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Select the top 3 factors that you are/were looking for in Dental school?

  • Cost

  • Student body/extracurricular activities (Greek life, community service, research opportunities)

  • Reputation of School

  • School offers specialty/residency/combined degree program

  • School limits academic stress (P/F grading system, enough seats for clinicals, etc)

  • Stay close to family / relationship

  • Location suites the lifestyle you want to live

  • Other: Please explain in comments

  • Don't care, I am just trying to get into Dental School


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wildshark16

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Amidst the craziness of apps and anticipation for the interview / accepted season, I wanted to focus what I believe is a key aspect of the process: Designating the schools. Personally, I am struggling to determine which schools to send my applications. This post serves to answer the questions listed and poll offered. It also serves to allow members to comment on their experience in researching and deciding which schools they wanted to go to and what resources they used to help clarify that school fit their needs.

For me, in order to decide which schools I wanted to designate, I looked at 2 fields: 1. My chances & 2. What I want

1. My chances/competitiveness
An applicant's chances of getting in is dependent on stats (DAT | GPA ), how they portray their personality (demographic, personal statement, extracurriculars/shadowing, INTERVIEW), and ability to turn in their application early (late app means less chance). So everyone is limited to certain schools to look for base on these criterias.

I submitted my application early, have 120 dental shadowing, 24 AA, around verified 3.80 GPA (my estimate). I believe I am fairly competative applicant. However, I heard that an applicant can be overqualified to apply to a lesser-reputable school/"safety schools" (schools are less qualified because they receive less funding, less specialty programs, lower average DAT/GPA, etc). To clarify, I am not debating whether it is fair or not for schools to do this.

My problem is that I MAY want to apply to those lesser reputable school simply because they are cheaper (I believe it is smart to factor in future finances). I have thought of ways to make sure I let these schools know that I am interested in these schools so I won't be denied an interview. Here is my brainstormed thoughts on how to execute this
  • contact the school / talk to dean
  • do this frequently
First questions: What is the best means to make sure my app is NOT disregarded bc I am competitive. Is there evidence that contacting the school frequently is a successful means to get an interview, even though you are competitive?

I plan on applying to other schools that fit my resume that are not too expensive. But I really would like to know whether it is POSSIBLE to get interviews at cheaper, less-reputable schools. If it is impossible (no one has personal experience of this), then I won't waste my money sending to those schools.

The complexity of designating schools doesn't end there!

2. My wants
Everyone have different personal needs and wants (beautiful weather location, attractive people to date lol, etc). But I focused on these critical wants that will limit a dental students stress.

To limit stress, I want to research whether schools has low cost burden, P/F grading system instead of letter grade, high student to faculty ratio so I can get help with materials, breaks to prepare for NBDE/Clinical boards Exams, enough seats + patients for each dental student for clinical so we aren't fighting for time, dental school has specialty programs so it increases chances of acceptance there.

Second Questions: For applicants who have applied, how have you gone about researching these "wants"? Any key resources that can help applicants clarify that a dental school offer their wants?

Also is there any other "wants" that you think is critical for designating schools.

Conclusion:
I have alot of things to clarify.

I don't expect to FIND a dental school that will match all my wants. That is simply unrealistic. But I simply would love to know everything possible that a dental school has to offer to make my life easier through my 4 years. Your guys post will give me the tools/resources to see if that school can provide my wants. As a consumers to dental school's education (spending so much $$$$), I believe they should give us ability to succeed clinically and achieve our goals with lesser stress.

I understand it will be dental school will be hard, but a school with a P/F grading system will be much less stressful than a letter grade system (for example). So there are indeed ways to limit stress in dental school.

Haha yes, this seems like I am stressing to "get less stress" in the future. Which seems counter intuitive. But as you all know, the app cycle is one of the most stress periods of your lives; I just wanted to make it more stressful ;)

Many say this post is "overthinking it" and other applicants will just put some schools down and call it a day. But I want to emphasize again that this is important topic for us as consumers. Why throw $100 for AADSAS to send, $XXX for supp apps, and $extra feees when the school doesn't match our needs and wants. Or even worse, the school won't consider you for X reason. It is truly sad that the app process is so stressful that it minimizes this focus on designating school.

