Feb 23, 2011
64
0
Status
Pre-Dental
After interviewing and gaining acceptances to a number of schools, I have narrowed my choice down to Tufts and UMD. Both schools are amazing programs and offer what I have been looking for in a dental education: a strong clinical experience with a number of opportunities to pursue externships, clerkships, and/or additional incentive programs, great faculty that want to work with the students, and some of the best facilities in the country. I fell in love with UMD during my interview, but having grown up in New England, Tufts is as good as it gets and was my favorite before the interview process. In the end, I have a tough choice that I really want to be 100% confident about.

The two differences I see between the schools are price and location. Tufts is one of the most expensive institutions in the country, whereas UMD is a state school and offers the potential to save close to 120K after filing for instate residency. However, in Boston, I have family and friends to fall back on. Both of these factors (price and proximity to family/friends), from what I have read, are the two most important factors that go into the decision process. Being split down the middle makes the decision that much harder and that's where I could use the help.

Does either school offer a clear advantage over the other? I often hear dental school is really what you make of it, but does Tufts' reputation as a dental school supersede UMD, or vice versa? Even though schools are not officially ranked, UMD is often labeled as being in the top 10 or even top 5. Is this really true? Is being close to family and friends as important as some people make of it? For someone who doesn't have an immediate connection to a dental practice for possible employment, does Tufts' alumni relations make it a better choice for my future success? In terms of the clinical experience, which school is superior? Which school has a smaller faculty/student ratio, a smaller chair/student ratio, more requirements, more patients?

I'm not really looking for answers to each specific question (although that would be awesome), but more so looking for input that may help single out one school over the other. I love both schools and the programs they offer, but I am really trying to dig deep and see if there is anything that makes one school standout over the other.

Thanks in advance for any help/advice.
 

NDPitch

10+ Year Member
Jan 30, 2009
1,160
91
Buffalo
Status
Dental Student
I went through (am going through) this same dilemma, but it was with Tufts and Buffalo. I think it's roughly a similar comparison though.

In Maryland, it's a little harder to get in-state status, but at the student panel I was told that most students do get it after 2 years. Two years of in state tuition is better than none, that's for sure.

Every now and then I ask myself "should I really go to Buffalo over Tufts because it will save me a lot of money?" I always end up at the same conclusion. Yes, I should. No one wants a ton of debt. The important part of dental school is the clinical education. If you have two institutions that can provide this, and one is way cheaper than the other, go to the cheap one. In my case, this is Buffalo. In your case, this is Maryland.

Just today, I asked two dentists "does the school you go to matter, and do you look at that when reviewing a resume?"

They both said that in the grand scheme of things, no, it doesn't matter to them. What was more important to them was that you possessed good clinical skills - often obtained by supplementing dental school with a GPR/AEGD after graduation.

Final thoughts - yes, the facilities at Tufts are amazing. I feel like that's a huge selling point to applicants. But does that really matter? What are you really buying when each school provides the same thing? They all provide a degree that lets you practice dentistry. In my opinion, don't pay more than you have to. The class size is also smaller at Maryland, which in my opinion equals more camaraderie amongst students and more faculty interaction.
 

UCSFx2017

10+ Year Member
Oct 11, 2007
1,128
115
Status
Resident [Any Field]
Maryland. In terms of "quality", you can't go wrong with either choice but one is considerably more affordable than the other.

Reputation is generally only considered on this forum when comparing Harvard, UPenn, Columbia, UCLA, or UCSF to any other school. These schools are mentioned in the context of the number of applicants they tend to attract who are predetermined to apply to specialty residencies. For me, I wouldn't consider reputation unless I were comparing Meharry, Howard, or any school that opened within the past decade with a more well-regarded school. If your schools of interest aren't one of these mentioned schools, you should probably default to the most affordable school.

Alumni association has little influence on your job prospects. A general dentist should expect to be an employee/associate for a very short period of time before owning a practice so alumni association is irrelevant.

