“Life is like that, of course, twisty and surprising.”

I’m returning to the blogging world after a month of a holiday hiatus. Isn’t it funny how when I actually had more time to write over Christmas break, I don’t even write one post? Well, this is my insanely brief overview:

Naps on naps. Pinterest. Baking. Shopping. Family time in the country. Guitar. Resting in The Word. Ringing in 2015 with a night out in uptown Dallas. Crying in AT&T stadium at the final score of the Cotton Bowl (my last game as a Baylor student). Feeling 22. Deciding on dental school. Declining other schools. Committing to another school. Receiving the scholarship I’d been praying for for months. Withdrawing previous acceptance and officially committing to being a class of 2019 “Penntist.”

Let’s just say maybe why I didn’t have time to blog was because my mind was highly preoccupied with this obvious roller coaster. I quite possibly have never felt more all over the place in my life than I have in the past 45 days (it was way harder than my up until the last minute college decision). I’ve tried to update on my blog with my specific thoughts occasionally throughout this long, stressful, but exciting process simply because I want to be able to look back and see how God was leading me along the way and to have that same feeling that I have now about going to Baylor for undergrad – that the fact that I ever was torn between schools is actually funny now. So this is mainly for me to read a few years from now maybe as I’m finishing up D4 and being so incredibly grateful for God’s provision and that I made the decision that I did. If you’ve been reading my recent posts, you know Penn was my dream school where I really saw myself thriving and the stepping stone to reaching my personal and career goals in the future. It is also one of THE most expensive schools in the country. Well, crap. My mom always said I had champagne taste…

After finals were over and I had a chance to hash everything out with my mentor and then my parents when I came home, I had finally come to terms with the financial implications of going to where I had really felt led to go for so long. I was going to Penn, I was going to be in a heck of a lot of debt, but I wasn’t going to regret it.

That night I “decided” I felt so sure that it was the right decision. The following days, though, ALL I could think about was what THAT kind of debt would look like for a chunk of my life, and that I would in fact regret being an Ivy League trained doctor struggling to make everything work financially. It’s really twisted if you think about it. I set Penn to the side for awhile and really tried to imagine myself at Baylor and Houston. Before, I was so torn between the two and just never really had any peace about choosing either. I talked to several friends at both and reached a new decision that UTSD-Houston would be the best fit and so much more realistic than going to Penn without a scholarship. That week was mostly spent trying to convince myself of all the great reasons to go to Houston. It was OK to turn down Penn simply because of the price, a friend reassured me. Of course initially I was disappointed. Everything before just felt like a tease. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t somewhat angry at God. Why would I have gone to interviews and been accepted at Columbia and Penn – and felt so strongly drawn to Penn specifically – and then it all just be taken away. I was at the point where I just wished I would’ve never even applied to those schools, and it would’ve been a LOT easier decision if I didn’t get in to either. I tried to “get over” the idea of going to Penn, and every day I honestly was getting more OK with the idea of being in Houston next year. This was, after all, an incredible blessing to even be in this position of getting to choose where to go. I even took a trip down there to visit my friend and planned on looking at Houston housing options. I had lost that hope and expectancy that I felt all throughout December of the chance of still getting a scholarship to Penn.

Then things got thrown upside down that same day I was driving back to Waco from my side road trip to H-town. Earlier when I had told my family about my decision to go to Houston, I explained it as an “unless…” situation. Penn’s deadline wasn’t until the 15th of January, so obviously I was still going to just see if anything happened in that next week or so before the door was officially closed. Like I said though, I was pretty much over it and finding peace in my Houston decision. I had realized maybe a lot of me wanting to go to Penn was my pride and feeling that I “deserved” to go to my top choice after working so hard in college. I had to put away my selfishness and turn all of this back over to God and his plan for me. I was going out to dinner with my friend that night to my favorite pizza joint, and she asked me how I was feeling with the recently changed decision. I explained how I was still a little disappointed that it all came down to financial reasons. It wasn’t my plan A, but plan B is sometimes the best thing that can happen. As I’m saying this, I look at my phone, and I see that it’s the Philadelphia area code that I had been sure to memorize. Oh hi there, plan A. My first thought was they were calling to ask about my decision since I hadn’t sent in my deposit or really updated them on my situation. My other thought was that they were calling and going to offer me the lowest scholarship, still not helping enough for me to be able to change my mind. I knew that if they would’ve ever called and given me the max scholarship that I’d go in a heartbeat. If it ended up being the middle level amount, it would be the most complicated. I would have to seriously think about it and be SURE I would be making the right decision, whatever that was. So of course, guess what happened? Yep, the complicated route. All I could do that night was say WOW WOW WOW it actually happened? And laugh. Lots of laughing at God’s sense of humor and my crazy life as well as thinking how worn out everyone in my life was getting with me talking about all this back and forth nonsense.

