When I was first accepted to ICO, many of my professors and people I worked with told me how challenging it would be. The words went in one ear and out the other. I figured, “Well, everyone is different, and just because they say it will be hard doesn’t mean it’s something to stress over.” I still agree that it is important not to get too stressed. Now, though, having begun my second year, I also agree that it is definitely not easy.
Something that has made my time at ICO a little easier is getting to know what the school has to offer and what resources can make my time here move more smoothly. Here is my list of the top 5 ICO resources I think every student at ICO should become familiar with.
One of the amazing things about ICO is that we have a free tutoring system. This is set up so that upperclassmen who do well in a class can get paid to tutor the classes they have already taken. The nice thing is that there is no stigma surrounding tutoring. This means that nobody assumes someone has a tutor because they are failing a class. Many students get a tutor for almost all of their classes just to have someone to quiz them and ask questions when they need it. Additionally, for the tutor, it is very helpful because they are essentially reviewing for boards already!
I highly recommend getting connected with tutoring to meet the people in other classes and learn how they succeeded. It’s a huge help!
2. Alumni Network
ICO is the oldest standing optometry school in the United States. Because of this, we have the largest alumni network. It definitely comes in handy when it’s time to job search. Don’t we all want a job offer before we graduate? The alumni office at ICO helps to make this happen. Through networking events, alumni mentorship programs, and guest presentations, ICO students are given all the resources they need to connect with alumni and find a the right career path. I’ve already met so many alumni willing to help me out just because I am going to ICO! Go stop into the alumni office and say hello!
3. Financial Aid
Here at ICO we are very lucky to have some financial aid whizzes. If you have any questions on topics ranging from budgeting to investing, they are here to help you. I’ve personally visited them regularly with questions about bills, loan repayments, and life in general. Their goal is to help you pay off your student debt in a way that fits your lifestyle. I always find myself reassured that I am on the right track when it comes to finances after leaving their office, and that’s saying a lot! Even if you just want to chat about what the future looks like for you, they are there with their doors open, full of resources and advice.
A lot of students don’t realize that there is actually a ton of research going on at ICO. Why does this matter? Because even as a student, you can be on the front lines of developing the latest treatments and creating growth within the field of optometry. You may even get published!
I currently work on a project developing a new screening method for macular degeneration that could change a lot of people’s lives. It’s awesome! Most of the research done at the school is centered around clinical based studies, but if pipets are your thing, we have those options, as well. Additionally, many faculty here have connections outside of the school and outside projects you can become involved with. It’s amazing to be given the opportunity to have first hand experiences enhancing healthcare.
5. Work Study
Something great about ICO is that you are encouraged to do work study if you are interested. When I visited other schools during my application process, I would always ask about job opportunities on and around campus. I pay my way through, like many other students, and like to have a small income while I’m in school. The amount of schools I went to where they told me, “Oh, you won’t have time for that,” or “Oh, you’ll get too overwhelmed,” was surprising.
It was very refreshing when I came to ICO and my tour guide answered me with, “Definitely! If you want to work, you’re more than welcome to!” Now that I work on and around campus, I feel a little less stressed about money- and that matters a lot! The great thing is that many of the jobs offered on campus allow you to study while you are working- so you’re basically getting paid to study… finally!
I always find it very important to get to know all that your school has to offer. Whether the resources are academic, financial, or just for fun, you want to know what your options are. I am more than happy to say that at ICO, we have quite a lot of options!