Wednesday, January 31, 2007

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!