Feb 5, 2021
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Hey guys,

So unfortunately this cycle hasn't panned out the way I wanted it to. I haven't gotten into my state school yet and I was recently waitlisted for HPSP so that's pretty much done for as well. On the bright side I got into a private school that I can commute to from home (20 min), and I would have about 50k in personal savings by the time I would attend. On the down side, the total cost is still around 370k post-interest accrual (without using my 50k savings to pay for tuition at all)

I'm a single, 23 year old non-trad currently at 100k in salary two years after graduating. By the time I would graduate D-school I anticipate this salary would be easily 150k on the lower end, 200k+ on the higher end--although long term salary is pretty much capped in the 200-250k range unless I become president/CEO years down the line (very unlikely). I don't hate my job, but in the ideal world I definitely wouldn't want to spend the rest of my life doing this.

From a financial standpoint it doesn't make sense at all if I'm being honest with myself. But like I've said in all my dental school interviews so far, I feel like dentistry has always been the route I was supposed to take. It's a craft I can see myself truly committing to for the rest of my life. And while I also intend to specialize (I know every predent says this), I would be perfectly fine as a GP. However from a money perspective, becoming a GP for this price tag (let alone opportunity cost) is kind of ridiculous. Thus, the cost-benefit is really only semi-understandable in the most lucrative specialties.


I guess my questions for you all are:

1) Would you attend dental school in my position?
2) Can anyone give me insight into the odds of securing a 3-year HPSP scholarship after being rejected from 4-year?
3) How should I maximize the utility of my 50k savings if I decide to attend?
 
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Bigjt1420

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How stable is your current career? Is it safe to assume you'll be employed @150K/year for the rest of time? If so, I don't see why you'd go to dental school. You're making great money and the lost revenue would not be worth it in your case.
 
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GoDental101

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Nov 19, 2018
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Hey guys,

So unfortunately this cycle hasn't panned out the way I wanted it to. I haven't gotten into my state school yet and I was recently waitlisted for HPSP so that's pretty much done for as well. On the bright side I got into a private school that I can commute to from home (20 min), and I would have about 50k in personal savings by the time I would attend. On the down side, the total cost is still around 370k post-interest accrual (without using my 50k savings to pay for tuition at all)

I'm non-trad and currently at 100k in salary two years after graduating. By the time I would graduate D-school I anticipate this salary would be easily 150k on the lower end, 200k+ on the higher end--although long term salary is pretty much capped in the 200-250k range unless I become president/CEO years down the line (very unlikely). I don't hate my job, but in the ideal world I definitely wouldn't want to spend the rest of my life doing this.

From a financial standpoint it doesn't make sense at all if I'm being honest with myself. But like I've said in all my dental school interviews so far, I feel like dentistry has always been the route I was supposed to take. It's a craft I can see myself truly committing to for the rest of my life. And while I also intend to specialize (I know every predent says this), I would be perfectly fine as a GP. However from a money perspective, becoming a GP for this price tag (let alone opportunity cost) is kind of ridiculous. Thus, the cost-benefit is really only semi-understandable in the most lucrative specialties.


I guess my questions for you all are:

1) Would you attend dental school in my position?
2) Can anyone give me insight into the odds of securing a 3-year HPSP scholarship after being rejected from 4-year?
3) How should I maximize the utility of my 50k savings if I decide to attend?
Financially, it doesn't look too good. However, if you really don't want to keep doing your job and think you'd like dentistry then it might be worth it. I really like dentistry and I am glad I am doing it, however there are cons with dentistry as well. It is really hard on the back for starters.
 
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PerioDont

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Hey guys,

So unfortunately this cycle hasn't panned out the way I wanted it to. I haven't gotten into my state school yet and I was recently waitlisted for HPSP so that's pretty much done for as well. On the bright side I got into a private school that I can commute to from home (20 min), and I would have about 50k in personal savings by the time I would attend. On the down side, the total cost is still around 370k post-interest accrual (without using my 50k savings to pay for tuition at all)

I'm non-trad and currently at 100k in salary two years after graduating. By the time I would graduate D-school I anticipate this salary would be easily 150k on the lower end, 200k+ on the higher end--although long term salary is pretty much capped in the 200-250k range unless I become president/CEO years down the line (very unlikely). I don't hate my job, but in the ideal world I definitely wouldn't want to spend the rest of my life doing this.

