How to Evaluate Dental Schools

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A dentistry work experience student observing her mentor performing a routine procedure. Before applying to dental school, you need to put a list together of programs you are interested in. In addition to selecting schools, you should also consider your chances of getting accepted. There is nothing wrong with going for a long shot. But if you are applying to a school where the chances of getting accepted are slim, you may also want to apply to a few other programs where the odds are more in your favor.

Before you decide, which schools to apply to, take your time and evaluate each program. Consider some of the following factors when evaluating dental schools.

Reputation

There is not one specific professional organization that ranks dental schools. But it is still possible to evaluate the reputation of a certain program. Read as much as you can online about the school. Take note of any awards the program has received. Review acceptance and graduation rates.

Curriculum

Most dental schools list their curriculum for each year online. If not, you should be able to get that information from the school. Review which classes are offered and make sure it includes a diverse a mix of science classes, dental classes and labs. Determine what opportunities you will have for hands on experience. Working on “real” patients is a big part of dental school. Get information on what the student dental clinic is like and what other opportunities you will have for direct patient contact.

Cost

Dental school is expensive, but costs vary. Keep in mind, higher tuition does not necessarily mean you will get a better education.

Location

Another factor to consider is the location of the school. You will be living here for four years. Some people are willing to go anywhere while others prefer to stay reasonably close to home.

Deciding Which Dental Program is Right for You

Depending on your qualifications, you may have your choice of dental programs to attend. Think about your decision carefully and consider some of the additional factors listed:

– Don’t let one factor be the only thing you consider when choosing which dental school to attend. Deciding where to attend dental school is a big deal. You do not want to spend four years somewhere you will be miserable.

– Consider your personality and your likes and dislikes. For instance, some people learn better in a smaller school.

– Determine what the culture of the school is like. Find out what extracurricular activities and clubs are offered.

– Visit schools – Sometimes you have to visit a school in person to get a feel for what it is like. Although you may not be able to visit every dental school you apply to, consider making the trip to a few.

– Talk to someone who attended the school. Talking to someone who has firsthand experience attending a dental school you are interested in can be helpful. The American Student Dental Association may be able to connect members with graduates or current students at various schools.

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