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Top 10: Things To Know About The Dental School Application Process

There are a few things that a lot of pre-dental students may not know out there, and we hope to help them here by outlining what savvy pre-dental students would want to know about the dental school application process.

Top 10 Dental School Application Hacks For Pre-Dental Students

1. Apply early
Try to apply the first day possible! When the AADSAS cycle opens (which is usually in May of the calendar year prior to the start date), your goal should be to submit your application that day to maximize your chances of admission. This means that you should have most of your application actually completed beforehand. Letters of reference and the essay should definitely be completed prior to this date! I've provided a list below that covers what other information you may want to collect beforehand according to AADSAS. The quicker you can submit the application, the better off you are, because dental schools employ a rolling admissions process. That means as soon as a dental school comes across an applicant they are interested in, they will offer them admission and fill up seats as quick as they can! The later you apply, the more scarce the empty seats are... and the tougher it is to get your acceptance letter.

The information you should collect beforehand:

  • Awards and honors earned (related to your academic performance)
  • Job shadowing and volunteer experiences (related to dentistry)
  • Extracurricular activities and leadership efforts
  • Volunteer and community service efforts
  • Work experience
  • Research experience
  • Anything that you've done that requires manual dexterity (playing instruments, sculpting, etc.)
2. Apply to 10 dental schools
Unless you are magically guaranteed admission to a dental school somewhere, you should plan on applying to at least five dental schools. We recommend applying to ten! You may be an excellent student, but the fact of the matter is, is that numerous factors beyond your control may result in a few rejections. If you only apply to 1 or 2 schools, even with excellent scores and excellent DAT scores, you may slip up in the interviews, and your chance at a spot this year may fizzle away into history. Be smart, spend a few more dollars and apply to more schools to get that security that you deserve after all that effort you put into your undergraduate education.

3. Don't harass the staff
Don't make multiple calls to each of your designated dental schools to see if they received, processed, or have taken a look at your application. If you're unsure, call once or twice to see if everything is in order. Be polite and don't harass the staff. I know of a case where a rude and impatient pre-dental student had their application tossed aside because of an inappropriate voicemail left at the dental school demanding to know their application status. Don't be one of these people. The school is generally inundated with applications and calls during the application cycle. They try their best to organize all of the information, just be cognizant of that.

4. Write a good personal statement or essay
Don't just rewrite your resume here. You want to write a powerful statement with a theme. Something that will want to make the reader remember you! Don't talk about controversial subjects, because controversy is not something you want to bring up here. Make sure you have perfect grammar, so be sure to edit it over yourself and have others have a look at it too. Also, be specific... there are way too many personal statements that say the exact same thing - I love working with my hands, I love science, I enjoy working with people... etc. Be more specific than this!

5. Prepare for the interview
You really should prepare for the interview, instead of going in there and winging it. You need to come up with concise answers for commonly asked questions. Questions that you know that'll definitely be asked! These include: 'Why did you decide to pursue dentistry?' 'What are your strengths?' 'What are your weaknesses?' (Know at least 3 of each) 'Why did you apply to our dental school?' 'What are your goals?' etc. Also know that the way you dress is important. Men should wear a suit and tie. Ladies should dress appropriately with a pant suit, conservative skirt, or something along the lines of that (You can tell I'm a guy right?). My personal tidbit to you regarding interviews is just this, TELL THE TRUTH. Whatever comes to your mind first, you should probably say just that! Try to say it in a polite and professional manner though. Don't try to guess what the interviewer is 'looking for.' When you provide answers based on what you think the interviewer wants to hear, it's pretty obvious that you're doing that. Trust me on that one. It doesn't look good, and it doesn't seem genuine.

6. Submit ALL relevant transcripts
A lot of students forget to submit transcripts from ALL of the colleges and universities that they attended! There are a few tricky ways that this can happen... so read on! This means that each and every schools Registrar's Office needs to mail a copy of your transcripts directly from their office to AADSAS. Keep in mind that a mistake that some students make is that they assume that since coursework from one college appears on the transcript of another college, that all they have to do is send in the one transcript. Don't make this mistake! Make sure to have EACH college send in their own transcript even if your coursework appears on another transcript somewhere else.

7. Fly in a day early for your interviews
Be refreshed, be prepared, and be on time. The best way to do this is to arrive the day before your interview in the correct city and stay the night. Usually dental schools give advice to their applicants invited as to which hotels to stay in and what discount they can receive. Some people make the mistake of flying in an hour or 2 before their interview starts. Things happen, flights can be delayed, there can be traffic issues, etc. Fly in the night before, and maximize your chances!

