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The Big (Interview) Day

Building sign for 424 Beacon street Probably the second most photographed part of NECO, the plaque on the outside of the school.

I remember my interview day falling in the same year as that grand snowstorm in Boston. I applied rather late in the application cycle and my interview wasn’t scheduled until April. I remember taking public transportation from my friend’s apartment in Harvard Square while it was snowing in April and thinking to myself, “Why didn’t I just take an Uber?” I especially remember walking right by the building, almost missing it! But once I walked inside, the Hogwarts-type vibe made my jaw drop!

What I remember most about interview day is how comfortable they made me feel from the moment I arrived. The students were friendly and the staff was approachable. The whole atmosphere is what led me to apply to work for the Admissions office as an Interview Day Ambassador once I became a NECO student. During my three years in this role, I’ve seen the Admissions department request feedback from students about their process on interview days and collectively brainstorm how to improve or modify it in some way. It’s great to see changes being implemented to make the experience even better for visiting students.

I wanted to share a little more specifically about what happens at Interview Day.  After checking in on the day of your interview, you will be taken to a breakfast area, where you can mingle with the other interviewees, their guests, and several students while waiting for all the attendees to arrive. When I’m working as an Interview Day Ambassador, I always encourage people to eat breakfast. Interview day can seem long and the last thing you want to hear while you’re doing a one-on-one interview is your stomach growling because you were so nervous you couldn’t bear to eat that bagel in the morning.

NECO clipboardOnce everybody has arrived, the Dean of Academic Affairs and Director of Admissions welcome guests and talk about the school and the program before the student panel begins. This group of students is dedicated to answer any questions you may have including moving to Boston, finding housing, what transportation is like, and what extracurricular activities students can be involved in. The panel is not the only time you will have time to inquire about NECO or Boston – students will be available throughout the day if a question ever pops up later.

After the panel, attendees alternate between getting a tour of the school building or beginning their one-on-one faculty interview. For me, the interview was the most worrisome part of day. But if you rifle through the papers in your folder, you’ll find an information sheet about the faculty member with whom you will be interviewing. This information sheet gives you some knowledge about the faculty member’s background and their involvement with the school so you learn a little more about who they are.  Remember, don’t be afraid to ask them questions too!

During lunch, applicants are paired up with students. I recall worrying so much that everything I heard prior to the faculty interview went in one ear and out the other, so having lunch with the student gave me another chance to ask questions about student life and that student’s perspective on transitioning to NECO. I didn’t expect the entire process to be as down to earth as it was, but I was grateful that everybody was welcoming and it certainly contributed to my decision to come to NECO.

The last stop for interview day is a tour of our flagship clinic, NECO Center for Eye Care. Faculty provide a brief overview of the specialty care that we provide in the clinic, and our students also tag along to share their personal clinical experiences. At NECO, we start patient care in our first year with vision screenings and in second year we begin patient care at local clinics, rotating every semester. Don’t be afraid to ask our students about it, or ask for an email address for any future questions!

Tiffany is a fourth year student at New England College of Optometry. Born and raised in Maryland, she graduated from the University of Maryland in both Biological Sciences and Psychology. Her initial interest in optometry stems from shadowing and working in practices that provide vision therapy.