From a financial standpoint it doesn't make sense at all if I'm being honest with myself. But like I've said in all my dental school interviews so far, I feel like dentistry has always been the route I was supposed to take. It's a craft I can see myself truly committing to for the rest of my life. And while I also intend to specialize (I know every predent says this), I would be perfectly fine as a GP. However from a money perspective, becoming a GP for this price tag (let alone opportunity cost) is kind of ridiculous. Thus, the cost-benefit is really only semi-understandable in the most lucrative specialties.


I guess my questions for you all are:

1) Would you attend dental school in my position?
2) Can anyone give me insight into the odds of securing a 3-year HPSP scholarship after being rejected from 4-year?
3) How should I maximize the utility of my 50k savings if I decide to attend?
Can you tell us some more about your age and life circumstances? Any kids? What does your S.O think?

for me personally I would not go to school for 370k in those circumstances. After debt payment and taxes, the average associate dentist will take home much less than 100k. I really don't mean this disrespectfully, but dental school interviews are meant to play up the field. The specifically selected tour guide student tells you how awesome the school is and how much he enjoys being there despite how untrue that may be. You repeat so much about why you want to be a dentist in interviews that you start believing it.

I personally think it is very difficult if not impossible for anyone to truly understand the field of dentistry...till you are actually a dentist at which point it is way too late. The stresses of visibility, physical stresses, dealing with people including pts, lab, staff people and all sorts of crazies can be a lot to take on. Worrying that your work is not as good as it could be. Doing permanent surgical procedures on people every day. There are definitely positives don't get me wrong, it is very rewarding to do good work on a grateful pt. Seating a good crown, polishing a beautiful filling, or pulling a difficult tooth out intact is a great feeling. But I wouldn't pay 370k for it.

If you are at a point where easily you would be at 150k with no debt payment in four years, you will be years if not decades ahead of most of your potential classmates.

put your current 50k into a mutual fund.
 
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Feb 5, 2021
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How stable is your current career? Is it safe to assume you'll be employed @150K/year for the rest of time? If so, I don't see why you'd go to dental school. You're making great money and the lost revenue would not be worth it in your case.
Financially, it doesn't look too good. However, if you really don't want to keep doing your job and think you'd like dentistry then it might be worth it. I really like dentistry and I am glad I am doing it, however there are cons with dentistry as well. It is really hard on the back for starters.
Can you tell us some more about your age and life circumstances? Any kids? What does your S.O think?

for me personally I would not go to school for 370k in those circumstances.......

Thanks for the responses all, I really appreciate it.

Some more background:

I'm 23, single, no kids. Marriage isn't really something I see for myself for a long time, if at all tbh.

I don't work in finance/STEM. My industry is not that stable in that typically one does not stay with the same company for long but my position is surprisingly in very high demand and I can jump between companies rather easily---even during covid I had many job offers at 100k with only 1 year of experience. The biggest downside however, is that although every job relies a lot on networking, my livelihood with this job depends significantly more on this than I perceive dentistry would. I'm a very outgoing/social person so networking is not a problem necessarily, it just feels like my job relies more on this than my own abilities--which is a big draw of dentistry to me.

Currently, I can work remote indefinitely and I have unlimited PTO. Lifestyle wise it's pretty good, some super late nights/ rare weekend work, but on average I'd say it's 9-7ish (there's typically a few hours of downtime in between). I think long term it might be better than the below average to semi-average dentist, but possibly way worse compared to the above average/top dentists, though obviously this is all conjecture.

I fear I am being too romantic about dentistry--perhaps you are right @PerioDont and I have tricked myself into believing my story. Or perhaps this long af cycle has drained me mentally, as I've been psyching myself up to quit and pursue dentistry for nearly a year now.

Is it financial suicide to quit and pursue dentistry?
 
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2thDoc11

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Nov 19, 2018
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Thanks for the responses all, I really appreciate it.

Some more background:

I'm 23, single, no kids. Marriage isn't really something I see for myself for a long time, if at all tbh.

I don't work in finance/STEM. My industry is not that stable in that typically one does not stay with the same company for long but my position is surprisingly in very high demand and I can jump between companies rather easily---even during covid I had many job offers at 100k with only 1 year of experience. The biggest downside however, is that although every job relies a lot on networking, my livelihood with this job depends significantly more on this than I perceive dentistry would. I'm a very outgoing/social person so networking is not a problem necessarily, it just feels like my job relies more on this than my own abilities--which is a big draw of dentistry to me.

