applying to dental school this year, you’re probably anxiously counting down
the days until the ADEA AADSAS® (ADEA Associated American Dental
Schools Application Service) application opens in May. And who can blame you!
It’s an exciting time filled with reflection and hope. But instead of scrolling
away the hours until then, consider preparing for your application now to
alleviate stress later. Without even opening the application, here’s what you
can do to prepare the strongest application possible.
Be Aware of
Although ADEA AADSAS
closes in early February each year, dental schools operate on a rolling
interview basis—the earlier your application is sent, the earlier you might be
extended an interview! Set a reasonable deadline for yourself in the summer and
try to submit by then. It also takes time (days to weeks depending on the
volume) for ADEA to verify your information, for the schools to receive all
your information, letters of recommendation to be submitted and for you to
complete each school’s supplemental applications. Your application won’t be
considered until the school has all components, so give yourself plenty of time
and be patient.
and action-oriented descriptions of your roles for all your extracurricular
activities. Look up resume writing tips and active verbs if you’re not sure
where to begin. Do a rough calculation of how many hours you dedicated to each
organization, both total and per week. The application will ask for all of
these things, so it’ll be nice and easy to copy and paste once the application
cycle opens. In general, don’t list things you did in high school, unless
you’re continuing it today. Shadowed a cardiologist as a high schooler? Doesn’t
matter. Volunteered for the Alzheimer’s Association for the last six years? Now
we’re talking! Be honest about your hours and responsibilities, but don’t be
too humble. You deserve for your hard work to be recognized.
Write and Edit
Your Personal Statement
most applicants go wrong, in my inexpert opinion. In general, the objective is
to explain why you’re interested in dentistry, but don’t lean too hard into the
actual dentistry part of the career. The schools don’t expect you to be—and
quite frankly, don’t want you to be—a dental robot, so show your variety and
personality! Even the most passionate dentist will scoff at a whole page
marveling at the wonders of every step of the first crown prep you saw. Sure,
you may have found this procedure interesting, but is it really the sole
reason why you want to be a dentist? Or did your time volunteering at river
cleanups help you realize you thrive seeing tangible results at the end of the
day? Maybe helping people at your job as a campus tour guide was the highlight
of your college experience. Did you witness your grandmother go through the
emotional turmoil of needing complete dentures, but she spoke highly of an
amazing dentist who helped her in so many ways beyond dentistry? Or perhaps you
began as pre-med but witnessed the systemic side effects of poor oral hygiene
in your community. There are so many unique and interesting ways to discuss the
benefits of dentistry without describing every single procedure you ever
I don’t say
this to disparage talking about dentistry. You should absolutely have elements
of dentistry peppered in your statement to show what you learned while in the
office shadowing, assisting or working, but try to show who you really are.
Write what you want to say, not what you think they want to hear.
The Admissions Committee members know what it takes to prep a tooth, take an
impression and manage an office. Trust me. They’ve read statements like that a
million times, but what they don’t know is who you are and what you would
bring to their school. The goal is to be interesting or impressive enough to
earn an interview, so seize this opportunity to show them why they’d be missing
out if they don’t meet you.
Ask for Letters
members who you think can give you a strong letter of recommendation. I
emphasize “strong” because there’s nothing wrong with stressing this to the
faculty. If they don’t think they can be helpful to your application, hopefully,
they will be honest and tell you to find someone else. While you should try to
get a letter from science faculty, don’t be afraid to get creative. You may
think that you should get a letter from your organic chemistry professor
because you hit all their exams out of the park, but ask yourself, “Do they
really know me?” Or would you potentially get a stronger letter from your philosophy
professor, who saw your hard work ethic in their weekly office hours because you
were struggling to get a B?
Just like the
above advice on knowing your timeline, ask for letters of recommendation early!
We all know how busy professors can be, so give them plenty of time to write
you the best possible letter. Often, they will ask for a CV and personal
statement to help aid them in the writing process, so it will help expediate
the process to have those two items completed before contacting faculty.
and be proactive. But above all—have fun! You know what a great
personality you have, you know all the hard work you did and you know how
qualified you are. Now is the time to show it off!