I received my Bachelor’s Degree in Biology in May of 2009. I enjoy swimming, bicycling, reading, water-coloring, and making boba. My path to the health professions started early in my college career. After I shadowed several dentists in my county, I realized I wanted the intellectual challenge, the job security, and also to keep my manual dexterity in check. Ultimately, I wanted to pursue dentistry because of its expansive possibilities. After dental school, I could work in family clinics, open a private practice, go into academia, or pursue further education in a specialty field. In any case, I would be my own boss. This is the dream.
In 2006, I started preparing for the dental application process, and it was 2008 that I finished the process. This was my “game-plan”:
1) Your GPA is very important. Take the pre-req’s first — start with courses that are going to be on the DAT. Keep refreshing the material after you’ve passed the class.
2) Take the DAT (aim for a 30) as soon are you are ready (be ready early!!). The DAT is a standardized test that will show the admissions committee that CSUF produces great applicants with great knowledge of the sciences (thanks to our great science faculty). It would be nice if your DAT percentile is similar to your GPA. If it’s higher, it’s even better. Use review books (classes can be expensive).
3) Extracurriculars. I volunteered at a free medical clinic in Los Angeles, and shadowed many dentists. I also did things that interested me— swim instructor, arts and crafts assistant, and learning how to play the piano. The application process is tough—don’t forget who you are or leave everything in the dust. It’s just going to make it a little harder when you are being grilled at the interview table.
4) Research. I worked in a genetics lab and became familiar with the concepts and techniques behind research. Time-management is an important issue. NEVER let your extracurriculars get in the way of my GPA and studying for the DAT. Remember your priorities… that’s a lesson for this application game. Just do as much as you can handle.
The Interview—the last 50%
The interview process is admissions committee’s way of determining if your personality fits the class that they are trying to make. I hope you wrote some interesting things in your personal statement to make the adcom curious to find out more about you. Every school interviews in a different way. I’ve had interviewers ask me questions ranging from “why dentistry”, “tell me about yourself”, to “what is your definition of spirituality” or “how do you make pho”. Don’t be nervous; just be honest.
Early acceptance comes out December 1st. If you want to have options, APPLY EARLY. All dental schools teach you the basics, but if cost, location, and curricula are important to you, APPLY EARLY so you can interview at different schools have a variety choices.
My final advice is to play like a team member. There are other pre-dents at CSUF. You can study together or support each other through the process. I am very proud of our CSUF pre-dental society, and know that only the most determined, genuine applicants apply. You’re all going to be dentists anyway, so remember the theory of John Maynard Smith and don’t forget to lend a hand.