Dentistry is more than just taking care of your teeth. Dr. John N. Williams, the Dean at Indiana University School of Dentistry stated that the first two years of dental school are “concentrated on developing and integrating the biopsychosocial aspects of human biology in the context of clinical patient care.” and the last two years “provide rich clinical education experiences for students to demonstrate their understanding and application… in caring for patients.”
With 61 dental schools in the United States, there is no way you are going to spend all your time and money applying to all schools. Here is a quick guide to ensure you are applying and getting into the type of school that you want.
Dental Admissions Test (DAT)
A standardized test just like your old friend SAT, this test measures academic ability and comprehension of scientific information and perceptual ability. The trick is to practice a lot, whether it is by yourself by purchasing review books or by taking a Kaplan review course with an experienced instructor. If you have a lower GPA than what the schools want (cut-off GPA is 2.75, average GPA is about 3.5 overall), this test can be a good way to leverage yourself up compared to other candidates.
It is important to know what you want to get out of going to dental school. Students should be prepared to tell the interviewer(s) their story in a short, 30-second “elevator speech”. Excellent communication skills will be an important factor in your application because it coincides with self-confidence and showcases your ability to get along with people and meet challenges. This will also be your opportunity to show that you have done your research about the school, and ask your interviewer(s) meaningful and insightful questions when it is appropriate.
Dentistry consists of many different sections such as private practice, public health, research, academics and specialty care. Shadowing a professional in their field will help a student to really learn about the day-to-day lives of dentists. Observing a dentist’s practice and asking valuable questions will not only help you succeed in dental school, it may also get you another reference letter!
The admission committee does not want to hear only about your superb grades, they want to know how well-rounded you are. Think of this essay as the introduction portion before your interview. Include your extracurricular activities, your thoughts on job shadowing and how one career path is better than the other for you, and ultimately what is unique about yourself that you should be considered more than everybody else.
Although you do not need to major in science in your undergraduate studies, you are expected to complete all of your pre-dental science requirements. These requirements vary from school to school, however the required courses generally include:
- 8 hours of Biology with lab
- 8 hours of Physics
- 8 hours of English
- 8 hours General Chemistry with lab
- 8 hours Organic Chemistry with lab
Extra Tip: Apply Early
Make sure your application is at the top of the pile. Make sure that the admission committee hasn’t filled the last opening spot before they got to your application. Applying for admission early will give you a better opportunity in being considered for acceptance.
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