Currently, I can work remote indefinitely and I have unlimited PTO. Lifestyle wise it's pretty good, some super late nights/ rare weekend work, but on average I'd say it's 9-7ish (there's typically a few hours of downtime in between). I think long term it might be better than the below average to semi-average dentist, but possibly way worse compared to the above average/top dentists, though obviously this is all conjecture.

I fear I am being too romantic about dentistry--perhaps you are right @PerioDont and I have tricked myself into believing my story. Or perhaps this long af cycle has drained me mentally, as I've been psyching myself up to quit and pursue dentistry for nearly a year now.

Is it financial suicide to quit and pursue dentistry?
If I were you, I'd stay at my current job, find a location you really enjoy and start investing in real estate. Easiest way to build that long term wealth. Probably would be a different story if you hated your job and couldn't manage the stress of staying there. Sounds like you got yourself a great gig considering your age
 
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PerioDont

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Thanks for the responses all, I really appreciate it.

Some more background:

I'm 23, single, no kids. Marriage isn't really something I see for myself for a long time, if at all tbh.

I don't work in finance/STEM. My industry is not that stable in that typically one does not stay with the same company for long but my position is surprisingly in very high demand and I can jump between companies rather easily---even during covid I had many job offers at 100k with only 1 year of experience. The biggest downside however, is that although every job relies a lot on networking, my livelihood with this job depends significantly more on this than I perceive dentistry would. I'm a very outgoing/social person so networking is not a problem necessarily, it just feels like my job relies more on this than my own abilities--which is a big draw of dentistry to me.

Currently, I can work remote indefinitely and I have unlimited PTO. Lifestyle wise it's pretty good, some super late nights/ rare weekend work, but on average I'd say it's 9-7ish (there's typically a few hours of downtime in between). I think long term it might be better than the below average to semi-average dentist, but possibly way worse compared to the above average/top dentists, though obviously this is all conjecture.

I fear I am being too romantic about dentistry--perhaps you are right @PerioDont and I have tricked myself into believing my story. Or perhaps this long af cycle has drained me mentally, as I've been psyching myself up to quit and pursue dentistry for nearly a year now.

Is it financial suicide to quit and pursue dentistry?
I'm a year older than you and a D4.

You are in a great spot, and I would be fine trading places with you. I am not someone who hates dentistry or dental school though both are challenging. I actually enjoyed dental school, did well, and am excited to see pts every day. Though I did not enjoy D1/2 as much since it is mostly book work. That being said, not gonna lie many days since I started I keep calculating what if I was making 50k a year and put half into investments since I was 19 instead of being where I am now financially.

I like most students I would think have been living on around 15k/yr, not a bad lifestyle by any means but certainly not a great one. I would venture to say I did 80hr/week of dental related work throughout D1-2 years. So the free time you have is often eaten up by studies etc, especially in D1/2 so its not like you are doing your hobbies or hanging out that often. As a family of immigrants though, I found there is huge value for me in being one of the first doctors in our family. That is a point of pride and of 'social' value.

While 'networking' per say may not be as important in dentistry, the single most important skill is communication with pts, staff etc. Literally no pt knows what your abilities are as far as how good you are at dentistry. They want to know how much it costs and does it hurt and that's about it, and maybe check your yelp reviews. Plenty of less skilled docs make much more $$ because they can talk better with pts.

Look up and read mrmoneymustache.com. Get yourself in a position to become financially independent. Volunteer in your community and help others which can be done in a myriad of ways outside of healthcare. I'm sure it must be very disheartening after putting in that much effort and energy into the cycle.

You can also poll people on dentaltown.com which is a forum for mainly dentists, or the facebook group dental nachos. Pretty sure most people on there will tell you to stick with a bird in the hand.
 
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GoDental101

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Thanks for the responses all, I really appreciate it.

Some more background:

I'm 23, single, no kids. Marriage isn't really something I see for myself for a long time, if at all tbh.

I don't work in finance/STEM. My industry is not that stable in that typically one does not stay with the same company for long but my position is surprisingly in very high demand and I can jump between companies rather easily---even during covid I had many job offers at 100k with only 1 year of experience. The biggest downside however, is that although every job relies a lot on networking, my livelihood with this job depends significantly more on this than I perceive dentistry would. I'm a very outgoing/social person so networking is not a problem necessarily, it just feels like my job relies more on this than my own abilities--which is a big draw of dentistry to me.