Ultimately, for those who did commit to researching schools in previous cycles, help a brother out with some resources and your thoughts on this post! I decided to throw in a poll as well.

PS: I found good resources of what I am talking about "wants" and filtering which school is good for you:
https://www.gapmedics.com/blog/2014/10/10/things-to-consider-when-choosing-a-dental-school/
***Official: Can you answer these questions about your dental school?***
Dental School Rankings List | Student Doctor Network
http://dental-schools.startclass.com/
DDS Applicants now live
 

dentite24

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My 'other' reason is how easy it will be to get in to the school based on your residency, stats, and biographical info (how oos friendly the school is, how IS friendly your in-state school is, GPA/DAT score, how your overall app gets taken into account at the school, and your race/financials/upbringing).
 
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setdoc7

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Do not buy into the P/F system too heavily. The exams at many of these schools, especially basic science, are graded on a normative grading system. These grades do not magically go away, the school has them. They just do not report them.
 
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Polkadotfan

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1. Just apply to where you think you want to apply (I based mine on cost/some states I don't want to live in). I wouldn't worry about being "too competitive" because every school is looking for something different. I feel that unless you're an adcom at that school you probably wont know exactly what they're looking for exactly.
I would first do what I did and look at school locations and say first "Where do I NOT want to spend 4+ years?" and go from there.
I wouldn't go on "reputation" unless it's just horrible. I haven't really heard of anyone say "Oh don't go to X dental school, it's poo" or something similar in my every day dental experiences (I admit it is limited).

2. Honestly I wasn't really sure what I wanted in a school other than not to be in high-cost of living states and not be an arm and a leg (unless I had HPSP). I don't think I figured it out until I actually interviewed. It was there I could talk to other students and see what the schools really focused on. Each school I interviewed at was subtly different and I picked the one I just enjoyed the most and felt I would fit in the best. It wasn't something I could research beforehand.

3. I would research what the 2ndary is for some schools (If you can, I know they change sometimes). I didn't realize how personal some would be (since I hadn't visited them...) and regretted choosing them since I knew I wouldn't do well with those. I probably could have cut 2 schools out immediately.
 
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blablabla1

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Out of curiosity what are these "less reputable" schools that are cheaper??? Usually some of the schools students use as "safeties" (there's really no such thing as a safety dental school) are wayyy more expensive than the "more reputable" state schools

Also yes, for the schools that may overlook you because of how high your stats are, simply emailing them to indicate your interest should be enough.
 
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blablabla1

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Oh and about your priorities...

1. You're way underestimating how stressful P/F is and way overestimating the difference between P/F and the normal grading system.

2. A lot of the info you seek (breaks for NBDE, enough seats, student to faculty ratio, etc) can only be found either through a nice SDNer who goes to the school or from the interview itself. You're thinking much past the typical pre dent applicant.
 
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wildshark16

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You're thinking much past the typical pre dent applicant.

Haha yes, I would agree to that. I love to overthink things; it personally fuels me to be proficient in everything. But I believe my "overthought" questions is essential to bring forth new knowledge to the table. This knowledge can supply the minority of "overthinking" Pre-Dent members details that they are curious about.

As it states in the polls, I acknowledge that there are people who do "Don't care, cast there nets wide (20+ send outs to schools), and hope to get into dental school". I would suspect this feed is not for them. But surely, I believe there are Pre-Dent members out there curious about this.

To clarify, I don't want my questions to make me sound cocky. This process is important to me; it deals with my future in terms of time, money, and aspirations. I want to prepare my future the best as I can, even if I am overthinking it. I personally believe all applicants should take this much attention to detail with this life-changing transition. To clarify this clarification. This doesn't mean I stress the heck out everyday during the process. I set a plan to take care of assignments everyday and make sure I go to the pool to get my tan on haha.

Okay enough clarification. @blablabla1 I appreciate the critique. I am curious about how you designated your schools during your cycle? (Granted if you would like to share). What tips do you have for me in selecting schools? ...... besides STOP overthinking :)
 

wildshark16

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how oos friendly the school is.

Glad you brought this up. Many may see it is oos friendly, but I advise all applicants to check out the "Origin of Out of State and International First-Year Enrollees" in the "ADEA Official Guide". Just because they are oos, could mean they only accept people from the surrounding region or favor applicants from certain states.

