If you are about to start dental school, congrats. It is a big accomplishment, and you should be proud of yourself. Dental school involves a lot of work and a commitment to studying. Each of your four years in dental school will be a bit varied. Although each school may be different, many programs have similarities. Your first year of dental school will be a big change from college, but knowing what to expect can make the transition easier. You will most likely start the year off with orientation week. During this time, you have the chance to tour the facilities and meet students and faculty. Enjoy this week, because it gets more difficult from here. Some dental schools also pair first- year dental students with a second-year student, who serves as a mentor. Take advantage of talking to someone who has made it through the first year. Your mentor may provide valuable tips on classes and how to deal with difficult instructors. The first year involves a lot of classroom lectures. Although programs vary, you may take classes in gross anatomy, biochemistry, oral biology and histology. It is common to have associated labs with many of the classes you take. For example, you may have to dissect a cadaver during the laboratory portion of your anatomy class. Dental school students may sometimes take their science classes with students in other programs, such as med students. Not every school mixes students from different programs into the same science classes, but it may occur. The first year of dental school will also involve dental classes. Dental classes may include topics, such as dental materials, preclinical periodontics and community oral health. You may also have the opportunity to take classes, such as restorative dentistry, where you learn in-depth clinical information. Although you will have limited if any patient contact, you also start to learn how to use equipment, such as a dental drill. A large part of your time will be spent in lecture, but you may also have some dental laboratory work. For instance, you may practice preparing dental materials or drilling on plastic teeth. Plan on having a lot of tests and quizzes in both your medical and dental classes. You may also have laboratory tests, which may involve a practical exam. For example, you may be given a certain amount of time to perform a specific dental procedure. Your first year is a time to develop the basic knowledge and foundation you need to get through the rest of the program. If you don’t meet expectations, you can be cut from the program. Although it may vary, you may have the summer after your first year of dental school off. While some schools do hold classes, others don’t. If you do get the summer off, enjoy it. Your summer vacations often get shorter each year of dental school. Keep in mind, dental school can be a challenge. But staying on top of assignments can help you succeed your first year of dental school and prepare you for what is ahead. Eye-opening hospital work experience International hospital shadowing for school and university students Find out more You might also be interested in ... Five Parts of Your Dental School Application Common Mistakes During Dental School Dental School Clinic Experience; What to Expect?