Currently, I can work remote indefinitely and I have unlimited PTO. Lifestyle wise it's pretty good, some super late nights/ rare weekend work, but on average I'd say it's 9-7ish (there's typically a few hours of downtime in between). I think long term it might be better than the below average to semi-average dentist, but possibly way worse compared to the above average/top dentists, though obviously this is all conjecture.

I fear I am being too romantic about dentistry--perhaps you are right @PerioDont and I have tricked myself into believing my story. Or perhaps this long af cycle has drained me mentally, as I've been psyching myself up to quit and pursue dentistry for nearly a year now.

Is it financial suicide to quit and pursue dentistry?
It may be financially better to stick with what you already had, but in no way would I say it would be financial suicide for you to pursue dentistry
 
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Feb 5, 2021
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I'm a year older than you and a D4.

You are in a great spot, and I would be fine trading places with you. I am not someone who hates dentistry or dental school though both are challenging. I actually enjoyed dental school, did well, and am excited to see pts every day. Though I did not enjoy D1/2 as much since it is mostly book work. That being said, not gonna lie many days since I started I keep calculating what if I was making 50k a year and put half into investments since I was 19 instead of being where I am now financially.

I like most students I would think have been living on around 15k/yr, not a bad lifestyle by any means but certainly not a great one. I would venture to say I did 80hr/week of dental related work throughout D1-2 years. So the free time you have is often eaten up by studies etc, especially in D1/2 so its not like you are doing your hobbies or hanging out that often. As a family of immigrants though, I found there is huge value for me in being one of the first doctors in our family. That is a point of pride and of 'social' value.

While 'networking' per say may not be as important in dentistry, the single most important skill is communication with pts, staff etc. Literally no pt knows what your abilities are as far as how good you are at dentistry. They want to know how much it costs and does it hurt and that's about it, and maybe check your yelp reviews. Plenty of less skilled docs make much more $$ because they can talk better with pts.

Look up and read mrmoneymustache.com. Get yourself in a position to become financially independent. Volunteer in your community and help others which can be done in a myriad of ways outside of healthcare. I'm sure it must be very disheartening after putting in that much effort and energy into the cycle.

You can also poll people on dentaltown.com which is a forum for mainly dentists, or the facebook group dental nachos. Pretty sure most people on there will tell you to stick with a bird in the hand.

That's awesome for you and your family. Thanks again for your in-depth insight, I really appreciate it. I prob should have posted this on the Dental forum instead of Pre-Dent tbh.

I definitely understand your point about communication skills being the primary driver in terms of a dentist's success, and I have no problem with that actually. What I meant by "networking" was that success in my current job is heavily reliant on simply how much the people above me in the hierarchy like me, regardless of my professional communication skills, portfolio, etc---it's out of my control at a certain point. Because at the end of the day, there are many people that can do my job; my tangible skills are very replaceable.

And while I guess charming people that are more powerful than you is a critical skill in all facets of life in general, looking at dentistry from an outsider's perspective, it feels like a lot more of your fate is in your own hands. If **** ever hits the fan and a company I'm working for goes under, my options are very limited to the strength of my network. And even though I believe this still applies to dentists (though the risk of "lay offs" are very low I think?), at a certain point you can either be your own boss, or have developed tangible skills that are rare enough (specialties) for you to have significant bargaining power in the workplace. At least that's my perception of it.

I guess only I can answer if it's worth it to trade the relative safety of my current job for the pursuit of dentistry and its higher ceiling---with the big risk of me not being as successful as I hope to be. But I appreciate any and all of your insight into my perception of dentistry in terms of career ceiling, overall outlook, etc.
 
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2thDoc11

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I'm not sure if choosing dentistry for the higher ceiling really makes sense.. Even in the hypothetical situation where you end up taking out 300k in loans for school (you mentioned 375k earlier) and pay that off over 10 years at 6.8% interest, that'd end up coming out to 414k in total. If you kept your current salary over the next 4 years, that be 400k in your pocket depending on taxes and your expenses but still.. So now you lost 400k in potential income and now owe that in student loans. That's using conservative numbers.. Coming out of D school as a general dentist, you'll likely earn 125k-150k prior to taxes. If you choose to specialize, the additional education is just that much more in tuition/interest accrual depending on what you choose to do. You were considering HSPS but then you're signing your life away for that period of time.. not a terrible choice but you are definitely giving up some freedom..
 
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yappy

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If it’s purely a financial decision then stay where you’re at and avoid the debt. In the end I don’t think it will matter financially too much either way - that is to say neither career will be life changing from a monetary perspective and the lowest risk path is the one without debt.

