Dental school is a time where friendships are made, long nights studying are had and memories are created. As a senior at the University of Florida College of Dentistry, my four years of dental school have been a life-changing experience. When I work on patients in the student clinics, I occasionally
have an undergraduate volunteer as an assistant. The one question students always ask is, “how was the application process for you?” Applying to dental school can be very intimidating. There are numerous applicants, testing and costs that go along with the process, so it’s important to make yourself stand
out. Here are some pieces of advice from me, as someone who has successfully completed the dental school application process.
Choose a major that interests you.
My recommendation is to pick what you want to study in undergrad, not what you think you should study as a student who will apply to dental school. It is no longer the time when predental students
are limited to choosing a science major in undergrad. I graduated from the University of Florida with a B.A. in Classical Studies. I took all the science prerequisites needed to apply to dental school, but also got to learn a great deal of other life lessons from the classes in my major.
Build your portfolio with things you love.
It is important to be active in leadership roles through your prehealth organization or other extracurricular activities. Volunteering and shadowing also are positive additions to your portfolio. Helping an underserved population through a service trip or local event will
definitely start things on the right track for applying to dental school.
Study for the DAT.
Taking the Dental Admissions Test (DAT) was also another obstacle I had to get past, as this is a difficult test. I studied really hard for three months and took a preparation course to prepare myself. Test takers are given their scores right after finishing the exam. Once I took the DAT I began my applications. Apply to schools you can actually see yourself
The most important thing for me, when looking at which schools to apply to, was where I envisioned myself being most comfortable for the next four years. The long nights of studying, the cost of living and the overall atmosphere played a large role in my decision. Picking schools that matched my overall application
competitiveness was also important to me. Those two criteria really helped me narrow down the schools I applied to.
Schools will begin to call and schedule interviews with students from late summer all the way until the following spring. Therefore, it is important to be organized and apply as soon as the application opens in June. If you get an interview, you will receive a tour of
the dental school facilities, interact with the current dental students and have a formal interview with faculty. The best interview advice I can offer is to be yourself and be honest. Showing the admissions committee who you are as a person apart from the paper application is very critical in the interview.
Dental school has been very rewarding for me academically
and personally. As I near graduation, all those stressful times seem like a
distant memory. The application is just another part of your journey, hopefully
into the rest of your professional life as a dentist. Best of luck to all
dental school applicants, and remember, we are the future health professionals
in the ever-growing field of dentistry.