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Dental School Rejection: How I Bounced Back and Achieved My Dreams

Tufts dental school student

My name is Alex Wahab, and I am from Dallas, Texas. I completed my undergrad at Texas A&M University where I graduated in 2018 with a Bachelor's in Public Health.

Although there is no specific major needed for dental school, I loved my time as a Public Health major as I believe it gives me an alternative perspective in the healthcare field.

Currently, I am an incoming D1 at Tufts College of Dentistry and am so excited to finally start my dreams of becoming a dentist.

However, I didn’t make it this far without a bit of adversity.

How to Overcome Dental School Rejection

My Dental School Rejection

I applied to dental school for the first time in 2019. I applied to 18 schools with a 16 AA, a 3.0 GPA, and lots of wishful thinking.

Needless to say, I was rejected from all 18 schools. I remember feeling pure devastation. I’m so sorry to those who are familiar with this feeling.

However, I encourage you to use those feelings as fuel. I have felt hopeless many times during this journey but, I always chose to believe in myself. A major key to overcoming dental school rejection is your mindset.

Stay Resilient

I chose to stay resilient in my pursuit of dentistry. It was at this time that I took an honest look at my application, spoke with current dental students, and researched what each school requires for acceptance.

Roadmap to dental school ad

With the research and advice I acquired, I spent the next 2 years completing my Master's in Biomedical Science at Barry University. While gaining my Master's, I continued to do volunteer work and shadowed virtually when possible as this was during COVID-19.

Upon successfully completing my Master's, I spent the next year studying for the DAT, working at a local dentist's office, and scheduling Zoom calls with dental schools of my interest.

I know it can be difficult getting your face in front of dental schools. I have found the best way to set up Zoom calls is to take advantage of when there are speakers at your pre-dental meetings. Another way to meet with schools and get on someone’s schedule is by attending events such as the ADEA GoDental Fair for pre-dental students.

Why I'm Grateful

I am so grateful to be where I am today and am proud of my journey. I can now look back with gratitude that I wasn’t accepted back in 2019 as I learned so many valuable lessons during this time that I believe will make me a better dentist in the future. I learned the importance of discipline, building and maintaining relationships, and overall better study habits.

My Advice for Pre-Dental Students Reapplying

In conclusion my advice for re-applicants:

1. Maintain a positive mindset.

A quote that resonated with me and motivated me to keep pushing during the hard times was “Never give up on a dream just because of the time it will take to accomplish it. The time will pass anyway.” I think it is important to keep in mind, the ones who make it are the ones who always chose to try, just one more time. 

2. Give yourself grace but be honest with yourself.

Look at your application and work on your weak points. For me, this was completing my Master’s in biomedical science at Barry University – this strengthened my science foundation and gave me confidence when re-taking my DAT. 

3. Be persistent in your pursuit.

Female dental student

Do not be shy to reach out to schools and express your interest. If you have a dream school, set up a Zoom call with someone in admissions. If you are able, place yourself in environments where you can meet with the school face to face. This goes a long way!

I wish all my pre-dental friends good luck!

Your time is just around the corner. Believe it!


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