Student Ambassador Blog Articles

My Personal and Professional Gap Year

A series of articles written by SCCO Student Ambassadors.

My Personal and Professional Gap Year

by SCCO Student Ambassador, Minnie Jarupan

Hello prospective students and my SCCO friends/family! My name is Tharawadee Jarupan; you can call me Minnie!

During my sophomore year at the University of California, Riverside, I started exploring clubs on campus that focused on healthcare. I explored different pre-med clubs but did not feel a connection with them, so I continued my survey with other clubs. I became interested and passionate about the optometric field after I joined the Precision For Vision (PFV) pre-optometry club and attended vision screenings. When I became a member of PFV, I began to pursue this career path. Therefore, the next step for me was to set up a plan for when to apply to optometry school and make sure I study well for my courses and OAT.

Considering a gap year was a big question while planning on applying to my dream school, SCCO. I started with what I knew and made a list of pros and cons to help me make a decision.


  • I can spend more time with family and friends without worrying about having to study
  • I can focus on my hobbies more or even discover new things I like to do.
  • I can take a break from intense scheduling and allow myself to recharge.
  • I can focus more on studying for the OAT during the gap year and potentially get a better score than having to juggle both my courses and the OAT during school


  • I would have to divide my energy between finishing school and applying for Optometry school–this would require efficient time management to make it work!
  • I would be delaying my dream of being an Optometrist

In the end, I decided that taking a gap year would be right for me.

Advice for taking a gap year:

Know what is important to you and if taking a gap year will benefit you. I wanted to recharge and spend time with my friends and family before dedicating four years to my career goal. The list of pros/cons may be different for you than the list I made for me, but it ultimately depends on what your values are!

Know the application timeline. After deciding to take a gap year, I began to set deadlines for myself. I planned out when I should take the OAT and when I should begin to apply to the schools. Taking a gap year would allow me to apply during my gap year. If you plan to go straight into optometry school with no gap year, then you may have to balance out your time and focus on school work, extracurriculars, and the application process/interviews.

Decide how you will spend your time. I worked, went on road trips, and caught up with friends and family. In my free time, I taught myself reading and writing in Korean after becoming more interested in Korean culture. I maintained my communication and leadership skills and built connections by practicing for interviews with friends. I made my experiences by volunteering at vision screenings and would stay connected with my professors and the optometrist I interned for.

My Gap Year Takeaway

I grew a lot as a person during my gap year. I tried new food, explored new places, met new people, learned more about them, and worked on character development in different aspects of my life. I would not trade my gap year or change it in any way because I appreciated all the experience and lessons I have learned from this gap year that I would not have experienced if I had gone straight into school.

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

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