8. Enter your courses properly
Take the time to double-check everything before you submit. AADSAS staff actually go over everything that you've submitted in terms of coursework to calculate your GPA's. If any discrepancies are noted, your application will definitely be delayed, and this is something that you don't want! Remember, early applications = better chances of admission, and as such, delays are bad! Be sure to include EVERY single course you have ever taken in college or university!

9. Keep in mind that it takes a while... and a few dates to know
AADSAS takes 1-2 months to process applications, so you may start getting antsy early on. If you've applied early, sit back and relax. Now you don't want to harass AADSAS staff either, but you should certainly call in and make sure everything is in order if you feel something isn't going the way you want it to. This is where the problems can occur, as AADSAS can take a while before notifying you that your application has been delayed. Make sure to read the instructions and submit everything accurately to prevent delays. AADSAS usually forwards the first batch of applications to dental schools in June. Be sure to be in this first batch by applying the first day! Also note that dental schools SEND OUT ACCEPTANCES as early as December 1st! Some even send them out earlier! This is why it's crucial to apply early :)

10. Letters of reference...
As of 2008, AADSAS only accepts 4 letters of reference from your evaluators. We suggest getting 3 from pure science professors, and 1 from a practicing dentist to meet requirements of application at most dental schools. Make sure they will be written by people who somewhat know you and like you! There's a lot of people out there who don't know what their evaluators wrote, and get screwed over because they actually weren't positive letters!

Last but not least... submit!
While we're all excited about finishing the application, some of us may forget to click that submit button. It happens. CLICK SUBMIT as soon as you're ready!

Good luck, everyone here at Top10Nation are here to help with any of your questions! Email us at

Top 10: Ways to Save Money As A Dental Student

Dental school is a pricey proposition, and not many dental students are independently rich by any means. How can dental students save money throughout their four year journey? Go on and have a read, you might find something that can help you pinch those pennies! Most of everyone knows the basic ways of saving money, so here we're not going to give you the common ways of saving money, we're going to focus on ways that specifically dental students can use!

Top 10 Ways To Be Frugal As A Dental Student

1. Find roommates
Especially in larger and more expensive cities, finding roommates can save you a lot of cash over time. Not only do you split the rent, but you would also split the utilities, Internet, and other items that can all add up. In an ideal situation, fellow classmates should be roommates! The benefits are enormous. Not only do you save money, but fellow classmates can help you get up on time, help provide social support throughout those exam weeks, and much more. Since your schedules would correlate, they would be quiet during study crunch times, and they would be available to party when there isn't an exam in sight for some time to come! So how much money can this save you? A lot! I live in Boston, where rents can exceed $1000/month for studios, and I only pay $400/month, with 2 other roommates!

2. Scholarships, grants, free money
Find those websites, contact your Financial Aid office at your dental school, sign up, and apply as much as you can, to as many scholarships as you can! There is a lot of free money for dental students out there, and the more you apply, the more money you can get. It may be daunting to have to write essays for applications, but you have to have the tenacity to do it! Money for dental school is critical, especially since the tuition is so pricey, so don't let an essay or two get in your way. You should have enough training under your belt (from that year of English you took in college) to whip through these!

3. eBooks vs. paper textbooks
Although eBooks or digital textbooks are a popular option for dental students, we recommend buying paper textbooks, especially if your dental school forces you to buy textbooks. Most students never end up using textbooks, so paper textbooks can be re-sold at your will! eBooks like VitalSource, which a lot of dental schools are starting to offer are comparatively much more pricey because they can't be sold off to other students who want to get their hands on a textbook or two that you have! If your school doesn't force you to buy textbooks, that's all the better! Only buy what you need, and sell off textbooks quickly after you're done with them. You can try eBay and Amazon if you are having a hard time liquidating textbooks to other incoming students at your school. READ OUR WARNING about VitalSource and why you should not buy their digital textbooks.

4. Live as close as possible to school
This is an indirect way of saving a lot of money over time. If you are able to walk to school, you can save money on transportation costs right off of the bat. The other thing is, as a dental student, you quickly become busy on a daily basis, and a lot of dental students tend not to 'brown bag' their lunches after a while. Most try to at first, but time catches up to them, and most dental students who don't go home for lunch, tend to start buying lunches from the cafeteria everyday. This adds up! Being able to quickly walk home for lunch solves this bad habit of not packing your lunch. If you can walk home, make lunch, eat it, and head back to school after lunch on time, this is ideal! On top of that, you have an inherent advantage in other aspects, such as being able to collect forgotten instruments/documents at home, or being able to go and practice at school more frequently due to ready and convenient access.

