Friday, February 23, 2007

Post-Acceptance Thus Far

Over my winter break, I re-visited UIC just to get one more look around. I keep forgetting that I will be 40 minutes from home instead of 3 hours. I actually had decided upon UIC before the second visit, but I still wanted to see it again, as well as personally turn in my deposit (not too keen on the postal service).

I was accepted December 1st, and turned in my deposit January 4th – about 10 days prior to the deadline. I sent emails out to the other schools letting them know they could offer my spot to other applicants. Shortly after, I received an email from UIC telling me about the next step: Housing and financial aid.

I must admit, I have been fortunate enough to have my parents pay for undergrad so I have no debt as of now. Obviously they won’t be fronting the dental school bill, nor would I expect them to – so I am preparing to go into debt. I really have no clue how to go about getting aid/student loans so this will be an overdue learning process about financial issues I didn’t have to bother with before now. UIC has a March 1st, deadline for filing FAFSA and I just finished it up a few days ago. It was a pain because they require parental information so I had to go over everything via the phone with my dad. Since all my tax info goes to home still, he took care of my end as well. FAFSA never gives us anything so I don’t expect things to change. Just another step to go over so that UIC will give me some options.

I am very relieved about the housing situation. My parents made it clear that they were considering buying a condo probably about a year ago. If I was accepted to UIC and chose to attend; than they would have even more incentive to buy. Real-estate in Chicago is phenomenal right now. Even around the UIC campus, condos and apartments are just sprouting up all year long. So through various friends and other connections, my parents have located a condo that they really liked and have pretty much locked it down. We haven’t worked out rent and all that crap, but I am definitely relieved to not have to deal with looking for a place to live. Owing money to parents is less intimidating than owing money to strangers. Than after school, if I do a residency in Chicago I can stay put, or if I go into practice elsewhere, they can rent out to someone else, or sell for a nice profit over 4-years of built equity.

It is a 2-bedroom condo and is only about 6 blocks from the school, so I’ll probably walk most of the time which is fantastic. The neighborhood is nice so I hopefully won’t get robbed or shot. It is fairly close to Taylor Street which apparently has some nice bars/restaurants. I’ve been to Chicago plenty, but I’ve never LIVED in Chicago, so I can’t wait to actually know where things are and be able to take family and friends to cool places that I discover over the next few years. So now the only thing left to do with housing is to get furniture, I don’t have much of my own but I’m sure I’ll be able to scrounge up some decent stuff.

So housing is pretty much solved, FAFSA is in, I’m supposed to hear from UIC about financial aid in the near future, so paying for everything is really the next big stage in this 5 month preparation process. Most of my peers are still hunting for living arrangements…I AM SO GLAD to have that settled so early. Once I get settled in, I may find a roommate to help pay the rent, but I decided a year ago that I really need to live by myself for awhile. Quite frankly, I am tired of having roommates.

Five months feels like a really long time…

Thursday, February 22, 2007

The College Years (4)

I can’t even count the number of times I have heard future dental students ask “what kind of grades should I maintain to stay in.” I think a good rule of thumb is to keep hitting at least B’s, although I doubt a few C’s really will make a difference (unless you already had a crap GPA). I personally am not getting lazy at all; this is the last chance we will have to perfect our study habits before entering the real deal. Summer break will provide ample time to relax. Again though, the main goal is to finish your degree. Don’t assume everything is in order, check with the registrar. Make sure there are no loopholes that you somehow missed that will end up screwing you.

Lastly, enjoy these last months while you can, the magical realm of undergrad will soon be over forever. I personally got bored with this lifestyle by the end of last year…so I could care less and am ready to move on to the next phase. I bet I’ll be bitching come next fall though!

Well that is all I have to say seeing as I’m still in my fourth year, nothing left to go off of. This post also concludes my “pre-dental tutorial.” Future posts will be more present and based off of what I am currently experiencing or any other topic I feel like discussing. Since I am not starting school for another 5 months, I probably won’t have much to say.


Choosing a School

Obviously you should be thrilled having just one acceptance, but the ultimate goal is to have a choice between great schools. Yea this will also add a new stress - choosing. Once again, you are liable to find many varying opinions on how to choose. The only real advice is to figure this out on your own.

Bring up the wordprocessor, use excel, write on paper, ect. Put down the pros and cons of every school. Some examples include tuition, class size, match-rate, board scores, location, ect. Figure out what you want.

I got into three schools and the choice was not simple. In the end, UIC simply was the best choice for me. I like having every specialty in house. I went to undergrad in a very rural a move to the city (and closer to home) felt right. Oh yea, in-state tuition is also a major plus. If I had gone out of state, I would have essentially doubled my debt. I know everyone thinks dentists make a lot of bling. Let me ask you this, how many 27 year old dentists do you know? Most of them are not running private practices that is for sure, so even clearing 100k out of school is unlikely for freshly minted docs. It takes a few years to really get root into a community. But I digress...

You usually have a good month or so before that first deposit is due. I would not recommend laying down more than one because the choice does not get any easier by delaying it. You can't get that money back either.