However, If you truly want to be a dentist, and are unfulfilled in your current position, then maybe you should go into dentistry. Just make sure to do you due diligence and understand what you’re getting into. I like being a dentist because I get satisfaction from improving peoples health. It’s been my experience that the people that are most satisfied in health care are those that get satisfaction from the work they do in healthcare. As obvious as that sounds it may surprise you that many people enter a field like dentistry for the “lifestyle” or logistics (hours, pay, title) and are unsatisfied.

There were a few of my classmates that were able to get 3 year hpsp contracts but that was ~ 7 years ago. If you go the military route you should be comfortable with military service and all that it entails.
 
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If it’s purely a financial decision then stay where you’re at and avoid the debt. In the end I don’t think it will matter financially too much either way - that is to say neither career will be life changing from a monetary perspective and the lowest risk path is the one without debt.

However, If you truly want to be a dentist, and are unfulfilled in your current position, then maybe you should go into dentistry. Just make sure to do you due diligence and understand what you’re getting into. I like being a dentist because I get satisfaction out of improving peoples health. It’s been my experience that the people that are most satisfied in health care are those that get satisfaction from the work they do in healthcare. As obvious as that sounds it may surprise you that many people enter a field like dentistry for the “lifestyle” or logistics (hours, pay, title) and are unsatisfied.

There were a few of my classmates that were able to get 3 year hpsp contracts but that was ~ 7 years ago. If you go the military route you should be comfortable with military service and all that it entails.
What do you like about dentistry that is better than being in the medical field?
 

yappy

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What do you like about dentistry that is better than being in the medical field?
Nothing. To me it's pretty much the same. Dentistry is doing procedures in an out patient setting similar to other careers in medicine.
 
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I tend to disagree with those that are saying it wouldn't make sense financially, but that may be because dentistry has great for me so far. If you're only gonna be making 120k for the first few years and then 200k or less for the rest of your career, then yeah, there's no way I'd do dentistry in your situation. But in all honesty if you're not going to be doing better than that, there's sometht else wrong.
Yeah, there's a pretty big opportunity cost there, but if it gets you into what you'd be happier doing for a full career, then I think it's worth it. Yes, dentistry is tough and can be hard on the body, but learning how to take care of yourself mentally and physically takes care of that.
If you can get the 3 year HSPS, that's icing on the cake. I debated on doing the military, but ended up just taking out the loans. My friends that did the military have had a decently relaxing career so far, and either have no debt, or only one year of loans, which can be paid back very easily.
In the end it really comes down to what you'll be happy doing for a 20-30 year career. I have a friend that does marketing and he's constantly getting laid off and having to look for new jobs. He always gets a new one within a few weeks, but that would stress me out. Dentistry is very stable and if you're owning your own practice, you can make it as busy or chill as you'd like. That freedom can be worth a lot.
 
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Molar Whisperer

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Since there are a lot of factors, it is impossible for us to tell you what's best. You can end up borrowing double what you planned and your dental experience turned out to be your best life-changing investment. The same can be viewed to be your worst and everything in between. IMO, dentistry can vary greatly on location. If you desire to locate in a super-saturated area, my suggestion is to shadow a few struggling dentists (if they allow you to since many do not want anybody to see them struggle). Maybe inquire at DSO's, community dental, and Medicaid ctrs. Private Practice (PP) at super-saturated areas can be a hit or miss. When I was briefly at a PP, the most patients I saw in a day was 4 and most cases I saw were fixing/redoing my predecessors work. The less saturated areas may be that way for many reasons. Shadowing in those areas as well as moderately saturated can provide some insights. I have a colleague who took in $1.8 million/yr and now she is with me at a Medicaid office. She owned a dental chain franchise, worked 7 days/wk and had very high overhead (franchise fees are expensive). She decided it wasn't worth the stress and sold it back. My sister started her PP 1.5 yrs before Covid closures and along with her other worries, she would mentally go over the narratives to send to insurance companies to pay for her crown procedures all while trying to sleep at night.

My suggestion is to obtain as many sources of income (day job, side gigs, passive income, side business, etc.) to hedge against so much uncertainty.
 
