Tuesday, February 14, 2012

University of the Pacific School of Dentistry Interview

I'm lying in bed with a fever as I type this entry, the events of the past few days clearly taking a toll on my body. Between the early morning flight to San Francisco on 4 hours of sleep, the late night flight back to Los Angeles, dealing with a depleted treasury for our pre-dental society due to embezzlement, and attempting to study for my Exercise and Energy Homeostasis midterm this weekend, I am truly exhausted. I got back from San Francisco last night around midnight on Monday, took a midterm this morning at 9:30am, and then knocked out for the rest of the day until lab at 5pm. I haven't felt this burnt out since high school. Perhaps this is a preview of how draining the University of the Pacific Dental School curriculum feels?

I flew into San Francisco a day early in order to scope out the terrain and get accustomed to the BART system. What I love about the Bay Area is that it has a functional public transit system, unlike Los Angeles. Fortunately, I arrived the day before my interview to learn how to use the BART because the first thing that I did as soon as I arrived in San Francisco was take the BART in the completely WRONG DIRECTION. I learned that Millbrae is a southbound train that will never get me to Downtown Berkeley...

Since any type of lodging in San Francisco is prohibitively expensive, I was lucky to be able to crash at my friend's place at Berkeley for the night. It was rather nostalgic - getting off at the Downtown Berkeley BART station and walking across Shattuck towards the university campus. It reminded me of Cal Day four years ago, when I visited the school as a prospective student. I remember the abnormally warm weather that April day, my trek across Berkeley's massive campus, and hanging out with high school friends (all of whom are now UC Berkeley students). I ultimately chose to attend USC over UC Berkeley, a decision that my parents vehemently opposed at the time.
This time around, the weather in San Francisco was less welcoming. The oncoming wind was cold and frigid while the sudden downpour took me by surprise as I exited the BART station at Embarcadero and began the 2-block trek to the bus stop. I started sprinting, with my four inch heels and interview suit, from building to building in order to stay dry. Seriously, what would happen if I showed up at the interview drenched from head to toe?
However, the warmth and hospitality of the dental students completely eclipsed the gloom of San Francisco winters. Since I arrived at the campus an hour early, I had some time to sit in the cafeteria and chat with current second year dental students. They warned me about the insane pace of the curriculum, about getting little to no sleep the first year in dental school, and about not getting time off to study for the NBDE exams. Yet between all of the serious stuff, you could tell that they were a lighthearted and happy bunch, genuine in their personality and not above sneaking in a joke here or there. If dental school were purely a social scene, I definitely see myself fitting in better with the students at UoP than at the dental school that I have been accepted to.
Though I LOVE how happy and enthusiastic the dental students are about their school, the three year curriculum secretly terrifies me. I don't understand why people want to rush through dental school in order to start their career. Perhaps I don't understand it because I'm naive and only 21 years of age. But don't we have the rest of our lives ahead of us to be a dentist? Why is there such a big rush to graduate early?

I find it really interesting that USC and UoP have such different dynamics. While dental students at USC have an overabundance of free time (especially during their first semester), students at UoP are taking 25+ units a quarter and barely have enough time to sleep.

The University of the Pacific Dugoni School of Dentistry is also planning to move to brand new facilities in the summer of 2014, which I'm excited about. The new facility is more spacious, modernized, and is located within a block of a BART station. Plus, it's not in Pacific Heights so apartments don't cost an arm and a leg. If you thought housing was expensive in Los Angeles, it is nothing compared to real estate in San Francisco.

My student interview was not much of an interview. It turned out that the student who was interviewing me was actually a USC-alumni who graduated two years ago. We were in the same pre-dental honor society when I was elected secretary and she was working as the community outreach director. Naturally, we spent the hour of the student interview catching up with each other.

My faculty interview, on the other hand, felt like an ongoing cycle of shooting myself in the foot. I was completely caught off guard when he asked me to explain why there was such a large difference between my QR score (19) and my inorganic chemistry score (26) on the DAT. I didn't really think a 19 was a score that merited an explanation at the time so I basically mumble-jumbled some answer on the spot. Looking back, I could have been significantly more coherent with my answer and painted a better picture of myself in terms of my DAT score and my grades. But alas, this is an interview experience that I will have to learn from.

The admission counselors informed us that we would hear back about our status in approximately 2-3 weeks. While it's a school that I would love to garner an acceptance from, I'm not banking too heavily on my chances here. They were pretty straightforward telling me that this was an interview for an alternate position (most of their February interviews are for alternate positions). Since UoP is rather popular among prospective dental students, I feel like the alternate list is going to move pretty slowly this year. But I'll keep my fingers crossed and wait!


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