At first I was so confused because of the timing and everything from the past couple weeks of me talking myself into Houston and JUST now beginning to get really excited about it. I read back through my prayer journal that night, though, and it was unreal how many times I specifically was yearning for financial provision if Penn was where He was leading me. Several times I also wrote things along the lines of “I know you LOVE to surprise me, so I am trusting it will all be in your perfect timing”,  and “I know you make the impossible possible.” There was also the powerful Sunday at church on trusting God with finances when I went to the front to be prayed for the week before I heard anything about acceptances. After taking the weekend to really keep praying about it and talking to my family and close friends about it who had been with me through the entire dramatic saga, I realized that there was no way that all this happened for me to turn it down and still go to Houston. This Dean’s scholarship was exactly what I had been believing for from the beginning. My creator knows the desires of my heart inside and out before I even ask. I have been so constantly reminded in all this that his dreams for me are far greater than my own. This is only the beginning of a crazy adventure of the next season: my life as a twenty-something Dr-to-be in a major Northeast city where I will be stretched academically, mentally, and spiritually. I am leaving my unbelievable community of friends here (who have been some of my biggest cheerleaders in all this), my family who has never stopped supporting me and my crazy big dreams since day one, “y’all,” Tex-Mex, and a lot more. As scary as all that is, I am beyond pumped for what’s ahead: receiving a dental/medical education like no other, an entirely new city full of ALL kinds of people that I would never have met if I stayed in Texas, learning exactly what I will be doing in my career impacting people’s lives everyday, 119 of the most interesting/fun/smartest people that I will ever know and get to call classmates, actual SEASONS praise the Lord, and meeting my new best friends (or…WHO knows, something more??) for life. University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine and all that 2015 has in store, I’m coming for ya.

All I wanted for Christmas

All I wanted for Christmas

The title quote is one from Shauna Niequist that I even posted on Facebook on New Year’s Eve as an encouragement and hope for all my friends – especially those of us in the middle of major life changes – in 2015 (before all of the crazy twists actually happened).

“Everything is interim. Everything is a path or a preparation for the next thing, and we never know what the next thing is. Life is like that, of course, twisty and surprising. But life with God is like that exponentially. We can dig in, make plans, write in stone, pretend we’re not listening, but the voice of God has a way of being heard. It seeps in like smoke or vapor even when we’ve barred the door against any last-minute changes, and it moves us to different countries and different emotional territories and different ways of living. It keeps us moving and dancing and watching, and never lets us drop down into a life set on cruise control or a life ruled by remote control. Life with God is a dancing dream, full of flashes and last-minute exits and generally all the things we’ve said we’ll never do. And with the surprises comes great hope.”

Trust me, I’m (going to be) a doctor.

I’m currently seizing every opportunity to stay distracted from studying any more tonight for my last two (cumulative and far-from-easy) finals Monday and Tuesday, and I’ve got just a few things on my mind that I really need to get in writing. Ok, more like 732 things.

Yes, there was Thanksgiving, family time, and food galore.

HOME

HOME

Of course there were ample Elijah photo shoots

Of course there were ample Elijah photo shoots

I even completed my music/photography Psalms class project with these models

I even completed my music/photography Psalms class project with these models

There were also never-ending Sic Em’s, a little thing called College Gameday, tears shed at my last Baylor football game, and a depressed, bitter, nonstop Twitter feed about finishing at #5 (but still ahead of TCew).

Best way to end my college football experience

Best way to end my college football experience

Seniors (barely survived) ran the Line in McLane Stadium for our last game ever

Seniors (barely survived) ran the Line in McLane Stadium for our last game ever

Being down on the field with all the seniors was definitely something I'll never forget

Being down on the field with all the seniors was definitely something I’ll never forget

Started from the top, and oh yeah we're still here. #BacktoBack #Big12Champs

Started from the top, and oh yeah we’re still here. #BacktoBack #Big12Champs

Johnnyswim rocked around a Waco Hall Christmas on 5th tree, and of course Abner and Amanda serenaded all of Wacotown.

Sexy people making beautiful music >>>> studying for my last management exam

Sexy people making beautiful music >>>> studying for my last management exam

Finals have once again arrived and invaded the hearts of students, dueling it out with the Christmas spirit and holiday cheer all across campus.

