If I can do it, You can Too!


Hellooo future dentists!! My name is Adrianna Garza, I’m going into my second year of dental school at UTHealth School of Dentistry at Houston!! Being that I’m a first gen doctor (well in the process) I struggled a lot in my undergrad trying to figure out what exactly I needed to be doing to ensure my acceptance into dental school. I relied heavily on my university’s Predental Society, but I didn’t really have too many connections with dental students. As nice as it was to have a predental society that was active and involved, I always found myself wanting to talk to an actual dental student for advice. I just didn’t really have people to turn to. That is one of the reasons I made my dental Instagram @dentistrywithadri. I want to provide you guys with some advice I wish I would have known during undergrad! And know that I’m here for any questions you may have about anything!


Finding Shadowing Opportunities

I tried calling MULTIPLE dental offices around my community and I had a really hard time finding someone to let me shadow. As sad as it is to say, I feel I wasn’t really being taken seriously as a student who was interested in going to dental school. My biggest advice for predents looking to find a doctor to shadow is to go online and find a PRIVATE PRACTICE that has good ratings and physically show up at the office right at opening one morning, in your scrubs ready to shadow and ask if you can shadow the dentist for the day. It’s a lot harder to say no to someone face to face who is showing up ready to shadow. Also, it will also prove to the dentist that you’re serious about wanting to get experience in the dental field!


DAT

The DAT was another thing I struggled with. I took my DAT twice and still didn’t get the score I wanted. I applied with a 19 AA and it was enough to get me into 3 out of 4 Texas dental schools!! If you’re anything like me you need adequate time to study and review everything! My first time studying the DAT I literally had to relearn all of General Chemistry because that was a subject I did absolutely horrible in during undergrad. My biggest advice for the DAT is to give yourself PLENTY of time to study it. If possible I would HIGHLY recommend studying for it during the summer and only focusing on your DAT! Meaning, don’t take classes while you study! I tried studying for my DAT while taking a “lighter load” of classes and from my experience, it’s not worth it because you end up not being able to give either school or your DAT studying the full effort they both need. I would recommend taking your DAT the summer in between your junior and senior year of college (while you’re applying). (I also have more tips on my Instagram page)


Application

START ON YOUR APPLICATION EARLY!!!! This was advice I ignored as a predental student and when it came to application season, I realized why people advised

for it. As a predent I would recommend logging ALL your volunteer and shadowing hours, it’s a little thing that goes a long way! I would also recommend writing out rough drafts of your dental school essays as early as possible. The prompts can always be accessed via TMDSAS or AADSAS. And if you don’t know already, the “Optional” Essay is NOT optional!!!!!! The more people that you have to take a look at your essays the better, that includes professors, friends, family, your dentist, etc! The application process can be very overwhelming, but if you start early and block out a certain amount of time each day, you’ll knock it out in no time! I cannot speak for any schools outside of Texas, but for those applying to Texas schools, IF POSSIBLE, I would try to submit your application by the end of July to be considered applying “early!”


Studying

It’s important in undergrad to really spend time honing in on study habits that work for you. In college, I spent a lot of time “just getting by” and it definitely didn’t help to prepare me for dental school. I’ve had to spend a lot of time studying and adjusting the way I study to keep up with all the material. Everyone learns differently, but for now, I would recommend trying out different study habits such as spaced repetition, active recall (read a slide or two then look away and try to recall the main concepts from the slide), and also just quizzing yourself (Quizlet/Anki). Dental school is constantly throwing a ton of material at you, so coming in knowing what works best for you, and even being open to adjusting your study habits is crucial!


Balance

Being able to balance school, work, and life is a skill you will need to have for the rest of your life. Life never gets easier, it gets more complicated and hectic as time passes so it’s really important to learn now how to manage your time. I’m grateful that I was always insanely busy in undergrad from being a full-time student, to having 3 part-time jobs, to being president of my predental society, I really had to learn how to manage my time efficiently. Especially when you guys get to dental school time management and balance is a must!! I know everyone says in dental school the only thing you have time for is studying, but I’m here to tell you guys THAT'S NOT TRUE. I’ve had plenty of time to hang out with my friends, travel, and spend time doing hobbies I enjoy. It’s all about balance! Your whole life CANNOT revolve around school. Make time for what’s important to you and whatever makes you happy, it’s definitely worth the sacrifice!


Best of luck to all of you on your journey into the best profession ever!!! If you guys stick to it you can accomplish anything you set your mind to! And if you ever need advice or have questions please don’t hesitate to ask, I’m here for you!! You can follow me & message me through my Instagram @dentistrywithadri I post about my day-to-day life as a dental student & also post predental advice/tips!!


What did you find most helpful from Adri's post? What will you do differently going forward in your pre-dental journey? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below!


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