Student Ambassador Blog Articles

Out-of-State 101

A series of articles written by SCCO Student Ambassadors.

Out-of-State 101

by SCCO Student Ambassador, Alyssa Rickert

Growing up in Michigan made me fall in love with the Midwest. I love the summer lake days, watching the leaves change colors in the fall, and even the snowy winter months. I never imagined myself feeling at home outside of the Great Lakes State – but I could not have been more wrong.

When I began the application process for optometry school, I applied to schools in the Midwest region, thinking IRickert, Alyssa 2 would stay close to home. Despite thinking I would not move far, I thought it would be fun to apply to a school in California, so I explored the different programs and quickly fell in love with SCCO. Even though I was miles away from MBKU’s campus, their program quickly intrigued me. Fullerton seemed like the perfect combination of city and suburb while also being not too far from the beach. I quickly discovered that SCCO would be on my radar for optometry school.

The application process further solidified the fact that I knew I wanted to attend optometry school at MBKU. Throughout the process, I met some of the amazing doctors (many of whom are SCCO graduates) who got to share their stories of how they fell in love with optometry and how SCCO prepared them to give the best patient care that they could. The diversity of Southern California provides exposure to a variety of patient demographics and conditions that I had not been able to experience back home. Hearing about all of this made me want to see firsthand where I could spend the next four years of my life, so following my interview, I flew to California to visit the campus for the first time.

The  Ketchum Health clinic was my first stop. Seeing students working with patients in such a refined atmosphere was amazing. I saw how interdisciplinary education is so important to MBKU and how the clinic is shared among the different programs. I remember walking down the halls and different sections of the clinic, imagining myself in the students’ shoes in just a few short years. After that, I drove over to the main campus in Fullerton, where I got to tour all the different lecture halls and labs where the students perfected their skills before venturing to the clinic. It was during my tour that I felt myself discovering how much I wanted to attend optometry school here. I got to meet Eryn for the first time, and she made me feel like part of the SCCO family. We talked about the program, what Fullerton was like, and the different areas where students resided off campus. I flew home, knowing that this would not be the last time I would be in Fullerton.

Once I received my acceptance, it was time to tackle all the tasks that come along with living out of state. I needed to find roommates and housing and plan for the big move! As students were accepted to the program, we were all added to a class Facebook page where we could learn more about one another, ask questions, and, most importantly, use this as a resource to find potential roommates. While some students were from the area and chose to commute, most students are from further away, out-of-state, and even from other countries.

The Facebook group allowed students to connect remotely before starting school in August. I used this as an opportunity to meet my roommate Emily (another out-of-state student), and we began our search for housing in Fullerton. I quickly learned housing in Southern California is vastly different from that in the Midwest. An abundance of options is available, and it can be overwhelming at first. We started by creating a range for what we wanted to pay and decided on an apartment over a house or townhome. Everyone has different preferences, so you can decide what is best for you! From there, we searched the internet for apartments near the school. Some students prefer to live as close to school as possible, while others prefer to be in Downtown Fullerton or nearby towns- this again comes down to personal preference. Do not be afraid to reach out to student ambassadors and ask them for suggestions! Once we found a place we liked, we contacted the property manager to get more information. Since we both were from out-of-state, we requested a video tour of the apartment we were interested in, and they happily agreed to send one to us. We signed our lease and secured the spot for our August 1st move-in. The next step was to make the move!

Rickert, Alyssa 3While some students choose to live within walking distance of the school and catch rides with others when needed, I knew I wanted to bring my car since I lived about 10 minutes from campus. I packed up my car with what I needed to bring and started the road trip to California! Depending on where you move from, you can use the road trip as a chance to stop and see some landmarks along the way. Some of the highlights of my trip included driving through the mountain towns in Colorado, like Vail, seeing Las Vegas for the first time, and looking over the mountains in Utah. Despite seeing some neat sights, I was even more excited once I got to Fullerton! Getting to know my classmates and starting optometry school while having the opportunity to do all the fun things California has to offer solidified that I made the right choice when choosing SCCO. Discovering the fun places in Downtown Fullerton, going to Disneyland, and visiting the beaches in Orange County has been such a blast and are all things future SCCO students can look forward to! With that being said, I will leave some of my top tips for out-of-state students!

  1. If you have the chance to visit campus, do it! This will help you get to know the area and envision yourself as a student for the next four years.
  2. Don’t be afraid to reach out to other students and get to know them over the summer. Come time for orientation, it makes it more fun and easier to meet them in person for the first time.
  3. Start looking for housing a few months before you move. Most places like you to sign your lease a few weeks before moving in, but they also do not want to hold a place for too long!
  4. When looking for housing, determine what is most important to you (location, price, amenities, etc.) and filter your search! Do not be afraid to reach out to complexes and property owners for more information.
  5. Reach out to the SCCO Student Ambassadors if you have any questions!

Moving to optometry school is such a fun experience, so do not stress too much. Make the most of your time before starting the journey to Southern California!


Click here to read Alyssa’s bio and meet other Student Ambassadors at 



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