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The Benefits of Being a Dental School Commuter

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As a student of Rutgers School of Dental Medicine, I am offered living accommodations a mere 100 yards from the front door of the dental school. The allure of such a situation is enticing, but instead, I have spent the last two years commuting about 40 minutes to and from school. After spending a considerable portion of my day in a car over these past two challenging academic years, I would recommend it to anyone considering dental school.

 

 

Going to school in Newark, NJ, I have truly grown accustomed to the concrete jungle. Other than a small courtyard, my school environment can only be described as very… grey. Living at home opens the opportunity to spend time amongst nature. Thanks to my parents, I live in a part of the state that is surrounded by green. As someone who is passionate about the environment, it has been an absolute blessing to leave the dreariness of the city each day. My mental wellbeing is rejuvenated whenever I return home.

 

No matter where you end up going to dental school, the reality is that there is an incredible amount of debt for any student.  An often-overlooked aspect, however, is the cost of everyday living. In addition to rent, the expenses of food, entertainment, laundry, and school supplies add up quickly. If given the opportunity to commute to school from a short distance away, I encourage anyone to jump at it. Living with your parents, while not so cool on paper, will be worth it in the long run. This situation is obviously not available to everyone, but it’s a fantastic way to cut down on the exponential costs of dental school.

 

Another aspect of commuting that has become an important aspect of my daily routine is the free time I am forced to take whenever I am in the car. “Dental school guilt” is an incredible phenomenon that students often feel when they are enjoying free time but remember they should probably be studying for something. I value my life and therefore do not study and drive! Instead, I catch up on music, make phone calls to loved ones, and enjoy the quiet parts of my day. I can reflect upon a rough time I had in preclinic or recognize something positive I accomplished during the day. Time is a commodity that’s hard to come by in school, and commuting affords a student valuable time that might otherwise be spent in less advantageous ways.

 

When I was applying to dental school, many of my mentors said that dental schools in “worse” geographic areas are often best because of access to a large patient pool. If given the chance, I would suggest that a dental student take advantage of the best of both worlds—access to patients and the opportunity to commute from nicer areas. Often, being outside an urban environment is markedly cheaper, and the time spent away from other students and school work is much needed.