Dental school students, like students in other professional degree programs, are smart, successful, and competitive. Dental students have already proven their academic capability simply by getting into dental school. Dental students rightly expect to have similar academic success in their dental programs as they had in their undergraduate studies. After all, their dental school admitted them. Their dental school believes in their capability, just as they do. And a study of dental school admissions backs up that confidence. A Journal of Dental Education article reports that undergraduate science GPA and admission interview scores are the strongest correlates to dental school performance. Generally, if you did well as an undergraduate, you should do well as a dental student. A dental student's mantra could well be to expect success and then go earn it. In that context of success, the thought of academic remediation in dental school might as well be a dirty word. Dental students aren't used to requiring remediation.
Dental schools, though, do lose students to illness, changes of heart, and even grades. One Journal of the American Dental Association article reported a seven-percent attrition rate among dental students. That figure means that about one out of fourteen dental students won't graduate. The same article reported that the reasons for dental students leaving the program were evenly divided between the personal and the academic. About half of dental students leave for their own reasons, while the other half leave because the school wants them out. Of course, some dental students don't make the grade because of personal reasons. The two can go hand in hand. But the point is that some dental students don't make the grade. If you are struggling to meet satisfactory academic performance, then you are not alone. Dental students can struggle academically. And dental schools permit only a certain depth and duration of academic struggles. At some point, no later than graduation, a dental student must make the grade. And remediation is a primary way in which dental schools attempt to help struggling dental students.
Satisfactory Academic Performance
Dental schools aren't generally just being unduly strict, unfair, or unreasonable in dismissing some dental students over unacceptable grades. Dental schools, like other programs of higher education receiving federal funding, must maintain satisfactory academic performance (SAP) policies. See, for example, the SAP policy at the University of Louisville School of Dentistry. Under 34 CFR 668.34, the federal government will not approve loans to dental students unless those students meet their dentistry program's SAP policy. To meet the federal SAP regulation, a dental school's SAP policy must have a minimum grade-point average, minimum credits per term, minimum percentage of credits passed per attempted credits, or similar requirements. These minimums set academic performance standards. SAP hardship appeals are possible under policies like the University of Louisville's SAP policy. The federal SAP regulation permits hardship appeals. But at some point, graduation at the latest, a dental student must meet the school's academic standards. A dental school could lose its accreditation and funding if it didn't enforce its SAP policy. Retain national academic defense attorney Joseph D. Lento of the Lento Law Firm if you face SAP dismissal. But if your dental school offers remediation as a way to avoid SAP review and dismissal, then seriously consider accepting the remediation offer. Your dental school has an SAP policy to enforce.
So, remediation is not, after all, a dirty word. Remediation can instead be a lifeline to successfully completing a dental program, especially when supplied in a just-in-time fashion. Plenty of dental students who never seriously struggled in any prior academic study meet their first significant challenge in dental school. Dental school is a bigger academic challenge than just about any undergraduate program and just as big a challenge as many graduate and professional programs, including the notoriously difficult medicine and law programs. No dental student should be surprised at the program's difficulty. The key, though, can be to commit early to remediation when the struggles begin, not later when it's too late to recover. Dental school grades help a student know that they are struggling. Schools like the New York University School of Dentistry will even have self-guided remediation policies ensuring that the struggling student sets aside sufficient time within a defined period to improve deficient grades. If you see your need for remediation when you still have the opportunity to accomplish it without direct school involvement and interference, then go for it. Don't wait for the school to mandate measures.
The Challenge of Self-Guided Remediation
Self-guided remediation, though, is not a free pass. Policies like NYU School of Dentistry's self-guided remediation policy include some faculty involvement and review, even if the involvement in self-guided remediation is only advisory. The student may have to at least meet with professors, which can certainly be a good thing but can also take time out from studies. Remediation itself also takes student insight, time, and effort. The dental student must be able to discern their weakness, discern how to correct the weakness, and then find the time and make an effort to implement those plans. The student may have had personal reasons for the academic challenge in the first place, like illness, work obligations, or obligations caring for children or ill family members. Time, in other words, may have been the student's initial challenge. Remedial activities like meeting with professors and evaluating and correcting weaknesses can rob a student of the time needed for ongoing studies in other courses. Remediation is no picnic. If you face the need for remediation, then guard your time. You are going to need more time studying than ever. Self-guided remediation can be your rescue, but it's no cakewalk.
