Julie Link, SCCO, Class of 2024

POSTED ON 03.18.21

Advice Column

Staying Motivated in Zoom University: Optometry School Edition 

Zoom University was not what I had in mind when I signed up for optometry school. The first quarter of remote learning started out rough, mostly because I had to reacquaint myself with studying after a long, gapyear break. As the weeks rolled on, I digested and learned to cope with the new normal and new learning system. Like many students, there were times when I lost motivation and had to search for ways to push on. Nevertheless, I survived the first quarter and continued to improve myself as I built on the lessons I learned. Today, I’d like to share some of my tips for staying motivated during Zoom universityoptometry school edition!

  1. Zoom call with your favorite study buddy/buddies!

I usually prefer studying alone and never really considered group studying. However, with the pandemic, it can be tiring and draining to study at home all day by yourself. In the middle of fall quarter, I found a great study buddy to Zoom call with. At SCCO, we have exams weekly, and my study buddy and I Zoom called every week to review materials for the upcoming exam. Our favorite studying method is to take turns quizzing each other. This really tests your knowledge and the other person can expand on the concept, if needed.  

Zoom calls also work for home labs! It’s always nice to go through a lab with someone, especially for optics as the subject isn’t always easy to understand. 

2. Missing the coffee shop vibes? Set up your own!

In a non-pandemic situation, I’d be sitting down at my local coffee shop, sipping on my hot caramel latte, and catching up on anatomy lectures. I definitely miss the café vibes, so I knew I had to create my own at home. 

(1)    On your laptop, search “coffee shop lofi” on Youtube for the music, and Google an image of “coffee shop background” to display as your monitor screen (this works even better with a big monitor!). I usually do this the night before so it’s ready for me the next morning. 

(2)    The next morning, make yourself some nice coffee and a good breakfast of your choice. Relax and immerse yourself into the atmosphere five minutes before starting any lectures. 

(3)    Got a candle? Light it up and use it to enhance the atmosphere! 

Definitely give this idea a try! It might seem a little extra, but it really does work! 

3. Stay organized!

With remote learning, it is so important to stay on top of your game! 

It took me half a quarter to figure out what method worked best to help me stay organized. In undergrad, I enjoyed writing down all my daily tasks on a sticky note every day, but I realized it wasn’t working for me during optometry school. Therefore, I understand that my method may not work well for everyone and would encourage you to experiment with different ways to find the one that works best for you. 

I also use Google calendar to track all my courses, exam dates, and club meetings. I use a Google Excel sheet to plan out my tasks for the week. Each column is marked with a day of the week and I would fill in tasks for that day. I like to underestimate my goals for the day, so I do not have to stress if I do not meet all the goals by the end of the day. Other apps you may consider for productivity: Notion, Google Keep, Forest. 

4. It’s okay to take weekend breaks! 

Yes, optometry school is busy work, but remember that your mental and physical health is much more important! In the beginning of the year, I was refusing to take weekend breaks because I felt that a Saturday would be wasted. However, a friend told me to look at it in a positive light. Take a Saturday off to enjoy yourself so that tomorrow, you will be reenergized to study again. 

I think it is important to remember that we are students, and we deserve breaks! If your heart is calling you to take a break, listen to that calling and go for it! As grad students, even though we hold ourselves to a high standard, we also need to accept that taking breaks won’t cause us to slip up or fail. 

I usually enjoy my Saturday off by exploring new boba places and getting take-out dinner. Sometimes, I would indulge into my favorite hobby, designing and making stickers! I’ve also seen classmates catching up on Netflix, baking their favorite chocolate chip cookies, or even going off somewhere nice for a weekend getaway! 

 I hope these suggestions are helpful, and maybe you’ll even give them a try! Feel free to connect with me on Instagram @blink.ling and let me know what you think, or if you have other suggestions for me! Good luck with your journey!