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Judajudo

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OP, I was in a similar position as you. I was in my late 20's, making 225-250k a year with a BA, no debt, fairly stable job consulting. On track to land a director or CTO gig somewhere. I agonized over the math, and wondered if I was ruining my own life going into dental school and back into debt. My family situation wasn't great, I spent a lot of money during my last career paying off personal and familial debts so I didn't have huge amounts of savings that a person making my money should have(outside of retirement savings). Part of it was also that I hated my job, I've always been crafty and enjoyed working with my hands, and spending all day managing people and projects was the absolute worst for me. I also traveled every week and lived out of hotels, only being home 2 nights a week. You can't even have a dog on that schedule, much less a family and kids.

Now that I'm 2 years in, there isn't a ounce of regret in my mind about attending. My only wish is that I could have started earlier. Even during really frustrating and hard times in class or in simlab, I was much happier putting in all nighters for school than getting off of work at 5pm everyday. Yeah, it's likely that I would have made more money staying in my old career due the combination of both opportunity cost and compound interest, but it would come at the cost of actually liking what I do at my job. Its also not like dentist don't make good money either. If you think taking home "only" a 100k a year is a nothing then I'm really not sure what to say to you. I grew in a family of four that made 25k a year in comparison.

I can't say for certain what my life will be like as a real dentist since I'm not one yet, but so far I've had more fun doing a million class 2s in simlab than taking on novel challenges in my old career. I would also caution against listening to people who only had dental careers. While many make very valid points on the toll the job takes and the difficulties of the industry, the grass always looks greener on the other side.
 
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OP, I was in a similar position as you. I was in my late 20's, making 225-250k a year with a BA, no debt, fairly stable job consulting. On track to land a director or CTO gig somewhere. I agonized over the math, and wondered if I was ruining my own life going into dental school and back into debt. My family situation wasn't great, I spent a lot of money during my last career paying off personal and familial debts so I didn't have huge amounts of savings that a person making my money should have(outside of retirement savings). Part of it was also that I hated my job, I've always been crafty and enjoyed working with my hands, and spending all day managing people and projects was the absolute worst for me. I also traveled every week and lived out of hotels, only being home 2 nights a week. You can't even have a dog on that schedule, much less a family and kids.

Now that I'm 2 years in, there isn't a ounce of regret in my mind about attending. My only wish is that I could have started earlier. Even during really frustrating and hard times in class or in simlab, I was much happier putting in all nighters for school than getting off of work at 5pm everyday. Yeah, it's likely that I would have made more money staying in my old career due the combination of both opportunity cost and compound interest, but it would come at the cost of actually liking what I do at my job. Its also not like dentist don't make good money either. If you think taking home "only" a 100k a year is a nothing then I'm really not sure what to say to you. I grew in a family of four that made 25k a year in comparison.

I can't say for certain what my life will be like as a real dentist since I'm not one yet, but so far I've had more fun doing a million class 2s in simlab than taking on novel challenges in my old career. I would also caution against listening to people who only had dental careers. While many make very valid points on the toll the job takes and the difficulties of the industry, the grass always looks greener on the other side.

Thanks for sharing your story, I really appreciate it.

Yeah to be honest I'm really leaning towards going to school. I don't necessarily hate my current job but it isn't fulfilling at all and I can't see myself doing this for the rest of my life like I can with dentistry.

From responses here and in my DMs it seems that people who were in a similar spot as mine and went through with dental school have no regrets, and that's super encouraging.
 
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DDS4lifeeee

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Hey guys,

So unfortunately this cycle hasn't panned out the way I wanted it to. I haven't gotten into my state school yet and I was recently waitlisted for HPSP so that's pretty much done for as well. On the bright side I got into a private school that I can commute to from home (20 min), and I would have about 50k in personal savings by the time I would attend. On the down side, the total cost is still around 370k post-interest accrual (without using my 50k savings to pay for tuition at all)

I'm a single, 23 year old non-trad currently at 100k in salary two years after graduating. By the time I would graduate D-school I anticipate this salary would be easily 150k on the lower end, 200k+ on the higher end--although long term salary is pretty much capped in the 200-250k range unless I become president/CEO years down the line (very unlikely). I don't hate my job, but in the ideal world I definitely wouldn't want to spend the rest of my life doing this.

From a financial standpoint it doesn't make sense at all if I'm being honest with myself. But like I've said in all my dental school interviews so far, I feel like dentistry has always been the route I was supposed to take. It's a craft I can see myself truly committing to for the rest of my life. And while I also intend to specialize (I know every predent says this), I would be perfectly fine as a GP. However from a money perspective, becoming a GP for this price tag (let alone opportunity cost) is kind of ridiculous. Thus, the cost-benefit is really only semi-understandable in the most lucrative specialties.


