What I wish I had known...
Optometry students share their tips for a successful university experience
16 September 2019
Navigating your way through university can be a little bit like arriving on campus for the first time without a map.
Your final destination – becoming a qualified optometrist – is clear but finding the right route to get there can be challenging in an unfamiliar landscape.
As with any new journey, the best people to ask for directions are the ones who have travelled the same path before.
Keeping this in mind, we approached students for their top tips on how to make a smooth passage through your optometry degree.
‘A way of life’
AOP 2019 Student of the Year, Luke McRoy-Jones, shares the importance of taking an interest in the wider optometric profession and its developments.
“Read around your subject,” he says.
“You chose to do optometry for a reason and the more passionate you are about the techniques you are learning, the easier the long days studying become. Optometry is a fantastic profession and it will become a way of life for you,” Luke adds.
The Plymouth University optometry student also emphasised the importance of work experience.
Gaining experience within a role in optics can give students greater insight into the profession and provide real-world links to the topics taught in university, Luke highlights.
“It also provides a great learning platform, as you will interact with other optometrists, contact lens opticians, dispensing opticians and optical assistants. Personally, I’ve learnt so much from colleagues,” he says.
Optometry is a fantastic profession and it will become a way of life for you
Time management and preparation has helped Luke to balance his studies with a variety of extracurricular roles, including serving as Optometry Society president in second year.
He emphasises that while studying can be challenging, it is important for students to remember that they are not alone.
“It’s very normal to feel stressed and overwhelmed at times and I’m sure a lot of your peers are going through the same experience,” Luke says.
As well as making the most of support networks within the university, the AOP has a free and confidential Peer Support Line, which is available for those who would like to talk through any issues.
Organisation is key
Anglia Ruskin University optometry student Emilia Ford confides that when she was at her most exhausted during exam time, she came close to giving up optometry all together.
“Instead, I started to feel grateful for how far I’d come and it gave me a boost to carry on and achieve what I’d already been working so hard on,” she says.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help
Experimenting with different methods of revising has helped Emilia during her time at university, from using revision cards to practising with past papers.
“There are loads of YouTube videos that I have found helpful when looking for inspiration,” she shares.
“Don’t be afraid to ask for help; your lecturers want you to succeed as much as you do,” Emilia adds.
She stresses the importance of structuring the workload to avoid cramming at the last moment.
“Start making revision notes from lecture one and keep up with the workload weekly,” she says.
AOP 2019 Student of the Year finalist, Raven Sinnathamby, highlights the benefit of attending extra labs if given the opportunity at university.
“This will come in handy in preparation for practical assessments and the Objective Structured Clinical Examinations,” she says.
Attending industry events, including 100% Optical, can help students to network and gain knowledge in the field, Raven shares.
She observes that optometry is a course that builds on previous knowledge.
“I advise students to study a little each day by making notes from the day’s lectures and revising material from the day before. This helps you avoid cramming and makes studying before exams a bit less daunting,” Raven says.
For City, University of London optometry student Aseel Al-Shateri, allocating time wisely and setting manageable, realistic targets has helped her to make the most of university.
“As an international student, my biggest challenge was to become accustomed to a new education system. I had to challenge myself and cross all the barriers that would negatively impact my learning journey,” she says.
Being patient, engaged and persistent have helped Aseel during her studies.
Help at hand
The AOP offers a confidential peer support line for individuals at any stage in their career. Callers can discuss their problems with a trained, empathetic peer on 0800 870 8401.