Advice from admissions officers

Advice for Re-Applicants: Part I

Posted by Emma Hopson, M.S. on June 28, 2022

If you are reading this article, chances are, you are thinking about re-applying to dental schools in an upcoming cycle. Maybe you’ve just opened your new ADEA AADSAS® (ADEA Associated American Dental Schools Application Service) application and are trying to figure out the best way to demonstrate all the hard work you’ve done between this application and the last cycle in which you applied. Perhaps you are considering if this is the right time to do so. You could be asking yourself if it would be wiser to wait to re-apply and consider enrolling in a postbaccalaureate or master’s program first and apply again in the future with stronger scores. Whatever your circumstances are, just know there is no one “correct” path to becoming a dentist or in applying to dental schools. My first advice is to keep this mantra close to your heart as you continue through this process: you are not alone, and everyone’s journey to dental school will be as unique in their experience as a snowflake is in its design. 

I have worked in the profession of higher education for close to six years in various roles. The last two years I have spent working at the University of the Pacific, Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry in D.D.S. Admissions. During my time, I have advised many people through the re-application process. In doing so, I have heard enough of our applicants’ background stories to know that, though applying to dental schools can be an overwhelmingly intimidating process, the feeling is doubled when an applicant is returning to apply again. 

In the remainder of this article, I hope to dispel some worry and anxiety surrounding the re-applicant process by sharing my perspective and information from my time as an Admissions Coordinator. I plan to provide you with pointers on how best to evaluate your own application and how to determine what areas to pay the closest attention to. Additionally, I will deliver some tips to help maximize your strategy to make the most out of your next (and hopefully last) dental school application. 


Reviewing Your Previous Application in Stages

Section I: Personal Information 

Perhaps the most important question that you can ask yourself as you begin the process of re-applying to dental schools is: What has changed in the time since I last applied? It is essential to spend time reflecting on all the work you’ve done since your last submission, so you can find ways to integrate and highlight these changes. Also be sure to double check all contact information in each category of your personal information. 

Section II: Academic History

To get started, you will want to have the following items handy: All undergraduate transcripts, most recent Dental Admission Test (DAT) scores, the experience section from your last application, your personal statement and the admissions requirements for all the schools you plan to apply to. As you move forward, think of your application as a balanced scale. One side is your academics: GPA, DAT scores, etc. On the other side are your non-academic achievements: letters of recommendation, personal statement, experiences, etc. 

Let’s begin by looking at the academic side of your balanced scale. In looking at your transcripts, DAT scores and the dental schools’ admissions requirements, do your GPAs (cumulative, science, and/or Biology/Chemistry/Physics or BCP) and DAT scores meet or exceed the averages of the schools you are applying to? If they do not, do not be concerned. Instead, I encourage you to simply make a note to yourself objectively that this will be one of the areas you will need to focus on. Keep in mind that many schools are beginning to evaluate applications holistically, looking for upward trends in academics, and balancing your GPA and DAT scores to determine knowledge of biomedical science. You will also want to check if your schools require or recommend any specific courses in addition to their minimum requirements. If there are classes you have not taken, this is a good place to begin if you want to boost your GPA or enhance your application with some recent biomedical science coursework. The more biomedical science you can take, the more prepared you will be to start dental school and, as a bonus, the more competitive your application will be. Next, look at your DAT scores to confirm they are within the timeframe of the schools you are planning to apply to. Generally, if your DATs are at least three years old by the time you apply, you may need to retake them.


Keeping reading: Advice for Re-Applicants: Part II

About Emma Hopson, M.S.:

Emma Hopson_headshot

Emma Hopson, M.S.
Admissions Coordinator 
University of the Pacific, Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry 

Emma Hopson is an Admissions Coordinator at the University of the Pacific, Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry (Dugoni School). She has six years of admissions and student services-related experience—the last two in her current position at Dugoni School. She holds a Bachelor of Art in English Writing Practices and Environmental Education from Cal Poly Humboldt (formerly Humboldt State University) and a Master of Science in Leadership from Walden University.