Decision Day: UC Davis

As my undergraduate career comes to an end here at UC Davis, it’s surprising to look back into the days of my youth and remember that UC Davis was not my first choice. Nevertheless, I fell in love with the University as soon as I explored the town, and as cheesy as it sounds, I have come to call the city of Davis my home. Decision Day 2016  at UCD will bring many prospective students, and I think this is good as time as any to reflect on all the aspects of UC Davis that I love…starting from the beginning of my journey.


The Acceptance Letter:

Around mid March, my high school was abuzz with excitement, as UC college acceptances had come out. I had my sights set on a specific program at another university, but unfortunately I didn’t make the cut. I became totally adrift–listless if you will, because I hadn’t really thought of a back up plan. Thus, I started exploring other schools, but not UC Davis… Notorious as a agricultural school, UC Davis didn’t seem right for me.

The Visit

Davis Downtown

Begrudgingly, I agreed to visit UC Davis with my best friend (who now also attends UC Davis), and I have to admit, I really didn’t have many high hopes for the University. However, when I arrived at the Mondavi Center, I just thought everything looked so peaceful and beautiful and modern. Visiting Davis was honestly one of the main reasons why I decided on Davis as my college of choice. I grew up in a small town in South Bay, and UC Davis had a small community feel that reminded me of home–I loved it. Downtown especially won me over, because it  was so lively and fun. There were a variety of restaurants, lots of students and families, and the best part:it was located 5 minutes away from campus. Not to mention, I learned that UC Davis excelled in multiple areas of study: science, math, and engineering to name a few. Interested in studying Biology, I knew I would be learning from top notch researchers, and I regretted assuming UC Davis was just an agricultural school. Overall I got such a positive, welcoming vibe from UC Davis that I decided not to rule the University out.

The Decision

Back at home, I had a lot of pressure from my family to make a final decision. When I look back, I laugh at how indecisive I was, but at the time, college was a big deal! UC Davis ultimately offered something I couldn’t refuse: community living. I was guaranteed a themed residence hall with just 100 students at UC Davis. The residence hall also guaranteed that I would be taking classes and participating in fun activities with my dorm mates. I could just picture it: 100 new friends living together, studying together, and experiencing UC Davis together. I was sold.

Mooove In Week

Meeting the University Cows

So all the phony cheesy stuff that I expected to happen…it actually did happen! When I moved into the dorms, I immediately felt right at home. On our first night, we played a giant game of Mafia, and I knew I had made the right decision in choosing UC Davis. The following days I spent visiting the cows near Tercero, enjoying brunch at the dining commons, and lounging outside in the grass. It may sound like I’m making large exaggerations, but I seriously fell in love with UC Davis the moment I arrived!

Why Davis Has So Much To Offer

Visiting the Davis Farmer’s Market


I know many students may have a “see it to believe it” attitude, which is why I strongly encourage you to tour UC Davis both as a prospective student AND as a tourist. UC Davis is not only one of the leading Universities in Biological Sciences, but it’s also a great location to get away, have fun, and relax! Here are just a few of my favorite UC Davis related activities:


Job Searching With the ICC

Graduation: it’s the accomplishment that every college undergraduate anticipates. All suits 2the late nights, busy days, and nerve-wracking tests prove worth it, as commencement awaits around the corner. BUT, with college life coming to an end, there begins a new challenge: finding a job. For many of you, the phrase “job searching” ignites a certain sense of fear. I am here to let you know that the dread of entering the work force is completely normal. For many of you, this may be your very first time creating a resume, preparing for interviews, or holding responsibilities outside of school, and approaching these new tasks can be daunting. Fortunately, the ICC offers a plethora of resources at your disposal.

 Visit the UCD Internship and Career Center: Located next to the Quad and in South Hall, the ICC has an exhaustive list of tips, techniques, and resources catered to help graduating seniors find jobs. Listed below are the main resources that are available to you as an undergraduate at UC Davis.


Explore the ICC Website: is a catalyst for jump starting your career planning journey. These links are well worth the visit!

