It can be said that a gap year offers a great opportunity to gain experiences, save money, and have time to refine your application. However, because I was eager to start optometry school and felt like I made the most of my undergraduate years, I opted not to take that gap year. I had enjoyed my undergrad experience fully, I took every opportunity to be involved in variety of experiences by graduation. To not take that gap year was a personal choice for me that also meant finding ways to balance the OAT and application while still taking courses and finishing up my undergrad degree.
Before entering optometry school and after finishing undergrad, I took three years to “test out” optometry.
Deciding to attend optometry school can be a big decision to make, and I wanted to ensure that it was something I wanted to dedicate the rest of my life to. I worked full time in private practice to gain some preliminary skills which had the bonus of giving me incredible insights into the field. I also wanted a reset after finishing my undergraduate education. This time allowed me to rediscover some old hobbies like reading and cooking, and also to do some traveling. However, getting back into the swing of school, specifically optometry school, with a rigorous schedule was initially daunting.
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.
I applied to optometry school as an out-of-state student during the summer of 2020, right in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, unfortunately I was unable to visit the optometry schools I applied to; however, I still managed to pick the school that fit me best, and here’s how I did it!
I always was in love with the idea of optometry. I loved the idea of seeing patients day to day. Though when I look back on my first thoughts about becoming an optometrist, I never knew how diverse the field truly is.
I’m an international student so moving to foreign countries is second nature to me! Beginning a professional program is difficult and nerve wracking on its own. It is even more overwhelming when you have to pack up your life and move across oceans to turn your dreams into reality.
Growing up in the cultural melting pot of Southern California, I found comfort in my cultural and ethnic identity because it helped me define myself. As a child of Egyptian immigrants with agricultural roots, hard work and resilience were core values that enriched my environment through multiple outlets that contributed to my overall development.
Why did I choose to major in dance in undergrad if I planned on pursuing a career in optometry? What was I hoping to gain? Was I wasting my time?
These are questions I asked myself as I plowed through hours of homework, studying, and rehearsals while majoring in both dance and biological sciences at UC Irvine. Since high school, I was set on being an optometrist
As a first generation college student with parents who were unable to support me financially, making the decision to pursue optometry school took a lot of consideration. Not only is the cost of attending optometry school a big consideration, but for students who are financially independent, even just the cost of preparing and applying to optometry school can be daunting….
I would love to share my story on how I found my passion within optometry in the hopes that aspiring optometry students can relate. If you are feeling indecisive or confused on what career path to take after graduating, know that I have been in your shoes and it will be okay.