Saturday, February 25, 2012

ASDOH Interview

Following my stint in the rainy and frigid depths of San Francisco last week, it was a relief to be touching down at the Phoenix Sky Harbor airport in Arizona. After all, it's the one place (aside from Hawaii, but that doesn't count because it's not mainland) in the U.S. that has better winter weather than Los Angeles. I arrived in Phoenix dressed in a cardigan and my UGG boots, only to realize that I was wearing too many layers. Most locals in Phoenix were wearing short sleeve shirts in the middle of the winter.

For this interview, I stayed at the La Quinta Inn and Suites, which has a discounted rate for ASDOH interviewees at $96. Which is still expensive but affordable, unlike hotel rooms in San Francisco. Coming from an extra urban and compact city, I love how everything in Arizona is wide open and spacious. It's nice to finally be in a place where land/space isn't a rare commodity. At the same time, it's rather lonely here because people are scarce and nothing fun or worth exploring is within walking distance. After living in a diverse city, it's hard to adapt to the suburban lifestyle filled with standard American chain restaurants and shopping malls. Where are the mom and pops restaurants filled with an array of delicious ethnic cuisines? Where are the small boutiques within walking distance?

In an effort to find "ethnic" cuisine within walking distance, I stumbled into a P.F. Changs (which is better described as an overpriced version of Panda Express).

Overall, ASDOH was my favorite school that I have interviewed at. Surprisingly, I enjoyed it even more than my time at the University of the Pacific. There are things that make ASDOH stand out above all of the other dental schools: 
  • Extraordinary facilities: As a new school that opened in 2003, ASDOH has esthetically pleasing and brand new facilities. The campus features spacious rooms brightly lit by the oversized windows that let in an abundance of sunlight (which is clearly not lacking in Arizona). All of the dental clinics are also equipped with the most technologically advanced equipment.

  • Modular curriculum: the style of the curriculum at ASDOH makes the dental school experience seem less stressful, which is a definite plus. I really like the idea of finishing boards after the 1st year and having the next 3 years to hone my clinical skills as a dentist.

  • Dean Dillenberg: ASDOH was the only school that I interviewed at that had the dean personally come speak to the interviewees. He provides a unique perspective, positive energy, and a freshness to the dental school interview process. After our session with Dean Dillenberg, I was pretty much sold on attending ASDOH if I were able to get in.

  • Price: compared to USC and University of the Pacific, ASDOH has the cheapest tuition by far.

  • Inexpensive Housing: University of the Pacific, at their Pacific Heights campus, has a disgustingly expensive housing market. At a minimum of $1,500 per room, it is actually more expensive than housing in Los Angeles. I believe housing is closer to $1,200 per room in Los Angeles. In contrast, you can probably rent a whole apartment for $1,000 a month in Arizona.

  • Focus on clinical experience: It's interesting to be at a school that doesn't have specialty programs, allowing dental students to do the complex dental procedures that would otherwise be referred to specialists. I'm also really intrigued by the 4th year rotations, which will give me perspective on working in a community health dental clinic. After volunteering at the St. John's Well Child and Family Clinic, I have been seriously pursuing a career in public health dentistry and ASDOH seems like the perfect school for this focus.
There are also cons to attending ASDOH. My main fear of attending ASDOH is leaving a vibrant urban city for a more suburban area. As a 21 year old, it's hard to leave Los Angeles and settle in a place like Mesa, Arizona. And to leave behind my family and network of friends in Los Angeles seems implausible. Would it be foolish to walk away from the extensive network I have already established within the USC School of Dentistry?

ASDOH also seems to cater to a more mature and older population of students. My tour guide was a second year dental student who was married with three kids. Even with a small class size of approximately 70 students, there was a sizable amount of students in the class who were married and settled. This terrifies me - at 21 years, I'm not ready to settle down yet. I want to be able to hang out with a large cohort of single students late at night or during the weekend. I want to have fun during dental school and have a fulfilling experience. I want to potentially find my husband or bridesmaids in dental school.

At the end of the day, these worries are probably unfounded and insignificant. The biggest obstacle standing in my way for ASDOH is the fact that during the interview on February 21, they informed us that there was only 2 spots in the Class of 2016 available. So there's probably a high possibility that I won't get accepted to the school anyways.

Song of the Day
Hot Summer Night - Grace Potter and the Nocturnals

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