A series of articles written by SCCO Student Ambassadors.
by SCCO Student Ambassador, Harkirat Saini
So, you’re working through your application or preparing for your first big interview at that Optometry School you’ve constantly had your mind set on, but the more you think about it, the faster that dark cloud of anxiety and self-doubt creeps in.
Don’t you worry. I was in the same shoes as you are at this moment, and before I jump in, take three deep breaths and tell yourself, “We gon’ be alright.” I am here with you to pull you out of this trap.
As a first-gen college student, I was overwhelmed by the multitude of careers to choose from. And after changing my college major multiple times and constantly researching career choices based on my “personality type” on random online quizzes. Healthcare was a repeating pattern. Optometry/Psychiatry rang a bell based on my values of socializing with others, providing aid, and work-life balance. I fell in love with my major, Psychology, but even more, I fell in love with the career of Optometry. I dove deeper into exploring what it entails, joined the pre-optometry club, and eventually held a board position. I shadowed an Optometrist who ran her clinic in the heart of Downtown Sacramento and even landed a part-time Optometric Technician position during my 3rd-year summer.
Yet, I unintentionally found myself comparing my experiences to other pre-optometry students and prospective applicants, doubting that I did not have enough to be at “their level.” I thought I was not a strong applicant with limited accolades in Optometry or even within any healthcare setting.
I wish I could recall exactly how I broke out of this mentality, but as cliché as it may sound, you are more than just your resume and your work experience. You paved the path to an Optometry school, worked hard to meet all your prerequisites, and put in hours to prepare for the OAT. Pat yourself in the back for all those feats. But more importantly, value who you are, not what you are on paper. I know you have great intentions, a passionate personality, are caring, and are incredibly hard-working. That is why you want to be a doctor, but that is what will make you a great doctor.
Throughout my interviews and all the essay questions, I did not undersell myself despite the lack of credentials. Instead, I focused more on the lessons I learned from my limited experience, the memorable moments, and anything that pushed me to chase this dream we share.
I’ve used a handful of resources to pull myself out of the deep trenches of self-doubt. Among the handful, I highly recommend reading, skimming, or even powering through an online synopsis of “Hardwiring Happiness” by psychologist Rick Hanson, Ph.D. It is a concise self-help book on how to train our mind’s negativity bias, trick it into savoring even the smallest moments of happiness throughout our day-to-day lives and internalize it. This link has an excellent summary of what it is all about, but I highly encourage reading it as you work through the process.
The second tip I highly recommend is to take breaks! Give your body and mind some rest whenever you feel boggeddown with all the stress and anxiety during the admissions cycle. You are most productive, creative, and motivated when you feel healthy and your mind at ease. I treated it as a 9 to 5 job during my application process and kept my weekends all to myself and my loved ones. (And when I say “9 to 5,” I mean that very loosely. Some days I would work on apps/study for OATs for a couple of hours). Pick up a hobby while you step away from the computer. I
channeled my energy towards baking sweet treats, providing me a fun pass time to destress and pig out to satisfy my sweet tooth. Understanding when to stop and unplug from the chaos goes a long way. Trust me on that one.
Also, it is challenging to be aware of the qualities you radiate because I was in those same shoes. To better understand my worth, qualities, and personality, I asked a few UC Davis alumni, my closest peers, and my elder sister to share their opinions about my persona. Having their point of view in mind helped me navigate my esteem toward the top of the trench. Coming to an understanding of who you are, deep down, and the morals you value will automatically help you paint the picture you want to highlight to the admissions team.
Most importantly, just be yourself. Project your personality traits in those essays, highlight your beauty and passion in your interviews, and do not feel discouraged. Who wouldn’t want to enroll a genuine soul like you? Let’s take those three deep breaths again, but now tell yourself, “I am worthy. I am worth it.”
Click here to read Harkirat’s bio and meet other Student Ambassadors at Ketchum.edu.
Categories: Student Ambassador Blog Articles