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Top 10: Ways to Get Into Dental School

Honestly, getting that acceptance letter to dental school is a difficult process and sometimes you may feel like giving up. There are a lot of hoops you have to jump through, but once you gain acceptance, it's a refreshing feeling to say the least. This is especially true if you can secure yourself a scholarship as well! Here is a list of those things you should be focusing on in your difficult journey. It is this difficult journey that we focus upon, and so Top Ten Nation writers will continually write more about this topic now and into the future.

Most of the following information may seem like common sense, but be sure to read through this, as there may be something you have not encountered before. Where did we derive this information from? As dental students and faculty, we have sat on admissions interviews for incoming classes. The process isn't as mysterious as some would make it out to be.

Top 10 Ways to Get Into Dental School (Admissions Advice for the Pre-dental Student)

1. Keep Your GPA High (+ how high should it be anyways?)
This is probably the most critical aspect of your application to medical or dental school. Your GPA is analyzed in many different ways, including pre-requisite GPA and overall GPA. Try to keep it as high as possible at all times. This should have priority above everything else. This means that if you are sacrificing grades because of a part-time job - think about quitting! How high should your GPA be? What kind of GPA is average enough to gain admission into a dental school? Opinions can vary, but we would say that most people agree that it falls within a pretty tight range. Greater than 3.30 for US dental schools, and greater than 3.60 for Canadian dental schools. [Canadian schools are difficult to get into because of the fewer seats available and a strong preference for in-state residents.] If your GPA is higher than what we've stated, please understand that it still requires effort to gain admission. It just means that your GPA is not going to hinder your application as much. Try to follow everything else in this list too! If your GPA is less than what we've stated, try to work hard to do well on the DAT, and as evidenced, the DAT is #2 on this list.

2. Ace Your Admissions Test (DAT)
This is an important indicator to level you out with all the other applicants. It is factored in quite heavily by a lot of dental schools! Think about it - some undergraduate colleges hand out higher average GPA's to all of their graduates in comparison to other colleges. As such, you can imagine that dental schools would like to account for applicants that have a 4.00 from a school that hands out 4.00's to everyone! Admissions committees know this happens. It is the DAT's job to level out all of the applicants based on an equally hard exam that all applicants have to take. This standardized test can make or break you if you have a 'sub-par' GPA. I didn't have a great GPA myself, but I killed the DAT, and here I am now, a dental student. So how do you go about doing well on this type of an exam? Check out our advice on Top 10 Ways on How to Ace the DAT.

3. Attend a University, Not a Community College
Universities are viewed as proper preparation for the rigors of medical and dental school. Community colleges are viewed as being easier in the eyes of admissions committees and so the amount of time spent at a community college needs to be limited. Try to limit a community college to about 2 years maximum. Certain schools will tell you this outright. Other schools will simply disqualify applicants if they have spent too much time at a community college for their pre-requisite courses.

4. Complete Your Pre-Requisites/Preparatory Degrees With a Full-Time Course Load
Being a part-time student, or not carrying the maximum amount of courses per semester reduces the likelihood that your GPA will be viewed as being an accurate indicator of your potential. Think about it, a person with a part-time load will obtain A's in their courses easier than a person who is taking the maximum load of courses that they can take. Dental schools want to accept students who can handle the tough cirriculum that they will face, and students with full-time course loads are viewed as being more prepared to handle the environment of a dental school.

5. Conduct Biomedical or Clinical Research
Before we begin, let's make clear that you can get into medical or dental without doing research (*phew*). Okay, research is an integral part of medical and dental sciences. Without research, there would be no progress in these fields and progress is critical to helping people achieve better and more useful lives. Conducting research allows you to reap the benefits of being a part of such a valuable community. But don't fret if you didn't do research. I dipped into it myself, and I didn't enjoy it at all. If you don't like research, try other extra-cirriculars which make make you look just as good as someone who sweated over small vials of urine all day.

6. Obtain Great Reference Letters From Your Professors
This is important. Start to build good relationships with your professors in undergraduate university. It's hard to do especially if your undergrad university is huge like mine was. Our advice? Ask lots of questions early on in your classes and try to make the professors at least kind of remember you. It is also best to ask professors in classes in which you got an 'A' to write you a letter. So listen, I finished undergrad before I realized I wanted to go into dentistry. How did I go about getting reference letters? Well, I ended up flirting with one lady professor... I volunteered in another ones lab for a while, and the last one? Well I went from office to office (of old professors that I had) until I came across someone cool enough to just write one without giving a shit.

7. Job Shadow
This will give you insight into what the occupation you are pursuing is all about. Plus it's a good opportunity to get another reference letter. Honestly, you should do this anyways, since it is a good idea to know what you're getting yourself into. A lot of dental schools are beginning to require this before applying as well.

8. Volunteer and Obtain a Job in a Related Field
Give back to the community and obtain skills in the field that you are pursuing. Build your knowledge base in the medical or dental profession and see what happens in the day to day life of these professionals.

