As any aspiring dentist knows, getting into dental school is a competitive process requiring an enormous amount of planning and commitment. The following is a checklist of ways to stand out of the crowd and improve your odds of acceptance into dental school.
1.Work or volunteer in the dental field. Paid work in the dental field usually takes precedence over volunteer work, but all experience is valuable. Ask the pre-dental association at your school for advice on where to look for job opportunities.
2. Shadow a dentist. This step is a must for serious pre-dental students, and no application would be complete without it.
3. Participate in research. Involvement in clinical or biomedical research can be a major enhancement to your application.
4. Don’t forget your extracurriculars. Dental schools want to see that you are well-rounded and socially involved in your community and school.
5. Get great letters of recommendation. The best ways to forge relationships that lead to good letters of recommendation are by being a teaching assistant, a research assistant, or by shadowing or working with a dentist.
6. Join the pre-dental society at your college. Here, you can network with other students and teachers, hear about work opportunities, and associate with dental school admissions representatives.
7. Apply early. Because most dental schools use a rolling admissions process, students who apply early have a significant advantage over other applicants.
8. Get a high DAT score. The Dental Acceptance Test score ranges from 0-30, with the national average coming in at around 17. A competitive DAT score is at least 19-20 or above. A good DAT score at one school may only be average at another, so get familiar with DAT averages at your target schools.
9. Maintain a high GPA. The national average GPA for students accepted into dental school is 3.4, so keep that in mind if you’re striving to be above average. Average GPA varies from school to school, with more prestigious dental schools having a higher average GPA for incoming students.
It isn’t just good grades and high test scores that will get you into dental school. Getting hands-on experience, developing strategic relationships, and pursuing passions outside of academia will all go a long way in making you a more desirable candidate for dental school.