I guess my questions for you all are:

1) Would you attend dental school in my position?
2) Can anyone give me insight into the odds of securing a 3-year HPSP scholarship after being rejected from 4-year?
3) How should I maximize the utility of my 50k savings if I decide to attend?

Hey OP, I was in a similar situation. I had been working for my in-laws for about 4 years and was averaging over $200k/year doing software sales. My father-in-law was really gifted at building up companies and selling them but over the years some of the companies we built went under. The family relationship was great but at the end of the day I made the decision to go to dental school because I knew I would love being a dentist and having the job security it provided. Companies and businesses can come and go but as long as people keep being born with teeth, I will be in business. Also, even though this sounds cliche, you only live once. For me, I knew I would have always thought "I wonder what life could have been like if I went to dental school". The cushy job and cushy paycheck was very hard to leave but I didn't want to go through life always looking back wondering if I took the easy/comfortable way out and forfeited dentistry.

I asked every person I knew what I should do and half of them said I should go to dental school and half said stick with the cushy job. No one can make this decision for you because it's a life altering decision and only you know how you feel about dentistry v your current job. One factor that made my decision easier for me, is I have the funds to come out of dental school virtually debt free. No matter what decision you make, my advice is make the decision and commit. If you decide to stick with your current job, make sure you've fully convinced yourself dentistry isn't for you and you won't have regrets looking back. Dental school is rigorous, I'm in my second semester and I frequently think about my old cushy job... Its a tough 4 years but I'm determined to complete it. If comfortability is your biggest concern then stay where you are, if you feel you'd always look back and wonder "what if", then to me, no amount of money/comfortability is great enough to outweigh that regret. Hope this helped!
 
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Hey OP, I was in a similar situation. I had been working for my in-laws for about 4 years and was averaging over $200k/year doing software sales. My father-in-law was really gifted at building up companies and selling them but over the years some of the companies we built went under. The family relationship was great but at the end of the day I made the decision to go to dental school because I knew I would love being a dentist and having the job security it provided. Companies and businesses can come and go but as long as people keep being born with teeth, I will be in business. Also, even though this sounds cliche, you only live once. For me, I knew I would have always thought "I wonder what life could have been like if I went to dental school". The cushy job and cushy paycheck was very hard to leave but I didn't want to go through life always looking back wondering if I took the easy/comfortable way out and forfeited dentistry.

I asked every person I knew what I should do and half of them said I should go to dental school and half said stick with the cushy job. No one can make this decision for you because it's a life altering decision and only you know how you feel about dentistry v your current job. One factor that made my decision easier for me, is I have the funds to come out of dental school virtually debt free. No matter what decision you make, my advice is make the decision and commit. If you decide to stick with your current job, make sure you've fully convinced yourself dentistry isn't for you and you won't have regrets looking back. Dental school is rigorous, I'm in my second semester and I frequently think about my old cushy job... Its a tough 4 years but I'm determined to complete it. If comfortability is your biggest concern then stay where you are, if you feel you'd always look back and wonder "what if", then to me, no amount of money/comfortability is great enough to outweigh that regret. Hope this helped!
Hey so a bit unrelated but I am actually in my second semester of dental school and having doubts of whether I should have gone into medical school or not. Not really sure what to do at this point as I will only start seeing patients in 2 years and really won't know how it feels until then
 

MahiMahi

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Answer to your question 1: If you love dentistry more than anything else, then by all means go ahead and attend the school.

From the financial standpoint you were speaking about: the salary figures for your current field compare very well to dentistry - newly graduated dentists now are typically in the 120-180 range, and those figures haven't really been moving upwards (particularly with the increasing class sizes and all the new schools opening up. I wouldn't count on dental salaries increasing faster than inflation over the next 4 years), and there is a sizable debt burden that will be on your back for the better part of your young life. What part of the country would you want to practice in after graduation? The picture of the private practice owner dentist is also fading, with corporate looking like the future for most of the field. HPSP is also not a certainty - it's competitive and looks to be changing for the worse, with positions being reduced and changes made to the program/assignments (send @Big Time Hoosier a PM, he is far more familiar with HPSP and the military route than I am).

