Updated: Nov 25
Going into college, I wanted to have the “typical” college life. That meant taking liberal
arts courses, going to parties, and joining a sorority. I knew I wanted to go into
dentistry, but I gave little thought to the resources I would have in college. The
predental population at my school was very limited, meaning I had little guidance on
how I should’ve prepared for my prerequisites, the DAT, and the application process.
Yes, the prereqs for dental school overlapped with those for medical school, but it wasn’t
I had chosen an undergraduate university that was a “safety” school, so I thought I was going to breeze through all four years. I’m laughing now because that is not how my journey went. I remember struggling in general chemistry my freshman year and being too scared to ask for help. I was embarrassed. I ended with a C- in GenChem II, which was below the cut-off for grades I could submit to dental schools. I retook this course in 11 days during our January term in my junior year and earned an A.
In my sophomore year, all the pre-health students were recommended to meet with the pre-health advisor and go over a timeline. I remember walking in nervous because my
grades weren’t where I wanted them to be. It’s not that I didn’t try—I just didn’t believe
in myself. The advisor scanned my transcript and said that dental school was most likely not an option directly after graduation. She gave me pamphlets for master's programs and said I would either need to take a gap year or get a master's. I walked out of that office with little to no faith in myself and remember crying on the phone to my parents right outside the building. I felt discouraged and unsupported by the faculty members who were supposed to be guiding me through this process. Luckily, I didn’t let this moment stop me.
I worked harder and reached out to students at other schools for advice. I joined a dental Facebook page and made a timeline for myself so that I could finish everything in time. I looked for dental volunteering opportunities and shadowed in my free time so that I could strengthen my application. Now, I am a second-year dental student at my top school straight out of college. This is to show that people can tell you that you are not capable or not good enough, but don’t listen to them. Believe in yourself and work harder than you have ever worked because you can do it.
What did you find most inspiring about Vani's journey? What will you do differently after reading this article? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!