My name is Valentina Leonett and I am a fourth-year dental student at the Arizona School of Dentistry & Oral Health. It may seem like a long time has passed since I was in your shoes, but I vividly remember my time as a pre-dental student, and that’s why I’m here! I made it, and now, I want to share what helped me get to where I am today. Let’s get started, shall we?
#1 – Be cognizant of your timeline. Think of when you would like to apply to dental school and plan accordingly. You don’t want to be scrambling your junior and senior years trying to cram in as many pre-requisites as possible. If you’re a junior/senior right now – don’t panic! Take some time to assess what classes you have taken and which ones you are missing. You do not need to have completed all your pre-requisites before applying, however, the more classes you have completed, the better your application will look. Keep in mind: plans change, but it’s better to be kind of prepared than not prepared at all.
#2 – C’s get degrees… right? While you should always strive to do your best in every class you take, dental school admission committees are not expecting you to be perfect. In fact, I’ll let you in on a little secret - I had a couple of C’s on my transcript and still got into dental school! Getting a C or withdrawing from a class is not the end of the world. The key is to have a good GPA and to do as best as possible in every other class you take.
#3 – Be a well-rounded applicant! If I could bold this, underline it, and highlight it, I would! You want whoever reads your application to see that you are more than a good GPA and a dean’s list recognition. Extra-curricular activities are important, and they should be centered around things that you enjoy. It doesn’t necessarily have to be dental-related, but it sure looks good to have some shadowing and volunteer hours on your application. Regardless of what you decide to do, make sure to venture out there and show that you are more than a letter grade. You’d be surprised at how many interview conversations are all about hobbies and have nothing to do with school.
The last piece of advice I have to offer is to take everything you read and hear with a grain of salt. We all have different backgrounds, upbringings, and stories. What worked for me may not work for you, and that’s okay. Don’t be afraid to show what makes you unique!
I wish you all the best on your journey and hope this helps you in the process. I’m rooting for you!