The comment above by @PerioDont about communication being just as vital is spot-on. Literally everything he said is really on-the-spot. He gets my 100% respect with that comment for how solid and clear-eyed his advice is. Also agree that you should really be asking this question on those communities (people out in the real world who can actually tell you the reality of the daily grind, and what the outlook actually is for those in the real world), not a bunch of pre-dents/dental students still taking classes.

You'd be on track for a debt-free life, disposable income in your 20s and 30s and beyond, getting to travel/vacation extensively too*, and retiring early/having sizable early investments with your current career. From a financial standpoint, you'd be nuts to drop your career for the finances of a new dental school graduate.

*(that kind of extensive PTO you outline does not exist in dental careers, whether you own your practice, or are employed in academia/specialty, or are corporate dental employee - you don't get to take that kind of significant time off at all)

This doesn't take into account your personal goals and feelings. If deep down you know you want to be a dentist, your current career makes you miserable, and being a dentist would make you happy and fulfilled (despite being financially worse-off, finances be damned) that's what's important for you.
 
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There’s more to life than finances, such as actually enjoying the work you’ll be doing 8 hours a day for the next 30 years. I recommend going to dental school.
 
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DDS4lifeeee

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It may also help to do some more shadowing and ask the dentists questions like what are the things they do and don't like about their jobs, their pay range and other questions to put you at peace. You can read these forums everyday but shadowing and asking dentists questions will give you the best insight if you think the career path is really what you want.
 
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Currently, I can work remote indefinitely and I have unlimited PTO. Lifestyle wise it's pretty good
Listen to yourself. I haven’t ran the numbers but have you put into a Microsoft excel the financial scenario of you making your income for one more year- reapplying and getting into the cheaper state school for less money- then the common financial assumptions of becoming a dentist? $ isn’t everything but if you can tolerate what you do for 1 more year why not try again.

Always a risk you don’t get in anywhere a second time however I don’t buy that. Schools just want your money. You’ll get in somewhere. This time maybe you have to move? Who knows. I’d reapply myself.
 
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nobeldds

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I 100% agree. The best option is to re-apply next year and go to dental school if you get into a cheap school or get the HPSP. In many circumstances, people coming out of undergrad should just take what they can get because it's unlikely that they will make any significant money if they delay a year. You have the upper hand with a solid income, so use your cards and apply again next year. Worst-case(**2nd**) scenario you end up at another expensive school (**1st=no acceptance**), with more money saved and a better perspective. I think with covid you have a decent excuse for why you didn't want to start dental school yet. If you can get the HPSP scholarship then dental school is a no-brainer, definitely do it. It's an amazing deal.
 
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Cold Front

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To the OP:

Time is on your side. If you pursue dentistry you will graduate before age 30.

If you are fortunate to get military or NHSC scholarship, you will still be ahead with $0 debt in your early 30’s

Now... what happens beyond that point is totally up to you. If you stay away from saturated areas, you can make $300k a year. You can buy a practice or build a practice and be the king of your castle and make even more money. You can roam around and work for corporations and still make $250k income. All this requires consistent hard work and effort, and won’t happen by default. There are a lot of threads on these forums that covered this topic million times, I would research more about the ups and downs of dentistry through there.
 
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P7898

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To the OP:

Time is on your side. If you pursue dentistry you will graduate before age 30.

If you are fortunate to get military or NHSC scholarship, you will still be ahead with $0 debt in your early 30’s

Now... what happens beyond that point is totally up to you. If you stay away from saturated areas, you can make $300k a year. You can buy a practice or build a practice and be the king of your castle and make even more money. You can roam around and work for corporations and still make $250k income. All this requires consistent hard work and effort, and won’t happen by default. There are a lot of threads on these forums that covered this topic million times, I would research more about the ups and downs of dentistry through there.
People will say these incomes are highe. But they are realistic numbers. Needless to say you can make 200K+ as an associate. It just requires hard work and a wide range procedural mix and you are there. Boom.
 
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P7898

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Let me add on this. In reality however, majority of people like to stay "in their comfort zone". Hey - all the power to them. But if you are in a practice where you are doing a bunch of fillings on medicaid patients or you are in a insurance based practice doing a crown a day and you are unhappy with your income but refuse to do any molar endo, implants, surgical exts., Invisalign, etc. - then you either need to go into ownserhip, or learn new procedures, or quit complaining.

Always put your patients first. But an easy way to boost your income AS an ASSOCIATE - procedural mix. If you do not want that then this is why we have amazing specialist colleagues. If you do want that - then take classes and work with your specialist colleagues on cases. Simple truth.
 
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