My name is Shalini, I am a couple of months into my D3 year at Roseman University, College of Dental Medicine. I hope my story inspires at least one person out there to get up and get started.
To keep this short and simple, I’m going to jump right into the good stuff. My biggest obstacle in undergrad was fear. Fear that even if I tried hard, I still might not achieve what I wanted. For a while, this fear prevented me from giving serious thought into what I wanted to do after graduation. In my first two years of undergrad at McMaster University (in Canada), I focused on taking courses that I loved. Suddenly, it was my third year and I realized I needed a plan, that is when dentistry crossed my radar.
My grades were good overall, but the prerequisites for dental school such as Orgo, Gen Chem, e.t.c. were the most challenging subjects for me and I realized that if I had planned my schedule ahead of time, I could have taken these courses over the summer or online to dedicate sufficient time for them.
The lesson I learned here was to plan, plan and plan more! The same concept applied to the DAT. The Canadian DAT is only offered twice a year and during the busiest times in the semester. So if you did not plan your study schedule, you did not do well. This took me a couple of tries and several hundred dollars, but hey! I am here to tell you that it is all worth it. Do not be scared to work hard!
Despite making a lot of mistakes, I learned from them, and let me tell you about something I did right from the beginning. I was always involved in my school and in my community, purely because it made me happy. I believe this set me apart and showed the admissions committee who I really am. No one works at an Aviary, cleaning up bird poop unless they were passionate about working there!
Since I was always involved, I was able to gather a lot of incredible experiences and skills even before I decided to pursue dentistry. This gave me a head start. I want you to know that it is never too late to start! Don’t let fear paralyze you from taking your first steps, start by doing things that make you happy.
I can understand many of you who are in this position because I was there once. This is what I would say to the old me: do not be intimidated by thoughts of rejection and self-doubt. “what if I don’t get in?” “I don’t think I am competitive enough”… STOP! You are scared and it’s normal but don’t let it paralyze you.
The constant negative thinking will not help your chances of getting into school, instead, it will make you doubt your true potential. You need to get up and do one thing that makes you happy. For example, if you like the feeling you get after you do something productive, start there. The positive momentum from there on will eventually lead you in the right direction. If you fall, you get back up and keep trying. More than intelligence, I believe resilience is the key to success, whatever success may look like to you.
So…get up, get started, work hard and focus on what you can control!