9. Perfect Your Interview Skills
Being honest about your intentions is the best advice that you could receive regarding interviews for dental schools. I found that a lot of schools just did the following: they took my application and sort of reworded questions that were on the application. They were looking for the exact same answers that I had written down on my original application. It is a way to catch small embellishments. Other methods included group questioning methods. Just don't let other applicants intimidate you... Some of them will seem smarter or more sharp than you. Who cares? People will always be smarter (and some more stupider) than you! Again, just tell the truth. Here's an example of a type of question that you may get: "If you were to walk out of a bank, and you quickly noticed that you took a pen from the bank, what would you do?" Well... most people end up saying, "I would return it." That's a bad answer, because in reality, most people would just keep it and move on. In fact, the best answer for this question is to say, "Most banks have their pens chained to the desks!" So what's the motto of the story? Don't try to impress your interviewer(s). Just tell the truth!

10. Be Well Rounded
Continue your participation in whatever you enjoy! Simply being a book-worm will detract from your social skills. Social skills are important in medicine and dentistry because you guessed it - you will be working with people! So what does "well-rounded" mean? It does not mean that you have to save the world. It just means that you should participate in a socially beneficial way outside of your school environment. Join clubs, recreational leagues, and do things that you enjoy! Guess what? Sometimes if you are only a book-worm, it can be "sniffed out" during the interview. Our society does not want socially inept doctors!

BONUS: Manyak222 reminded us that we should include the following:
This should technically be somewhere at the top of this list. Applying early to US dental schools is important because schools employ rolling admissions. Simply said, the earlier in the process that you apply, the greater the chances of admission. Note that it is recommended that you apply the first day that the application is available (which is usually online for dental schools via AADSAS). Honestly, the sooner you apply, the higher your chances of getting in! THIS IS PROBABLY A LOT MORE IMPORTANT than you may initially think. Applying early can easily mean the difference of getting accepted or not getting accepted.

Please feel free to leave a comment and visit soon for more information.

Top 10: Reasons to Attend BU Dental

We all love our own universities, but we often wonder about other dental schools and how they operate. Here is why Boston University Goldman School of Dental Medicine is a great school to attend.

Top 10 Reasons to Attend Boston University (BU) Dental

1. Caring faculty
Yes, the professors actually do care for their students here! They try to help you as much as possible, and some of them love to socialize with the students. Comments from our network of students and insiders claim that most dental schools have a cordial environment, however, our reader comments give us a different picture. Rest assured however, that BU Dental has a generally supportive environment! Although it is worth noting that in clinic, a handful of professors are still known to be troublesome.

2. Great exam scheduling
Exams for the basic science years are set up so that one exam is given per week (usually). There are weeks that go by that have no exams, and some weeks that have two exams, but the weeks with two exams are quite rare. This is great for the students as they can focus on each upcoming exam without having to go through cram sessions or having to study for two different subjects at once.

3. It's in Boston
Boston is a great city to live in, especially as a student. See one of our posts on why Boston is great to live in!

Applied professional experience in the first and second years is a rotation in which private practicing dentists have a chance to mentor students. How often do dental students get to learn directly in private dental offices? Not often would be my guess! It provides a completely different experience for the dental student. Our insiders tell us that APEX rotation #2 serves also as a study period for the NBDE Part I. This works great as homework is almost non-existant during APEX, allowing ample study time (approx 2 months) to absorb tiny details for this major examination.

5. Online booking for clinic chairs
It used to be recently that students would have to line up to get chairs early in the morning to treat their patients. Now, the school has taken a great initiative and introduced online booking which allows students to secure operatories from the comfort of their own laptops. The system is fairly new to the school, but is working out extremely well.

6. 10-week externship in the final year
This is an opportunity to leave the school atmosphere and learn in a new environment. Those who know what externships are all about will appreciate how awesome this really is. Opportunities exist to externship both in Boston and in other states and surrounding areas. The best part as of recently is that a lot of the work that dental students accomplish in the externship is now eligible to count towards graduation requirements.

7. Great location, decent facilities
The Simulation Learning Center (SLC) provides a good learning area for the pre-clinical students. BU Dental is located throughout the BU Medical Campus and as such is nicely integrated with Boston Medical Center. Although the facilities aren't perfect, they are decent. Our sources tell us that the facilities are good but that they are beginning to show signs of strain, as students are wearing away on what is available. This is expected (of course) of any school though.

8. Curriculum/structure reorganization
BU Dental historically has had an issue with students not graduating on time. Recent changes such as including the procedures performed during externship towards graduation requirements is beginning to ease that stressful issue. BU in the past has included a mandatory laptop within the tuition, however now, BU Dental allows the new dental student to purchase whatever laptop they feel suits them. Further, BU no longer forces the dental student to purchase all new textbooks, it now allows the dental student to find their own textbooks which can result in great savings for the dental student. These are very recent changes (as of 2008) which sets a good trend in the way the school is approaching students in an effort to reduce their debt loads and correct issues that exist. Keep in mind that BU Dental offers VitalSource Digital textbooks, and that we recommend that dental students never buy this product. Why you may ask? Well, we have a whole post on that.

