Looking Back at Interview Day

Photo of optometry students entering and leaving the Illinois College of Optometry on a sunny day.

As I walked out of an exam the other day, I passed what looked like an eager but nervous group of students awaiting to begin their interview day at ICO. I wondered what they were thinking of me as I walked out with my head down, trying to remember information that I was just tested on. As I was sitting in class later on that day, I thought back on the whole application process I had to go through to get into optometry school- especially interview day. I thought about all the emotions I experienced that day, and what I had accomplished and sacrificed up until that point. It was a totally new, more thought-provoking, more difficult process than applying for undergrad was, but in a good way.

That’s the thing about new things. You have to step out of your comfort zone, especially if it’s towards something that you really want. I remember how terrified I was to disappoint or give the wrong impression of myself on interview day. However, I also reminded myself (and sometimes still have to remind myself before practicals) that this is exactly what I want to be doing. Being nervous doesn’t make anything better.  In this situation, I knew I was making strides in my life. You’re obviously here for a reason, as they think you could be a good fit for their school. I kept reassuring myself of this and used it towards my nervousness throughout the day.

I ran into the interviewing group again as they were getting a tour of ICO’s campus. I remember how huge this school seemed at that time. I remember the big window that overlooked the city and how I was obsessed with it. I remember how professional all of the students looked in their white coats, and how most of the students and professors smiled. It was a reassuring, friendly environment. I remember how much hype they put into the fact that they just redid the Residential Complex (which is awesome). As a first year, I still have some adventuring to do throughout the school, but at least it seems smaller than before!

The tour isn’t the only thing that I remember during interview day.  I remember how the admissions staff reassured us if money was a potential problem, they’d be willing to help in any way. They talked to us about so many topics, such as post-grad jobs, how optometry is a growing field, and how committed they are to helping us succeed throughout our time here. Looking back, it was all very helpful and beneficial.

One last thing about interview day that I want to mention is that it is important to just be yourself. Even if you don’t usually like talking about yourself and all you have accomplished, interview day is a day where you have to. It is all about you and if you can see yourself becoming a part of the ICO family. It’s a day where you sell yourself and exclaim that you are proud of all your achievements and accomplishments- no holding back! I recommend coming into the day with a few definite points that you know you want to talk about. Show the significance of your strengths and how you stand out from others. Make yourself shine!

The application process to ICO felt like forever. I know I was getting anxious, and wanted immediate results whenever I worked on or sent in a part of my application. However, it’s a long process for a reason. The admissions board looks at multiple things when trying to decide if a student is right for their program and school. I respect that, looking back, because it makes this feeling of belonging that much better.

I’ll write more about the admissions process in another blog! 🙂

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