Challenges I have faced this year

Ever since becoming an optom student at GCU (where the course is four years long), everyone has always said ‘third year is the hardest year of your life!’ and up until now I have always wondered why.

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For example, having five exams to study for in May of second year seemed impossible at the time... so what makes third year so tough in comparison? What challenges are we likely to come across?

One of the biggest challenges of third year is definitely finding a pre-reg. Every few weeks in first semester a different optical company comes in for what is called a ‘Cheese and Wine’ night where they present their pre-registration programmes and tell you a bit about what you can expect from them during your year as a pre-reg. These are really beneficial as you can chat to the people who will read your application, show your interest to make yourself stand out, ask questions (they usually bring along a current pre-reg student) and the best part of all – you get free Domino’s pizza. The next hurdle is then writing your CV and sending off your applications, only to then come to the bigger hurdle of interviews, and then securing your place. It all sounds very overwhelming, but there is loads of help available with regards to CV writing and the application process. The College website also has a pre-reg jobs board which lists available vacancies, with a description of the type of practice, and who to contact. There is also information on how to apply to hospital pre-reg and independent practices – definitely useful!

Secondly, the work load is huge. All of our lectures this year are at least two hours long – so writing up a single lecture can be time consuming in itself. On top of this we have clinics every week which require revision, and preparation for the practical assessments which are every six weeks. I have never been much of a diary person, but this year my academic diary (kindly provided by the college) has been a key tool in helping me keep on top of work that needs done.

The College website is an amazing resource for studying too – with optical books, journals and videos all available online, why would you not take advantage of it? As an optom student and member of the College you are also entitled to 25% discount on various textbooks and discount subscription to useful magazines.

To summarise, it is a tough year requiring a lot of hard work and determination to keep on top of everything, but at the end of the day nothing worth having ever comes easy, right?

Megan MacDonald
Glasgow Caledonian University