How to Get into Dental School
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Preparation. Of the 54
dental schools accredited by the Council on Dental Education of the
American Dental Association in the United States, a majority require
8 semester hours (lecture and lab) of general chemistry, organic
chemistry, physics, and biology. Qualifications vary for each
school, but most require some English, mathematics, and social
sciences courses. Previous undergraduate experience in biochemistry,
genetics, and physiology may also help the first-year dental
student. Specific requirements for each school as well as tuition
and class statistics are found in Admission Requirements of U.S.
and Canadian Dental Schools from the American Dental
Most dental schools have a
four-year curriculum of basic sciences (two years) followed by
clinical exposure for two years. To prepare for this, consider a
Bachelor of Science or Arts in the natural sciences while completing
specific school requirements. However, your major will only be one
component of your application. Your GPA and performance on the
Dental Admission Test will also factor into an acceptance decision.
Admissions. All dental
schools consider students who exhibit intellectual competence,
manual dexterity, and personal trait s appealing to patients. Other
important factors include communication skills, leadership abilities
in extracurricular activities, good character, motivation, and
interest/experience in the dentistry field. Overall, four factors
directly affect admission: 1) academic performance, 2) DAT score(s),
3) letters of recommendation (your HPEC file from the University of
Scranton) from faculty members and personal references, 4) and
impressions made during a personal interview. Work experience and
extracurricular a ctivities may also contribute to your acceptance.
In the end, the actual GPA number will not be important as the total
academic difficulty (i.e. Cooking 101 vs. Metaphysics), part-time
employment, participation in varsity sports or other activities
encompassing your time as a student.
In conjunction with your GPA, the
DAT affects admission. However, there is no way to evaluate a
competitive score because each dental school will evaluate the whole
student: GPA, DAT, and letters of recommendation from HPEC at the
University of Scranton.
After evaluating these pieces
of your application, dental schools invite the most promising
applicants for an interview at the school. Remember to "be yourself"
when speaking with the interviewer, and look at it as an opportunity
to convince the Admissions Committee of your commitment to
Applications through the
American Association of Dental Schools Application Service (AADSAS)
usually begin on June 1st the year before matriculation.
During the summer, most students must complete secondary
applications in addition to the AADSAS application. Be honest in
your secondary essays and work quickly to return them.
Acceptance. After you
complete your application file, you should hear from the dental
schools confirming completion. Then, the dental schools will contact
you if they request an interview. In the end, applicants begin
receiving first notifications of acceptance starting on December 1.
Wait list and rejection letters are also sent from this date. Dental
schools may remove some applicants from the wait list to the
acceptance list. Most schools require an acceptance deposit to hold
your seat in the class.
Conclusion. Despite the
difficult process to pursue dental school, the most successful
predental students retain a positive attitude even if things do not
go as planned. When truly motivated, they can achieve the rewards,
financial security, and personal satisfaction after reaching their