Picking the right university is quite possible the biggest decision many will face during their teenage years (and later for postgraduates!). How do you pick? ‘There are so many dental schools, how will I know where is best for me?’, I hear you ask…
Obviously this is a very personal decision that can not be taken lightly. This article is not intended to tell you which Uni you should apply to, but give a few pointers about how you can begin to make this choice.
It all boils down to two key points:
- The Course
- The City
1) The Course
You may think: “Dentistry is dentistry, I’ll end up a dentist anyway so what does it matter?”
There may be some truth in this. There are, however, very different ways to teach dentistry. The big differentials are: lecture based learning, and PBL/EBL (for more information, check the Teethgeek articles on PBL).
It is important for you to understand how these work and which would be best for your own learning style. This information will also help you immensely during your interview process as interviewers appreciate (and expect) a candidate to knows their preferred method of teaching.
It may seem a weird concept but graduates do report that they notice differences in theoretical knowledge and clinical skills between dental schools. This is also noted amongst VT trainers and employers.
Make sure to research the course structure from each dental school that you are interested in. Some provide huge outreach opportunities whilst others offer elective prospects. Be sure to apply to the courses that suit and interest you the most.
2) The City
As adaptable as you may be, it is very important that you choose cities that you like. After all, you will be spending a glorious five years there!
Each city has its own charm, and you will have your own tastes. You can listen to as many stories and accounts about a city but until you visit it yourself you will never know how you feel about that place. So it is paramount to attend an open day held by that university. There will be a timetable for open days each year and your school should be happy for you to take a day off to visit these.
Accommodation is also important. With so much change happening in first year, it helps hugely to have living quarters that you feel comfortable in.
Open day tours will take you to the accommodation, the department of your choice, and to the student union. These are possibly the three places that a student will spend the most time in. Attend the dental school talks as these are usually packed with information that can be used for interviews.
Whilst you’re there, don’t be shy! Ask current dental students all the questions you have. They will most likely have a student take you on a tour of the dental school on the open day and this is a perfect time to get an insight into being a dental student at that university. They were in your shoes not too long ago and will know exactly what you are going through!
Essentially, keep your options open and don’t rush yourself into any decisions. You may be anxious and rightly so, but take your time and make sure you do your research and know everything about the university you are applying for. You can make a good start with our Dental School Profiles.