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New Year, Improved Me

Diane sitting on couch with laptop.

When I first came to NECO, I always heard upper classmen say that the semesters will fly by and they were absolutely right. I cannot believe my first semester at NECO is actually done. The days felt longer than the weeks, but everyone got through it. It may have included a crazy rollercoaster of emotions, but together, we got through it.

Being that it is the start of a new year, I’d like to reflect on my time here at NECO. First of all, I have learned so much in such a small amount of time. I did not think I would be capable of absorbing as much information as I did, and that, for any student, is something to be proud of. 

But I’ve also learned so much about being an optometry student. There are times I should have studied more and other times I should have been more relaxed. There are times I should’ve gone to bed at a reasonable hour, and there are plenty of times I should have gone to the gym. Overall,  I should have done a lot of things, but at the end of the day, I chose not to do all of them. I can either dwell on the things I didn’t do or I can use it as an incentive to improve myself. The best way to move forward and grow is to learn from what you have done, and I have chosen to do that in 2019. New Year’s Resolutions are always a great place to start and I’d like to share mine for my life and school.


  1. Be more proactive about your free time.
    This can be interpreted any way you want it. For me, it’s about not pressing that snooze button for the 3rdtime, and using the time that I have for myself wisely. It’s about choosing to go to gym or choosing to read. It’s about picking up new hobbies and giving myself something to enjoy during my free time.
  2. Read 30 new books (unrelated to academics) by this time next year.
    This is exactly what it sounds like. Thirty books may seem like so much in the midst of being in grad school, but it’s also not 50 books. Stories give me different perspectives on life and I learn so much from them. Reading is an easy way to escape from your stress without actually escaping. 
  3. Listen more, talk less.
    Not everything needs an answer. Sometimes, a person just wants you to listen and to be heard. Sometimes saying nothing says a lot more.


  1. Make a study schedule and write it down.
    This may be common habit for a lot of students, but this is definitely something new for me. I’m used to just knowing what and when I need to study, but this semester sure did throw me for a loop. Having a study schedule is key to success, but writing it down and sticking to that plan will hopefully make it less forgettable.
  2. Write down and separate what concepts you do understand and those that you don’t. 
    A big issue I had was knowing a few concepts very well and not knowing others as well as I could have. A great way to prioritize your studying is to categorize the concepts. For me, I’m going straight into what I understand and what I don’t because it will help me categorize the questions I have and be more efficient at seeking help. Since there is so much material, writing down the concepts and checking it off a list once you understand it may make your small goals feel more attainable. 
  3. Don’t be so hard on yourself. 
    I really beat myself up over very small mistakes that could have happened and did happen to anyone. I realized the more negative I was about the errors I made, the less efficient I was at getting better to improve them. Everyone is human and everyone in grad school is stressed. If we all kept focusing on the little things that go wrong, we’re not going to appreciate the bigger picture.

Hopefully, my resolutions are helpful to you and give you some ideas on what yours can be. This is a new year! Let’s take advantage of the opportunities we have presented to us and become the people we strive to be.  

Diane is a first year student from Bergen County, New Jersey. She graduated with a degree in Public Health from William Paterson University in 2015 She loves binge watching TV dramas, hanging out with her dog, and exploring new places!