Wednesday, January 31, 2007

The Application Process – Part III, Interviews and December 1st

A lot of debate has gone into exactly what purpose the interview serves. Some schools evaluate their candidates and ‘score’ them based on the interview. However, each and every one of my interviews was non-confrontational. I have no idea how they evaluated me when I was just chatting away with the interviewer about all kinds of things.

Your typical interview will involve an introduction, the actual interview(s), and a tour of the school. Be prepared to spend a few hours at the school (or entire day in some cases). Don’t wear crappy clothes, you need to look nice. Trust me, I am not one to care about fashion, or how the hell people think I look, but this is a time when you need to bite the bullet, get a hair-cut, shave, and all that jazz. Most dental schools are run by conservative, old-school dentists that don’t care for grungy hippies.

I really don’t have advice on how to interview – aside from getting a little practice beforehand and researching the school. Have some questions ready to ask, and make them genuine and interesting. There is no way the website answered any and every question you may have had. Just be a sociable person and don’t let your nerves screw you up. Everyone will be nervous for that first interview, but nobody should let that ruin the day. Try to take control of the interview whenever you are provided with an opportunity. “Tell me about yourself” essentially lets you lead to the interviewer to what you want him to hear. Relax and have a conversation.

Now for the tour, just have questions for the students. They will give you honest and often candid responses about pretty much anything you ask. Figure out what is important to you at the school – match-rates, clinical exposure, research, ect. Ask questions while you are there in the flesh, you won’t get this opportunity again.

Ok so hopefully you had 3 or so interviews prior to December 1st – the official day schools can begin offering admissions. For those of you who interviewed in September/October, this is a horrible wait. Just wrap yourself up in that last year of undergrad, and try not to think about it. If you had multiple interviews, the odds are definitely in your favor.

Don’t worry if you don’t hear immediately, some schools are slow. However, most of them will tell you if you can muster the courage to call them up. The application cycle does not end with December though, most schools interview well into March and even April.

There is plenty more for you to research on your own about the application cycle, I have only briefly touched on the major points. I will eventually post about choosing a school to attend. If you have been a diligent student, and really put a great app. together, you most likely will have choice.

I was quite pleased with the overall success of my application. Hard-work and perseverance pay off. Now that you have jumped through all the hoops, you can kick back and enjoy that final year of care-free undergraduate life. Of course, dental school will present a new series of challenges that I can only begin to imagine.

Good luck to all future applicants. The relief of acceptance is truly a grand experience.

The Application Process – Part II, AADSAS at your service

So it is now mid-may. You have interviewed with the committee, they have collected all required materials so that they can write you an evaluation. They usually won’t churn it out until june/july, so be prepared to wait – do not fret, your application will not be held up.

AADSAS is the company that you MUST go through to apply to dental school (aside from a few schools – most of them in texas). I don’t even remember what it stands for and am too lazy to look. You will figure this crap out anyway. Regardless, mid-may marks the official beginning of the application cycle. Once AADSAS opens the new cycle, you can create an account with them online, and you will be presented with an online application.

While I must admit that AADSAS does a decent job organizing the various application materials, I still am amazed at how much money they want. There are various folders regarding different aspects of your application. Research, general background, DAT scores (you will already have official scores sent to schools at this point), leadership positions, ectera. Basically, you are repeating your CV in a segmented format. You also are going to put your personal statement on AADSAS. They do have a character limit, so you may have to edit your original letter – about one page single-spaced will still fit. You might also notice a folder for LORs. Fortunately, most committees will not send the letter to AADSAS, but directly to the schools for you. I prefer this, as AADSAS has a tendency to lose things.

Ok, so you have filled everything out, now you have to designate schools. Where should you apply? How many schools? No right answer here. It really depends on you. Don’t apply somewhere you know you wouldn’t be happy living for four years. Don’t apply to Ivy League schools unless you have research experience and highly competitive stats. Don’t apply to public schools that have a reputation for only accepting state-residents (unless of course, you happen to be a resident). Figure this out before AADSAS opens up. I personally applied to 7 schools and that was plenty for me. I believe the average is somewhere around 10.