  1. What can I do with my degree?–Lists every major offered and common corporate companies that have hired students from said majors. This is a great way to familiarize yourself with the bigger name companies and learn about their backgrounds. (You never know when you might have an interview with a certain representative!)
  2. Careers by Interest–Has links that explore broader interest areas such as “Agriculture” or “Business and Management.” Remember, your major does not define your career, so whatever major you are, feel free to browse any industry that jumps out at you. The page also provides professional associations that students may join to find out more about the industry or network with professionals. (You never know when a job offer can pop up!)
  3. Career Planning–Provides a virtual, six-step model designed to guide students through the job search process. Starting from Self Exploration to Career Management, the model gives tips on how to thoroughly find and keep a position.

Schedule an ICC Appointment: If you’re more of a hands-on learner, the ICC also offers advising appointments with either peer advisers or staff advisers. Staff advisers are available for drop-in Wednesdays and Thursdays 1:30-3:30pm and are also available by appointment.  Peer advisers are available every single day on the 2nd floor of South Hall. It’s important to note that peer advisers are available to answer general questions and give tips on how to start an application. Staff advisers, on the other hand, are trained to offer detailed information and to prep students for a specific interview or job application. One-on-one sessions can help with a number of things such as:

  1. Resume and cover letter writing
  2. Interview preparation
  3. Portfolio content
  4. Salary negotiation

For me, interviewing for a position is the most nerve-wracking, intimidating aspect of the whole job searching process. Fortunately, the ICC offers mock interviews online. These mock interviews can be recorded in the privacy of your home, giving you a chance to listen and look over your personal answers. Many students have found these “at-home” interviews to be extremely eye opening and helpful. Once you think you’re ready for the next step, schedule an appointment with an ICC adviser, and they will give you a real-life interview.

Attend an ICC Workshop: If you don’t have any specific questions in mind, but want to simply learn more about career-related topics. Workshops are the perfect way to get quick overviews on a variety of topics–some that you may have never even thought about. Workshops reach a broader audience and cover aspects such as:

  • Resume Basics
  • Networking and LinkedIn
  • Internships and Student Positions
  • State Job Application Basics
  • Federal Job Application Basics
  • Finding Health-Related Internships

Other than the most common workshops, the ICC works hard to get specialized and specific workshops for interested students. For example, there’s a “Teach English in Korea” workshop in March, and a workshop dedicated to International Students in February. If you have a specific workshop theme not offered just shoot the ICC a formal suggestion, and they will work off of your idea.

Go to an Internship and Career Fair: Twice a quarter, you may see masses of well-dressed students and UCD alumni lining up at the ARC Pavilion for the career fair. Rightly so, these annual fairs host a number of companies looking for new recruits. Representatives from corporations both large and small attend these fairs, accepting resumes and offering insight into their specific company. Some examples of corporations that have Career-Fair-handshakeattended in the past include Intel, Bio-Rad, United States Air-Force, PepsiCo and many more. Even if you don’t plan on applying to any companies at the fair, it is an amazing learning experience. You’ll learn how to sell yourself, how to make a good first impression, and you’ll find out what employers are generally looking for in a strong applicant. If the idea of attending a career fair sounds intimidating, don’t worry! The ICC offers pre-fair prep workshops each quarter to teach students what to expect at a fair. Mark your calendar for these dates, so you don’t miss out!

This blog only scratches the surface of the ICC, as there is much more the ICC has to offer. I focused mainly on topics related to career help, but the ICC also has a plethora of resources for undergraduates looking for part-time internships. It is up to you to take the initiative and make an appointment, visit South Hall, or browse the website. I wish you good luck and urge you to be successful!

Melissa Li
Biological Sciences Major
Class of 2016




Career Spotlight: Optometry

Are you looking for a career in the health professions that doesn’t involve performing invasive surgeries or subscribing patients with heavy drugs? Do you love interacting with people and have an entrepreneurial spirit?


If so, I encourage you to consider a career in Optometry. According to the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry (ASCO), Doctors of Optometry are primary care physicians for vision health. Optometrists generally have independently owned, private practices and are one of the most accessible health care professionals in most communities. Optometrists examine, diagnose, treat, and manage diseases and disorders of the eye; they also refer their patients to other health care providers in the area.


1) Recommended bachelor’s degree.
a. -Check with the specific college you’re interested in attending.
2) Required Optometry Admissions Test exam score. (OAT for short)
3) Completion of a four-year accredited Optometry degree program.
4) A passing score on the National Board of Examiners in Optometry exam. (NBEO exam for short)

Common Prerequisite Courses for Optometry school admittance:

1) General biology with labs
2) General chemistry with labsdiploma
3) Organic chemistry with labs
4) General physics with labs
5) Microbiology with labs
6) Calculus
7) Psychology
8) Statistics
9) English
10) Social Science and Humanities
NOTE: These courses are not required by all colleges and it is important to check each Optometry school.

