How Did We Get Here?

The application process for optometry school is a long and overwhelming endeavor. I began thinking about a career in optometry junior year in high school. I knew there was an entrance exam and an application, and that was the extent of my knowledge about the application process.

Recognizing that the Optometry Admission Test (OAT) was science-based, I chose to pursue a degree in biology entering college. I was involved in my school’s pre-health organization and one of my favorite events that was held was an annual preview day one of the local medical schools would host. It included application tips, a student panel, a tour of the facilities, and my favorite part: the mock interview. One of the most important opportunities for you to stand out as an applicant is your interview. Yes, your personal statement gets your foot in the door, but your interview is where you bust the door wide open.

TIP #1: Do as many mock interviews as you can

The amazing thing about mock interviews is it is a low-pressure interview. You can get the nerves out early and become familiar with the kinds of things you will get asked. In total I did about four mock interviews, and I learned so much through each one. Each interview was a completely different style; I have done mock individual, partners, and group interviews. The group interviews were the most interesting because you were able to listen in to what other people had to say about certain topics. I was asked personal questions, light-hearted questions, and even presented with ethical cases in which I had to state what action I would take.

Not to worry, I am here to assure you that the interview at UIWRSO is different, and even enjoyable. The interviewer wants to get to know you and answer any questions to help you determine if this program is a good fit for you. It is more of a conversation than a high pressure question and answer setting. Your visit to UIWRSO is more about you assessing the program for fit, and has been constructed to introduce you to the culture. The interview itself is one-on-one with a faculty member and is closed file.  The faculty  interviewing committee consists of current professors who you will encounter throughout your career at UIWRSO.

TIP #2: Make a timeline

Since elementary, I have always carried my trusty planner detailing my schedule, events, and to-do list. That being said, I know not everyone has to write down their day-to-day schedule; however, you should have a timeline outlining your plan of action for the years leading up to optometry school. There are many resources that share a detailed outline of what should be done and when. I had Pinterest boards full of helpful timelines to keep me on track towards optometry school.

Everyone’s journey to optometry school is different. Some take gap months, years, or graduate early. Modify your timeline to whichever way fits your path.

TIP #3: Shadow different optometrists

It’s great to shadow your local optometrist, whom you’ve been going to since elementary school, but I encourage you to span out and reach out to different optometrists and shadow as many as you can. Shadow optometrists in different settings: private practices, retail optometry, group practices, M.D./O.D. practice, etc. There is so much variability in each patient exam and each optometrist practices to his/her specific method; being able to take in as much expertise from each one of them will definitely give you more knowledge coming in. Also, let’s not forget you will be needing a letter of recommendation from an optometrist so it wouldn’t hurt to mingle with a couple and get their support. Even if you don’t ask for a letter from them, it is nice to have someone who has been through optometry school rooting for you.

Good luck and happy planning!

Class of 2022 beginning their journey to becoming O.Ds.

Introductions

I’m new here. Not just to this humble blog, but to the UIWRSO family, as are my 67 classmates of the recently officiated Class of 2021. Even nearly 2 months into the exciting and sometimes intense undertaking otherwise known as optometry school, I find myself still undergoing introductions with peers I have yet had the chance to say hello to.

Through this challenging four year experience, and even onward into the professional world, these people will become my second family. Peers that will be there to answer each other’s questions, and send each other encouragements or memes for quick laughs late into the night during exam week. Shoulders to lean on during moments of surmounting stress, when concepts won’t seem to ever click, and friends to celebrate with after overcoming hurdles.

Some of us have heard a calling to the optometric profession since our undergraduate years or even before. And yet others such as myself began our professional careers in other fields, and somewhere along the road found ourselves in San Antonio, in this distinguished program. No matter our background or where we call home, we’ve all been brought here with one common dream: to one day change the lives of patients through our optometric practices.

 

Fortunately, we aren’t alone on our conquest to professional success. Since even before beginning the program, the UIWRSO community has been exceptionally welcoming and accommodating. Something that drew me towards UIWRSO since meeting the staff at interviews is that they genuinely care about our education and training. As demanding as their own courses are, the upperclassmen have also been so helpful in guiding us into a smooth transition.