Ok so now you have CAREFULLY proofread every little thing AADSAS wants submitted. You have designated schools, and have put down some cash. I had to cough up 550 for 7 schools. Now hopefully your school will have final grades finished before June so you can get your transcripts sent to AADSAS – yes they require them. This was my first real bump in the road. My school gets out later than most, and I didn’t have transcripts mailed until mid June. You will also note that AADSAS has a ridiculous turnaround time for posting updates such as “transcript received.” It took about a month, and three additional mailings for them to actually post that they had my transcripts. After that, it took about 3 weeks for them to calculate my GPA by their standards. If your school uses +/-, your GPA shouldn’t change too much. Your GPA gets broken down into two subtypes: Science GPA and Cumulative GPA. Both of these numbers most likely are the first thing that Adcoms will be looking at. Your DAT score takes a close second.

AADSAS is pretty self-explanatory and I’m not really here to provide a walkthrough. I am more or less warning you all that things will go VERY SLOWLY. Don’t freak out either, because most schools will not even consider applications until late August. I had my AADSAS app submitted June 7th, transcript verified sometime in July, and the application was sent out to my schools on August 4th. Essentially the entire summer. Be patient, but not complacent. If I hadn’t checked up on my transcripts, they may never have been posted as I had to send additional copies. Don’t freak out when you hear all your friends getting interview invites in July, they have applied to the select schools that review very early (Case comes to mind).

Now once AADSAS sends everything off, wait a week or so, and contact EVERY school you applied to and make sure that the application, committee letter, and DAT scores have arrived. Most schools will not bother to tell if something never showed up until it is very late in the application process. So follow-up.

You now should start receiving secondary forms/interview invites late august—October (and beyond). If you are competitive, you should hopefully get a few interviews before October. If the school requires a secondary application, get it done ASAP, your application will get held up until you finish. Oh and did I mention application fees? Yea, every school will want those too – prices vary (all of mine were from 20-60$). Some schools want a photo too; just send everything they need as soon as they ask. DO NOT PROCRASTINATE. You will note that the most commonly prescribed advice to applicants is to APPLY EARLY and get everything in fast.

Be patient, the summer months are grueling and boring because you are suspended in some vortex and most likely very anxious to see if you get those interviews. Save your strength, the most painful waiting games have not yet begun.

Interviews up next!

The Application Process - Part I, the final preparations

You’ve made it this far, now prepare for the ultimate test in patience, humility, frustration, and anger-management. The application process is not something you will want to repeat, so hopefully you have been slowly building a very solid application as opposed to sloppily slapping one together this last semester. This post will be geared towards schools with a pre-professional committee. These committees write a composite LOR so you need not worry about mailing millions of copies from all your separate letter writers. I’ll explain details momentarily.

Now, you have just taken the DAT. Ideally you scored no less than 18 in any section as many schools have cutoffs around there. Obviously the higher, the better, but don’t let people with higher scores make you think that 18s are no good. Assuming you are solid everywhere, 18s WILL get you into a school. Still, if you think you could hit 20+, you have plenty of time to retake, go nuts – which is another great reason to take it before you start applying.

The aforementioned committee will require several things: first, your curricula vitae (CV) which is pretty much an academic/e.c. resume. You will list your GPA, any extra curricular activities you are involved in, your volunteer service, job experience, shadowing, and so forth.

The committee will also want a copy of your personal statement (which you hopefully have been working on for a few months…DO NOT RUSH IT). I had my PS revised about 18 times before submitting the final copy. Have it read by English majors, your family, friends, hobos on the street, GET FEEDBACK. What sounds great to you may sound horribly contrived and arrogant to someone else.

Remember those LORs? The committee will require every letter and will assimilate them into a single composite letter that pretty much every dental school will accept in lieu of separate LORs.

My committee also requests a ‘vision statement’ which pretty much had me predicting my own future. However, I have not heard of other school’s requiring this. All of the above items will have deadlines that your advisor should have told you about. If not, be proactive and figure out when things need to be done so that you don’t have to rush.

