The following advice has been primarily provided by UD students who successfully made it to dental school. Upon graduation many reflected that they wished they had known as freshmen what they knew as seniors. They agreed to share their wisdom with future students, so the following thoughts are for you!
Freshman Year (first semester)
- Get off to a good start. Admission to dental school is very competitive. Your overall GPA as well as your science GPA is important.
- Begin taking core (required courses): calculus, biology I and II, chemistry I and II, organic chemistry I and II, physics I and II, biochemistry and two English courses. Check individual schools for specific requirements and recommended courses.
- Meet with a health profession advisor in the Center for Health Profession Studies
- Join UD’s Pre-dental society (contact the Pre-dental society at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information).
- Get to know your professors. Attend their office hours. Begin thinking about personal references.
- Save everything from the required courses (for the DAT) – this will save you a lot of money when studying for the DAT. Note: physics and biochemistry are not covered on the DAT.
- Get familiar with the ADEA web site.
Freshmen Year (second semester)
- Same as the first
Freshman Year (summer)
- Contact a dentist – ask to “shadow” him or her. It is helpful to establish a “shadowing” relationship with a particular dentist, but also shadow a variety of specialists.
- Look into volunteering/shadowing at a dental clinic. Check out the website for the Delaware State Dental Society (DSDS) for a list of dental clinics in Delaware. For clinics in other states, check the website of that state’s dental society. Remember, if you choose to go through HPEC, you need 50 hours of shadowing.
- Try to find a job in the dental field.
Sophomore Year (first semester)
- Continue doing well in school (especially your required courses).
- Start asking for recommendations from professors and open your HPEC file at the Center for Health Profession Studies located in 105E Pearson Hall.
Sophomore Year (second semester)
- Consider undergraduate research.
Sophomore Year (summer)
- “Shadow” a dentist and volunteer. It is good to get this done early since next summer will be very busy.
- Begin drafting your personal statement for the HPEC (due in April) of junior year.
- Investigate summer (or winter) pre-dental programs. Some of our students have attended Gateway to Dentistry at UMDNJ, Dentistry Today at University of Maryland.
Junior Year (first semester)
- Open your folder for the HPEC if you have not already done so.
- Continue getting personal references (this is VERY important – do not put this off!).
- Consider taking BISC 422, Teaching Experience
- Refine your personal statement. The Writing Center (016 Memorial Hall) and 017 Morris Library) is a good resource and can provide valuable suggestions. Advisors in the Center for Health Profession Studies can also offer assistance.
- Start taking upper level courses that dental schools recommend. Consult dental school websites for suggested courses.
- Begin to research dental schools – find out their requirements (some schools require extra courses).
- Continue doing research and/or teaching at the university.
Junior Year (second semester)
- Finish getting personal references.
- Finish and submit your final draft of your personal statement.
- Make sure that your file is complete for the committee.
- Prepare for the interviews with the HPEC (advice: do mock interviews with yourself in the mirror; ask others to interview you – the interview is important so be prepared. The Career Services Center offers mock interviews which they videotape and review with you.
- Upon notification, promptly contact your interviewers to arrange for interview appointments. Dress appropriately for your HPEC interview. Arrive for the interview on time. Write a letter thanking the interviewers for their time.
- Begin studying for the DAT. If you saved the books from your courses you may not need to take an instructive course, but many students find prep courses helpful. Find books that will help you study for the exam such as “Barron’s Guide to the DAT.” Get familiar with the computer format; get the free computer tutorial. Use a stopwatch and practice under time constraints.
Junior Year (summer)
- Take the DAT – Be sure you are ready. If you are unhappy with your scores, you cannot retake the DAT for 90 days. Make sure that you take it early enough, so if you need to retake it, you can retake it before the application deadlines. (e.g., take it in early June, so you can retake it in September).
- Receive letter from HPEC – (if it isn’t what you expected, find out why).
- Fill out the AADSAS application online. ADEA GoDental is very helpful and informative.
- Research dental schools – consider finances, location and reputation. (If you are unsure, you can call the schools and ask them how they scored on Part 2 of the boards – most will tell you). The ADEA site is also very helpful.
- Begin preparing for school interviews (financially as well).
Senior Year (first semester)
- Be persistent in finding out the status of your application – make sure the school received all of the necessary information.
- Fill out the secondary applications. Do this quickly but accurately… be persistent to insure that all the necessary information and fees were received… wait to hear the dates of your interviews.
- Before going on the interviews, study dental school websites – this is very important in giving you an edge. Find out what the school concentrates on and try to remember some key names.
- Go on the interviews. Be confident that you are prepared. Be ready to discuss your accomplishments. The interview is your chance to see what the school is about. ASK QUESTIONS and find out everything you can about the school. It is especially important to ask the current students questions since they will give you the best perspective of the school.
- Write thank you notes to those who interviewed you. Try to mention something unique from the conversation you had with the interviewer so it sounds more personal.
- Wait to hear their response.
Senior Year (second semester)
- Decide which dental school you will attend
- Fill out your FAFSA AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.
- Fill out the necessary paper work, especially financial aid applications.
- Search for scholarships. You might want to try FastWeb, a free scholarship search service.