Are you thinking about
taking a gap year? Make sure you have a clear vision of what you want to
accomplish during this time away from school and plan wisely—a year (or two)
can fly by.
Gap Year: A span of time between the
end of undergraduate education and the beginning of dental school. It can be
longer than a year depending on your circumstances.
Reasons to Take a Gap Year
- To strengthen your dental
school application, or reapply.
- To get your finances in order.
- To refocus after a busy
This is an opportunity
to work on strengthening your application, therefore, you should approach the
gap year with a plan. How will you spend your time, what kinds of things
will you do to improve your application. Some students have decided to
take a gap year because they believe they need the rest before starting dental
school. If you are taking a gap year because you feel you need a break,
then it is important to maybe work on yourself. Work on finding ways to
handle stress, learn and practice meditation or work on your overall
health. Find something that is mentally stimulating and expands your
mind. The key point is to do something you are sincerely interested in
Preparing for a Gap Year
To maximize your gap
year, focus on what motivated you to take one in the first place. What are your
weaknesses as a dental school applicant, and how can you strengthen them? Meet
with your health professions advisor or career counselor, and get feedback from
admissions officers at the schools where you plan to apply. Ask them how you
can strengthen your application and your ability to be a successful dental
Discussing Your Gap Year during Interviews
Instead of worrying
about how your gap year will be viewed by admissions, use your year(s) to
prepare how you will describe your experience during dental school interviews.
Talk about what you accomplished during your gap year that makes you a better
applicant and future health professional. Explain how your gap year experience
made you a better person overall. Be honest about how the year affected you
beyond working through your dental and professional concerns, and highlight how
your experiences strengthened your desire to become a dental professional.
Preparing Financially for Dental School
A gap year is a great
time to get your finances in order, especially after incurring costs from
undergraduate education. Some decide to use this time to determine how they
will cover the cost of dental school.
Questions to Ask Your Advisor
- How will taking a gap year
impact my application?
- What suggestions or
recommendations would you have for me during this time?
- What are the benefits of/challenges
with taking a gap year?
- Should I continue to shadow
during my gap year?
- Should I engage in an abroad
program where I can get experience/exposure to dentistry?
Obtaining Letters of
You should meet with your health professions advisor to discuss any plans for a gap
year. During this discussion, ask your advisor how letters of evaluation will be handled. This varies by institution. Some colleges collect the letters
and hold them for the student, some will encourage the student to meet with
those faculty for whom they are seeking a letter of recommendation and let them
know of their plans and that they will be asking for the letter a year later.
Meeting with faculty and health professions advisors is critical to assuring that you
will be able to obtain your letters at a later date. During your gap year be
sure to maintain contact with these individuals by updating them on your
activities and letting them know where you are in the application process.