Senioritis is REAL

Senioritis is REAL

The news that beats ALL of that, though, is that on the early morning of December 1st, the culmination of stressful nights studying, hours of shadowing, and countless sacrifices to achieve my academic and career goals came together and Galatians 6:9 became my reality: I’M GOING TO BE A DENTIST and you can call me Dr. in a few short (or long) years! Starting at midnight and throughout the day, I received acceptance offers for a seat in the Class of 2019 at each of the five schools where I interviewed: TAMU/Baylor (Dallas), UTSD (Houston), UTHSCSA (San Antonio), Columbia (NYC), and UPenn (Philly)! I am once again overwhelmed with God’s favor in my life and am beyond grateful for every single person who has supported me as family, friends, professors, and mentors through this journey (that is just really starting).

IMG_0791

And no, I don’t just want to go to Penn because of their brilliantly witty name for themselves…

Being offered one of the few coveted spots out of thousands of applicants was more humbling than I could have ever imagined it would be. They all chose little me from small town East Texas to represent their school and the future of the dental profession. That once-far-off, big dream I had busted it for the last three years for had finally turned into tangible emails, phone calls, and letters.

I’m also incredibly proud of my pre-dental friends and classmates that have been on this journey with me from the beginning. Almost all of the Baylor seniors that applied this cycle got into all three Texas schools and some out of state schools too! If this was like a professional sports draft day, we all swept it first round. Of course we tossed aside our studies (for the worst last exam week of the semester) for the night and went out to toast to our new student dentist status and the fact that we actually know what we’re doing after graduation and are no longer “just biology majors” hoping all that work wasn’t for nothing. Rest assured moms and dads, (one day) we will be financially secure.

Smiling's our favorite :)

Smiling’s our favorite 🙂

Cheers! Best group of future tooth docs

Cheers! Best group of future tooth docs

Speaking of finances, if you read my last post you know Penn Dental was my top choice, and I was desperately hoping to receive a substantial scholarship that would make my decision easy. Well, when they called, I was sadly not informed of that. This is not to say that all have been awarded necessarily, and if students that did receive one decline Penn’s offer due to committing to another school or receiving a full-ride military scholarship, those are immediately recycled to be given to other qualified (ahem, PICK ME) students. My heart did sink when I wasn’t one of those lucky first round award recipients. Here I am in this incredible and EXTREMELY fortunate situation of having to pick my school instead of praying for months that ONE picks me. However, now my decision is anything but easy. I have a full 30 days from when I heard for Texas schools (Houston or Baylor, I did go ahead and decline SA) and about 45 days for Penn until I have to inform the school (aka send a deposit check) to secure my golden ticket. That makes things a lot more complicated than I would have hoped due to the timing of things and not wanting to have to put down two deposits potentially to buy more time. My heart is really still set on Penn and I am believing for breakthrough. I also know that complete surrender of my dreams right now is all I can do. I’m praying that I would feel and hear God’s guidance in a fresh and powerful way in the coming days. I know He is the one that has brought me this far and opened door after door for me to walk in this calling on my life to serve people with joy and impact their lives in a very real way.

No matter what happens, this time next year I will be finishing up my first semester as a dental student, and I’m all smiles because of that.

“Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will ACT.” – Psalm 37:4-5

“So what’s your #1?” and why it’s OK I don’t have an answer

People are still so shocked when they hear me simply say, “I don’t have one” after they ask me that question about my fast -approaching decision of where I really want to go for school next fall. I understand they are doing the polite thing by being interested in my future and what I’ve been working towards all of my college career. I’m still tired of having to explain how I don’t have a first preference or that I really do not know where I want to go RIGHT NOW. If you asked me where I want to live in ten years or who I want to marry, would you also expect a well articulated detailed answer with confidence? It’s impossible. I only know who holds the future, and that is enough.

I realize this is an incredibly good “problem” to have, and I am not at all trying to sound like I’m stressed out about it. At the same time, having so many options is not always the best for someone as indecisive (when it comes to major life decisions aka college, major, etc) as me. I’ve always been one to heavily weigh each pro and con of pretty much everything. I didn’t commit to a university until May of my senior year of high school when I ultimately chose to go where everyone in my life knew I probably would. I guess I relish the drama and like to keep people guessing.

