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.)
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.