Written by: Caleb Abfall
Caleb is a member of the Class of 2022. Continue reading below to hear his tips for our incoming D1 class!
Tip 1: Don’t give up your passions
This is my first tip to you for SO MANY reasons! The biggest reason is the simplicity of it! In my opinion, this is the best piece of advice I can give incoming D1s as they transition into dental school. For me, a huge part of my identity is being a runner. I began running track and cross country when I was just a wee little lad in grade school, and competed all the way through college at UWM. When dental school starts, so much of our time, energy, and identity becomes being a dental student, and transitioning our lives and minds to becoming the best dentists we can be. It is very easy to become completely encompassed by class, lab time, studying, and everything else that comes with being in this amazing program. I advise and challenge all incoming students to make time to maintain your passions outside of school as much as possible. This makes the day to day grind so much more enjoyable as you go through your first year! During my first semester, even during the weeks with multiple exams where it seemed like there would be no time for anything but staring at Quizlets and PowerPoints, I made sure to carve out a little time to do what I love. Taking just an hour out of each day to go for a run, clear my mind, and recharge my battery was an integral part of keeping a level head. So, whether your passion is running, cooking, art, music, knitting, skydiving, hopscotch, basket weaving, glass blowing or brewing your own beer in your friend’s garage (definitely let me know if the last one is your thing), continue to maintain and develop that passion! I’d even venture to bet you make some incredible new friends in the process.
Tip 2: Time Management
This tip is super self-explanatory, and you I’m sure you have all heard it a million times, but I chose this as one of my tips because I really think it holds true to finding success, happiness, and mental health while starting school. At least for me, before D1 year the most overwhelming aspect was the workload. 27 credits or whatever the exact number is in the first semester sounds like an impossible task compared to the workload in undergrad, and it can be a lot to wrap your mind around while getting into the swing of things. The most important aspect for me was staying organized and having a picture in my head of what each day would look like. I’ve never been one to have a planner, but just having a schedule in my mind going through the day really helped me compartmentalize each day. Even thinking to myself things such as: “Ok, class is done for the day, give yourself two hours for decompressing and working out, 45 minutes for dinner, study until 11, and be in bed by midnight ready for tomorrow,” helped me stick to a schedule and make sure I had everything under control as the weeks rolled by. So, whether you are like me and just need mental reminders of what your day should look like, or you’re a written to-do list person, continue that trend and stick to your schedule!!! It will make the day to day grind flow so much smoother, and you will thank yourself in the long run.
Tip 3: Be Confident
I’m sure I am not the first or last person to tell you this, but it was one of the best pieces of advice I got from dental students in the months leading up to school. What I mean by ‘be confident’ is remember that you were chosen for a reason! Everyone at MUSoD believes in you and believes you are an asset to the school, and believes you will be successful in the path you have chosen. It is so important to have positive self-talk as you go through your first couple semesters at school. It can be very easy to fall into a rut and get down on yourself after a couple of bad test scores or projects, and keeping a positive attitude during those times is crucial! The cliché saying “It is not how hard you fall, but how quickly you get back up” is really what I’m trying to say here. I promise, you are not the only person that has days or weeks when they question why they EVER chose to go into a profession that requires such demanding and challenging degree. With that being said, keep your head up! Remember why you chose this profession in the first place, and remind yourself how badly you would’ve BEGGED to have the problems you have in dental school while you were a hopeful pre-dent willing to do literally anything to get your hands on that acceptance letter.
I hope you carry these tips with you not only in the time leading up to the fall, but also as you go through your D1 year! Also, as a side note, to those of you reading this that are in the upcoming class here at MUSoD (which I assume is most of you??), CONGRATULATIONS!!!!!! You have such an exciting and epic journey awaiting you here, we are so happy you have chosen to be a part of this amazing family and cannot wait to meet you all!