The decision to become a dentist is a serious commitment. It isn't just about your willingness to undergo four more years of education. It's about submitting to a set of academic and professional standards far more rigorous than anything your undergraduate institution expected of you. It's about knowing that if you fail to live up to those standards, all the hard work and money you've invested in your future will have been wasted.
The stakes are especially high at the Columbia University College of Dental Medicine in New York. The program is attached to an Ivy League school. Its history dates back over a hundred years. Its reputation isn't just national; it's global. In short, a DDS from Columbia guarantees you a bright future, but you can expect the school will demand your very best while you're a student there.
High standards are important. We all want to know that the people who take care of our oral health are highly qualified and dedicated to their profession. There's a very fine line, though, between high standards and impossible standards. If you feel your dental school is treating you unfairly, you have the right to raise questions and challenge its decisions. How do you go about doing that? First, you must know how the system works, so you'll be prepared to navigate it. Second, you need to know how to get help. You can stand up for yourself, but taking on your school is no easy task, and you should never try to do it alone.
Academic Standards at CUCDM
CUCDM expects academic excellence from all its students, and to ensure this, it closely monitors student progress. An Academic Progress Committee (APC) meets at the end of every semester to review student grades. CUCDM works on a pass/ fail system. That is, instructors have the sole authority to decide whether you have mastered a course's material. Should you fail a class, the APC has the power to assign you a remediation plan. The committee can also require you to repeat a year if you fail to complete remediation requirements or if you are struggling in multiple courses. Finally, the APC can recommend dismissal if it believes you simply can't keep up with the rigors of the program.
CUCDM's academic policies afford you the right to review all APC decisions. In addition, you have the right to appeal these decisions. Appeals are heard by a committee made up of the College of Dental Medicine faculty, and you are allowed to present your case in person and to have a faculty advocate help you. If this committee reaffirms the APC's decision, you can further appeal to the Dean. The Dean's decision in the matter is final.
Maintaining Professional Standards
CUCDM's standards of ethics and professionalism are as high as, if not higher than, its academic standards. The school requires all students adhere to a strict Honor Code, pledging things like “honesty and integrity” in all aspects of their education, respectful interactions with patients, and responsible conduct in public. It's important you understand that society will hold you accountable not just for your abilities as a dentist but for how you conduct your personal life. CUCDM's policies are designed to teach you this lesson now.
The school's disciplinary policy puts primary authority for investigating violations in the hands of the Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards (SCCS). Sanctions can include anything from a warning to dismissal.
As with academic matters, you have the right to defend yourself at a formal hearing if you are accused of violating ethical or professional standards. In addition, you can appeal any decisions and sanctions to the Dean. However, you may only file appeals under certain very specific conditions:
- An excessive sanction
- A procedural mistake
- New information
Why Hire an Attorney?
How exactly is an attorney supposed to help you? You're not a hardened criminal; you're in dental school. You might be surprised. An attorney who understands how dental schools work and who is familiar with your school's processes can help in ways both large and small.
- Evaluating remediation plans: A remediation plan offers an important opportunity to get your academic career back on track. In fact, remediation has saved many a dental student's future. However, remediation plans cost, both in terms of money and time. Sometimes there are better options. Your school probably won't explain these other options to you. An attorney will.
- Cleaning up your transcript: Probation, remediation, or even a warning can damage your career if it winds up in your permanent record. You could lose financial aid, miss out on fellowship opportunities, or have trouble getting your first job. An attorney can help you prevent these kinds of sanctions from showing up on your transcript and, in some cases, can even help you clean up past mistakes.
- Avoiding dismissal: The most serious sanction any dental student can face is dismissal. If you're expelled from your program, your career in oral medicine is likely over. You'll find it difficult to convince another school to accept you. The loans you took out to pay for your education will come due, and you won't have a job to show for them. Any time you're facing dismissal, then, it's in your best interest to fight. CUCDM doesn't allow you to bring an attorney with you to hearings and other proceedings, but that doesn't mean an attorney can't help. For instance, they can offer advice, suggest defense strategies, and prepare you to present your case.
How Can Joseph D. Lento Help?
Surely you don't need an attorney. You're bright. You're dedicated to your career. Your school has your best interests at heart, doesn't it?
The fact is, schools these days take academics and discipline extremely seriously. They are less interested in making sure students get an education than they are in making sure they don't face any sort of media or public firestorm for failing to discipline a student. As a result, you can't expect your school to be on your side.
Joseph D. Lento is on your side. Joseph D. Lento is a fully-licensed, fully-qualified defense attorney who specializes in defending students in campus judicial cases. Over the years, Joseph D. Lento has represented hundreds of students, helping them get the justice they deserve. He knows the law, and he's a passionate defender of student rights. He also knows how schools operate and the tactics they use, and he knows how to handle them.
If you're facing a sanction from your dental school, trust your case to someone who knows dental schools. Contact the Lento Law Firm today, at 888-555-3686, or888-555-3686 or use our automated online form.