Not everyone leaves high school with a plan.
It’s a fact of life.
From making sure you get the right education to paving the way for your future career, a great deal of thought goes into choosing to attend a four-year university. Even more goes into choosing the right one. Between that and the overwhelming sense of freedom graduation brings, most students aren’t prepared to make that kind of decision right out of high school.
But David Chyan was.
“I came to college knowing I wanted to go into dentistry,” he said, grinning proudly.
For Chyan, a sophomore from Fulton County, choosing the right school was easy. After all, there’s only one dental school in the state of Georgia – the College of Dental Medicine, located here at Georgia Regents University.
But as Chyan learned more about the university, he said the decision became even easier.
“I found out that the dental program was a fast-track, three-year undergrad program,” he said. “As long as I maintained a high enough GPA, I could move straight into dental school. That opportunity definitely caught my eye.”
That fast-track undergraduate program, known as the Dental Scholars Program, is one of two programs offered by GRU that gives students a shortened, seven-year path to attaining a doctoral degree. The other, known as the Medical Scholars Program, offers a similar route for students interested in attaining a Doctor of Medicine degree.
Chyan, a born dentist, was sold immediately.
“I knew it was just what I wanted,” he said.
Chyan’s fascination with dental medicine is a funny story, actually. Like so many other fond childhood recollections, he said it began with a visit from his grandmother.
“My grandma would usually come to visit me and my mother two or three times a week,” Chyan said, chuckling to himself. “When she did, she’d always bring a little candy with her.”
What began as a series of routine visits from his grandmother quickly turned into routine visits to the dentist. Candy, Chyan learned, was slowly killing his teeth. But as with most things for children, seeing is believing.
“One day while I was eating with my parents, I bit down on a bone,” he said. “I had this strange feeling in the back of my mouth. Turns out, one of my teeth had cracked in half.”
Chyan said the break didn’t hurt. The tooth had split cleanly.
Rather than panicking, as most would have done, Chyan said he marveled at the intricacies of his broken tooth.
“The outside was white, like you’d expect a tooth to be, but the inside was silver,” he said. “I knew right then that I had to know more.”
Chyan said the Dental Scholars Program was a major selling point, but that a number of other factors reaffirmed his decision to stay.
The first was GRU’s undergraduate campus.
“I never knew a campus could be so beautiful,” he said, referring to the Summerville Campus, where he spends most of his time. “When you picture college, you think of old buildings and people trudging around with backpacks on Monday morning, but I’m always surprised by how lively the Summerville Campus feels.”
The second was the atmosphere.
“The undergraduate campus is very relaxed,” he said. “Around Summerville, if you’re just walking from class to class, you’ll run into students lounging and resting in the sun on their break. I’ve never had a bad experience just striking up a conversation with the people I pass.”
But most importantly, Chyan said, was the feeling of security he got from knowing his university cared about him.
“Opportunities like attending Retreat Week, a weeklong orientation for incoming freshmen, and having a peer mentor gave me the confidence to get through my first semester of college,” he said.
Living on campus, Chyan also spoke passionately about University Village – a gated, apartment-style community located on the Forest Hills Campus.
“University Village is actually, to be honest, one of the best things about this university,” Chyan said. “I came into college with the 12-guys-to-a-floor, two-showers-for-everyone mentality. But, knowing that I came into GRU with a full apartment suite with four individual rooms and a full kitchen, I thought ‘Wow, this is a huge step up from the dorm stories you hear at other colleges.’”
Now, Chyan said he routinely brags to his friends attending school in Atlanta.
“They’ll say, ‘You have your own room?’” he said. “They complain about having to share a dorm with two or three other people. I’ve never had that problem.”
When he isn’t studying, Chyan said he enjoys spending his free time in and around University Village.
“The atmosphere is very casual and friendly,” he said. “A lot of people were out tanning and swimming when I first got there. It’s really the type of place where you can find people playing pool and just ask to join in for a game or two.”
Chyan also said he enjoyed spending time in the Jaguar Student Activities Center – the 48,000-square-foot multipurpose student facility located at the heart of the Summerville Campus.
Now in his second year, Chyan said he’d gladly recommend GRU to other incoming students.
“I think any student interested in going to college should take a look at GRU,” he said, “especially those who are interested in the medical sciences. I really do think the university provides a great opportunity for students looking for a lot of options. The Hull College of Business, the kinesiology program – there are so many great things about this school on either campus.”
Chyan also emphasized his belief that GRU takes a rare interest in the success of its students.
“Class sizes are growing as more and more people hear about the university,” he said. “It’s a very tight-knit community, you know? I really believe my university cares about me. Not everyone can say that.”
While all of the best universities care for their students, not every university is the right one. A great deal of thought goes into choosing the right university – the right major – for you. It’s true that not everyone is prepared to make that decision right out of high school.
But David Chyan was.
And for him, attending Georgia Regents University is definitely something to smile about.