I don't care how small or large the faculty-to-student ratio is so long as the school has a track record of producing dentists who meet the standard to begin practicing because most of the learning occurs after graduation (this is something I keep reading on this forum). For me this also becomes irrelevant because I intend on attending GPR/AEGD or some postgraduate residency regardless of what school I go to.

Dig all you want but when your rationale kicks in, nothing is going to be worth >$100,000. Only if the price tags were similar would I ask you to consider whether the school is P/F (H/P/F) or letter grading or has PBL, summers off, high-research funding, half-days, clustered final exams, staggered exams, medical school curriculum, specialty departments, location, etc.

I think it's stupid to rank dental schools. If you think about it, there's no reason to. In Medicine every single medical student applies to residencies which select applicants based on class rank, Step 1 score, research, LOR, and like in undergrad., the reputation of the school. So if a premedical student wanted to pursue Orthopaedic surgery, most physicians would recommend attending the best school (highly ranked) possible, considering how competitive that specialty is. If a premedical student was certain on pursuing Internal Medicine, most physicians would recommend attending the school of best value. In Dentistry, it is not common-place for students to apply to residency (OMFS, Ortho, Peds, Perio, Endo, etc.). The competition is not fierce so as to pressure pre-dental students to attend the most prestigious school to give them every little advantage. Residency is competitive nonetheless. This is my argument for why the felt advantage in attending the more prestigious school is not as significant as it is found in medicine.

If you want to become a self-employed general dentist, whether you go to Tufts or Maryland, you will be on the same playing field as any other dentist from any other dental school, except you might have >$100,000 less in debt ($2,000/month in loan repayment compared to $3,500/month on a ten-year plan). This will slow you down in opening a dental practice because when you walk into the bank and apply for a loan for your practice, they will check to see if you have sufficient monthly fluid capital left over after expenses, which includes loan repayment. Banks want to gauge how capable you are in making consistent loan repayment if they lend you money. So the less loan repayment you have per month, the more likely and easier it is for you to qualify for a loan.
 

Member902507

5+ Year Member
Apr 25, 2012
466
3
Status
Pre-Dental
My main deciding factors:

1) Price - go to the cheapest
2) Location - cheapest should be in a good location
3) Proximity - family needs to be close (UDM is close enough to the NE area, so you could fly home easily. It's a 1.5-2 hour flight, I think, from Detroit to Portland, Maine?)

Good luck! You must be thrilled (and confused) about having to decide between two great schools!
 

aznboi89x

7+ Year Member
Dec 19, 2010
1,258
31
Texas
Status
Dentist
My main deciding factors:

1) Price - go to the cheapest
2) Location - cheapest should be in a good location
3) Proximity - family needs to be close (UDM is close enough to the NE area, so you could fly home easily. It's a 1.5-2 hour flight, I think, from Detroit to Portland, Maine?)

Good luck! You must be thrilled (and confused) about having to decide between two great schools!
maryland UMD not UDM (detroit mercy)

should be no more than an hour flight home
 
Jan 29, 2013
48
1
Status
Dental Student
Tufts for sure, I visited UMB dental school last summer. I didn't like the faculty there and some students even complained about the curriculum and administrative issues.
 

Member902507

5+ Year Member
Apr 25, 2012
466
3
Status
Pre-Dental
My bad on thinking it was UDM, not UMD! For the toss up between UMD and Tufts, I'd definitely go with UMD! Cheaper, pretty close to home (train ride or short flight away...could probably even drive), and it's brand new facilities from what I've heard! Tufts is great too, but that price tag scares me.
 

aznboi89x

7+ Year Member
Dec 19, 2010
1,258
31
Texas
Status
Dentist
heard horror stories about Maryland's administrative and student body (gunners being uber cut-throat) on SDN. search it up.

go tufts
 
Apr 29, 2012
152
5
Status
Dental Student
Previous posters, you do realize that the OP implied that he does not have Maryland residency yet, right?



