You study every waking minute for the DAT, you write draft after draft of your personal statement, and you proofread your application until your eyes glaze over. Many undergraduate students spend their entire four years with their eyes set on admission to dental school and think, “If I can just get in somewhere, all will be well.” Little do they know, one of their biggest challenges will come the first day of classes when they are bombarded by the workload that dental school entails. The transition from college to professional school has proved to be one of the biggest challenges of my life.
The perfect comparison between college and professional school is, “Undergrad is like drinking out of a garden hose, you can catch most of the water in your mouth but some may dribble to the ground. Dental school is like drinking from a fire hose, you just have to do your best to stay standing.” Between the workload, subject matter, and trying to discover hand skills you never knew were possible, it can be overwhelming and at first it seemed impossible. Multiple exams every week, classes 8-5 every day, practicals, wax ups. You name it, it was on my to-do list. There was simply too much to be accomplished. Not to mention that on top of school, I was supposed to be taking care of myself, working out, eating my vegetables, and sleeping 8 hours a day?! Impossible!
But during each and every late-night study session there was always a silver lining. I always knew that no matter how many pages of notes I needed to review or how many finals I had, there was always 48 other students going through the exact same thing. We struggled, but we struggled together. We became the biggest, happiest, craziest family you had ever seen. We formed study groups, shared tips and tricks, and of course had a few vent sessions here and there. Before we knew it, studying for multiple exams in a week became second nature, and we were acclimated to the dental student lifestyle.
For a few it was a smooth transition, but for most this process was full of anxiety, less than perfect exam grades, and many thoughts of, “Will I ever make it through this alive?” As we saw each of our classmates face their own personal hardships, we always made sure to send a smile and a lending hand their way. Although the transition from an undergraduate can be daunting at times, we all seem to find our own way of altering our lives to fit the dental student mold. Without the support, comfort, and reassurance of my classmates, this step could have seemed unreachable. As I look back on my D1 year, the memories that stick with me are sharing time with these people closest to me.