Tips From Current D.D.S. and Dental Hygiene Students

Navigating Dental School Decision Day

Posted by Joan Daniel on November 19, 2020

As a predental student, dental school “Decision Day” is the day solidifying all your hard work and achieving the first step on the path to the dream you have been working toward. Now it’s time to ask, “How do I navigate it?”

Choosing a School

When making a decision about which dental school to attend, it is important to weigh the pros and cons of every school you are accepted to. Think about whether these schools match what you are looking for in a dental school and how attending a specific school will help you to grow as a student. Here are a few important questions to consider and keep in mind when making your decision:

  • What’s important to you?
  • Is a location within driving distance to your hometown important?
  • Do you want to live in the city?
  • Are you looking for a small class size?
  • How early do you hope to have exposure to clinical skills?
  • Do you want to go to a pass/fail school, or a school with letter grades and a ranking system?
  • Do you want to go to a school that also offers advanced dental education programs?

Decision Day can be stressful, exciting and terrifying all at the same time, but there are other ways to make it a little more efficient and stress-free. I suggest you do additional research about each school. Think about where you can grow and learn as much as possible. Become very familiar with the school’s website, as it has a wealth of information about the D.M.D. or D.D.S. program and the school’s mission, values and curriculum. Reach out to faculty with questions before Decision Day. Connect with current dental students at schools you are considering as primary choices and ask them about their experiences before Decision Day. Tour the campus and clinical facilities again, if possible. Many schools are now incorporating virtual tours within their recruitment resources on their websites.

If you are weighing offers between schools, do your research and self-reflection before submitting your deposit to the school that is your first choice. Most deposits are non-refundable, so it is important to be confident in your decision when you submit your payment to secure your spot in the incoming class. In addition to submitting the deposit, be sure to respond to your acceptance email, convey your excitement to matriculate into the next class and thank the school for the opportunity to continue your higher education with them.


Addressing Other Offers

Congratulations! You have now accepted your offer to dental school and will be starting next summer or fall. Now, how do you decline offers to other schools that may have accepted you as well? It is important to keep the following in mind:

  • Let the other school(s) know via email that you will not be attending their program as soon as you make your decision on where you are going.
  • Address the email to the individual who sent you the admissions letter, using Mr./Mrs./Dr.
  • Thank them for the offer and opportunity to apply and interview at that school.
  • Convey that you are appreciative of the acceptance to that school, but at this time, you have decided to pursue your dental education at a different school.
  • Thank them for their time.
  • Be decisive and clear with your choices.

These are some tips I wish I knew while navigating my own Decision Day. In addition, the one piece of advice I wish that I were given while I was waiting to hear from dental schools: Relax and enjoy the process. I was so anxious about whether I would get into dental school, and spent a lot of time worrying, when in reality, I had done everything I could do at that point in time. I probably would have benefitted from finding time to relax and engage in hobbies that would have distracted me.

The day I received the call in December 2015, congratulating me on my acceptance to the University of New England College of Dental Medicine (UNE-CDM), I was shocked. I could not believe that my dream had a chance of becoming a reality, and now it was up to me to decide whether to accept the offer. I accepted the offer in a heartbeat because I loved everything about the UNE-CDM—the small class size, the early exposure to clinical skills, the close connections students had with faculty and that I would be within driving distance of my family. I was confident in my decision to place a deposit at the UNE-CDM, and currently, as a third-year dental student, I have no regrets. 

I wish the best of luck to all of you receiving decisions from dental schools in the next couple months. Know yourself, truly think about what school fits you and what school will allow you to grow and succeed, and finally, be confident in the decision you make.


About Joan Daniel:

Joan Daniel

Joan Daniel

Class of 2022

University of New England College of Dental Medicine


Joan Daniel is originally from Massachusetts. She is a third-year dental student at the University of New England College of Dental Medicine (UNE-CDM). Ms. Daniel is currently on the ADEA Council of Students, Residents and Fellows Newsletter Committee, Second Delegate for UNE's American Student Dental Association Chapter, an Admissions Ambassador for predental interview days and she works at the Recreation Center on campus. Outside of dental school, she loves photography, traveling, spending time with her family and friends and trying new coffeeshops!