UMD is a state school and offers the potential to save close to 120K after filing for instate residency.
I have heard that it is difficult to get in-state residency in Maryland, if you were not in-state to begin with. I would look into this very carefully if I were you.


Acccording to this thread (http://forums.studentdoctor.net/showthread.php?t=799446):

Yes Maryland is on of the more difficult states to establish in-state. You will have a very hard time being able to get it and I would definitely not bank on it. There are 9 criteria in which you have to meet, just look it up online
 
Last edited:
Feb 25, 2012
508
111
Status
Dental Student
Having close friends graduate from Buffalo, Tufts, and Maryland, the general consensus is that Maryland > Buffalo > Tufts in terms of diversity of clinical exposure, and the number of procedures a student does while matriculating.
 

aznboi89x

7+ Year Member
Dec 19, 2010
1,258
31
Texas
Status
Dentist
Having close friends graduate from Buffalo, Tufts, and Maryland, the general consensus is that Maryland > Buffalo > Tufts in terms of diversity of clinical exposure, and the number of procedures a student does while matriculating.
o weary? i thought it was the other way around. Friends at their respective schools would be 1-3 sample size and its biased. Their view would be subjective.
 

fellforit

7+ Year Member
Oct 30, 2010
124
4
Status
Dental Student
heard horror stories about Maryland's administrative and student body (gunners being uber cut-throat) on SDN. search it up.

go tufts
Something like 99% of the negative stuff posted here about Maryland is posted by a single disgruntled student (supermax). I'm actually shocked he hasn't shown up here yet... Must be busy whining somewhere else. Other Maryland students have rebutted his posts in a few older threads if you look. It's worth a read.

I do think you (OP) need to reconsider how realistic it is to establish residency in Maryland. From what I've heard, unless you buy property or marry a Marylander, it's a huge uphill battle.
 
OP
C
Feb 23, 2011
64
0
Status
Pre-Dental
Thanks guys for all of the replies!

After mulling it over that past few days and digging deep about both schools, I have come to the conclusion that UMD is the best fit. Both are great programs, but after chatting with students at both schools and debunking all of the myths here on SDN, I personally think UMD is a better overall school.

As Isaac mentioned, I discovered that UMD does have a more diverse/more rigorous clinical curriculum. That doesn't mean Tufts doesn't have an awesome clinical program, because it certainly does, however Tufts seems to advertise this fact a little more so than UMD. I've compared the requirements and UMD definitely edges out Tufts.

Being very concerned about the clinic too small (90 chairs for 260 3rd/4th year students) and being understaffed, I did some digging to see if this was true. Most of the students were honest and said that it is true, but also mentioned that it is also hard to NOT complete the requirements. With a little initiative and a visible desire to learn, the professors and PCC will help out in whatever way possible. They are also "opening" 9 new mini-practices next year with 11 new general-practice coordinators to address the problem of being understaffed. I found this to be awesome and was definitely excited to hear this news.

As for the gunners, every school has them. Even Tufts. Everyone at UMD vouched for the fact that they all have each others' backs and want to help out. As for the administrative problems, I think this is a trivial point. The school has been open longer than any other school in the world. That speaks to its reputation of continued success and speaks to the administration successfully operating the school. This is a non-issue, personally.

Getting in-state residency was something I am concerned about, however, I looked at the requirements, and all of them are very doable! All of the students I have talked to were able to gain residency after 2 years simply by abiding to the requirements. It's considered difficult because the number of requirements, but with 120K riding on the line, I think I will be more than motivated to ensure this happens. Often students how are OOS do end up getting residency, as long as they try. About 35 of the 4th year students got residency within two years; that's a little more than 50% of the OOS population in that particular class. I'll take the chance. Either way, OOS or not, UMD is still cheaper than Tufts and makes more sense financially speaking.

All in all, I'll be at UMD (99.9% positive) and really want to thank everyone for commenting. It really helped out. Good luck to everyone!