent our time and our perspective on what was important to us. In other words, we figured out what we wanted in life and, relating to Optometry, what we wanted from a career. Here are some of the things we did during our time off:


Volunteering in Thailand

  • Volunteered abroad in Thailand
  • Visited friends throughout the US
  • Road trips to Colorado, California
  • Improved baking and cooking skills (no more top ramen!!)
  • Developed financial skills and budgeting
  • Worked full time jobs at 50 hours/week
  • Shadowed Optometrists for full days
  • Made trips out of each interview experience
  • More time to focus on the application and personal statement
  • Watch the TV shows I missed during college (no more reruns)
  • Completed a triathlon
  • Spend quality time with friends, family, loved ones, and pets

As you all can see, we did a lot of different things during our time off from school. Probably the best way to sum up our experiences is that life is happening right now and you must make the most of it with whatever time you have. We both worked full-time jobs, but still went out and experienced life. It is important to know that Optometry school IS what you want to do. The commitment to the program must be strong. By taking the time to work in another field and participating in extracurricular activities, we confirmed/reconfirmed our desire to pursue Optometry school. At the end of college we were ready for a break. With a refreshed mind, we were ready to go back to school.


Road Trip to Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado

Probably the main concern we both had taking time off was being older than the rest of our classmates and graduating later in life. We’ve found that graduate school is nice in that there is a variety of ages and backgrounds that allows everyone to find their niche in the program. We’re all here for the same reason and each person with their unique background adds a better dynamic to Optometry school life.

Enjoy the little things in life because someday you may realize they were the big things!

Emily James & Katie Powers

SCCO Class of 2016

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