Why I Chose SCCO
by Erin Major, Class of 2020
Every place I’ve lived evokes a particular feeling within me, creating an emotional map of my last twenty three years. The resultant emotions are like opening a shoebox full of memories. Thinking about each place I’ve lived produces a visceral reaction, an “emotional feng shui,” where I have forever linked feelings and emotions to that place.
Since Colorado doesn’t have an optometry school, I knew that choosing an optometry program would be the first time I would have to leave my home state. As I learned, there’s no universally accepted ranking system for optometry schools, and so my short list of initial choices was made based on gut reactions to each school’s website, inquiry calls to the admissions department, and whether I could picture myself and my big German Shepherd living in each locale.Once I narrowed down my options to four schools, I was ready to begin the process of interviewing.
My very first optometry school interview/campus tour was a mixed bag, but a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders after I received an acceptance letter the very same day of my interview. Okay, at least one school wants me. And while I liked the school and the people I met, I was left wanting more. I felt displaced and disoriented from the muggy heat, a complete 180 degrees from the crisp Colorado air. When I checked in on my emotional feng shui, it just didn’t feel right. There was something wrong, although I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. While I didn’t want to burn any bridges, I just knew I shouldn’t feel so disgruntled and ill at ease when choosing my supposed dream school.
I hopped on a plane to different schools for two more interviews, each one offering me an acceptance. Each time I felt sick to my stomach. This was confusing because I knew I was excited to pursue my passion of optometry, and I wanted to feel the same about the school I would be attending. For each school, I made a list of pros and cons (although if I’m honest, the pros I added to my list felt forced). The locale of each school left more to be desired—especially for someone like me who was trying to find a new place to call home.
Having the opportunity to talk with current students at each interview, I asked how they decided which school to attend. I heard things like, “I grew up nearby,” or “I want to practice here when I’m out of school.” What I really hoped for was that someone would sit me down and be truthful—maybe even confess that in reality, he or she felt out of place and in a daze, and like me, wasn’t sure which school to choose. Or I wanted to hear that he or she confidently chose his or her “dream” school, which was the best decision—and it would be for me as well.
Though nobody sat me down, a select few students uttered the magic words that changed my viewpoint about the process: when I asked how each had made the decision about which school to choose, I heard over and over, “I just knew it was right.” I felt a kind of admiration for these students that bordered on envy. Why hadn’t I yet had that feeling?
After visiting three schools, I still hadn’t felt right about any of them. I felt like someone trying on a jacket that was perfect in all ways—color, style, details, and yet it still happened to be one size too small. I love this jacket, I told myself. This tiny town could grow on me, I’d think. Here I was trying to force my arms into a jacket that didn’t fit, ignoring the sleeves as they began to pull apart at the seams.
After contemplating the wisdom of that magical phrase, and with three schools down and only one to go, I was discouraged by the prospect that I might have to expand my search. Before I could choose, I knew I would need to feel just right about the school I’d be attending for the next four years. I was reluctant to pin my hopes on the last school on my list for fear that I’d be let down. Discouraged by my negative thinking, I reluctantly concluded that if this last school didn’t work out, there’d be more airplanes and hotel beds in my future.
SCCO was the final school on my list, and so I landed at John Wayne Airport in Santa Ana, California. Despite my cynical state of mind, I was surprised by feeling like I was in some way “home,” and soon realized why…
When I was young, my mom split time working in both Colorado and in California near Anaheim, and I had accompanied her on many flights and Disneyland trips. It felt like I had returned to my old stomping grounds, refreshing and familiar all at the same time. There was a sense of novelty in SCCO’s locale with many new sights and attractions, all waiting to be explored. There was also a welcome sense of familiarity. I was surprised by feeling like I had come home from a long trip, finally able to rest my feet from the journey.
Needless to say, just as SCCO welcomed me, I welcomed SCCO with open arms. The students I talked to were just as kind and welcoming as students at other schools, but at SCCO they reminded me of some of my best friends from home. These are people I can relate to. On interview day, the faculty weren’t intimidating, and instead tried their best to keep us informed, entertained, and at ease during the entire process. I still remember meeting with Eryn Kraning and telling her that this was my place, it was just right. During our meeting, Dr. Munroe and I chatted about Disneyland the entire time. Even my mom who had accompanied me on all of my trips, was sold on SCCO. She tried not to influence my decision, but I knew what she really meant when she more than just hinted, “The weather here is really nice.”SCCO was everything I wanted out of a school…and then some.
There are some choices that need little explanation, choices that are made based on a gut reaction with a little push from the universe. These choices tend to be the best choices of all, the ones that lead you to the places you’re meant to be. Some things just feel right and SCCO was, and continues to be, the right choice for me.