A day in the life of a first year student

female students with arms around eachother in front of christmas tree

A day in the life of a first year student

It’s so hard to believe that just 4 months ago, I was writing my first blog post on my patio at home in shorts and a t-shirt as a recent college graduate.

Today, I sit in a café on Newbury Street writing my last post of the semester, bundled up in my thick winter jacket as 1/8th of an O.D. I still have 7 more semesters before I receive my degree, but I’m so impressed by what my classmates and I have accomplished during our first semester at NECO through our dedicated work ethic and insatiable desire to learn.

Even though it’s relatively easy for me to summarize the semester as a whole, thinking about the individual days that have cumulated into one semester reminds me of the long and rigorous days that we have all endured. It’s very difficult to describe a “typical” day for a first year student at NECO, as most days vary in terms of the labs, lectures, screenings, and extracurricular meetings we participate in. But, I will try to outline what a usual day looks like for me, personally!

A Typical Day in the Life of a First Year NECO Student

5:30 AM My roommate and I wake up to get to school right when it opens at 6AM! At the beginning of the semester, we were shocked that school even opened so early. But once the schoolwork started to pick up, we realized how important it was to maximize our day!

6-8 AM I am totally a morning person and I’ve found that I’m the most productive when the school is dormant and I have very few distractions. During this time, I’ll go into the pre-clinic to practice my clinical skills (ie. cover testing, EOM’s, retinoscopy) and usually, one of my Principles and Practice of Optometry (PPO) lab preceptors is around to answer my questions or give me tips.

If I’m not preparing for a clinical skills exam, I use this time to make flashcards. I use a flash card program called “Anki”. It’s free and it’s an incredible study tool for classes that require intense memorization, like Cell Biology, and Anatomy and Physiology. Anki uses an algorithm that allows for a customized study plan and focuses on the terms that you aren’t familiar with.

8-10 AM I usually have at least one lab in the morning. Many of our first year classes, like PPO, Cell Bio, Optics, and Visual Sensation and Perception, are associated with a lab component. These labs are really crucial in transferring the knowledge we learn in lecture into more tangible applications.

10 AM-1 PM I work as a research assistant in one of the biomedical sciences labs at NECO. In addition to teaching, all of my professors in the first year curriculum have their own research projects. To me, this is a testament to the incredible, academically diverse faculty we have at NECO. As a research assistant, I’ve been encouraged to think more critically about the concepts I’m learning in class and I’ve learned how to use important research tools, like the LenStar, which measures the axial length of the eye.

1-5 PM My classmates and I sit in lecture together for a couple of hours everyday. It truly is a bonding experience and our professors always give us a 10-15 minute break. Our professors always try to do their best to make the lectures as engaging and clinically relevant as possible.

5-7 PM It’s always important to take a break from school! I like to take walks along the Esplanade, go to the gym (NECO offers its students a free gym membership to the YMCA!), cook dinner, or go grocery shopping.

7-10PM Back to studying! One of the perks of living so close to school is having convenient access to the library. The library is the only place I can study efficiently and it’s always nice to have access to the school’s printers while I do school work.

To compensate for the early start to the day, I’m usually fast asleep by 10:30 PM!

My first semester at NECO has been incredibly rewarding for me and I can’t wait to see what 2017 will bring. Until then, I’ll be enjoying a much-needed winter break at home with my family. From the NECO family to yours, Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!