At some point, if a student's struggles continue or worsen, dental schools can impose required remediation. New York University School of Dentistry's remediation policy is an example. If an NYU dental student doesn't succeed in restoring satisfactory academic progress through self-guided remedial effort, then NYU's School of Dentistry can require the student to repeat the academic year. Taking a full year of dental school over again is, of course, a formidable form of remediation, so formidable that some students wouldn't attempt it. Better systems supply just-in-time support. A full-year do-over isn't sensitive, timely remediation. But when a student isn't making the grade, dental schools have the remedial power under their academic policies to impose draconian measures. Better, they assume, to have some students repeat courses or even repeat years than to expel those students without further opportunity for remediation. If your academic performance is especially concerning, with multiple D grades or even one or more failing grades, then your school is likely to impose required remediation.
The Extra Challenge of Required Remediation
Like self-guided remediation, required remediation can be your rescue. Dental schools generally have skilled faculty members. Those faculty members tend to know what students with substandard academic performance may need to improve the performance to acceptable levels. If that need is to improve a course grade by doing extra work for extra credit, then the school that requires that remediation is offering the student an attractive lifeline. But when the school determines that the student needs to repeat courses or even repeat a term or year, the school may be imposing an unattractive or even impossible challenge. Some remedial plans are workable. Some are not. Some remedial plans impose requirements that might help another student but clearly don't help the student facing the requirement. Read the critique Remediation: Higher Education’s Bridge to Nowhere to see how broken remediation systems are at many colleges and universities. We're all familiar with busy work, hoops through which a program may require a student to jump, but that don't provide any true benefit. Unfortunately, dental schools, like other programs, can use a one-size-fits-all approach to remediation when students tend to need unique remedial approaches. The form of remediation often depends on the cause for remediation. And schools don't always get the causes or forms right.
Alternative Forms of Remediation
You may have alternatives to the arduous and unhelpful remediation that your dental school requires of you, further damaging your chance at successful remediation. Your school may not have listened clearly to you when you tried to explain your considerable academic skills and unusual academic struggles. Your school may not have understood your new and different circumstances, needs, and challenges. Your school may be requiring you to repeat a full school year when other forms of available remediation would work better for you and for the school. Your school may simply not have considered better alternatives. Here are some of those potential alternative forms of remediation that could work better for you while saving you time, effort, lost courses, terms, or years, and more tuition:
- additional time to complete studies toward examinations
- additional time to complete lab work and clinical assignments
- an alternative schedule accommodating impairing conditions
- additional equipment accommodating disabilities
- additional study materials and resources
- clearer academic objectives and goals
- alternative forms of instruction
- alternative academic advisors, instructors, and clinical supervisors
- alternative clinical site
- additional study groups or tutors
Procedures to Invoke
To get the best chance at helpful, rather than distracting and burdensome, remediation at your dental school, you need to make the right communications to the right administrators with the right information, invoking the right interests while following the right procedures. Crafting a workable and achievable remediation plan generally takes more than another email. It takes respecting that your dental school has orderly ways of going about making its decision on remediation opportunities. Your procedural opportunity and avenue may be a grade appeal. Your avenue may be an administrative appeal of an SAP calculation. Your avenue may be an SAP appeal on a form like the one that the University of Louisville's SAP policy requires. Or your last resort may be to reach out to a university ombudsman or general counsel's office for a special forum and special relief from standard procedures that do not address your special situation. Whatever your circumstance is that warrants more fitting remediation, and relief from remediation that your dental school is imposing, you need to find and follow the right procedures.
The Role of an Academic Attorney
And finding the right procedures to invoke is exactly where you need special help. If your dental school has required you to pursue the wrong forms of remediation, further damaging your chance at graduation, then retain national academic defense attorney Joseph D. Lento of the Lento Law Firm to help you advocate with the school. College and university students don't generally have knowledge of academic procedures. Nor do they have refined advocacy skills, especially in their own matters where their own involvement colors their judgment. That's why an academic attorney can make a difference. An experienced academic attorney knows the options that a dental school may have to help a student obtain satisfactory academic progress. Even more so, a skilled academic attorney knows how to invoke dental school procedures to advocate for those options. A skilled academic attorney can communicate, negotiate, advocate, and, if need be, even litigate to give you a fair chance to earn your dental degree.
National Academic Defense Attorney Available
National academic defense attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm have helped hundreds of college and university students nationwide successfully navigate academic and misconduct issues. Attorney Lento's years of experience with academic matters and proceedings have given him the necessary inside knowledge that he can leverage on your behalf. Academic administrative matters differ from court cases and other legal matters. An attorney who has little or no academic administrative experience won't generally know how to approach and deal with academic administrators. Don't retain a local lawyer who lacks the inside knowledge, special skills, and academic experience to help you. Your dental school education is worth far too much to you to entrust it to a professional who doesn't have the knowledge, skills, and experience to help. Instead, Attorney Lento's long record of success gives you every reason to trust him to represent you. Call 888-535-3686 to schedule a consultation with national academic defense attorney Joseph D. Lento of the Lento Law Firm or use the online service.