Do I Need to Volunteer to Get into Dental School?
Do I need to volunteer to get into Dental School?
Greetings future dentists: my name is Joe, and I am a D2 at The Ohio State University College of Dentistry and the simple answer to our topic today is yes, you should volunteer. Especially with the increasing competitiveness of dental school applications, it is a must-have. So today, I am going to talk about why schools want to see this, how to make the most out of your experience, and one critical tip you may want to follow.
Dental Schools want students that have the potential to make great dentists. They want someone who will contribute, be active in their communities, have excellent social skills, and care about more than just themselves, and one way (on paper) a school can judge this is by seeing how long, where, and when you volunteered.
The easiest way to get the most out of your volunteering experience is to choose something you are passionate about, reflect on yourself, or something that ultimately feels fun. Also, keep in mind this volunteering does not have to be dental-related, and honestly, good job; if you found
dental-related volunteering easily, it can be tricky! So some good examples are if you are active at a church, you could volunteer there, local food banks, and yes, sometimes a dental clinic if you’re lucky. The decision of where to volunteer is up to you, so get creative, and most times, dental schools just want to see something you are passionate about.
Lastly, and maybe most importantly, my opinion, experience, and advice: focus on ONE volunteering experience. As undergrads with a billion things to worry about, focusing on one experience, building relationships, investing your time, and putting the majority of your volunteering energy at one place will have a much higher reward than splitting your time at ten places for an hour each. This way, you are through and through passionate about your volunteering experience. It then becomes enjoyable to explain why you spent 50 hours+ volunteering at x location during an interview and express how much you loved it. Also, suppose you ever need a reference from that volunteering experience. In that case, you could likely easily get one, and it would probably be great if you invested your time and energy appropriately.
Volunteering can be fun and help recenter you on what is important and how blessed and privileged some of us are, which is one of the reasons why I still volunteer frequently while in dental school.
I hope this gave you a new perspective on volunteering, and if you have any questions for me, do not hesitate to reach out!
Work hard, rest well.