Freshman guarantee program provides reassurance, inspiration for dental hygiene learners

Students sitting in classroom.

Entering the first year of undergraduate studies can be an uncertain time for students interested in pursuing dental hygiene. For select learners, the University of Minnesota’s Freshman Guarantee program alleviates that stress. 

The Freshman Dental Hygiene Guarantee Program identifies students during freshman admission to the University of Minnesota for guaranteed entry in to the dental hygiene program after their prerequisite year. Students spend their first year in the College of Liberal Arts completing prerequisite coursework before beginning their dental hygiene program the following year. 

Mackenzie Judy, BSDH ’24, knew the freshman guarantee program would be right for her, as “ a person who loves structure and having a set plan.”

Headshot of Judy Mackenzie

Judy knew the University of Minnesota was the right program for her thanks to the program’s integration with DDS and dental therapy learners. “I knew this would provide me with more opportunities, and I would have a unique experience providing clinical care,” she explained. And the freshman guarantee program sealed the deal.

“Starting college as a freshman can be very overwhelming, but the freshman guarantee program puts you on a guaranteed path,” she said. “That took away a lot of stress and made me feel supported.” 

Meanwhile, Kaitlyn Hippe, BSDH ’24, didn’t know the freshman guarantee was an option until she applied. Also interested in connecting with DDS learners, and intrigued by the opportunity to engage in Outreach experiences, Hippe knew the University of Minnesota was right for her. 

Headshot of Kaitlyn Hippe

“I never thought for one second that I would be accepted as one of the ten freshman guarantee students to have a spot secured in this very competitive program,” she said. She was “in complete shock” upon finding out the program existed, and grateful for the ability to focus on her prerequisites and on preparing for the dental hygiene curriculum.

For both learners, the ability to enter freshman year knowing what would come was a relief, and the community that came along with the guarantee made it even better. “My first year of college was so great, because I knew exactly what classes to take, and I had a specific dental hygiene advisor who helped me make sure I was well prepared,” she said. “And I was able to meet other students who were accepted, so when we started the dental hygiene program, there was a sense of familiarity.” 

“The guarantee program comes with an introduction to dental hygiene class, which helped prepare me for what was to come in the next two years,” explained Hippe. 

Now in their final year of the program, both learners know they made the right decision choosing dental hygiene, the freshman guarantee and the school. 

“My experience has been nothing short of amazing,” said Hippe. “I have learned a tremendous amount, and I am confident that when I leave, I will be ready for the ‘real world.’ I don’t know of many other programs where each professor knows your first and last name, where you are from and your personal life. They care about our wellbeing and reach out to us like family. This makes getting through the program much easier.” 

Judy agreed. “Being a dental hygiene student has completely changed my life,” she said. “The program has allowed me to challenge myself academically and has made me feel capable of doing anything I put my mind to. I have learned to think critically, value time management, collaborate with others, make lifelong connections, provide quality patient centered care and so much more. This program is setting me up to be a successful oral health professional:”