When specializing, grades and class rank during dental school are very important as I understand it. So am I correct in saying that those who want to specialize (i.e. need to get high ranking) would be better off going to a less challenging dental school? I always wanted to go to Columbia, but I would rather go somewhere else for dental, and then apply to Columbia for pediatrics rather than go to Columbia for dental, get good but not good enough grades and lose my chances at specialty.
Which dental schools are easier in NY?
Dental Schools in NY:
1) Buffalo: Has class rank. Usually scores pretty well on part I boards. Takes a lot of the basic science classes with the faculty from the med school. There are people hardcore about grades in the class, and those who could care less.
Of course, it's my alma mater. Did I ever feel "less challenged?" Nope. And I know what it feels like to be "less challenged" - I worked harder in high school than in college. College was a cakewalk for me compared to dental school; I did well at both, so I think I know what I'm talking about. Just about every moment at dental school right up until graduation induced stress because every point, exam, grade, evaluation etc. will raise or lower your rank.
2) Stonybrook: No class rank reported. Takes all basic science courses with the med student in the first two years. Lots of clinical experience. My co-resident went to Stonybrook, I've never heard him say it was a cakewalk. Says he had to study late to pass his classes, not unlike every other dental student I've ever spoken to.
3) NYU: I don't think they have class rank with specific numbers, more like a reported percentile of where you fall. Huge class, so there certainly have to be gunners and those who only care to pass. They do not take basic sciences with the med school, they have their own classes. My co-residents who attended NYU all complain that they too had to study late into the night and were always on edge as to whether they passed a class or not. None of these students are the type who just skated along the bottom of the class looking to barely pass, they are hardworkers who cared about their progress. So nope, no cakewalk here either.
4) Columbia: The classes there now do not have reported class ranks. They take the basic science courses with the med school. I've spoken with many of the upperclassmen who come for rotations from Columbia at my hospital. They tell me that although class rank is not reported, the school gives out certain distinctions and awards at the end of each year so everyone bascially knows who's at the top anyways. Every dental student from Columbia had something to complain about as well, never heard anyone say "Oh geez, it's so easy, like you just show up and you pass."
So which school is the easiest? None. They all have gunners (gunner meaning those aiming to rank high/score high) who are thinking like you, I assure you. Having a high or low GPA in undergrad means nothing - there are people who barely scraped by undergrad that graduate at the top, and those who aced undergrad and barely pass.
Although the OP asked about class rank, IMO the "easiest" NY schools clinically have to be Columbia & NYU - it doesn't seem like they had nearly the same amount of clinical requirements Buffalo and Stonybrook did necessary to graduate. However, I have yet to meet a student from Columbia & NYU who wasn't stressing about finishing clinical requirements and I"m sure if I had attended either school, I would've stressed as well.
What makes you think Columbia's pedo program is tops anyways? US News?
Conclusion: You'll never know because you only get to attend 1 dental school. Suck it up and just go wherever you get in and try to do well there.
If I had to do it again from the class rank standpoint: I guess I'd go with Stonybrook since it's the cheapest and there is no reported class rank. Plus since everyone there isn't aiming to specialize, there aren't 20 other applications to Pedo from Stonybrook out there come senior year since the class only has 40 people in it anyways.