Creative ways to pay for attending a national ASDA event

As predental students, getting into dental school is becoming more competitive. Applicants are expected to be well-rounded, with strengths in leadership, service, interpersonal skills and knowledge of the profession. As an ASDA predental member, there are ample opportunities to learn more about these areas that make up a stand-out applicant, while creating lifelong friendships at the same time.

You can attend national ASDA events such as Annual Session and the National Leadership Conference, both of which include exclusive predental sessions on topics such as interviewing to Q&A panels with admissions committees. Between sessions, predentals can take advantage of networking with more than 600 dental student leaders and motivated predental students from across the country.

The experience of attending these events is invaluable — yet it comes with a cost: registration fees, travel expenses, etc. We’ve compiled a few ways fellow predental students have gotten creative in covering the costs of going to Annual Session and the National Leadership Conference.

1. School sponsorship

Your university wants you to succeed and accomplish your goals. So, start with asking your school for funding. Some undergraduate programs will help mitigate the cost of attending a conference. This will certainly vary by school, but check with your department to see what is available. Often, travel grants for science majors exist that few students know about. If your school has a health professions advising office, they may also have a budget for conferences. Honors programs are especially dedicated to student success and have larger scholarship opportunities. In some cases, honors programs will fund the full cost of a conference. Remember, it never hurts to ask!

2. Local dentist sponsorship

A few months before your conference, draft a letter to local dentists asking for sponsorship. Discuss what the conference is about and what you hope to gain by attending. Be sure to include what ASDA and organized dentistry mean to you, as most of them are members of the ADA. Send this letter to dentists you know personally as well as other dental practices in your area. While this method involves some investment in postage, local fundraising is a great way to raise a few hundred dollars. After you attend the event, be sure to send a thank-you card outlining what you learned to show your appreciation.

3. Predental club fundraiser

Get together with other members of your predental society to organize a fundraiser. Plan a bake sale, set up a grilled cheese stand on campus or partner with a local restaurant for a profit share. By collaborating with other people, you are increasing the chances of the fundraiser’s success. Profits should be shared with others involved in planning the event so they can attend a national ASDA event, too.

4. Crowdfunding

While it may seem awkward to ask family and friends for money, crowdfunding is becoming more popular. Start by creating a GoFundMe account for the conference to share on your social media accounts. Set a reasonable goal and invite people to contribute to your cause. Avoid asking for large amounts and focus on raising money through several small donations. As stated before, thank donors after the conference by telling them what you learned.

5. Dental school scholarship

Some ASDA chapters offer full or partial scholarships to attend national meetings. Take a look on chapter websites and Facebook pages to see what is available. If nothing is listed, feel free to contact the chapter predental chair. They are trying to increase predental involvement, so by offering to write an article for a chapter publication or to help with a predental recruitment event, you may find yourself with the means to attend a national meeting.

~ Carson Smith, ASDA predental consultant, and Craig McKenzie, Pennsylvania ’21, ASDA immediate past predental consultant

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About Carson Smith & Craig McKenzie

Carson is a senior at the University of Florida, pursuing a dual degree in nutritional sciences and microbiology. He currently serves as the predental consultant to ASDA. His hobbies include being involved with predental organizations and running. Craig is a first-year dental student at the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine. He graduated with a bachelor's degree in biological sciences from Virginia Tech in 2017. He is the immediate past ASDA predental consultant and currently serves as the development committee co-chair for District 3.

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