Why Opt Is opt for Ohio State

by Erlein Tacastacas ’21

As the 2018 fall semester wraps up, we check in with some first-year students from the class of 2022. They share why they ultimately chose to attend The Ohio State University College of Optometry, their tips for the application process, and thoughts about their first semester of optometry school and living in Columbus.

Why did you choose OSU?

First day of optometry school


Natalie Wong (above): I chose OSU because I was impressed not only by their program, but also by the quality of the interactions I had with everyone when I was exploring my options! When considering OSU’s program, I particularly appreciated their comprehensive curriculum and extended learning opportunities such as the school’s optometric organizations and the option for a combined OD/MS in Vision Science. I was also drawn towards the opportunity to work with other medical professions on campus as well as the continual improving of OSU’s clinic facilities. Plus, whenever I visited OSU, the students, staff, and even alumni were all incredibly approachable and welcoming! It made me feel very comfortable, and after spending some time here, I do not regret joining this wonderful community.

Jaime Antonio (above): I first heard of OSU through working at a private practice in California that specialized in myopia control. Looking to expand my understanding of myopia progression, I visited several optometry colleges in California and asked what I should be doing to learn more about it. The overwhelming consensus was to read the research published by Ohio State’s own, Dr. Walline, and that piqued my interest in OSU. In 2016, Justin Griest and Dr. Earley came to my pre-optometry club and sealed the deal. Their enthusiasm about comprehensive eye care and the emphasis on accepting students on a holistic evaluation aligned with the type of optometrist I sought (and continue to pursue) to become.

Megan Overberg (above): I chose OSU for multiple reasons. First, I knew it was among the best schools in the country and on the day of my interview that was confirmed. I would also be in state and I would still be able to keep the “big school” feel I was used to in undergrad.

Thomas Krainz (above): Growing up in Northeast Ohio, I don’t think applying to any other Optometry school was ever an option. A lot of my early exposure to the profession came from several OSU grads who helped form my notion of what a health care professional “par excellence” looked like. This in addition with my experience at a visit day and the close proximity to home made it my top pick.

Cynthia Lenhoff (above): OSU school of optometry’s record of turning out great doctors was what made me want to apply. This school consistently has one of the best boards passing rates, and their students have gone on to become leaders in the field. Every single student and alumnus I met had nothing but great things to say about their time here.

What tips do you have for those applying to optometry school?

Natalie: Applying to optometry school is a lot of work! I was overwhelmed at first, but if you just take things one step at a time, you’ll make it through! I would say to take the Optometry Admission Test (OAT) and notify your Letter of Recommendation writers as soon as possible to give you some leeway in case things don’t go as planned. Also, don’t be afraid to reach out to any current optometry student ambassadors or optometrists for advice! They all want to see you succeed and join them in the profession!

Jaime: Take all the opportunities to talk to optometry students, professors and staff! Their experience can give you valuable insight into a program that a website or admissions officer may not include in their presentation. Are students enjoying their time in school or do they feel stressed because juggling the clinic scheduling and commute takes away from their ability to study? Do students feel like they are building meaningful relationships with their classmates and faculty that will help them in the future? Do they feel like they are adequately prepared to take boards or do their classroom experiences leave something to be desired? Do staff members feel like they contribute to a positive student experience?

Thomas: Never stop expanding your optometric experience. One of the temptations that comes with a list of prerequisites is simply completing the minimum requirement. I found this especially true when shadowing in optometric offices. Every attempt to familiarize yourself with the practice of optometry will augment discernment of how you want to practice in the future.

Cynthia: Grades are not everything. The committee is looking for well-rounded students that have something to add to the community. Make sure to get good letters of recommendation from people who know you well, and present yourself well at the interview.

What’s one word you would use to describe your first semester?

Natalie: Adjustment. There are many new things to adjust to – whether it be a very heavy course load, class dynamics, or a new city – but there is so much to learn and gain from it all!

Jaime: Unbelievable – I often wake up in disbelief that I have the privilege to study at a world-class institution like THE Ohio State University.

Megan: Marathon. When I think of a marathon, I think of something that is long and hard. You get tired at times, but you keep running. You prepare and train hard for it (like our schooling up to this point) and when you finish it, it’s a HUGE accomplishment. You feel proud and confident that all your hard work paid off. 

Thomas: Encouraging. I had a lot of preconceived ideas regarding the difficulty of professional school and whether I was going to succeed. Optometry school definitely comes with its challenges, but it also helps to know that there is tremendous effort being invested by professors, administration, and fellow colleagues to ensure that you’re qualified to be called “doctor.”

Cynthia: Hectic. There is always something to occupy your time; from schoolwork to extracurriculars, to Columbus events.

What’s your favorite thing to do in Columbus?

Natalie: I like going to the Arena District, because there’s always something fun going on there! 

Jaime: Favorite thing to do is definitely visiting all of the amazing cafés! There’s a great coffee culture in Columbus and they are great for studying. I always run into a classmate or two at them, too! 

Megan: My favorite thing to do in Columbus is to hang out with my friends and explore new places…I also enjoy cheering on Ohio State Football and attending church with my friends. 

Thomas: Definitely running and biking. The Olentangy trail was great for when I was training for the Columbus Half Marathon and biking on campus is a great way to explore (and can also be faster than driving). As a good supplement to these, I enjoy trying new foods. You could throw a stone fifty feet in any direction and hit a restaurant, bistro, café that you’ve never tried. I suggest the Short North.

Cynthia: Columbus is a growing center of culture. There are museums and art shows, and a growing music scene. A lot of places feature live music almost every night.

What has been your favorite memory from first year so far? 

Natalie: My favorite memory from first year so far was a wine night I had with some friends after the first round of midterms. We were exhausted from the past few weeks, but it was really nice to relax together!

Jaime: My favorite first-year memory has to be the opportunity to attend my first American Academy of Optometry meeting in San Antonio, TX. In addition to enhancing my understanding about vision care and eye diseases, I was able to celebrate and witness my classmates, colleagues and professors’ achievements presented on an international stage. The Buckeyes took home the victory at the Inaugural Essilor Academic Challenge, too! It was also my first opportunity to reunite with my friends and colleagues from California since moving to Ohio. To see the fruits of all of their hard labor on display will be one of my biggest inspirations for continuing to work hard through the rest of my career.

Megan: One of my favorite memories so far this year has been studying for the histology practical. I enjoyed it because we were all in it together. Everyone was tired and on study overload, but the late nights and early mornings in the lab turned out to be a great time to work together and also bond with each other.

Thomas: In the beginning of the semester, members of NOSA (the student branch of the NOA that provides eye care to under-served communities) had the opportunity to aid in vision screenings at OSU’s Healthy Community Day. Although my participation as a first year wasn’t deeply involved, it was rewarding to step outside the classroom and serve the Columbus community.

Cynthia: My favorite memories thus far have been hiking and kayaking with my SocialEyes group. It was fun to be outdoors getting to know a group of people I had not talked to much before.