The advantages of dorm life while in dental school

Harvard School of Dental Medicine Class of 2019 on their first day in clinic.

Two years ago, I had a choice live in an apartment or a dental school dorm. I did not expect to be making that decision in my mid-twenties. As you start dental school, you may be weighing those same options. Making the decision can be hard. I had not lived in a dorm before. I had not had a roommate in years. Despite all of this I still chose the dorm. One year later, I loved the dorm community so much that I became Resident Advisor of a floor. Standing as a third-year dental student, I most certainly would make that dorm life choice all over again. Dorm life during graduate programs is an enriching experience. I encourage those entering dental school now to consider the dormitory option.  Here are four simple reasons why:

1) A dorm creates a community like no other.
I know what you’re thinking, ‘I will already spend hours with my classmates. Isn’t that community?’ It is, but something magical happens in a dorm: the community at school becomes your support system at home. I distinctly remember the day I came home from a diabetic ketoacidosis emergency simulation. Reflecting back, I cannot think of a better neighbor than a classmate to share the experience with.   The intensity of dental school requires the support of a community. I was glad to have the same team at the lab and the dinner table. I was excited to be right there for the incoming class as they started their dental school journey!

2) Dormitory life is a cost-saving choice.
One of the most shocking figures when beginning dental school is the number following the word ‘tuition.’ Dental school is an expensive investment, and any cost-saving methods are true goldmines. A small decision to cut costs becomes an enormous release of pressure. When you live in a dorm, rent is cheaper with many toiletries, utilities, and paper towels provided. Living in the dorm also allowed me to take advantage of my classmates’ culinary expertise. There were many evenings where friends whipped up a late-night dessert for the floor.

3) The dorm is convenient.
We all have those days of sitting with our mannequins until 10 or 11 P.M. My day didn’t come until my second year. I stayed in the pre-clinical lab late to complete my first class II cavity on a second premolar. My enamel hatchet continued to chip away at the proximal wall without consideration for the setting sun. After a stressful night, nothing was better than living across the street from the lab. All I had to do after drilling was slip into pajamas and fall asleep.

4) The dorm is your familiar landmark in a new place.
My move to dental school was a journey from Arizona to Massachusetts. I was lost for the first few months. Initially, the only buildings I recognized were the dental school and my dorm. When taking cabs, it was easy to get home because my home was school. Every driver knew where the school was. Convenience helped relieve some of my stress during the transition to dental school.

Entering my third year of dental school, I no longer live in a dorm. I cannot say I miss the shared showers. Although, I am glad I started this dental school journey in the dorm. The friends, the memories, mentorships, and the convenience of dorm life made the transition into dental school easier.

~Mirissa D. Price, Harvard ’19

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About Mirissa Price

Mirissa D. Price is a 2019 DMD candidate at Harvard School of Dental Medicine and aspiring pediatric dentist. As a child, doctors said she would live in a nursing home, confined to a wheelchair, crippled by pain. Instead, Mirissa is now spreading pain-free smiles, writing through her nights, and, once again, walking through her days. Mirissa's writing can be found at mirissaprice.wordpress.com and on Twitter or Facebook @Mirissa_D_Price.

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