Since I wrote about my first UTHSC – San Antonio interview on here, I’ve traveled close to home (Dallas and Houston) and to an all together new world of the Northeast (Philly and NYC) to a total of four other schools: Texas A&M/Baylor College of Dentistry, UT School of Dentistry – Houston, University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine, and Columbia University School of Dental Medicine. Wow.

“Take a step of faith when God gives you a vision because you trust that the One who gave you the vision is going to make provision. And for the record, if the vision is from God, it will most definitely be beyond your means.”

It was such a season of waiting and anticipation those few months of constantly checking my inbox or SDN notifications (yep I’m one of those nerds), and I couldn’t help but jump up and down or do my happy dance with each new invitation. I am so grateful that God opened all these doors for me, and I can’t help but praise and give him the glory throughout all of this. Just to be offered interviews at those schools was a huge dose of affirmation that all of my years of hard work and passionate commitment to my future vocation were worth it and that I truly am walking in God’s calling on my life. If you would have asked me in my little small town Atlanta, TX high school (when I did start considering a medical career – first medical school, later dental) if I saw myself even going to interview at an Ivy League grad school, I probably wouldn’t have even known which schools you were talking about. Now all of these big scary decisions are in front of me that lead to four (I can pretty much rule out San Antonio at this point personally for various reasons even though it is an excellent school!) very tangible and realistic lives I could have for the next four years or even more depending on residency possibilities.

“Bold prayers honor God, and God honors bold prayers. God isn’t offended by your biggest dreams or boldest prayers. He is offended by anything less. If your prayers aren’t impossible to you, they are insulting to God.”

Everyone that I’ve talked to that’s already in school somewhere seems to have the same kind of answer when I ask how they ended up choosing that school (if they had that wonderful problem that I’m hoping to have which is multiple acceptances). They all say something along the lines of just having a certain feeling at the end of their interview day that it was somewhere they could thrive, be surrounded by supportive classmates and faculty, find their specific niche through opportunities that the school offers, and ultimately a place to call home for the next season of life (we’re talking most of the 20s.) Well, I felt that at every school. Seriously.

My roommates, friends, and family like to guess which school I really will probably end up at, but I promise them I don’t know any more than they do. Most people don’t understand how complicated this decision is and that it’s based on so much more than just, “Where do you want to go?” How about we talk location, COST, student body, research, specialty exposure, honors programs, grading/testing style, ranked vs not ranked…the comparisons could go on forever.

“Finally, I learned that we shouldn’t seek answers as much as we should seek God. We get overanxious. We try to microwave our own answers instead of trusting God’s timing. But here’s an important reminder: If you seek answers you won’t find them, but if you seek God, the answers will find you. There comes a point after you have prayed through that you need to let go and let God. How? By resisting the temptation to manufacture your own answer to your own prayer.”

First of all, the general consensus of these interview days are that they are…fun! I don’t know why I was so nervous about this part of the application process. I have genuinely loved each conversation I’ve had with current students, my faculty interviewers -and not to sound too confident – but I honestly think all of them liked me too (we’ll see just how much come December 1st, right?). Another cool part of these visits is meeting the other students there interviewing with me that day. We all instantly click and have great conversations throughout the day about our colleges, other interviews, our diverse backgrounds, etc. These same folks that all laugh when I say “Y’all” (or actually know where Baylor is and that our football team is pretty cool as of late) could in fact end up being my classmates and life-long friends or colleagues. Weird. Also extremely cool to think about. 

If we were to play a game where I just say the first words that come to my mind when I think of that school/city (or if you had a peek of my extensive pro/con comparison chart of each school), it’d look a little something like this:

baylor picTAMU/BCD: Family, happy, reputation, lab work, downtown Dallas, Texans, friends, familiar, busy (lotttttts of tests/quizzes every week), proximity to Waco/Austin/home, churches, supportive, clinical competency, cheapest, numerical grading, awesome faculty, people like me (but more diverse than Houston), tons of Baylor alumni

houston picUTSD: brand new, fun, laid-back, cool new city, hot and humid, best facilities, super friendly faculty, TX Medical Center (best/biggest in the world), great food/bars, art/culture, cousins live there, churches, integrated curriculum, numerical grading, research collaboration, Texans, former frat/srat vibe (I really don’t mean that in a bad way – just that they are all very social/outgoing, have fun)

penn picpenn pic other 1penn pic otherPENN: historic, super cool city vibe, diverse/global vision, ambitious, individualized, extensive honors programs, in clinic from day 1 (as assistants), well-rounded curriculum (general/clinical v specialties), rigorous, reputation, externships, collaborative/ALL schools on one campus, insane specialty rate (like 13 got into OS of 14 that applied, same for all specialties), lots of research, graded/rank top 10, Yesle (D3 blogger friend), supportive, tight-knit, cutting edge, beautiful weather and actual seasons, far from home, scary amount of dollar signs, Dean’s scholarship

