Choosing a Dental Assisting School
If you’ve decided to invest time and money in attending dental assisting school, you’ll want to consider several factors when deciding which program works best for you. Your educational choices can be quite important, influencing your career advancement or whether you have professional advantages when entering the job force.
Accreditation is perhaps one of the chief factors to consider when selecting a dental assistant college. An institution’s accreditation status indicates whether it has met certain standards of high educational quality, and helps ensure that you will be recognized appropriately for earning a degree from a particular program. More than 280 dental assisting training programs had been approved by the Commission on Dental Accreditation as of 2009. You can check a school’s accreditation status at the American Dental Association website, www.ada.org.
Although qualities such as accreditation are important, the size of the program you select shouldn’t have tremendous bearing on your choice, wrote Martha O’Connell, the 2007 executive director of the organization Colleges That Change Lives. In an article for NPR, O’Connell stated that small programs can sometimes provide better learning conditions than their larger counterparts. Similarly, a “name-brand” school isn’t necessarily important. Your skills, experience, and personal qualities will be some of your best assets when it’s time to find a job or advance your career.
When evaluating dental assisting schools, think about the type of degree or recognition you want to earn once your training is complete. Two-year programs, for instance, offer an associate’s degree and frequently provide students with a broader knowledge base. Other training courses last nine months to a year, and students who successfully complete those programs earn a diploma or a certificate.
Cost is another choice often affecting a student’s school selection. Private and out-of-state schools are frequently more expensive than public schools in a student’s home state. Ask whether a school has financial aid options available to help you fund your tuition. Sometimes financial aid workshops are sponsored by local high schools and can provide valuable insight on where to find funding possibilities for your education.
A few institutions offer dental assisting programs online. Consider carefully whether this style of learning is right for you. Generally speaking, online learning is best for students who are able to work well independently and who don’t believe they would be bothered by a lack of face-to-face interaction with teachers and fellow students. Online learning often works well for those who need flexibility with their schedule, including those who are working other jobs or raising children and attending school in their spare time.
College selection isn’t a choice to make hastily. Find a school that fits your needs. Explore the institution in person if possible, and speak to other students in the program that interests you. Oftentimes, this inside knowledge can be quite helpful as you make your decision.
Last Updated: 02/25/2013
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