Schools that are in state applicants only

dantemac in the site above gives a good explanation of what to look for. Even though it is updated, it shows the complexity even with selecting what you think is a "good oos freindly school"
 
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wildshark16

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I don't think I figured it out until I actually interviewed. It was there I could talk to other students and see what the schools really focused on. Each school I interviewed at was subtly different and I picked the one I just enjoyed the most and felt I would fit in the best.It wasn't something I could research beforehand.

I guess my friends and I will make some road trips this summer to dental schools to visit the schools then. A little hands on research action! :highfive:
 

blablabla1

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1. Cost. While I did have some private schools on my list, I did prioritize having a good number of state schools that were OOS friendly (Pitt, Maryland, Louisville, Michigan, etc) to keep costs down in the case that I didn't get into my state school. I avoided schools like NYU or expensive state schools like Minnesota or IU.

2. Distance from home. I've lived in VA pretty much my whole life so I wanted to stay relatively close. This meant mostly only applying to schools on the east coast and in surroundings states (Louisville for example). I also applied to schools that were located in metropolitan/more diverse and liberal areas. Just my preference in that respect. Thankfully that wasn't too difficult since most dental schools are located in relatively large cities.

3. Reputation. In a sense, all dental schools will make you a dentist and there's no difference between them. At the same time though, I did prefer to go to schools with more established programs so I didn't include schools like LECOM or Touro on my list.

I did make some mistakes (applying to MWU-IL and UNC, for example), but all in all I was happy with my school list. With your stats, I 100% would not apply to more than 10 schools. Even that many may be overkill.
 
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imnopremedokay

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Glad you brought this up. Many may see it is oos friendly, but I advise all applicants to check out the "Origin of Out of State and International First-Year Enrollees" in the "ADEA Official Guide". Just because they are oos, could mean they only accept people from the surrounding region or favor applicants from certain states.

Schools that are in state applicants only

dantemac in the site above gives a good explanation of what to look for. Even though it is updated, it shows the complexity even with selecting what you think is a "good oos freindly school"

I made this just for people like you
 
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wildshark16

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To keep track of the polls:
Cost: 24 votes (overwhelming favorite)

But the rest is fairly even with a range of 8-11 votes:
  • Reputation of School
  • School offers specialty/residency/combined degree program
  • School limits academic stress (P/F grading system, enough seats for clinicals, etc)
  • Stay close to family / relationship
  • Location suites the lifestyle you want to live
  • Don't care, I am just trying to get into Dental School
The emphasis of pre-dents to select schools that limit financial burden is REAL. There is alot of topics that can derive from this data. For example: "what do you do if you don't get into the cheaper in-state school, what can I do (get into school with potential in-state residency, plan to lower cost of living, etc)", "Schools that bump up tuition v. schools that freeze tuition". Hopefully people can bring more information to the table and can expand if they would like to!

 
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super frank

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If you want to be a GP, go to the school that's the cheapest. That's a no brainer. If you know you have a strong inclination to specialize (and to a lesser extent academia/research), then the decision becomes much more complex. I also just wanted to add that the decision is not so black and white. Some people receive scholarships, some people have an inheritance, some people already have significant others with an inheritance or stable jobs... With that said, good luck when you receive acceptances. It's a fun experience, but definitely not an easy decision (if you receive multiple).

Here on SDN we are force fed terror from debt incurred, justifiably so, but also important to note. If you were to poll the 99% of students that don't spend time on SDN I'm sure the votes would look more balanced.
 
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dentite24

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It's so all about cost...
Pretty much, for the most part, you are going to get a good dental education with good experience just about anywhere you go to dental school.

I would say dental schools can be broken into 3 categories:
1) Below average schools (about 5-10 of these out there)- going to get a lower education there, going to get a little less opportunity after graduation.
2) Above average schools (about 5 of these out there)- going to get a high-end education, opportunity to do research, better opportunity to specialize, and a little better opportunity after graduation.
3) Average schools (all the rest)- you will get a great education here, can still find opportunities to do research if you'd like, you will have great dental experience, can still specialize... pretty much your success is what you make it after graduation. If you go to a standard d-school (which is most all of them) you can turn out great or average (that is, if you can come out with less debt than others.

