Utilize your health professions advisor
professions (prehealth) advisor plays an essential role throughout the dental school
application process. All undergraduate institutions structure this position
differently, so it will be up to you to find out who your advisor is.
Many advisors will
advise for more than one health profession at the same time. Some schools have
a dedicated prehealth advising office where one or more advisors are dedicated
to assisting predental students.
In other schools,
there is no dedicated prehealth advising office. In this situation, there is
either one person on campus doing health professions advising for all of the
health professions, or a professor in one of the science departments works part
time as a prehealth advisor to students. However your school is set up, it is
important to identify your prehealth advisor(s) early so they can help you
prepare to apply to dental school throughout your undergraduate career.
Be sure to discuss these topics with your prehealth advisor:
plans and goals
It is important to discuss your plans to pursue dentistry with an advisor.
They need to be aware of your interests and goals so they can advise you
properly to pursue them.
planning and prerequisites
Your advisor should also help you ensure you are taking all of the
prerequisites you need to apply to dental school and advise you on when to take them.
and community service opportunities
Talk to your advisor about the opportunities you are interested in pursuing.
They can help you decide which ones may be better for your application and
provide you with the most valuable experience. They can also help plan
when you will take part in these activities.
timeline to apply
They can help you plan the rest of your undergraduate career to put you in
the best possible position to apply to dental school. They will help you
plan your courses, when to take the DAT and when to collect letters of
recommendation. While you are expected to do your own research about
each program you wish to apply to, make sure to discuss all of the
deadlines and processes to apply with your advisor. They can help clear up
any confusion with the application process and also direct you to
different resources that will help you throughout the process.
If you are having a difficult time with a course, it is important that you
discuss all of your options with your advisor before you decide to drop
the course or postpone taking it. Dropping a course before discussing it
with your advisor could hurt your chances of completing your prerequisites
in time to apply to dental school and could weaken your application.
Every school has a different system to complete letters of recommendation
for predental students. It is important that your advisor is your first
stop before you ask someone for a letter of recommendation, because it is
possible that your school uses an alternative method to individual letters
from professors. Read more about letters of recommendation here.
If you are thinking about taking a gap year after college and before dental school, talk to
your advisor about your school’s policies for advisors working with
students that have already graduated. Advisors can also be a good sounding
board to help you decide if taking a gap year is really the right decision
Decide with your advisor when to take the DAT.
They can also help you with the sign up process and refer you to good
study materials and strategies.
Before beginning a shadowing experience, let your advisor know what you
will be doing. They can give you advice on conducting yourself
professionally and safely in the dentist’s office and recommendations on
how to make it a good experience for you.
Before signing up for a service abroad experience, talk to your advisor
about the program. Sometimes, students can actually hurt their dental
school applications by going on an abroad service experience, performing a
procedure that they are not trained to perform and discussing it in their
application, not realizing there may be legal and ethical ramifications of
what they did.
While rigorous courses and extracurriculars are part of the predental
student’s undergraduate career, it is important to maintain balance so you
don’t get burned out before you even get to dental school. Talk to your
advisor if you are having trouble maintaining a happy balance. They can
help you plan your time more effectively and give you advice on managing