5. Find a job? Earn some cash? Do it like only a dental student can!
It's hard to work and attend dental school at the same time, especially if you're trying to achieve good grades and plan to chase your dreams of specialization. You can earn money doing other things, such as participating in research studies at your dental school, or pawning off any gold crowns you've come across in your Oral Surgery rotations (with gold prices skyrocketing, this is totally a viable way to make cash - you should earn about $20 per pennyweight, or you're getting ripped off). Other ways to make money include working as a dental hygienist in your 3rd and 4th years. Consult your state dental legislation to see how to qualify. In some Northeastern states, a dental student simply needs to pass the periodontics section of the NERB exam to qualify to register as a dental hygienist. This can be done in 3rd year! Please leave comments below if you have other unique ways a dental student can save or earn money!

6. Cook your own food, most of the time...
It isn't as hard as it sounds, especially coming from me, a dental student who never had ANY cooking skills even a week before I started dental school. Use recipes online, or just stick to the basics. Easy meals include making pasta sauce by adding meat and other veggies, and then just adding it to the pasta of your choice. Stir-fries are simple and easy alongside rice. Sandwiches, oatmeal, cereal, yogurt, fruit, and salads are instant snacks that can keep you full all day. I highly recommend getting a George Foreman grill. You can make fish, pork chops, chicken breasts, and more quite easily! You can try a variety of marinades and sauces, and adding different veggies into your meals. This can be healthier than eating out all the time, and will save you a lot of money!

7. Partying, frugal style
I am notorious for being the cheap person who never buys drinks. I drink before leaving, and I carry a flask if I can! Drinks at bars and restaurants can add up quicker than some people imagine. On top of that, I don't go out to those fancy dental school sponsored gala's that can cost up to $60 for dinner and dancing. In fact, I rarely go out to places that even charge cover! Being frugal doesn't necessarily mean being totally anti-social. Most of everyone who go to dental school sponsored gala's and dinners end up at bars afterwards, and you can just join them there. Clubs and groups at dental schools usually have free entrance events regularly, and those are the best ones to attend!

8. Carry your student ID
Try to find places that accept your student ID for discounts. It's like a permanent coupon at some places around your campus, so this can be really useful for those days that you do decide to eat out!

9. Jump on piecework opportunities at your dental school
Dental schools occasionally need temporary workers to help administer large exams like the NERB or WREB, or to host large events like CE seminars and symposiums. These usually last for a day or two, and they pay you a set amount. It usually works as a first-come first-hired basis, so make sure to jump on these opportunities!

10. Attend as many Grand Rounds or Lunch and Learns as you can
Dental schools often have days where you are invited to attend a lecture or talk during lunch time or dinner time, and meals are served as a part of these talks. Even if you aren't interested in what is being said, go and eat for free! It might be rude, but if you're seriously not interested in what is being said, take your laptop and play some games or something while eating, but you might as well take advantage. Who knows, you might actually learn something while you're at it!

Have fun coming up with wild and wacky ways to save money in dental school! I know that my roommates/classmates and myself totally go out on a limb sometimes and do relatively weird things to save a buck or two! Let's hear what you've got to say, leave a comment with your tips to save $$$!

Top 10: Ways To Know If Dentistry Is Right For You

Dentistry is a profession which is difficult to comprehend for someone who may have had little exposure. Even for someone who has experience with dentistry, they will tell you that there is a great variation in the way each dentist or practitioner practices dentistry. There are many methods, and many products or instruments to accomplish the same task. So how do you know if dentistry is the right profession for you?

Top 10 Things To Do That Can Help You Determine If The Dental Profession Is A Right Choice For You

1. Shadow a dentist
Ask your dentist or a dentist in your area if you can observe them while at work. Keep in mind that there are many styles of dentistry practiced out there, so try to shadow a few dentists. Some dentists may have staff or patient interaction issues, while others may have a much more pleasant interaction with their staff and patients. Some may focus their efforts on a few fields within dentistry like endodontics (root canals) and orthodontics, while others may perform a little bit of everything. Most dentists are quite willing to have someone observe them. Just be polite and keep in mind that some patients may be unwilling to have an observer in the operatory, so you may have to step out for these patients.

