Advice from admissions officers

Boost Your ADEA AADSAS Application With A Resume

Posted by Corky Cacas on June 18, 2018

As someone who has read over 35,000 applications in my more than over 20 years as an admissions officer, the Experiences and Achievements section of the application doesn’t receive enough attention from applicants. And I get it! After zeroing in on the best personal statement, spending hours transferring your course work details and credit hours and securing faculty to submit evaluation letters on your behalf, all you want to do is hit the submit button to send your ADEA AADSAS application to your carefully selected list of schools. Yet, I would caution applicants to pay extra attention to this section because this is the initial opportunity to present yourself to admissions officers and committee members to get a sense of the real you.

The most useful exercise for completing this task is to prepare a resume. It will summarize your employment, volunteer activities, membership in dental clubs and organizations, educational experiences, research, etc. If this is your first time preparing a resume, a host of online resources can support and assist you. Once you prepare a first draft, the career center at your current school might even have a resume workshop or advisors who can help to review and improve it.
Construct your resume carefully, making sure to drill down (pun intended) into the small details. For each experience you should have a start and end date (except for ongoing activities). Details matter on the ADEA AADSAS application, so you will need to enter your average weekly hours and number of weeks. Hint: Be exact. You’d be surprised how often experiences are underreported in cases where applicants enter details are incorrect!

For instance, dental shadowing may have taken place  from March 1, 2016 to February 20, 2017, a 40-week period. The applicant records four hours per week and the number of hours in a single week, four, versus 40, the actual number of weeks that dental shadowing occurred. The autofill feature of the ADEA AADSAS application calculates 16 total hours when in fact the applicant shadowed 160 hours over a 40-week period. It happens more often than you think and with hundreds of applications to review, the reviewer does not have time to recalculate or follow up for clarification.

Another advantage of creating a resume is to help make an inventory of your experiences and remind yourself of other activities that you may have forgotten. Many times, applicants combine or lump multiple activities under one group. I once had an applicant who participated in her predental club by attending meetings, visiting a few dental schools and collecting and distributing food to people in need for several weeks, then combined all efforts as one reported club activity. The applicant did not list any activities under the community service section. In this situation, it would have been more appropriate to separate the community service activities (hours and weeks) and report this type of experience separately.

An inventory exercise should be performed for all the experiences that apply to your individual situation—academic enrichment, dental shadowing, employment, extracurricular activities, research and/or volunteer work. Now you see why this section should not be given less attention than the others, since it reveals so much about you and what makes you truly unique. Many times when reviewing applications, my admissions colleagues and I come across snippets of an activity or experience in the personal statement or in the section related to “activities requiring manual dexterity,” but there was no mention in the experience section. Admissions officers and committee members can only infer so much and therefore cannot assess your application properly without detailed information.

Completing your application takes a lot of time and preparation, but to do a thorough job you must be patient and review it several times with fresh eyes. I recommend you take a break, take a walk or listen to your favorite tunes for a while before completing the experiences and activities section. Step away from your application so that you can come back to it with a fresh outlook and more energy. Don’t rush to get it done because you will not be able to update these important sections once you hit the submit button.

Good luck with your application!  I look forward to reading all about you.

About Corky Cacas:

Corky Cacas

Corky Cacas
Director of Admissions
University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine


Corky Cacas currently serves as Director of Admissions at the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine (Penn Dental Medicine), and has been associated with dental education for over 20 years. She has reviewed more than 35,000 dental school applications since she began her post in 1995. Ms. Cacas also served as Director of Student Affairs at Penn Dental Medicine from 1977–1981. She was elected to Omicron Kappa Upsilon (Dental Honor Society) in 2008, and is a current member of the Penn Dental Journal Advisory Board. In May 2013 she was recognized as an Honorary Alumnus of the Penn Dental Medicine Alumni Society.

An active member of the American Dental Education Association (ADEA) since 1995, she has held various leadership positions within the ADEA Section of Admissions Officers, including Section Chair.

Ms. Cacas was a part of the ADEA AADSAS Application Task Force from 1995–2000, when the dental school application was completely redesigned. She has also served on the ADEA AADSAS WebAdMIT Task Force and the ADEA CAAPID® Application Task Force for the foreign trained dentist application service. She currently serves on the ADEA AADSAS Advisory Group (formerly Task Force).