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You’ve spent the whole semester studying long nights in the library and acing those exams. Now, finally – finally! – You’ve made it to break. Winter break, spring break, summer break, and long weekends all present an opportunity for you to both work hard and play hard. How can you maximize your time off from your pre-dental studies while having a good time? Check out our four top tips to make the most of your school breaks to have fun and to benefit you on your journey to dental school.
Make a list of goals
Create a prioritized list of goals you want to accomplish over your break. Lists will keep you accountable and organized. Plan a specific deadline to complete each task and stick to your deadlines. You may find yourself working more efficiently by setting goals with a deadline. It can feel incredibly satisfying to complete goals on your list, one-by-one. Keep checking your list throughout break to stay on track. Make sure you balance your work with things that are fun and important to you, too, like resting or spending time with your family and friends. You’ll feel satisfied at the end of your break after you’ve accomplished most, even maybe all, of your goals.
Extended school breaks are opportunities to travel domestically or even internationally. Decide where you would like to travel based on your time and budget. Consider opportunities through your university, student groups, or local organizations. Your university may have study abroad programs. Make sure to start planning weeks in advance before you intend to travel because funding and travel logistics take time to iron out. Try to find sources of funding through your university through scholarships and grants or reach out to local community organizations to sponsor you. Learning about different people and places through travel will broaden your perspective as a future dentist as you work with patients from diverse backgrounds.
Pursue extracurricular experiences
School breaks can give you time to continue or start new extracurricular activities that you couldn’t pursue during the school year. Not worrying about assignments or exams can allow you to fully focus on your time on shadowing, service, research, and other experiences.
School breaks are an excellent opportunity to shadow at a dental office. Clinical experiences, like shadowing, are a required component of your dental school application and will make you a competitive applicant.
Service is central to dentistry. As a dentist, you are dedicating your career to serving others. Pursuing community service opportunities will help you learn more about how to help others, and makes up an integral component of your dental school application. Finding opportunities to serve could be as simple as reaching out to volunteer at a local homeless shelter or free dental clinic.
Research experience in any field will help you think like a dentist and develop your critical thinking skills. Dental school admissions committees look upon research favorably. School breaks are a perfect time to find research opportunities. Longer breaks allow you to work on a research project or pursue full-time research internships. Contact your school’s undergraduate research office, your academic advisor, or older students involved in research to help you find a research position with a professor at your university.
Maintain your personal wellness
School breaks are a time for work and play, maintaining your personal health and wellness over break is critical, as well. You will be a healthcare provider in the future, you should consider maintaining your own state of health as a prerequisite to help others. School breaks are an opportunity to reinforce healthy habits in yourself, like exercising regularly, checking in on your mental wellness, and eating well. Make sure you build in time to do things that are important to you over your break. Take time to relax, connect or reconnect with family and friends, and build in some completely unscheduled time. Being cognizant about your wellness and checking in with what your body needs will help you return to school refreshed.