So throughout your spring semester, you will undoubtedly have to interview with members of the pre-professional committee at your school. I personally had two interviews: the first was about 20 minutes, one on one; the second was the same length but two on one. I went to a small school, so I was familiar with two of the three interviewers (which probably made things less stressful). These interviews are meant to assess your competence, genuine interest, and practicality regarding your chosen career path. Prepare to address issues that will most likely come up during dental school interviews such as: Tell me about yourself? Why dentistry? How are you unique? What would you do if dentists were no longer needed? Tell me about a time in which you had to overcome adversity. I could go on and on. Do some additional interview research and you will get the idea.

Fortunately, my pre-health advisor has her students practice in mock interviews prior to any official business. I would recommend practicing at least once before going into any committee interviews.

So why go through the committee? Well, first off, they conveniently condense your separate LORs into a single composite letter which will make your postal tasks a mite easier. Secondly, most schools really prefer that composite letter and look favorably upon applicants who have the letter sent. The committee is also less biased than individual LORs, and in fact, will not recommend an applicant for professional school if they have poor grades, interview horribly, ect. You will have the option of signing away your rights to read the letter as well – which I would recommend doing. Schools will put little emphasis on a letter they know the applicant has read to make sure everything is flowers and butterflies. They want facts, unbiased facts – untampered by YOU.

Scared yet? Hah, no reason, if you have been a good student, done even a little reading about dentistry, gotten good LORs, the committee will not put you to the flame. Just please, for the love of god, don’t go into an interview knowing little-nothing about dentistry. Yea your knowledge will be understandably limited, but there is no reason to not put forth some effort. Read some journals, keep up to date on health breakthroughs, and know something recent. Just basics, there are plenty of health-related websites meant for the common public. Get going.

I could rant on and on about this but there is no need to lecture. Note that I am not trying to intimidate anyone either, I have simply seen so many of peers completely broadsided by the gravity of applying to professional school. Notice how every freshmen you meet is ‘pre-med?’ How many are still in that boat at this point?

The entire application process- including all your prior preparation is one giant weed-out fest. It requires jumping through hoop after hoop to see who wants it most. Eventually, these hoops get set on fire, further increasing their difficulty to cross. If you have the drive, you will make it to the end – which in fact, is just another beginning.

Up next, AADSAS, your new best friend/worst enemy.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

The Dreaded DAT

So your junior year is going smoothly; you’ve just finished your fall semester. The time is now, prepare to become a hermit for the next few months. Only make time for the most fundamental and rudimentary tasks like eating and sleeping. Yea, I’m exaggerating a little, but this test will require a great deal of preparation.

There is much debate over WHEN to take the test. Some argue to take it the summer before junior year; others profess to take it after junior year. I however believe that taking the test during your spring semester is the best time. I support this mainly because it is the ultimate test in time-managing skills. If you can handle a full course load, get good grades, AND ace the DAT – than you might actually be doing yourself a favor. Dental school is going to be intense; forcing yourself into a difficult semester should better prepare you as well as give you a great ‘plus’ to talk about during interviews.

The DAT is a test composed of four primary batteries. The Natural Science (40 bio, 30 genchem, 30 ochem). The Perceptual Abilities Test (PAT) which consists of 90 questions (15 are experimental and will not count but you will never know which these are). The Reading Comprehension (RC) which consists of 50 questions; and finally, the Quantitative Reasoning (QR) section which consists of 40 questions.

Having taken both the MCAT (practices only) and DAT, I can safely assure you that they are not similar. The MCAT requires critical thinking and less memorization while the DAT is the complete opposite. This is good for some, bad for others. Combining study materials is not recommended. In case you were wondering, I was never pre-med, my school just preps the DAT kids with a few MCATs at first (Not really sure why).

I’m not going to walkthrough how to study every section because every person excels and stumbles differently. Here are the essential keys:

Give yourself a minimum of three months to prepare. This way you won’t have to try cramming 10 hours a day.

Speaking of cramming; don’t. Study in short bursts (40 mins) and take a 20 minute break. Do this over the course of the entire day. Sorry, looks like you will have to skip out on a social life for now.

Take a review course if possible

Study EVERY day, including weekends.

Eat/drink something that will keep you going. I personally used sippin’ whiskey for those long nights of chemistry review. Obviously you don’t want to get buzzed, just a little kick to stay alert.

Prepare to make social sacrifices; you do not want to retake this crap.

The PAT is easiest section to get better at; people only do poorly because they don’t practice enough – not because they can’t “see it.”

