Predental students are often consumed with how important their GPA and DAT scores are when applying to dental school. Although they are definitely crucial to gaining acceptance into dental school, the application contains other areas that students can use to strengthen their application. To ensure you are a well-rounded, competitive applicant when you hit the “submit” button focus on these important areas:
- Academic coursework: This section should highlight the rigorous course load you have completed during your undergraduate career. It should contain a full list of the prerequisites required for dental school and draw attention to other courses that will be beneficial to you in dental school. When completing your application if you have not completed all required prerequisites but are enrolled for an upcoming semester make sure those courses are included on your application.
- Academic enrichment: Participating in academic enrichment programs shows admission committees your dedication to dentistry. Academic enrichment programs provide an insight into dentistry that prerequisites do not allow you to experience. These programs are offered as summer programs at some universities or accelerated programs during the school year but shorter in duration.
- Awards, honors and scholarships: This part of the application emphasizes your high achievement in academics, community involvement and extracurricular activities. Awards, honors and scholarships can help your application stand out among thousands of applications. In the early years of undergraduate study it is important to use your strengths and interests to get involved at your school and in your community. Search for scholarships during this time to help with tuition and provide practical experience for completing applications. Taking part in campus groups, research studies and volunteering will enrich your undergraduate studies and could also help you obtain awards, which allow you to stand out from the crowd.
- Dentistry experience: This section is one of the most important on the application for admission committees and for you. Gaining experience at clinics or shadowing a dentist provides the committee with proof of your dedication to the profession. It also provides you with basic knowledge of dentistry that can prove to be beneficial to your future. Admission committees want to know you have a clear understanding of dentistry and have first hand experience before accepting an applicant.
- Extracurricular activities: Everyone needs a break from studying! Get involved on campus, but don’t join so many clubs that you are not an active member or are too overwhelmed. Dental schools want to see that you can balance your course load and also have good time management skills. It’s also important to stay with one club or team and take an active leadership role.
- Research experience:Research is not required to get into dental school and many people are not aware that this section is on the application. However, doing any type of research will show admission committees that you can work independently on higher-level studies. It can also go hand in hand with awards or scholarships if you present or publish your research. At interviews, some committees will want to know more about your research so be prepared to answer questions.
- Work experience: Dental school is expensive. Admission committees like to see that you can support yourself while going through school and maintaining good grades.
It’s a good idea to look at the application as early in your undergraduate studies as possible! You will know what is expected and can map out a plan to create a strong application. Completing work in each of the focus areas above, maintaining a high GPA, and doing your best on the DAT will help you become a great applicant!
-Erin Diskin, University of North Carolina Wilmington ’15, predental student
If you’re a predental and haven’t joined ASDA yet, now is the time! You’ll have access to all the resources you need to get into dental school. Plus, you’ll strengthen your application by being a member of the largest student run dental organization in the U.S.