Important Qualities for an Optometrist:
according to

• Observational skills: As an Optometrist, you will be required to examine patients’ physical attributes and notice non-verbal signs. Also you must be able to determine the integrity of underlying structures and cardiovascular pulses. 
• Communication skills: Optometrists must be able to communicate effectively with their patients, give directions, and relate to their patients. Optometrists must also elicit unspoken information from their patients. For example, when a patient comes in with a problem, he or she may not tell the Optometrist personal information necessary to diagnose the problem–it is up to the Optometrist to investigate and notice subtle symptoms to properly diagnose the patient.
• Sensory and motor coordination: As an Optometrist you will be required to manipulate instruments, assist patients with contact lenses, and maybe remove foreign objects from eyes.
• Behavioral and social skills: When working with patients Optometrists are expected to demonstrate good judgement and adapt to sudden changes in environments and uncertainties.

The Life of an Optometrist

While Optometrists work in a variety of health settings, a large majority of Optometrists work in private practice offices; they may own their own office or work as an associate for another Optometrist. These Optometrists will generally see patients, administer eye exams, and write prescriptions.

In more recent years, most Optometrists have become specialists in one or more fields. Specializations include pediatrics, geriatrics, contact lenses, vision therapy, and neuro optometry just to name a few. Optometrists may also work in non-clinical settings, such as pursuing research, teaching, or working as an administrator. A practicing Optometrist may always return to school or finish a residency to acquire more specializations.

So I’ve heard of Ophthalmologists…What’s the Difference?

Optometrists and Ophthalmologists often get mixed up and I’m here to finally clear up the confusion and provide distinct differences between the two professions.            According to Triangles Visions Optometry,

Optometrists: serve as the “front-line” for vision care. When a patient runs into a vision health concern he/she should approach the local Optometrist first. Optometrists provide a broad range of services including providing eye exams, vision therapy services, pre- and postoperative care for patients undergoing surgery, and  eye disease prevention techniques. Finally, education for an Optometrist entails 4 years of Optometry school and then a nationally administered exam (NEBO). Residencies in the field or Optometry are encouraged but not required.

Ophthalmologists: Are specialized doctors of vision that mainly focus on surgery and diagnosing more complex medical eye conditions. While ophthalmologists are trained to provide basic eye exams, they mainly focus on dealing with patients in need of Lasik surgery, cataract removal, or retinal detachments. Generally, a patient shouldn’t need to see a Ophthalmologist unless he/she has seen a Optometrist first and needs a referral to an Ophthalmologist. Lastly, education for an Ophthalmologist entails 4 years of medical school followed by 4 years of residency. Unlike Optometry, residency is required for Ophthalmologists.

How to Get Involved at UC Davis
To find out if Optometry is the right career for you, it’s important to research the profession early–fortunately there are many resources available to UC Davis students that offer more knowledge into the field of Optometry.

• Shadow a local Optometrist: There are dozens of independent Optometry offices located in Davis, and many of them welcome student interns. It’s up to you to take initiative and approach these Optometry yourself. 
• Join the Pre-Optometry Club: Network with your fellow pre-health peers and get a better idea of what it takes to be a competitive applicant.
• Talk to a Pre-Health Adviser: Schedule a one-on-one consultation with advisers who know the profession, and may help you figure out whether Optometry is the right fit.

The Estimated Salary Outlook

According to the U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics, the mean annual wage is $113,010, with the top 25% earning over $132,580.                                                                   (stats are based on 2012 data).

If you think Optometry may be the career for you, be sure to check out these resources:

Happy career exploration and best of luck!

Melissa Li

4th Year Biological Sciences

BASC Peer Adviser


Making a Four-Year Plan

Pass 1 for Winter 2016 is coming up. Some of you may already have a beautiful schedule lined up and some of you may still be frantically searching for classes to take, feeling lost and anxious. Whichever individual you are at the moment, you should seriously consider making a rough four-year plan or revising one you already have. Creating a four-year plan can seem daunting, time consuming, and unnecessary; however, in the long run your academic life will be much easier with a pre-planned schedule. Think about all those pass times that you won’t have to stress over! For many of you, creating a four-year plan may mean making life defining decisions such as: Should I go to Medical School? Will I be taking a gap year before work? Do I want to change my major? Am I finally going to minor in Spanish like I said I would?  Our recommendation is: make a plan now and don’t be afraid to change it along the way! Here are some simple steps to get started.