columbia picnyc picnyc other picCOLUMBIA: NYC duh, medical education (with med students/med classes first 1.5 years), pioneering research, pass/fail/honors (WOW tempting), most diverse, incredibly driven, mentorship, family, networking, reputation, they breed specialists, strong OS prep (insane high scores on Step 1), work hard/play hard, more scary dollar signs, zero competitiveness, less preclinic/clinic, externships, highest cost of living, John (D2 Baylor alum), foodie central

All that to say…that’s my [lack of an] answer. I may or may not have other thoughts deep down and visions of my future that point in one direction or another, but for now I’m staying open-minded to anything that could happen. I’m tuning in to God’s voice and praying circles around this. Several people have told me at this point there is no such thing as a wrong decision. I fully believe that, and I remind myself daily that I will get clarity in God’s timing. More than anything, on my heart is the weight of the financial stress that this decision entails. Recently I’ve shifted towards asking for bigger than ever faith and trust that God is the ULTIMATE provider. Eventually we have to realize that we can plan like it depends on us, but we’ve got to pray like it depends on God. 

The future is exciting, my friends.

“While we’re busy planning, sometimes God is chuckling. And if our plans are way off, that contagious chuckle probably makes its way through angelic ranks like a laugh track. It’s not a vindictive chuckle, as if God relishes our failure. I just think God is sometimes amazed at how small our plans are. He allows our small plans to fail so that His big dream for us can prevail. So keep planning like it depends on you, but make sure you pray like it depends on God. Prayer is the alpha and omega of planning. Don’t just brainstorm, praystorm.”

– All quotes from The Circle Maker by Mark Batterson –

Still Sing

I know the Lord knows what’s best for me and will always work all things together for my good, but this week I had to struggle a little to fully believe that.

A big thing that’s been on my heart and mind recently is just what my last year here at Baylor will look like, and how God is leading me to reevaluate how I spend my time. I want my priorities to shift from things I have to do to things I want to do. It might sound selfish when I say it like that, but for someone who has balanced a never-ending list of projects, obligations, and responsibilities since I’d say middle school, while still giving full attention to my schoolwork and grades, I don’t feel bad saying it. I think the Lord wants to delight in seeing me thrive and enjoy a little more all-around well-being in my final days here, so that I don’t view college as such an uphill battle but as a place that I loved. Which I do, don’t get me wrong, but a lighter load or more things just for fun never hurt anyone, right?

I mentioned in my last post how I recently was hired to work as an anatomy lab TA next year. This past week was pretty stressful trying to coordinate registering and making my class schedule for the fall to make sure I’d be available to TA two of the labs each week. I had my ideal schedule planned when I was thrown (or rather, threw myself) a curveball.

If you don’t know me that well, something you should know is that I absolutely love to sing. I’ve been in choirs all my life, a small vocal ensemble in high school, had a fun solo in a campus production last year, and even was a member of the Women’s Choir here my freshman year. I’d also say some of my best solo performances have been in my car on my long drives to and from home. My mom is a music teacher, my sister leads worship at her church, and my dad is an amazing self-taught guitarist. Music runs through  my veins.

We have a group here at Baylor called VirtuOso that’s a contemporary a cappella small group – think Pitch Perfect or the TV series The Sing-Off. They perform around campus throughout the year, but also at other venues and even compete at the ICCAs. One of my best friends has been it since it started two years ago, and I give myself the title of their number one groupie. They sing mostly pop music – JT, Lorde, Beyonce, OneRepublic – and are known to do killer mash-ups.

I saw on their Facebook page a few weeks ago that they’d be holding auditions for the coming school year. I’d be lying if I said I had never thought about trying out. I may not be a vocal performance major, but I do know I can blend, hold down some alto harmonies, read music, rock some choreo, and that I would have a blast getting to do something I love in the midst of stressful life as a science major. Come on, senior year – YOLO, right (excuse the terribly overused slang)? I did consider it for awhile, but then as we so often do, I pushed it to the back of my mind as something that could never realistically happen. At a university of several thousand students, what are the chances that I would actually make it, considering I’m not a music major and don’t have any actual a cappella experience?

