Building a Support System

How do students adjust to the demands of optometry school? Professional school can feel new and intimidating; classes are rigorous; and many students are living far from friends and family. Below, Lauren Schneider, a first year from New Jersey, explains five key ways she has begun building a support network during her first semester.

Lauren writes:

Choosing to come to The Ohio State University College of Optometry was the best decision I could have made to advance my career for many reasons.  However, the excitement of deciding where to pursue my degree was quickly followed by the fear of figuring out how I would make a place for myself in a completely new city and at a completely new school.  I am from New Jersey and went to a small liberal arts school, Siena College.  At home and at college, I had such an amazing support system of family and friends and I was nervous to move away from all of them.  Almost finished with my first semester, I can confidently say I have begun developing another great support system within OSUopt and because of that I have been able to thrEYEve, not just survive!  Here are the top 5 facets of OSUopt that can help you build your support system, too!

  1. Your previous support system(s): Even if you do move far from home, or maybe just down the road, your previous support system will always be there to help you and to serve as the foundation for your future endeavors.  A phone call, Skype call, FaceTime, or text is all that separates you from the support you need, whenever you need it and that is a really comforting thought.
  2. Your Faculty: Truthfully, the best way to describe the OSUopt faculty is that they are “aggressively helpful.”  Each and every one of them is here to help us succeed as students and as professionals.  On the very first day, they welcomed us as colleagues into the profession, and they take that to heart when you see them in office hours or outside the classroom.  Their support and belief in us really helps to get us through the woes of school for four years!
  3. Your Administrators: Jen, Becca, Shawn, and Justin are not just here to help recruit each incoming class; they are here for the long haul with all of us.  Their doors are always open for questions and concerns, ranging from academic issues to social difficulties and everything in between.  They are here for you in whatever way you need them, so you can definitely count on them to be a part of your support system!
  4. Your Bigs (and any upperclassman, really): Here at OSU, we have a Big Sib/Little Sib program where second year students are paired with incoming first year students to answer questions and help ease the transition into optometry school.  Their advice and encouragement is super helpful, but it’s not just the second years that are willing to help.  All the upperclassmen I have met so far have been just as supportive because they were in my shoes not too long ago.  OSU’s family mentality means you have an entire support system of future colleagues cheering you on at all times!
  5. Your Classmates!: Last but not least, your classmates are all uniquely bright and talented individuals that you have the opportunity to sit in a room with for 8 hours a day.  Nothing brings people together like mutual experiences and your classmates are right there in the trenches with you.  The unconditional support we give each other is genuine because again, as future colleagues, we want to see each other succeed!

Regardless of where you choose to attend optometry school, surrounding yourself with a solid support system will take time but it is absolutely essential in order to succeed and truly enjoy your time in school!