5 Dental School Admissions Tips
The choice to become a dentist is a decision that puts you on a long, difficult road to an incredible career. Dentists are respected professionals who provide a crucial service and get paid handsomely to do so. But you've got to be ready to work harder than you ever have before. It may not have the same 'life or death' connotation as work as a surgeon or an emergency room doctor. But it will take you a similar length of time to achieve accreditation, and oftentimes even more. It all starts with getting into dental school, which alone is no easy task. Here are five tips to help you successfully navigate the dental school admissions process.
First of all, make sure your grade point average is where it needs to be to pass muster with the admissions board. Obviously this is not something you can impact overnight, so hopefully you had some sort of inkling early in your college career that you wanted to go into medicine and approached your studies with some serious discipline. Just keep in mind that the admissions board will look at your overall GPA and the grades you landed in your pre-requisite classes differently. Any marks that reflect on your future skill set in dentistry will be given more weight. But in general, you should strive for a GPA of at least 3.3 to make it through to the next round of consideration.
Your admissions exam scores will also weigh heavily in their decision. All aspiring dental students must take the DAT, and the admissions board will look at your score as a quick and easy way to compare you with other potential students. Every undergraduate program is different, and a 3.5 GPA at one isn't the same as a 3.5 GPA at another, especially if the schools have wildly different reputations. By scoring as high as possible on the DAT you are overcoming any of these disparities, and showing the admissions board that you have what it takes to excel in their program.
If you really want to wow the admissions board, try to get involved in some sort of clinical or biomedical research. Obviously this isn't a prerequisite. But if you can work your way onto a team as an intern and get involved in something like this you will certainly distinguish yourself from the other candidates. You'll prove to them that a career in dentistry is about much more than making money for you. It comes from a passion for the work. And it will also show them that you might bring some serious distinction to their program through future research. All graduate schools want that.
However you get it, make sure you have a handful of excellent letters of recommendation. A research internship is a great way to secure something like this, and it will show what you can do in a real world setting. But a letter from a professor will also be hugely useful. Start out early in your college career getting to know the professors that teach your pre-requisites. Be active in their classes, and even work as a TA if possible. When the time comes, hopefully you've convinced them that you are the future of the industry.
Finally, take the time to work on your interviewing skills. If your recommendation letters and exam scores are all in order they will have you in for a next round of interviews. Dentists interact with patients on a daily basis, and your ability to communicate effectively and put people at ease is very important. Perhaps they won't care as much if you're applying through GetARealDegree.com, but prestigious schools will want students who come off well in person. Practice as much as necessary to feel comfortable in an interview setting, and you'll be much more comfortable when the real thing comes around.