So often I’m asked by pre-dental students about how to best
prepare for the dental school application process, and what are the so-called
secrets to getting accepted. Well, I'm afraid to tell you that there isn't a
sure-fire way of getting accepted into dental school. Yes, you may have a high DAT score but lack
exposure to the dental field, or have limited experience within leadership
positions. On the other hand, you may
have exhibited a strong commitment to healthcare with outreach activities, but
have a lower GPA. More than likely, you
are in the middle of the extremes... have solid test scores, GPA, and
reasonable participation in extracurricular activities-but are unsure of how to
In order to best prepare yourself for the application
process you must understand the individual school's mission and focus. Speaking
to current dental students and recent alumni can help identify school
characteristics. This can also help identify what school would be a good fit
for you as well. Remember, even though you are going through the application
process, YOU are choosing the school to attend.
Separating yourself from "the crowd" in your
personal statement (and later interview) can become key ways of showcasing your
uniqueness to admission officers. Whether it is a personal story or account of
your future aspirations your personal statement should highlight your
commitment to and knowledge of dentistry. And remember, the personal statement
needs to be interesting...ask yourself in a pile of 100 applications would I
enjoy reading mine?
But the best way to prepare yourself for the application
process is objectively evaluating your application. Yes, applying early and
seeking advice from your school's pre-health adviser, current dental students
and mentors are important; but recognizing your strengths and opportunities
(sounds so much better than weaknesses!) as an applicant is essential. Knowing this can prompt you to take another
higher level biology class, involve yourself in a community program or begin to
discover an interest in research. For those who are in the midst of the
application process, self-evaluation can help guide your personal statement,
selection for those to write your letters of recommendations, and what
questions to anticipate during the interview process.
Whatever the case, it is always best to prepare yourself by
exposing yourself. Utilize resources like GoDental, ExploreHealthCareers
(explorehealthcareers.org), the ADEA (www.adea.org) website, professional
organizations (ASDA, SNDA, pre-dental associations, pre-health study clubs) and
of course the dental school's website.
If you’re getting started or already on the path, ask
yourself, If you were on the admissions committee what would you say about your
Keep this in mind and best of luck!*Post originally published 10/14/2011.