Lose the Competition – and Win the Knowledge

Do you like to win?
Who doesn’t like to win?
Whether it be at athletics, test scores, or term grades, it just feels good to be the best.

What does it take to win? Determination, practice, and competitive spirit are traits that winners have.

What is competition? Competition can be defined as “a test of skill or ability; a contest.” It can also be thought of as a “rivalry” (from www.thefreedictionary.com). These are important distinctions.

The first, in the case of grades, is a test of your own talents or expertise. You are, essentially, competing against yourself. How well did you study? How prepared for the exam were you? In a rivalry you are competing against others. How well did they study? How prepared for the exam were they – in comparison to you?

When you think of it, you have been competing most of your lives. You competed to be on the team in your sport. You competed for summer jobs. Your biggest competition, your rivalry among the greatest numbers of applicants, was to be admitted to the college of your choice. You competed for the highest scores on the SAT or ACT. You competed to have the best admissions essay and the best admissions interview.

Once in college, the competition started yet again. Perhaps you competed for leadership roles, perhaps for internships, perhaps for sports. And then – you decided to be an optometrist. More competition loomed: OATs, great grades on prerequisites, great grades overall. Did you also compete for a job in an optometrist’s office?

All this competition! It can be exhilarating. It can also be exhausting and anxiety-producing. And here is the absolutely best news: you can turn it off. You can say goodbye to competition, although it has become such a part of you that it may be hard to for you to consciously, deliberately lose it.

Why do I advise you to lose the competitive part of your personality in optometry school? The genuine answer is that I want you to become the best optometrist you can be. You might argue that to become the best involves competition, and in a way it does. Becoming the best optometrist you can be involves the following:
• Realizing that you have reached your end goal – you’ve been accepted to NECO.
• Truly understanding that grades are no longer to get you to another place somewhere – they are to give you the knowledge and skills to diagnose and treat your patients.
• Recognizing that both competing and winning now have new definitions.

At NECO, you and your classmates learn together. You are with one another in lecture. You practice on each other in lab. You may be roommates. You attend social events together. The key word here is TOGETHER. You and your classmates, the faculty and staff at NECO are in this together. We Are All Here For You.

How do you relate to each other in this new non-rivalry world?
• First, ironically, you compete with yourself to find the determination and commitment to sit down and study for depth of knowledge.
• Next, you continue to compete with yourself to go to the lab and practice, practice, and practice even more.
• Then, maybe you form a study group. You may decide to become class note taker.
• You leave no question unanswered. If you don’t understand, you ask the faculty, you ask upper class students, you ask your classmates.
• You answer your classmates’ questions.

Losing competition now means winning.

Saying goodbye to competition means becoming the best OD you can be.

Don’t you feel better already?