9. Great fellow students
Most BU Dental (and BU Medical) students are very chillin' people. This goes hand-in-hand with the national reputation that BU has as a laid-back school.

10. B.U. Endodontic Method
With the infamous Dr. Schilder originally chairing the Department of Endodontics, pre-doctoral dentistry students at BU Dental have an edge in learning from the masters of Endodontics. The warm vertical method was improved upon here, and remains a staple in Endodontic education at BU.

Top 10: Reasons to Live in Boston

Top 10 Reasons to live in Boston

1. The Boston Red Sox... and the Celtics too
With the Red Sox winning the World Series in '04 and in '07, Bostonians and transient students have come to enjoy the Fenway Park experience much more as winning is a more common occurrence these days.

2. Great public Transpotation provided by the MBTA
Subway stations provide convenient connections at multiple points across Boston. A relatively affordable fare, and the CharlieCard system make the "T" easily accessable.

3. A major historical destination, from the Freedom Trail to the USS Constitution
Boston is "America's Athens" with many historical sights and sounds. From the Boston Tea Party to creepy historical cemeteries, Boston will intrigue and entertain any resident or visiting student for years!

4. An awesome nightlife and lots of things to do and check out!
Limitless restaurants to check out, and a wide variety of hotspots. Awesome clubs like Gypsy and Felt, Liquor Store, and more!

5. Access to some of the best hospitals and health-care services
New England Medical Center, Boston Medical Center, Longwood, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston Childrens...

6. Access to some of the best universities in the world
Harvard, MIT, Boston University, Northeastern, Boston College, Tufts... the list goes on and on.

7. Fantastic seafood
Legal Seafood serves the famous presidential clam chowder and there are many places to choose from. A personal favorite is the No Name Restaurant. Check it out if you are in town!

8. Near Cape Cod's beaches
So there is an inherent requirement for you to own a boat of your own.

9. One of the safer large cities in America
Ever since the so called "Boston Miracle," crime has been diminshed in this large city. Actually this miracle was due to the street-level communication between Boston Police and the gangs that exist in Boston. Lets hope the Boston Police keeps up their good work!

10. College parties, and many of them!
Boston is one of the largest college oriented destinations in America. This has obvious consequences.

Top 10: Reasons to See a Dentist

Dentists are an important part of our lives. But some people don't think so - here is a small effort on my part to see that belief changed for the better.

Top 10 Reasons to See a Dentist

1. Maintain your teeth and bones
A dentist will help you keep your teeth longer throughout your life. Maintaining the bony ridges that support the teeth are important for the health of your teeth and if you've lost teeth, the possibility of implant placement into the future.

2. Fight cancer
Every hour, someone in the US dies from oral cancer. Only a dentist can do a proper oral exam and catch the signs of oral cancer early. Leave this task to the professionals, and don't forget that physicians don't substitute a dentist in this case.

3. Periodontal diseases can be prevented
Regular cleanings can prevent this serious gum disease from beginning or spreading to other sites.

4. If periodontal or gum diseases start, they can be treated
This is important, because this is time dependent. No one can reverse severely progressed periodontitis. Since this is usually a pain-less process, it's important to see a dentist to determine whether or not these diseases are beginning to affect you. The earlier, the better.

5. Periodontal diseases can be turned around (or reversed) in its early stages
This can provide benefits to your health beyond your oral cavity. Periodontal diseases have been noted clinically to contribute to the development of heart disease, increase the risk of stroke, and increase a woman's risk of having a preterm, low birth weight baby. Additionally, it poses a threat to people who have diabetes, respiratory conditions, and osteoporosis.

6. Your dentist can spot other systemic conditions that you may have earlier than a family doctor including hypertension and diabetes
... This includes a few others as well. A dentist can spot things that a physician that doesn't look into the mouth often can't.

7. Have a whiter and more attractive smile
This is for obvious reasons right? A visit to the dentist can remove more of the common causes of staining. You can take it step further and undergo whitening treatments as well.

8. To save money (by detecting dental problems early)
If decay is detected and treated early, it prevents the need for more costly care later, for example, if decay reaches the tooth pulp it would result in the need for root canal therapy. If that same decay was caught earlier, just a small restoration or filling would have been just fine.

9. To set good standards for your children
Having children visit the dentist early on allows the child to develop a positive view of dentists, prevent future fears from forming, and additionally, these visits can be quite helpful for other reasons. Orthodontic issues can be settled early, sealants can be placed, and early decay can be detected. Note that by the time kids reach grade 3, 50% to 70% of children have at least one cavity.

10. Seeing a dentist regularly will save you lost work time
Surveys have shown that poor dental health results in significant lost productivity! Dental pains can keep people from going to work. Secondary infections can result in serious sicknesses, and dealing with advanced dental diseases means missing more work to get the treatments you now need, because you didn't see the dentist regularly in the first place.

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