Get your hands on practice tests: Kaplan, Topscore, DAT Achiever, DAT destroyer, Barons, ect. I had about 10. Space these tests out over the next three months to help gauge your progress.

REVIEW those tests and see WHY you got problems wrong

Figure out what works best for you as far as study methods go

Here is a link of my own DAT experience that is a bit more detailed than this post:


Saturday, January 13, 2007

The College Years (3)

There is so much going on during year three that I will probably have several posts before I am through. This post will be dedicated to school work and extra curriculars. Than I will focus on the DAT, and finish up with the application cycle and just how it works. I love trilogies.

So what should you be doing at school besides realizing that things are finally starting to set in motion? Well namely, you probably still have a few pre-reqs to polish off – namely any English requirements (unless you got them earlier) as well as the dreaded Physics I and II. Many schools have additional requirements as well, but the general ones I have already listed.

So now what? Several schools have a recommended course listing; and slowly but surely, many of these courses are becoming mandatory. You may want to take Biochemistry, Histology (great course), Immunology, Verterbrate Biology, Comparative Anatomy, Human Anatomy, Physiology (human or animal) all with their respective labs. Obviously you won’t have time for them all and your school probably doesn’t offer everything. I STRONGLY recommend taking biochem, histo, anatomy, and physiology. Assuming you cranked out most of your gen eds, you should have time. However, with the DAT looming ever closer, you may want to set up a really light spring semester as to provide ample DAT study time. Don’t forget you still have senior year to fill in some classes as well.

What about ECs? Well now is the time to get involved with research (if you haven’t already). If you can do your own project, and get published, you will have a nice addition to your application. Obviously this is ideal and not always realistic. I didn’t actually do my own, but I did assist a professor for one semester and used my data to present a grant proposal in one of my courses. Just get some sort exposure to research, especially if you have your eyes set on Harvard or Michigan, they eat it up. Oh yea, you should still be shadowing and volunteering as mentioned before. By now you should have plenty of hours to brag about on your application.

Your pre-health committee (if you have one) is probably going to write you a letter in the spring time, so you will need to compile your own LORs so that they can write the composite letter. Get these letters going in the fall semester so that you will have LOTS of time to get them. Many profs take weeks, even months of nagging and pestering before they actually get the letters done. Do not procrastinate. More on this later.

Continue improving your time management. Things are probably getting hectic this year, and don’t expect them to improve until you get accepted somewhere. You have lots of future concerns, as well as very difficult courses to master. Junior year is by far, the most difficult of undergrad (in my humblest of opinions). Don’t get overwhelmed, paranoid, frustrated, insane, ect. Things will work out in the end, patience is a concept you will really need to work on – especially once you get your application in. If you are going through personal turmoil, don’t use it as an excuse; work through it all and become a stronger individual. Life is full of challenges, sometimes the little victories matter most.

Don’t forget to get out and relax sometimes. You still are in college, more responsibility is being thrust upon you, but it isn’t impossible to handle. If you took care of business your first two years, you are already priming yourself for a very successful application cycle.


Finish pre-reqs: Physics I/II, English, any additionals that specific schools require

Take additional Biology coursework: Histo, biochem, anatomy, and physio may as well be pre-reqs

Get involved in research. If you can get a publication, you are supercharging your application

Get LORs done EARLY. I cannot stress this enough, so many people get their app. held up because they slacked on the letters.

Try to take a light load during the spring semester (DAT time)

Don’t remain in the dark about the application process, seek advice, read about it, and research the schools you plan to apply too. Do not wait until may to start looking at schools.

Continue to enjoy life

Surviving Lab

Ah the good old lab classes. Who doesn’t enjoy spending three hours in utter confusion about what they are doing, only to get smacked down with an obnoxious “write-up” due every week. Oh yea, and coming in on your own time to go over everything you couldn’t finish- which is usually a lot. Who doesn’t enjoy a good practical from time to time? To top it off, it is worth a whopping ONE credit.