2. Read up on dentistry
Dentistry is a rapidly changing profession, but the basics have remained the same for hundreds of years. Oral health is the basis for dentistry, and placing restorations and maintenance of oral health by performing necessary procedures and providing necessary advice/instruction is the bread and butter of this profession. Technology is integrated into this field as it becomes available. As a dental student, I see that there is a huge divide between what is taught in dental school, and what performing dentistry is actually like once you graduate. These are all points that you have to take into consideration while deciding your future. Dentistry isn't only performing clinical procedures either... it requires being a leader, a business manager, an HR coordinator, and much more rolled into one package. One of the primary ways you will get insight into what is required to succeed as a dentist is to read up on this profession.

3. Visit a dental laboratory
Dental labs are places where you will see all of the hard work performed by dental lab technicians. Dentures and crowns are processed here as well as much more. Keep in mind that you will have to perform some of this difficult lab work while in dental school, although clearly, once in practice, you will rely more on the dental labs to assist you in treating your patients. Dentistry isn't just about what you see in the dental office, and visiting a dental lab can help you experience all of the work required of the "dental team" that operates in the background. Quality is important. Find a dental lab that is recommended by a few dentists in your area before you decide to go in and observe.

4. Visit a school of dentistry
Schools of dentistry and dental medicine are more than happy to show young and interested students around. Potential candidates can usually go on tours and see students in action. If you plan to pursue dentistry, you might as well get a flavor of what will be expected of you in the future! Ask the faculty and the students questions of what they think about dentistry, and take every one's opinions and ideas seriously, as they can all give you a different perspective about the multi factorial nature of dentistry.

5. Join a pre-dental student club
I specifically recommend ASDA pre-dental clubs. These clubs sometimes have people come in and talk about their careers. They can answer your questions as well. You can talk to like-minded club members about what they have learned, and why they are interested in dentistry as well. All of this information can help you obtain your objective of discovering whether or not dentistry is right for you.

6. Talk to a Health Professions Advisor
Some universities have health professions advisors available that can assist you with obtaining information about dentistry and can help you reach a decision. Some advisors may not be as enthusiastic about dentistry as you would hope, so doing your own research may be just as helpful! Talking to an advisor can't hurt though, so if there is one available to you, take advantage.

7. Prioritize what you want in a career
Some people are looking for financial stability and others want a relaxed lifestyle. Some people are excited to deal with people, and others may be more happy to work with technology. Do you want to be your own boss? It requires a lot of work. Would you like to manage people? Dentistry requires a lot of attention to detail and fine motor skills and developed hand movements. Do you like working with your hands? Are you more interested in a certain aspect of medicine? Prioritizing and listing what things you want in a career can help you decide whether or not you would be more happy as an emergency room doctor or as a dentist or whatever it may be!

8. Compare
Once you have your prioritized list what what you want in a career... compare professions! Shadow all of the professions that you may be interested in. You may decide on something completely different at the end of your discovery process! Read up on multiple careers, and ask questions. Comparing and weighing what you are looking for can certainly help you decide if dentistry is the right choice for you!

9. Think
Are you committed to life-long learning? Are you committed to working hard for an extended period of time? Are you ready to deal with frustration surrounding a completely different way of being scrutinized? This is what dentistry is all about. Pre-dental students are used to multiple choice exams. There are plenty of those in dental school as well, but with the added stress of clinical exams. Most anyone can develop hand skills, but it requires many hours of practice. Most days in dental school require you to be there from 8am to 5pm. Staying after classes to practice is needed for most students to pass their clinical exams. Are you ready and willing to do what it takes?

10. Be sure of dentistry if you decide to apply
I wanted to add this small comment at the end of this list for those readers possibly interested in dentistry but have some doubts in their minds. Some students decide to pursue dentistry for superficial reasons, and they do not do enough research before they apply, get accepted, and enter dental school. These people are unhappy and eventually leave dental school or live an unhappy life. Dental school is expensive, so once you enter, it's a huge commitment. There are many ways to make money in life, and dentistry is not the end-all-be-all that some people may expect. Dentistry is a profession which is suited for people who actually enjoy assisting people with improving their oral health. If you aren't committed, it will certainly bear down on you. For those of you who know that this is what you want, go for it, you'll be happy with the choice you have made! Dentistry is a great profession!

I hope this helps, and as always, feel free to leave a comment, or email in a question for a private answer (

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