You have probably heard back from most, if not all, of the schools that you applied to and may even know where you are headed. So everything is set, right? Wrong! You still have a year left, don’t mess it up! You have worked too hard to let it all go to waste on a bad case of senioritis. It would be a shame to tarnish your transcript (which dental schools may review) or to have to postpone graduation in order to stay an extra semester to take classes. Besides the courses that you have to complete to graduate, there are some other things you should be concerned with.
Should You Take A Year Off?
Some students, for various reasons, opt to take a year off before entering graduate school. However, this is not usually the case with dental students, who generally go directly to dental school. Still, deciding to wait is a personal choice and thus there is no right or wrong decision. The most important thing is that you ask yourself exactly why you want to wait.
After 4 years of college and hundreds of stressful tests, papers, and projects, most students say they are exhausted and need some time off from the world of education. This is both a normal and understandable sentiment.
But the summer might be able to cure this malaise. Remember that you still have 3 to 4 months before school would start, which could be a substantial amount of time to recuperate. Depending on your financial situation, you could travel a bit and only work part time somewhere far removed from academia or your field of study. If you are certain that dentistry is for you and your only reason for delaying dental school is that you are tired, it is probably best to attend following your senior year. Dental schools expect that everything you have learned as an undergraduate is fresh in your mind. The longer you wait, the fainter the material will grow.
Nonetheless, there are some good reasons to postpone entry. If you did not get into any schools that you would seriously consider attending, using a year to improve DAT scores, gain experience, or enhance your resume may be a good idea. If you are unsure about your desire to pursue the career or field altogether, this also may warrant some time off to contemplate your decision.
Dental school requires a ton of personal motivation and commitment. If these elements are missing and you are not completely devoted to your studies you may find it hard to succeed. Perhaps a year to reflect will revive your passion for dentistry, help to clarify your goals, and fuel the needed effort.
If you do chose to take a year off know that you should be prepared to explain the reasons for your decision, what you learned during your year (or more) off, and how it enhanced your knowledge, experience, and candidacy.
Taking a year off is a big decision. Don’t make up your mind before you think about your reasons for wanting to do so. Weigh your options carefully and do what is best for you.
A Whole New Ball Game
Grad school is definitely a change from undergraduate life. Don’t fall for the popular fallacy that grad school is just like undergrad, only harder. They are completely different and your first year can be a big adjustment.
You will have to get used to working more independently and with constant self-motivation. Professors will not waste time going over the basics, which you will be expected to know inside and out.
You will need to train yourself not merely to memorize material, but to truly understand it. There is no time for slacking off or just “getting by.” Professors assume that you want to be in class and have a genuine interest and dedication to learning every aspect of the field. A great deal of your learning will come from outside the classroom through research, attending seminars and conferences, and talking with professors and fellow students.
With all of these added responsibilities comes an array of new and exciting opportunities. You will delve deeper into specific topics, partake in more hands-on learning, and work closely with numerous accomplished professionals. You may also have the chance to pursue research in a topic of your choosing.
Advice From A Grad
Allison Berger graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, where she majored in History. She then attended New Jersey Dental School, where she obtained her DMD. She is currently studying to become a specialist in Periodontics.