Hello, future dental students! My name is Samira Sadoughi and I’m a first-year dental student at Arizona School of Dentistry and Oral Health (ASDOH). I went to the University of Arkansas for undergrad and then received my Master’s in Biomedical Sciences from Western University of Health Sciences (WesternU).
It still feels surreal that I get to call myself a dental student because I did not realize that I wanted to pursue dentistry until later in life and struggled with the application process. Although the process of applying as a non-traditional pre-dental student was challenging, it provided me with numerous experiences and opportunities to grow. It takes a lot of time and effort to apply to dental school, but don’t stress! I’m here to share some of my tips to help make the application process a little easier.
Shadow Your Dentist!
First, shadow your dentist! Deciding to pursue dentistry is great, but you must immerse yourself in the field to find out what it really takes to work as a dentist. You can reach out to your family dentist or search for a dentist in your area to request if they have any shadowing opportunities available.
Second, document everything and stay organized! Create a portfolio to track your shadowing hours, journal about your experiences, and prepare a CV/resume. Trust me, you will thank me later. Throughout the application process, you will need to refer back to your documents to recall dates and experiences that you need to list out on your application. When I was applying I also didn’t realize how many essays I needed to write within the main AADSAS application in addition to each school’s secondary/supplemental application. That’s why I recommend journaling about any experiences you’ve had, both dental and non-dental related. Write as many details down so that when you need to refer back to your past it will be easier. This will also help you with getting a head start on writing your personal statement.
Grades and Test Scores
Third, have good grades and test scores! This was one of the biggest hurdles I needed to overcome when I applied because I struggled in a few classes. I pursued a master’s degree and performed research lab work to prove to dental schools that I was capable of succeeding academically. You don’t need to do a master’s if you have a couple poor grades. As long as you show schools you have an upward trend in your academics you will be fine! I also did my best to perform well on the DAT.
Dental School Admissions
Fourth, speak to dental school admissions directly! They will be your best resource throughout the application process. Schedule time with admissions of the schools you are interested in applying to and discuss with them your application strengths and weaknesses.
Fifth, don’t rush! It takes time to prepare all of the necessary documents. Complete it at your own pace and submit when it’s right and error-free. Triple check everything because once the application is submitted you cannot make any substantial changes. You can add new test scores and new experiences, but you cannot edit or delete previous experiences entered and you can’t change your personal statement. Ensure there are no errors in spelling, grammar, and personal information. Ensure your grades, transcripts, DAT scores, and LORs were received. If you do happen to find any mistakes after submitting your application, you can contact the schools to see if they allow updates or revisions emailed to them.
You CAN Do This!
I hope this was helpful! I know it seems overwhelming, but take it one step at a time. There are plenty of dental students like myself willing to help guide you along your journey into dental school. I also have an Instagram page that I created to help share my dental journey and give advice so feel free to reach out if you have any questions (@sdr.samirasmiles). Believe in yourself, put in the work, and don’t compare yourself to others. If I can make it, then SO CAN YOU! Congratulations because by reading this you’re already one step closer to becoming a future dentist!!