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Managing Money in Optometry School

Posted by Amanda Dexter on October 5, 2016 at 9:00 AM
Amanda Dexter
Dr. Amanda K. Dexter received her optometric training at Southern California College of Optometry in Fullerton, California, where she was Class of 2010 Valedictorian. She also completed a residency in Primary Care and Ocular Disease at the Veteran's Affairs Hospital in San Diego, California. Dr. Dexter is the Manager and Program Coordinator for OptoPrep, the premiere online study resource for the NBEO Part I & II.

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Money is a major issue for all kinds of college and graduate students, and optometry school is no different! Good financial habits are essential to cutting costs, managing money, and your making funds last. To keep student loans as low as possible during graduate school, financial management becomes of paramount importance. Remember, the more money you spend now, the higher and higher your loan payment will be in the future! And trust me, making smart decisions now will definitely pay off!

The Necessities

Take some time to identify which costs are necessary and which costs can be avoided, put off, or rationalized away. For example, when standing in line at Target after you’ve loaded up your cart, ask yourself questions about some of the products you’ve added, such as: Do I need to buy this now? Can I find less-expensive options? Can I live without this?

Much of cutting optometry school costs involves differentiating between what you need, and what you want. You may feel like you really want that new Apple Watch, but if you don't purchase it, will you seriously miss it a few weeks down the road?

Create a Budget

If you want to establish good financial habits while in school, you must create an expense budget… and stick to it! Write down a list of all of your necessities for the quarter (or semester) and figure how much money you will need on a weekly and monthly basis.

Factor in: rent, bills, school supplies (books, equipment, etc.), meals, transportation, entertainment (cable costs, movie tickets, other activities) and any other expenses that you may incur. It can also be helpful to set dollar limits for your expenses, that way, if you're having an expensive month, you know that you just cannot afford to get Chipotle every Friday for lunch this month.

Effective budgeting involves a great deal of organization when it comes to record-keeping. There are several apps you can use to help you with this, such as Mint. It is also important to plan for some potential unexpected expenses each month. Having a little wiggle-room in your budget each month, if possible, can really reduce your worries. What if your computer crashes right before finals? You'll be glad you left yourself some emergency money.

Get a Job

Even though you will be facing the challenge of juggling your classes, exams, clinic, and other optometry school activities, even just working a few hours a week can take a huge load off of your debt. If you use the money from your part-time job to pay for your fun times out with friends and groceries, this will pay off in the end! Kill two birds with one stone by finding a job in your area of interest, such as in a research lab on campus, or as an assistant at a nearby private practice to add to your CV. 

Apply for Scholarships

You’d be surprised at how much money is out there for you! There are many public and private scholarships available for optometry students, you just have to look for it! Ask your registrar’s office for a list of scholarships for graduate students for which you may qualify. You may have to write a few essays and obtain letters from your professors, which can take a fair amount of time, but some scholarships can have large cash rewards! It never hurts to apply!

-Dr. Dexter

The Top 15 Tips and Tricks for Studying for Part I of NBEO®

NBEO-Tips-large.pngWe’ve put together a ton of great tips and tricks for studying for Part I of NBEO along with two tailored study programs that will help you thoroughly prepare for the big day. Remember, you’ve made it this far and you can totally do this!

Some of the Top 15 Tips include:

  • Familiarize Yourself with the Test Format
  • Tackle the Weak Subjects Early
  • Start Sooner and Ease Into It
  • ...and 12 more!

NBEO Part I Study Guide The Top 15 Tips and Tricks for Studying for Part I

Topics: Optometry School

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