Yes, for the most part, labs suck. I still have nightmares from some of the chem labs although biology isn’t much better. The key is to be realistic and prioritize. If you need to choose between spending 3 hours studying phylum specimens and studying 3 hours for your next big lecture exam, study for the exam. The lecture class is generally worth three credits. Also, in most labs, you can get a B/B+ quite easily by simply showing up and doing minimal work on all the assignments. However, getting that ‘A’ is almost impossible unless you really put in a TON of effort. If you can manage, more power to you, but just remember, one credit is less than three so don’t blow off the lecture class for lab crap.

Horribly confused? Don’t sweat, almost everyone is. The only advice I really have is to read the lab book before lab. Go over what you will be doing even if it makes no sense. The less time you spend reading during the actual lab time, the faster you can get the hell out of there.

Be careful! A friend of mine got really sick after a chemistry lab because he didn’t have the hood door down far enough. Someone accidentally got stabbed with a needle while trying to anesthetize a rat. The list goes on. Don’t count on regular student TAs to be of any help. They are just as confused as you, and will always ramble – “what does the manual say?” if you ask a question. There are exceptions, but don’t get your hopes up.

Some of the upper level bio labs are ridiculous. I just finished a physio course that required a 5-6 page paper every week for every lab. That is a lot of work for one measly credit.

Don’t even get me started on physics labs, they are interesting, but things never work right and you end up spending more time figuring out what piece of equipment is malfunctioning than you do observing any cool phenomena.

I am sure some people really like labs because of the ‘hands-on’ experience. Like I said, the idea is great, but most teachers just don’t have the resources or are too ‘old-school’ to realize how useless most labs are for learning. Want good hands-on experience? Start up your own research project or assist a professor with his.

The bottom line is that labs generally are a pain in the ass. BUT, they are part of the pre-requisites to entering dental school, so you can’t completely blow them off. Just remember that they are only worth 1 credit in comparison to the three or four that most lectures provide. Do the math, if you have to sacrifice a lab grade to beef up your lecture percentage – DO IT.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Time Management? What's That?

As promised, here is my sagely advice on managing your time. Step one; be accountable for your actions. Learning to manage your time can be difficult but improving your technique will be impossible if you make excuses.

I have taken a variety of course loads over the years ranging from 14 hours to 19. It is quite manageable. Considering that most dental school D1s are in class from 8-5 M-F, you may as well not complain having a cushy, fragmented schedule. Enjoy it while you can.

It is all about prioritization and memory. If you can’t memorize important due dates, other obligations, than you best go buy a calendar or other form of planner. I would usually just write down my assignments in the same book I take notes in for each class. I have a friend that would write everything on little post-it notes, so figure out what works.

Most courses are either M-W-F or T-TH. So you very rarely are required to do homework the same day you had the class. This is the first big mistake students make. If you are assigned 30 pages of reading on Monday that isn’t due until Friday, divide the work logically. You can read about 8 pages a day and be done on time. Reading 8 pages takes about 10-15 minutes for the average reader, doesn’t seem so daunting does it.

This same example applies to EVERYTHING. If your Tuesdays are packed, allocate more time on Monday or Wednesday to make up. Essentially you should do a little work every day. If there is no assignment, just read the chapter, go over notes, and review worksheets. The more you do now, the less you will need to do come test time.

I have NEVER pulled an all-nighter in college. Unless you are working full-time and raising a family, you should never have to either. Most classes give you a syllabus that specifies exam dates. Mark these down somewhere and put it where you will see it. I generally start focused study about a week in advance.

Another key point is that studying is all about quality, not quantity. I generally don’t work with a subject for more than 50 minutes before my mind just starts to wander. So take breaks for food, chat with the roommates, call the significant other, play a game, whatever. Just don’t let the break go on for more than 10-15 minutes.

Most science courses require a good deal of memorization, so make flash cards, find a study-partner, quiz one another. Another flaw however is that some students strictly memorize and forget. If you want to retain anything, try to associate each item with a function or with a Grande scheme.

Perhaps the biggest slayer of students is the dreaded RESEARCH PAPER. Science papers are the biggest pain in the ass to learn. You essentially have to write in a dry, robotic fashion, with meticulous detail and a rigid and unmoving structure (abstract, intro, material, ect). I just hated them. Most profs will tear you apart too if you even have so much as a typo in the literature cited section. Solution? Start working on these horrors the day you get them. I don’t care if you have a month, get it done. Your idea of the final version most likely sucks. Most classes have TAs or tutors that are paid to read these things (oh how I pity them), so take advantage of that. You will know it is getting good when you can’t read through it in one sitting based on boredom alone, good work! Get the format down early so that you know how when you actually do your own research.

