Thursday

Strategies for Making It Through Dental School


Once you've decided on a career in dentistry and you've found theschool that suits you, gained admission, and figured out how you're going topay for it, all that remains is to complete your education. Sorry to say, theeasy part is over and this is where the hard work begins. If you thought thatentering this healthcare field wouldn't require a grueling education simplybecause it focuses on a specific area of the body (as opposed to, say, ageneral degree in medicine), think again. There's nothing easy about obtaininga dental degree. So before you get overwhelmed with the coursework you need toconsider creating a strategy that will help you to ensure success in school allthe way through to graduation (and ultimately, a job). So here are a few tipsto keep you on track.
To begin with, you need to be honest with yourself about theamount of time you're going to need to devote to classwork and study time. Ingeneral, you can assume that every hour of class time is going to require 2-3hours of work/study outside the classroom setting. That may seem like overkill,and certainly the time required to complete homework and study for exams isgoing to vary from one student to the next, but if you go in prepared for thistime commitment you shouldn't find yourself shocked and overwhelmed when itcomes to devotion to your studies. And if you anticipate this possibility andoverestimate somewhat, you may find yourself in the desirable position ofhaving extra time on your hands.
Next you should set yourself a schedule that includes classes,study time, and any extras like clubs, sports, or a part-time job. You shouldvisit your advisor early on to ensure that you are taking all of the rightcourses in the right order so that you are on a trajectory to graduate on time.While you may have to see how the first couple of semesters go before yousettle on the number of classes you can handle (and how quickly you want toreach graduation), you can start with a plan and then change it as necessary.Remember you can always take supplement a lighter class load with summer school(if that option is offered), as well as joining study groups to relieve some ofthe burden of reading and taking notes.
You should also try to plan for projects and term papers that youhave all semester to work on as these need to factor into your scheduled studytime; you don't want to take the "binge and purge" approach tocompleting coursework. And don't forget to set aside some time for yourself ifat all possible. This is pretty difficult to accomplish as a full-time student,but giving yourself a break here and there is part of a comprehensive strategyto keep yourself sane and functioning at peak mental capacity throughout yourtenure in dental school.
Keep in mind that traditional colleges aren't for everyone.Although a career in dentistry necessarily requires that you have somepractical courses (in a classroom setting), there are plenty of classes thatyou could take online as long as you attend an accredited online school. Forexample, a dental healthadministration degree online couldbe a lot easier and less expensive to obtain than if you were to attend a brick-and-mortarschool. This could be just one part of a larger overall strategy for successwhen it comes to getting through school and earning your degree.

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