Student Ambassador Blog Articles

Getting Admitted Into Optometry School as a Career Changer by SCCO Student Ambassador, Jillian Hipsman

A series of articles written by SCCO Student Ambassadors, here is Jillian Hipsman. To learn more about Jillian, where she is from, and why she chose SCCO, find her bio here listed alphabetically.

Getting Admitted Into Optometry School as a Career Changer

by SCCO Student Ambassador, Jillian Hipsman

Hipsman_Jillian

This one goes out to all the dreams I left behind…

I sometimes joke that I’m not on plan B or C; instead, I am on to Roman Numerals. I never had a dream job when I was a kid, so I have tried many things. I knew, though, what I didn’t want to be. I never wanted to be in the medical field. My dad was an RN in a hospital, and it did not sound good to me. And so I wrote the whole healthcare provider thing off. I accidentally stumbled into a Spanish major in college and had some free time, so I added on art as a double major. When I graduated college, the U.S. was heading into a recession, and ao I was happy to get ANY job. It turns out I didn’t like that job, so I got a different job, and then an other job, and the list goes on.

Even though a few of my jobs sound kind of cool when talking about them, none of them was a dream, at least not my dream, and some of them turned out to be downright intolerable. I found things that I was good at, but I never felt “fulfilled.”

Then I got the job that turned out to change my life. This job was so terrible that I went home after a practically bad day that involved stalking a dog and got up the nerve to take a job aptitude survey on the DOL website to find out what else I could do…

Survey said: doctor

It said some other things like park ranger, but there were a lot of doctors on my survey results list. Luckily after ten years of having jobs, I reviewed my former stance on the medical field, and my feelings about certain parts of the medical field helped me narrow things down to a pretty short list of doctors.

After changing my job and life so many times, I became adept at planning an escape route out of a life I didn’t like toward one I thought I might. So, I looked up classes I would need, went on the community college website, and signed up for the first one offered that was on the list. Don’t get me wrong, it was a long list, a very long list. I did not have any science classes on my undergraduate transcript. For the first year, I took classes while working in an office full-time. Then I quit my job, moved across the country, and went back to college full-time. Completing the prerequisite courses took me three years. Some days it was hard to remember why I would do this to myself. I would sit in General Chemistry II lecture and plan out a life I could have made for myself that would not have led to me sitting in General Chemistry II lecture with 75 people 15 years younger than me. Most days, though, what I was doing was better than what I had been doing, which kept me going.

As a career changer/ non-traditional student, it was helpful for me to make a list of things I needed to do and chip away at completing them. I compared the prerequisite course lists and other requirements from the schools I was interested in. I picked the schools I applied to based primarily on location. I only applied to schools where I had lived or had a decent support network of friends or family. As an older student, I did not want to rely on making that type of vital connection with my classmates. I also attended the online Optometry School Fair and asked about OAT scores and GPAs for non-traditional students. I purchased a boot camp style subscription to study for the OAT because it had been 15 years since I had studied for that style of standardized testing.

Sometimes not being a traditional student helped me avoid comparing myself to the average applicant. I know I have different soft skills than a person who has not worked for as many years. I also did not realize that pre-health advisors existed until I was asked on OptomCAS to list my pre-health advisor if applicable. At the end of the day, I would try and remind myself that I would be working in the field for more years than it took me to get this far, so it is worth all the effort I put into it.

So, here I am, a first-year student at SCCO and a future doctor of optometry. As I wrote this article, I couldn’t help smiling. 

If you have any questions for me, feel free to contact me at jillianhipsman.scco25@ketchum.edu

ream, at least not my dream, and some of them turned out to be downright intolerable. I found things that I was good at, but I never really felt “fulfilled.”

Then I had the job that turned out to change my life.  This job was so terrible that I went home after a practically bad day that involved stalking a dog and got up the nerve to take a job aptitude survey on the DOL website to find out what else I could do…

Survey said:  doctor

It said some other things like park ranger, but there were a lot of doctors on my survey results list.  Luckily after 10 years of having jobs,  I was able to review my former stance on the medical field, and my feelings about certain parts of the medical field helped me narrow things down to a pretty short list of doctors.

After changing my job and life so many times I became very adept at planning an escape route out of a life I didn’t like toward one I thought I might. So, I looked up classes I would need, went on the community college website, and signed up for the first one offered that was on the list. Don’t get me wrong, it was a long list, a very long list. I did not have any science classes on my undergraduate transcript. For the first year I took classes while working in an office full-time. Then I quit my job, moved across the country, and went back to college full-time.  Completing the prerequisite courses took me three years. Some days it was hard to remember why I would do this to myself. I would sit in General Chemistry II lecture and plan out a life I could have made for myself that would not have led to me sitting in General Chemistry II lecture with 75 people 15 years younger than me. Most days though, what I was doing was better than what I had been doing, which kept me going.

As a career changer/ non-traditional student,  it was helpful for me to make a list of things I needed to do and chip away at completing them. I compared the prerequisite course lists and other requirements from the schools I was interested in. I picked the schools I applied to based primarily on location. I only applied to schools that were in places I had lived or had a decent support network of friends or family. As an older student I did not want to rely on making that type of vital connection with my classmates. I also attended the online Optometry School Fair and asked about OAT scores and GPAs for non-traditional students. I purchased a bootcamp style subscription to study for the OAT because it had been 15 years since I had studied for that style of standardized testing.

Sometimes not being a traditional student helped me to avoid comparing myself to the average applicant. I know I have different soft skills than a person who has not worked as many years. I also did not know that pre-health advisors existed until I was asked on OptomCAS to list my pre-health advisor if applicable. At the end of the day I would try and remind myself that I will be working in the field for more years than it took me to get this far, so it is  worth all the effort I put into it.

So, here I am a first year student at SCCO and a future doctor of optometry.  As I wrote this article, I couldn’t help smiling. 

If you have any questions for me, feel free to contact me at jillianhipsman.scco25@ketchum.edu

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