Advice from admissions officers

Advice For Dental School Reapplicants

Posted by Eugenia Mejia, Ph.D. on December 21, 2015

Educators understand applying to dental school can be a complicated process. Not being accepted to the dental school of your choice can leave students feeling overwhelmed and disappointed, but have confidence, this is not the end of the world or your opportunity for a career in dentistry. I’ve put together a few tips and advisory information that will help improve your application for submission during the next dental school cycle. 

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First it’s important to ask yourself a few questions:

  • Was I a competitive applicant at the time of application?
    Were all the prerequisites (academic and extracurricular) met? Your GPA should not need any explanations and your Dental Admission Test (DAT) score should be within the national average for the schools where you’re interested in applying.  Remember, each dental school has different requirements, so be sure to submit all supplemental materials and information on time.

  • Was my ADEA AADSAS application submitted at least six weeks prior to the dental school’s stated due date? 
    Submitting your application to ADEA AADSAS does not mean it is automatically received by the dental schools. First ADEA AADSAS has to verify your application before it can be released to the dental schools. Did you include your DAT, Letters of Evaluation (LOE’s), transcripts, supplemental fee and supplemental application (if required)? Delays in submitting all of your documents on time may result in your application not being considered.

  • Have I completed all of my prerequisites with a grade of B or higher? 
    If your grades were not competitive, did you complete a postbaccalaureate/master’s degree before reapplying? Courses still in progress do not indicate that you have mastered study skills and time management. Usually an admissions committee wants to see the postgraduate work completed with grades of B+ or higher.

  • What will be different on my new application?   
    It is wise not to submit the exact same application in the new cycle. Ask for updated letters of recommendation and refresh the extracurricular, academic, work and research sections of your application. Take the time to revive your personal statement.

  • Does my DAT score need improvement?
    If you plan to improve upon your DAT by taking it again make sure to give extra attention to planning your preparation time. Many prep courses will help with test taking strategies, but you must learn the concepts completely. Every student prepares for standardized exams differently, but you must take the time to prepare to be successful. Dental schools all differ in how DAT retakes are considered in the admissions process. The goal is to limit taking the DAT to two times. My advice is to only retake the exam when you are absolutely academically ready to do so.

To recap, I advise all applicants to review the previously submitted unsuccessful application in detail to create a clear plan for how to improve your next application. This analysis may mean waiting a cycle or two to ensure submission of a stronger application. Educators and admissions officers understand that life issues occur that can impact your academic performance. Use what you have learned from your past experiences to cope with any difficulties that may arise in dental school. Be honest with yourself, and work on your weaker points. If your admissions officer gives you feedback and makes specific recommendations, accept this knowledge and follow the advice. Prepare based on what you have learned. Do not leave any aspect of your application to chance.

Also, keep in mind that what you are doing during the reapplication cycle is significant. If you are not enrolled in courses, are you engaged in community service or shadowing a dentist (preferably a general dentist)?  Be sure to limit your extracurricular activities if you need to dedicate more time to your academics.

Whatever you do, do not to give up on your dream of becoming a dentist. One unsuccessful cycle gives you the opportunity to pause, reflect, reorganize, prepare and renew your determination and commitment to be successful. Utilize the many resources available to you such as ADEA GoDental. If possible, partner with other applicants and create a support system. If you have questions, contact the schools where you are interested in applying directly. Always remember to learn from your experiences, and stay motivated. You can do it!



About Eugenia Mejia, Ph.D.:

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Eugenia Mejia, Ph.D.
Assistant Dean of Admissions
New York University College of Dentistry

Eugenia Mejia, Ph.D., joined the New York University College of Dentistry (NYUCD) in 2005 as Assistant Dean of Admissions. In her role, Dr. Mejia is responsible for successfully recruiting and enrolling more than 400 D.D.S. students annually. Prior to her position at NYUCD, Dr. Mejia served for 22 years as the Director of the Collegiate Science Technology Entry Program at NYU’s Steinhardt School where she spearheaded initiatives designed to increase the number of underrepresented students in science and the health professions and advocated for and mentored these students throughout their years at NYU.