Student Ambassador Blog Articles

Advice from Students Who Took Gap Years by SCCO Ambassadors Ally Tran & Karen Nguyen

A series of articles written by SCCO Student Ambassadors, here are Ally Tran and Karen Nguyen. To learn more about them, where they is from, and why they chose SCCO, find their bios here listed alphabetically.

Advice from Students Who Took Gap Years

by SCCO Ambassadors Ally Tran & Karen Nguyen

Tran_AllyAlly Tran:

Taking a gap year was the best decision I’ve made during my application process. Instead of rushing to fit a certain timeline, I decided to take a mental break from school and spend more time expanding my patient care experience. This extra time before optometry school helped me become a better prepared and more confident applicant when completing my applications.

Before graduating college, I knew I wanted to spend my gap year before optometry school exploring different practice modalities. The idea of working in an OD/MD group practice has always intrigued me and I was lucky enough to find a job opportunity working as a medical scribe for an ophthalmology/optometry practice located in my hometown. I’ve had prior experience working in patient care, but this job expanded my knowledge of the optometry profession completely beyond an annual eye exam. I was exposed to a range of specialties in optometry such as pediatrics, low vision, ocular disease management, and myopia control. The optometrists and ophthalmologists worked closely as a team to handle many post operative appointments for cataract and pterygium surgery follow-ups. This was a side of optometry I didn’t even know existed! As time progressed, I became more comfortable interacting with patients coming from different age groups and cultures. I even got to assist with in-clinic procedures, such as punctal plug insertions, laser peripheral iridotomies, and medical botox appointments! This would not have been possible for me if I didn’t decide to take a break from academics.

Prior to this year, I was certain optometry was the right profession for me. After taking a gap year to explore my specific interests, I have a more clear vision of what kind of optometrist I strive to be. Completing applications, finishing prerequisites, and taking the OAT exam is an understandably stressful timeline to meet. Optometry school will have many challenges, both mentally and physically, so ensuring that you’re in the right mental state to prepare for it’s challenges is crucial! A gap year can be a wonderful opportunity to further your experience, maturity, and character development, and I recommend it for every pre-optometry student! If you have any questions for me, feel free to contact me at

Nguyen_KarenKaren Nguyen:

Although I’ve been set on optometry since my first year of college, my gap year was intentional. Many of my peers decided to go directly into optometry school because they had their minds set on the goal, but I did not want to face any burnout after undergrad. The gap year helped refresh my mind, and I came into school with a stronger mindset and willingness to succeed. If my gap year weren’t in the middle of a pandemic, my plans after graduation would have been to travel, work at a new job, and genuinely enjoy quality time with loved ones. I would highly recommend a gap year if you think you may need some time to recharge, and I do not regret my decision at all!  If you have any questions for me, feel free to contact me at karen

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