Along with Janelle, I will be documenting my experiences here, as well as sharing resources and tips that have helped me along the way.

To aspiring students, applicants, and the curious, take a peak at the every day life of a UIW optometry student.

My dear fellow first years, let me put our shared experiences down on metaphorical online paper.

And to the respectable upperclassmen and RSO faculty, enjoy reliving these first year moments, from stress-induced tears and nervous breakdowns of exams, to the unforgettable memories of first patient interactions.

Hi, it’s nice to meet you. Through my entries, I will be sharing with you the RSO experience, from the perspective of a first year.

Big Sib / Lil’ Sib Program

I have mentioned in my blog posts before how difficulty it can be, not only moving to a new state, but also starting a graduate program. One person who really helped me during this transition was my big sibling. The summer before starting my first year, I was given the option to join the Big Sib/Lil’ Sib program. A few weeks after filling out the match form with personal information and hobbies/interests, I then found out who my big sibling would be.

I attribute much of my reduced stress to having a big sibling. It is such a relief to have someone to ask anything. It can be something as simple as “Where is the best coffee shop to study at?” or something important like “How can I save time on an upcoming lab checkout?” Throughout my first year, I discovered that having a big sibling is someone who I could create a supporting relationship with. For example, when I had a proficiency test, I never hesitated to ask my big sibling for advice, and likewise when she was preparing for her optometry board exam I provided her with words of encouragement. For any incoming first year students, I highly encourage you to join the Big Sib/Lil’ Sib program.

Attached below is a photo of my big sibling and I enjoying our evening at the 2017 RSO Eye Ball Formal.

Janelle Sventek

Janelle is a fourth year student attending UIWRSO, working as a blog writer to share personal experiences about her time in optometry school.

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Show Your Best Dance Moves

Every year during the spring semester RSO hosts an awards banquet for all students. The event is designed to recognize students for their hard work, honor the class superlatives, and provide a great venue to celebrate the end of the academic year. This banquet is coined with the punny name: “Eye Ball Formal”. This past spring, I attended my first Eye Ball, and it was a blast. Many of my classmates called it the prom of graduate school; but it was so much better than any prom I have ever attended. This year’s theme was Monte Carlo, and included music, awards, dancing, raffle prizes, roulette tables, and black jack.

One of my favorite things about this event was interacting and seeing professors and proctors in a fun and endearing venue. It gives everyone a moment to stop thinking about tests and proficiency exams and enjoy a night out and have fun. The Eye Ball is planned and put on by the second-year student government board, with support from first year SGA board. If planning events and decorating is a hobby of yours, consider joining SGA during your first and/or second year.

Janelle Sventek

Janelle is a fourth year student attending UIWRSO, working as a blog writer to share personal experiences about her time in optometry school.

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Relocating 101

Almost without exception, whenever I meet a potential new student at interview days, they ask me about living accommodations in San Antonio. When I confirmed my acceptance into UIWRSO I had a sense of relief, but also a giant wave of anxiety. I knew nothing about the state of Texas, and certainly had no idea about a city the size of San Antonio. Through all the nervousness and stress that I endured on interview day, I somehow remembered being told about a free relocation service to RSO students.

I was apprehensive at first, because we all know nothing is free; but reluctantly I picked up the phone and called the relocation office. The staff member that answered the phone could not be more helpful.  She asked me to email her a list of all my wants and desires when it came to apartment size, location, features, amenities and she would find the perfect complexes for me. Within a few days, sent me a good selection of places to choose from.

I planned a trip to San Antonio in May to tour my top 3 choices. By the end of that day, I had placed a deposit and knew where I would be living come August. I highly encourage all students to use the relocation service. They were great at helping me narrow down my options and find the perfect fit for me. Oh, and the cherry on top: it really was all free!

http://www.aptreloctr.com

Janelle Sventek

Janelle is a fourth year student attending UIWRSO, working as a blog writer to share personal experiences about her time in optometry school.

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