Delayed gratification is a concept you must embrace. You will enjoy watching a movie with your lady-friend (or man depending on your gender and/or orientation..look how PC I am!) so much more if don’t have a shit load of school work left to do. The beer on Friday night will taste much sweeter if that term paper due on Monday only needs a few revisions. You get my point.

One last rant about weekends. My general rule is that Friday and Saturday evenings should be free to do whatever you want – preferably not study. Unless you are really behind or studying for the dreaded DAT, there really is no reason not to get out. Saturday morning/afternoon is a great time to get some stuff done. The more you do Saturday morning, the less you have to do Sunday night. But now I’m just repeating myself.

Please do not take this post as a literal cook-book. Every individual is unique; I am just throwing out things that worked for me and many of my friends. I also did not have my own management tacked down until probably midway through my sophomore year, so don’t freak out if you are overwhelmed as a freshmen, it is natural.

Keys to success:

1 – Do a little bit of school work everyday, even if there is no actual assignment, there is always something to be done (review notes).

2- Embrace the concept of delayed gratification

3 –Find someone to study with but be productive

4- Don’t memorize and forget, associate everything with a function and know why

5- Take Friday and Saturday NIGHTS off (notice the emphasis on nights)

6- Be accountable for your actions. If you procrastinate, blame yourself and try harder next time.

The College Years (1-2)

If you go into college knowing what you want to do, your life will be much easier. Realistically however, most people really are not sure and some have no clue whatsoever. It is perfectly normal to be undecided for the first two semesters. Take a vast array of different disciplines, see what you like. The only real drawback if you decide upon dentistry is that the pre-requisite courses are much more manageable if you sequentially take them over the course of three years rather than cramming. I made my decision after my first semester and consequently missed intro biology (which I ended up taking my senior year). The plus to declaring later is that you most likely will get all of your general requirements out of the way so you can fully focus on your major. Oh and did I mention that getting ‘A’s in general eds are pretty easy? So starting off with a high GPA is always nice.

Ok, so you want to go to dental school, what major should you choose? In all honesty, many students claim it doesn’t matter, but I personally think there must be some correlation between the massive number of biology majors we see in dental schools. Sure I may be a biased biology student, but I think biology will provide a great foundation for all the basic sciences that dental schools teach. The bottom line however, is that you need to be happy with your major. I still would argue that if you hate biology courses, you will really hate dental school, but to each his own.

GPA is probably the most important aspect of the application process, and those first semesters of college seem to cripple a lot of applicants. Yea you are finally “independent” and you can make your own rules and have fun and all that jazz. However, part of this pseudo-independence also entails that you take on a few more responsibilities. I know it is hard to wake up for those 8 am classes but missing class is the first step towards screwing your future-self over. The entry level courses at most colleges are VERY manageable if you simply show up and have a pulse.

It is also difficult to stay focused those first two years. Even after I knew what I wanted to do, knowing the application process was so far away really made studying and staying on top of things difficult. So what should you be doing as a freshmen/sophomore pre-dent? Simple, put your grades first; I know that intramural volleyball team needs you for the big game, but sometimes you need to prioritize. In all honesty, you should be able to get pretty close to a 4.0 (during those first two years especially) while maintaining a rampant social life – college is not difficult if you manage your time correctly. More on time management in my next post.

Now would also be the time to start beefing up your future-application with all the little intangibles. Start shadowing a general practitioner (GP), it is also helpful to shadow specialties to see the many diversities that dentistry has to offer – but hit up the GP first. Call around, many dentists are more than happy to let you come in once a week for a few hours. Also find someplace to volunteer once a week. You don’t need to go to the Sudan and save lives, just help out the community a little. Tutor at your school, get a TA job after you ace the course. The options are limitless. This was the only aspect of my application that was really weak, and I wish that I could have had guidance during my first years because I ended up having to rush all this extra stuff towards the end. Don’t let that happen, it will make your life easier.