  • FRUSTRATEDKIDTalk to An Adviser (Or Multiple) 

Not sure where to begin when planning your future? When in doubt, don’t hesitate to make an appointment with your major adviser or come by during drop-in hours  to see a peer adviser. Trained professionals are available to give you the know how’s and the what’s ups to making an academic plan.

What about Double Majoring?

Finishing a double major at UC Davis requires tactful and strategic arranging of classes and definitely, lots of planning. When making a plan be sure to visit the advisers of both majors you intend to finish.

Thinking About Minoring?

Finishing one minor or even multiple minors is a great way to broaden your academic experience. Most minors require roughly 20 units; it’s also important to check for prerequisites and other minute details. For more information, talk to an adviser for the college or department you plan on minoring in.

Planning on Going to Professional School?NorthHall-Large

For many of you, applying to college won’t be the last time you needed to write a personal statement; find teachers for letters of recommendations; take a standardized exam; and ensure you fulfill all the prerequisites for your future dream school. This is where a four-year plan can really help you reach your professional dreams and make sure you fulfill all prerequisites, GE’s, and university/major requirements before you graduate. Applying to professional school is indeed difficult, but thankfully there are trained advisers available to guide you through the application process. Visit UC Davis’ Pre-Graduate/Professional Advising in 111 South Hall or go to 1011 SLB to talk to a Pre-Health Professions Adviser \

  • Make a List of Prospective Classes  

So, you’ve already seen your major adviser and you’re on track to graduate–Great! The next thing to do is incorporate interesting and/or relevant classes into your four-year plan. Exploring the General Catalog is a great place to begin, as it contains all the major/minor requirements, a list of all the GE’s offered on campus. Tip: The letters and numerals you see here:  QL, SE, SL, VL.—I, II, III. (I, II, III.) These tell you what GE’s the class fulfills and also the quarter that class is offered. (I. means fall, II. means winter, and III. means spring)                                                               You can also narrow down your search using Schedule Builder’s Advanced Options. Extra Tip: Jot these classes down into a planner or into your computer so you can access them later.


  • Sit Down and Actually Make a Plan planning baby

So, you’ve more or less decided on a career and have compiled a list of interesting classes–you’re ready to start planning! Be sure to allocate a time block of a few hours to sit down infront of a computer and churn out a four-year plan. Many students like to use Excel but we also recommend using Oasis‘s Academic Plan form.    Such a form can be found under the Forms and Petitions Tab on Oasis. When plugging and chugging the classes you want to take, be sure to consider a few things…

Fulfill Prerequisites:

Most upper-division major requirements have prerequisite classes, and it is important to make sure you’ve filled in all your prerequisite courses before putting in your major classes. Not having the right prerequisites could result in being dropped from the class or being unprepared for the course, so be sure to take a look in the General Catalog or on Schedule Builder for specific details.

Consider SS1 or SS2: 

UC Davis offers a large majority of major classes during the summer, and students tend to perform better in classes taken during the summer time. Instead of spreading yourself thin with multiple classes, you can focus all your efforts on one class! If you want to get ahead of your schedule or take a load off of your normal academic quarter, definitely plan on taking a class or two in the summer. It’s important to plan ahead so that you can talk to the Financial Aid Office regarding your financial needs or make vacation plans with friends and family.

Make Time for Studying Abroad: abroad

Did you know students can take BIS 101 in Europe every summer? This is just one example of the many classes and places students can explore with the Study Abroad Program. Studying abroad is usually the experience of a lifetime, but there may be a lot of hoops to jump through before actually going abroad. That is why it is important to have a plan, so you have time to prepare documents and figure out living expenses.

Whether or not you’ve decided on a future career, it never hurts to make a four-year plan and then change it as life goes forward. Life happens and your plans may be uncertain; however, a four-year plan may elucidate certain fuzzy details about the future, and set you on the right track to success!

Happy Planning!

Melissa Li                                                                                                                         Class of 2016  Biological Sciences, Emphasis in Neurology, Physiology, and Behavior                                                Biology Academic Success–Peer Adviser