So, basically, there is no reason to not just scheme on the 'average' schools that will leave you with the least debt. Most all applicants should just be applying to their state schools and 4-5 of the cheapest quality OOS schools that they think that they can get into. Otherwise, it is just a waste of money these days. There is no reason to be coming out of dental school over 400k in debt. If you can't get into a cheap 'average' dental school after the first (or MAYBE second try) as a young person, than so be it, dentistry is not is just not going to be worth it for you.
Obviously, if you are a go-getter and a top tier applicant, maybe one of the above average dental schools are worth it for you. But, that is not the case for most.
And, if you are maybe if you have lower stats, are a minority that one of the below average schools typically admits, and the school is not going to break the bank, than that would probably be worth it for you too...
 
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wildshark16

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If you know you have a strong inclination to specialize (and to a lesser extent academia/research), then the decision becomes much more complex.

Many say that a school with specialty helps you get your "foot in the door". There is a large debate on this (maybe more competitive to specialize at these schools or the argument that if you put the effort, you can specialize). But this thought makes me think about WHERE I want to live.

For example, if I want to live and practice in Illinois, will going to Midwestern-IL will help you get a "foot in the door"? Or going to a school like Marquette, who accept a ton of IL residents, can help you make connections with other people likely to go home and practice in IL? Will going to a dental school with no connection to IL make it harder to go to IL and practice there. It makes logical sense that this will be the case, but I would like to know real concrete evidence (i mean, I should take the info for a grain of salt because peeps extend the truth on the interweb at times). Definitely a question for the Dental forum. Obviously getting in, passing boards, and graduating dental school takes priority; but this is yet another complex thought for everyone to think about in deciding which school to invest your 4 years of life!
 

super frank

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Many say that a school with specialty helps you get your "foot in the door". There is a large debate on this (maybe more competitive to specialize at these schools or the argument that if you put the effort, you can specialize). But this thought makes me think about WHERE I want to live.

For example, if I want to live and practice in Illinois, will going to Midwestern-IL will help you get a "foot in the door"? Or going to a school like Marquette, who accept a ton of IL residents, can help you make connections with other people likely to go home and practice in IL? Will going to a dental school with no connection to IL make it harder to go to IL and practice there. It makes logical sense that this will be the case, but I would like to know real concrete evidence (i mean, I should take the info for a grain of salt because peeps extend the truth on the interweb at times). Definitely a question for the Dental forum. Obviously getting in, passing boards, and graduating dental school takes priority; but this is yet another complex thought for everyone to think about in deciding which school to invest your 4 years of life!
Case in point in it be being a more complex decision, lol.
 
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wildshark16

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[Update] To keep track of the polls:
Cost: 39 votes (overwhelming favorite)

School limiting stress & Location suits lifestyle you want to live take 2nd place with 21 votes

Honorable mentions:
  • Stay close with fam/relationship ~ 18 votes
  • Reputation of school ~ 16 votes
  • Don't care / Just trying to get in ~ 14 votes
  • Specialty/Combined degree program ~ 12 votes
My opinion:
  • Limiting the FEELING of burning out = From my impression, dental school asks so much mentally and physically for an extensive period of time (its a grind). So having a school that limits this stress is KEY. Obviously all dental schools will be tough, but finding a school that PURPOSELY takes care of its students (scheduling exams carefully, receptionists helps with scheduling patients, etc) is KEY.
  • Allowing the FEELING of happiness = Solely focusing on the grind sucks even when the school limits the stress to some degree. So having a lifestyle, family, relationship to give you relief from the grind is KEY as well!
  • SHORT TERM FEELINGS [greater than/equal than/less than??????] LONG TERM FEELINGS = so with this said about SHORT TERM FEELINGS, I also don't want these 4 years of dental school to demise your long term goals/aspirations. This is why COST is also important. But there isn't a clear answer on how you balance this.
Conclusion:
It isn't a lie that Dentistry had one of the highest rates of suicide/mental health disease. Personally, I understand that the dental path is a tough road/grind in every facet (financial, physically, patient care, clinical performance, academic, mental, other lifestyle probs: mortgage, etc). So maintaining to what I define as feelings, or mental health, is important in short term. But, as I stated in last bullet, I don't want to demise my long term financial situation. Ohhhhh dentistry.... I love you, but you are killing me "literally" haha
 
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