Most schools nowadays also have a pre-professional committee accompanied with a separate pre-health advisor. Utilize this advisor during those first years. Get some advice, get some motivation. If you think you are going to get an ‘A’ in a course, it might be a good idea to befriend the professor. I went to a small school, so it was very easy to get profs to remember me for letters of recommendation (LOR), if you got to a larger school, you may have to make more of an effort. You don’t need LORs right now, but you WILL in the future, so start planting the seeds of kiss-assery.

That is pretty much it. Those first two years are more about learning time management, and beefing up your extra curricular activtities. Most importantly, get as a high a GPA as you can possibly muster. You will find out that after two years of courses, the GPA will not move very much (unless you fail). So once you get stuck around that mediocre 3.3, you will have a hell of time bringing it up a good deal.

One last note about early college. You are bound to meet total idiots and burn-outs on your travels through undergrad. There is nothing wrong with going out to parties and having fun, but don’t be a total tool. Don’t go around breaking shit, stealing things, driving drunk, getting into brawls, having unprotected sex, ectera. More importantly, don’t get yourself killed by being a dumbass, because it happens. It is possible to have fun without being a jarhead. If you get a DUI, or any other sort of criminal record, you have just made getting into dental school twice as hard if not impossible. So go have some fun, but use common sense!

Application Summary for freshman/sophomore year:

Complete (and do well in): Bio I, Bio II, gChem I, gChem II, Ochem I, Ochem II (all w/ labs)

Extra useful courses to take during first 2 years: Genetics, Molecular Cell Biology

Start shadowing: GP and than specialists if you can

Start Volunteering: food pantries, hospitals, dental offices

Get leadership positions: TAing, tutoring, student council, ect.

Make sure some professors will REMEMBER you in another year

Don't be a total stroke

Thursday, January 11, 2007

You'll Be A Dentist

So who the hell decides to go into dentistry anyways? Well, I personally was interested since elementary school. You can call BS if you want, but I gain nothing by lying. There is also a difference between interest and commitment. I was not committed until my second semester of college.

I am what they call a "traditional applicant," meaning I attended four years of undergraduate coursework and immediately applied and matriculated following graduation. Yes, I haven't started dental school yet, but by the time I begin telling people about this blog, I probably will have..or at least be close to starting. It will be interesting to see if my "bright-eyed, bushy-tailed" demeanor changes once I get into the thick of things.

I am merely compiling all of the trials/frustrations so that I can get the application cycle all down before really getting into school itself. I also won't have much time to write once I start my last semester of undergrad so I may as well get going now.

First off, getting into dental school is not easy. It is a profession that is growing in popularity. You basically get to own your own business, set your own hours, work in a dynamic portion of healthcare, and make enough money to maintain a great standard of living. People are figuring this out and consequently, we are seeing dramatic increases in the applicant pool; and with all of the baby-boomer dentists ready to retire, the future is bright for the next generation. There are many ways to get into dental school, but I'm going to be talking strictly about the traditional track. You first want to get into a 4-year university, so don't completely slack off in high school. If you are really gung-ho, you can start job-shadowing local dentists or begin volunteering..but I wouldn't go overboard. What you do during your college years is far more relevant to most admissions boards.

Another debatable topic is whether undergrad reputation makes a difference. I personally don't think a 3.0 from Harvard is going to beat out the 4.0 from "blank State." It might factor in with certain schools or certain members of their respective committees..but in the long run, go where you will be most happy.

I went to a small liberal arts school that nobody has heard of and here I am. College is also about finding yourself, maturing as an individual, and simply having some fun. Don't waste it because once it's over, it's really over.

Stay tuned.

Let's Keep It Simple


I'll admit it, I am indeed a Blog virgin. Be it too much free time; or a severe lack of constructive activities, I have decided to start a great process of rambling. Not only to release my own convoluted thoughts that need proper airing every so often, but as a (hopefully) helpful tool for future dental students. I also want this blog to serve as a form of communication with close family and friends as I most likely will become very busy in the coming years.

Bear in mind, I am no english major, nor do I plan to type a "diary-esque" account of my life. I will try to keep most posts legitimately related to Dentistry and the road to, and eventually through, Dental School itself. So unless you are a close friend (who is very bored), or a serious dental prospector, I suggest you proceed no further.