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Frequently Asked Questions (F.A.Q.)


How will optometry school differ from my undergraduate experience?

Optometry school is an enriching and unique experience that promotes both clinical and academic excellence.  The incorporation of clinical requirements and expectations beyond exam grades, will be an obvious change from your college days.  Most exams will have a multiple choice format similar to that of the Boards.  However, practical “hands-on” exams will test your optometric clinician skills.  Since everyone has had a different college experience, it is impossible to predict how much more difficult NECO may be.  Don’t be worried; enter school with an open mind and a willingness to work and succeed and you will do fine.

What is housing in Boston like?

Boston has a variety of housing options.  Most students rent apartments in areas such as Back Bay, Allston, Brighton and Brookline.  Those who live in the Back Bay, typically a more expensive neighborhood, enjoy the luxury of walking to school.  However, living in Boston’s suburbs is only a short train ride away.  Very often, the apartment rents in Allston, Brighton and Brookline are a little less, catering to the large student population in Boston.  NECO’s students may live in studios, share apartments or houses with classmates or take the commuter rail from residences in New Hampshire and other parts of Massachusetts.  Realtors are helpful in assisting your housing search; online and newspaper ads are also a good source of open rentals. A housing clinic is provided in June which helps new students find potential roommates and apartments in the Boston area.

Do students feel safe?

NECO is in the Back Bay section of Boston, a prestigious residential neighborhood filled with history and beauty.  We are in an extremely safe area, surrounded by brownstones, small parks and minutes from the renowned Newbury Street.

What is there to do in Boston?

What isn’t there to do in Boston?  Boston is a city filled with everything—sports, museums, nature, history, beaches, nightlife and shopping.  You cannot graduate without experiencing it all!  Attend a Celtics/Bruins/Red Sox game; visit the Museum of Fine Arts, Museum of Science or one of many university historical, art and science centers.  Walk the Freedom Trail through Boston Common or meander along the Wharf.  Head to the beach or visit any of the countless shopping areas.  Each suburb has a town center or square filled with unique shopping and restaurants.  Lastly, don’t forget the nightlife!  Various types of bars and clubs attract the diverse people of our city after sundown.  Since Boston is such a “student-city,” many [often free] events are catered to our population.  There are numerous free publications that advertise what’s happening throughout the city.  If, by some chance, you wish to leave Boston, buses and trains are an easy trip to New York City, Providence and numerous “New England retreats.”

Please take the time to explore these sights and take a virtual tour of the city:

http://www.newbury-st.com  Check out our neighborhood and the various shops and restaurants that we frequent.

http://www.boston.com  Get the latest Boston news and link to the Boston Globe.

http://boston.citysearch.com  Read up on the “Best of Boston” – restaurants, events, nightlife, shopping, sports and recreation.

How is the class schedule set up?

The entire first year class attends lectures together.  In previous academic years lectures were scheduled in the afternoon about 1:00 PM - 5:00 PM, Monday through Friday.  The morning hours were filled with either laboratories, free time, or screenings.  The class is divided into small laboratory sections (15-20 students per section) for each course; each section meets on different days.  

When do we start seeing patients?

The new curriculum has increased student clinical experiences and implemented screenings into the first semester.  At the very beginning of your first semester, you will assist clinicians in vision screenings at Head Start programs and elementary schools.  After passing the first credentialing exam of the fall semester, you will begin conducting these screenings more independently.  This is a wonderful opportunity to practice the entrance tests you’ve learned and start establishing yourself as a clinician.  The number of assigned screenings increases in your second semester.  Clerkship assignments begin the fall of your second year;  at this point you will work directly with optometrists in a variety of settings (neighborhood clinics, medical centers, private practices, hospitals). Clinic assignments start the summer following your second year and continue throughout the remainder of the 4 year program.

Does NECO have a dress code?

You may wear anything tasteful to class.  However, vision screenings, clinical observations and credentialing exams require that you dress professionally.  This usually means that men wear a shirt, tie and slacks and women wear a dress or blouse with a skirt or slacks.  A professional appearance is also required for clerkships and clinic assignments.

Does NECO sponsor social events?

The Student Council sponsors fun events throughout the academic year.  This is a great opportunity for different class years to mingle and party together.  Here is a sampling of annual events:

  • Welcome Back BBQ
  • Halloween Party
  • The Eye Ball
  • Boston Harbor Boat Cruise
  • End of the Year BBQ
  • NECOlympics
  • Ski Trip
  • Spring Bling Party
  • Casino Night

 Does NECO have a gym?

All students are automatically members of the YMCA of Greater Boston, which offers 13 locations.  By bringing your NECO photo ID to the main branch, which is within walking distance of the College, you can activate your membership and use any of the Greater Boston branches.

Do students get discounts on public transportation?

Yes.  We receive a discount on monthly train/bus/commuter rail passes when they are purchased through the school.  You will receive information regarding pass orders through a student representative.

How should I prepare for the Optometry Admissions Test (OAT)?

There are very few OAT preparation books out there.  However, this is one that many of our students have used:  OAT: Complete Preparation for the Optometry Admission Test, 2001 Edition, The Science of Review by Aftab S. Hassan.  It is available for purchase online (i.e. Amazon.com) or through the publisher (Lippot, Williams and Wilkins).  Some of our students have also taken review classes (i.e. Kaplan OAT/DAT classes--http://www.kaptest.com) that supply thorough review materials.  MCAT review books are also useful and very easy to locate.