Advice from admissions officers

Stay the Course: Advice for Reapplicants

Posted by Crystal Ridgley, M.B.A. on January 28, 2022

Applying to dental school can be an arduous process. If you find that you were not accepted to any dental schools this past cycle, you're not alone. Your dream is still attainable, and I believe that you should put your best foot forward to reapplying. Reapplicants should consider the following tips below. 


Obtain Application Feedback

The first impulse for some candidates is to reapply immediately in the next cycle. In reality, it is essential to slow down and consider whether any changes you need to implement will take more time—such as retaking the Dental Admission Test (DAT) exam, bolstering a suboptimal GPA or increasing dental exposure. It is vital to seek advice from prehealth advisors and/or dental school admissions representatives.


Review and Analyze Your Previous Application 

Strengthen your application by assessing accurately where you stand. What are your strengths and areas for improvement? What held you back the last cycle? Factors of your application are complex and include the objective measurables: your GPA, DAT and the like. The non-cognitive factors of your application includes everything else: your personal statement, letters of evaluation, supplementals, interview skills and more. 

  • GPA and DAT – Many predental students think, "Students with low GPAs and/or DAT scores get into dental school every year." They're right, but they often forget that these predental students are the exceptions that prove the rule. The ones with low grades or test scores who get in often have something extraordinary in their past that helps them. 

  • Are You Standing Out? – There are too few spots in dental school to accommodate everyone. As a result, it's not enough to be qualified; you must stand out. One great way to stand out is through diverse activities. If you can boast about distinct, unusual activities, you’ll automatically be more memorable to the Admissions Committees. Another way to stand out is through exemplary writing.
  • Letters of Evaluation – The most successful students obtain the correct type and maximum number of letters of evaluation from the required people who know them well—both inside and outside the classroom. As an applicant, you can’t brag that much, but your letter writers can go to bat for you.


Evaluate Your Interview

Getting an interview is a huge accomplishment, but a bad one can sink your chances and can be hard to come back from—so practice, practice, practice. Work on speaking in front of a group as much as possible and research commonly asked questions so that you can be prepared. You'll need to convince the Admissions Committee that things have changed. 


Reassess Your Goals

Once you have identified areas of growth, take the time to grow! Attack the gaps in your application with excitement and energy. Ask yourself how can you learn from further studies or experiences to help you become an exceptional future dentist? Journal about your experiences. What stories can you share about your journey? Reflect on the opportunities you've had, the people you've learned from, and the kind of dentist you want to be. After understanding the limitations in your previous dental school application, you can then assess where you stand and what realistic goals would be.


Application Timeline, Requirements and Checklists

  • Apply early – Taking advantage of the ADEA AADSAS® (ADEA Associated American Dental Schools Application Service) soft opening in May means that you can work ahead on the application before the submission open in June. Applying early with a thoroughly complete application can be a massive benefit to your application and make it stand out. Applying later than the dental school recommends can hinder your application regardless of your metrics/stats. 
  • Focus on what’s new in your applicationFocus on the recent experiences that clarified your motivations and goals. Start with the personal statement. First and last impressions are crucial, so give attention to your hook and conclusion. If you’re applying to the same schools as last year, show your more profound commitment and understanding of the profession of dentistry. If you used familiar tropes in your previous essays (ie. the reward of helping people, the value of hard work, the importance of educating patients, etc.), try to give them more complexity or nuance this time.


Don’t Dwell on Past Rejection

I like to think of applying to new schools as comparable to a first date, and it’s a big turnoff when your date spends the whole time talking about their past relationship. So, when you’re sending an application to a new school, you probably don’t want to draw attention to your past rejection and create an unnecessary bias against you. Be wary, though. Some information in your application will let dental schools know that you’ve applied before.


Good luck on your journey!


About Crystal Ridgley, M.B.A. :

Crystal Ridgley, M.B.A._headshot

Crystal Ridgley, M.B.A. 
Associate Director of Admissions and Student Engagement
University of Colorado School of Dental Medicine

Crystal Ridgley, M.B.A., joined the University of Colorado School of Dental Medicine (CU SDM) with over 10 years of education administration experience. She mainly focuses on developing and implementing a plan to engage and recruit new students into the CU SDM’s D.D.S. program, ensuring strategies are inclusive of underrepresented populations. In addition, she also creates and presents an annual recruitment plan, goals, strategies, reports and recommendations to the School’s communication team, committees and executive deans, and collaboratively implements all approved plans and activities. 

Ms. Ridgley earned a B.S. in Psychology from Virginia Polytechnic Institute of Technology and State University and an M.B.A. from Indiana Institute of Technology. She is currently working on her Ed.D. in Higher Education at the University of Colorado, Denver with an emphasis in Equity. She is set to graduate in May 2022.