Education is about far more than a curriculum. Opportunities for students to learn and grow don’t end once they step outside of the classroom or clinic. Indeed, for many of our students, some of their most valuable and cherished experiences occur at academic or professional conferences, on service trips or simply while interacting with their colleagues. Encouraging student engagement, and helping to expand our students’ learning environment beyond the classroom is a critical component to what we do and one of the keys to our students’ success once they complete their training and begin their careers.
I am happy to report that our students are pleased with how the College is doing both inside and outside of the classroom. In fact, 95 percent of the respondents to an exit survey of the Class of 2015 said that they were satisfied with the quality of the education that they received here. Additionally, 83 percent indicated their satisfaction with the opportunities available to participate in non-academic activities at the College. Meanwhile, 72 percent of respondents said that they were either satisfied or very satisfied with the career planning services offered to them by SUNY Optometry—a level of approval nearly three times higher than it was in 2012 when our Career Development Center was founded.
With their eagerness to take advantage of our extracurricular and career planning offerings, it should be no surprise that participation from the Class of 2015 among professional organizations was also strong. Seventy-seven percent of the survey respondents participated with the American Optometric Student Association or the New York State Optometric Association or both. Working with these and other professional organizations is one of the very best ways for our students to engage outside of the classroom and gain a foothold into their future profession. It also provides a unique opportunity for students to become better acquainted with the complex, yet critical, issues that they will face once they begin their careers. These organizations also provide unique leadership opportunities for students as well as invaluable chances to meet and network with future colleagues.
It’s heartening to see our students—indeed our future colleagues—so engaged in their profession and in their communities. As we work hard to develop the next generation of health care leaders, it is nice to know that so many are so thoroughly involved in broad and meaningful ways. I encourage our current and future students to continue this important trend.
Have a wonderful summer!
David A. Heath, OD, EdM
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