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5 Things I Wish I Knew Before Applying to Dental School

Updated: Aug 27, 2023

I’m Brynn and I am a D2 at Columbia University College of Dental Medicine in NYC. I grew up in Denver, Colorado, and attended Tulane University for undergrad where I majored in Cell and Molecular Biology and minored in Psychology. I am writing this blog to inspire Pre Dental students from all over the world to continue to pursue their passions and share with them some things I wish I knew before I started my Pre-Dental Journey.

Don't Compare Yourself to Others

I remember when it came time to take the DAT and apply for dental school I joined a bunch of Facebook groups and religiously checked dental threads to learn about different school’s stats, learn about the best DAT study resources that helped people score in the 99th percentile, and track when schools were sending interviews. While all of this was exciting to learn and did provide me with some useful information I found myself doubting whether or not I was a good enough applicant. Something I was told during my first year of dental school was that “95% of the stress you may feel in school is due to others”. With that being said don’t focus on other students’ dental journeys focus on your own. You can always be there to support and congratulate others in your dental community but I think holding a positive mindset and staying true to yourself will only benefit you and reduce unwanted stress. Take the time to focus on yourself and your accomplishments. Remember no matter “how much better” you think another person is at being the “perfect candidate” there is no true perfect dental school candidate. Everyone’s journey is their own so it is important to stay true to yourself.

Stay True to Your Passions

Whether in undergrad or a gap year, make time for things you are passionate about outside of dentistry. This could be through your extracurriculars or activities that make you happy. When it comes to extracurriculars I think it is more important to hone in on ones you are actually passionate about and find leadership within them rather than spreading yourself thin across a bunch of extracurriculars that you think would “look good”. News flash...schools can see right through this. The activities you are truly passionate about give the admissions committee a better sense of who you are as a


Don't Stress the Interview

Interviews are not something that should be causing you stress in the cycle because you are interviewing each school as much as they are interviewing you. This is a chance to truly show off yourself but also test to see if the school is the best fit for you. Some general tips for your interview day include re-reading your application prior to the interview because questions about your application will come up so it is important to know your application like the back of your hand. Also, make sure to ask your interviewer questions whether it be about the student/faculty culture or their experience working at or attending the dental school (this helps demonstrate your interest in their school). Other

things to note, definitely know why you think you would be a good fit at this particular school as well as “why dentistry”.

Wrapping your Head around the Cost

Yes, dental school is expensive. This is something that I know a lot of dental students worry about when looking at the cost of attendance for most schools but speaking as a student who is taking out loans to afford an education at an Ivy League institution, regardless of what school you want to go to, do not let “money” be the reason you say no to your dream school. Obviously yes student debt is stressful but if your dream school, one that you truly believe will help you reach your academic and professional goals within dentistry is a bit more costly, think of it as investing in yourself and your future. If the extra cost will help you get to where you want to be then I don’t think there is anything wrong with investing in yourself. A lot of schools have opportunities for scholarships, outside scholarships, and of course loan programs to help you meet your financial needs. At the end of the day weigh out the pros and cons and do what is best for you.

Finding Balance

Dental school may include some of the most challenging yet fulfilling years of your life so it is important to find a balance. Organization and consistency are key. Find time for yourself, do things that you truly enjoy, and take breaks. Dental school doesn’t always have to be stressful it can be fun!

Lastly, I found it helpful to establish a support network early on, whether that be with family, friends, and mentors to go along this journey with me. This gave me a community to lean on and support when needed.

Good luck! You can do this!

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