When I first entered optometry school, I remember promising myself that my studies will always be my number one priority and that I wouldn’t let any extracurriculars take valuable time away from my education.
I remember spreading myself too thin in undergrad and having to see my grades suffer due to poor time management. Since I was now entering graduate school, I didn’t want to take those same risks. This was optometry school! This wasn’t silly, old undergrad full of pointless GE courses that I would “never need to use in my everyday life.” However, I came to learn the importance of being involved in graduate school and the benefits of assuming a leadership role in your class or organization. I still and always will prioritize my GPA and my personal education, but I have learned from my past mistakes and now know how to better balance my time with my studies while still being involved and a leader on campus!
As a member of my class board, I quickly had to learn how to effectively complete my responsibilities while continuing to keep up with hours of lectures and clinical practice each week. This, along with making sure my physical and mental health were in check, proved to be challenging at first. I realized I had to make changes to how I did every activity throughout my day. The biggest adjustments I had to make were changes to my study habits. Things like starting my studying a little earlier in the day or changing where I studied made small but effective differences. Personally, I found the study rooms outside the library the most effective when it came to helping me focus and preventing distractions. Also, who I was studying with affected my efficiency. If I was in a room with a large group, it made it a lot more difficult to focus than if it was just with one other person. Of course, these are all up to personal preference, but just being aware of such factors can make a world of a difference for your studying!
Despite the changes and adjustments, I have no doubt in my mind that joining my class board has made my experience in optometry school that much better. It pushed me to better my study habits and become more efficient with my time. It has also provided me more direct lanes of communication with upperclassmen and faculty. I think anyone who is even slightly interested in their class board should seriously consider applying. It definitely adds a little more onto your plate, but from my personal experience, this wasn’t an issue during the fall and winter quarters. The courses you take and the amount of free time you have make your responsibilities very doable. Spring quarter ramps up and gives you less free time so I would be way more careful during this time to focus on your studies!
Overall, joining your class board, while not always easy or convenient, provides so many benefits personally and professionally. I believe that if you can establish efficient study habits and become disciplined with your time, anyone can hold this responsibility. I highly recommend running for your board if you’re interested, I think it’s a great experience and allows you to become more closely involved with your class, your upperclassmen, and your faculty!