Well, my friend in the group brought the question back up to me last weekend and we discussed it a little. I blame him for giving me any glimmer of hope that I could possibly make it. I told him I’d already been tentatively assigned to work the lab time that conflicted with the VirtuOso class. I then did a little more tweaking and looking at other options, and I had it where I would have the time slot open potentially if I worked the other lab times. I then even spent a significant amount of time deciding what song I would audition on and told some close friends that all encouraged me to just GO FOR IT. I emailed my prof/boss asking her if it was at all still an option. Well, after much confusion and back and forth decisions on her part and mine, she let me know that in order for me to have the job, I would have to work the Monday/Wednesday lab. Obviously, the job was priority over the audition that could have been in vain anyway, so I changed my schedule back, seriously bummed. Once again, what I had to do trumped what I wanted to do.

After some time getting over my pity party of not even having the opportunity to try for something I’ve always wanted to do, I guess I’ve come to terms about it all. I know I need and want this job, and that being in VirtuOso (as awesome as it would’ve been), would still have been just another thing on my plate to take time away from other things I want to focus on next year like making memories with my friends and being up for whatever, whenever. Not to mention how busy in the fall I’ll be traveling to [hopefully] several interviews for dental school.

God closed this door, but just how many endless ones has he opened for me? He knows my every need and exactly how he will meet those needs. He knows my love for music and would want nothing to stop me from still singing.

5394e30b8e27467c6c49af6242b62647

Headed down the open road unknown

3e8694d3ccb7ce03100ce0888943eed2It feels like junior/senior year of high school all over again.  I didn’t officially decide where I was going to college until late April/May right before I graduated.  I remember being so unsure all year while all my friends were committing and like I was being pulled in five different directions while searching for the one that God had for me.  Now to think about how my life would look if I would have gone to the University of Texas, Southwestern, or Texas A&M (ok, WHAT was I thinking – sorry, Aggies) is such a strange and funny thing.  I know I am EXACTLY where I’m supposed to be right now.

I bring up these old feelings because I’m now talking about the current confusing, exciting, anxious, limitless, and overwhelming season of researching dental schools and trying to figure out just where I belong.

Obviously I’ll apply to the three schools in Texas – UT Houston, UT San Antonio, and Baylor College of Dentistry in Dallas (which is actually owned by A&M now – confusing I know).  However, I don’t want to limit my future, and I’m really considering applying to several out-of-state schools all over the country.  I have a deep desire for adventure, branching out, and exploring different places.  I also am a little fed up with the Texas heat after 20 years of sweating, and I really want to experience new cuisines, outdoor activities (snowboarding, hiking, etc), and just a different way of living for awhile.

It’s hard to dream big, though, when the reality of debt and massive student loans is staring me in the face and slapping me with a blow of the necessity of practicality.  In-state tuition, while still sky-high, is significantly less than private and out-of-state schools.  The thought of graduating with $200,000+ in debt is down-right mind-boggling, even when I hear people say, “Don’t worry, your future income will pay it off  before you know it!”  I’ve heard some say go as cheap as you can for dental school, but I’ve also been encouraged by others to go where I really want and be adventurous while I’m young and not tied down to anything (if I were in a relationship right now, it’d probably be a different story).  You can see the dilemma here.

Some of the other dental schools I’ve been looking into (if I ignore the hefty price tags for a moment, and truly think about the kind of professional/clinical/research education I’m looking for as well as an appealing location) and were on the list of where my DAT scores were sent include:

University of Colorado (Denver)

University of Washington (Seattle)

University of the Pacific (San Francisco) *the only 3 year program in the country*

University of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia)

Boston University

Tufts University

Columbia University (NYC – I really don’t think I could see myself living there though)

Oregon Health Sciences Center (Portland)

Harvard University (actually don’t see myself there)

University of Illinois (Chicago)

I’d say the first five I listed are probably the ones I’m more interested in researching further as well as the three TX schools.  Not only are the locations somewhere I really would love to live for four years (or longer if I specialize and get into the same school’s program), but these are also some of the most respected schools.  Some of the things that make a dental school “one of the best” (even though it’s very different than undergraduate because there are no REAL rankings) are  a strong clinical focus, high research activity, great faculty, diversity, stats/educational background of enrolled students, community/philanthropic involvement, etc.

I know my future is in God’s hands, and I am confident the story he’s writing for my life will be a good one that I can’t even IMAGINE right now.  As I slowly figure this thing out (or still am clueless), I’ll give updates on my application process in the summer and then next year’s interviews!

*Title is lyrics from Switchfoot’s new single, Love Alone is Worth the Fight. BUY IT NOW.