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The Stressful Predental Journey: Overcoming the Unknown and Conquering Self-Doubt

Updated: Aug 26, 2023

The unknown is always scary. One of the most overwhelming feelings is trying your best, putting in so much effort, and still not knowing if your hard work will pay off or not.

I’m sure if you’re a pre-dental student, this feeling is very familiar to you.

The application cycle to dental school is a tedious process, but when you’re truly passionate about your goals, it’s important to never give up.

How to Overcome the Stress of the Predental Journey

Undergrad-Feeling Alone

A blonde female dental student smiling

I knew from a young age that I wanted to grow up to become a dentist.

In high school, when it came time to apply for undergraduate programs, I was researching what the ideal major was in order to eventually go to dental school and realized that biology was probably the best choice, and that’s what I decided to do. This was great because every school offered a biology major!

Although I loved where I went to undergrad, I very quickly realized that it was good for biology, but not great for dentistry. I met classmates who were interested in going to medical school, being physician's assistants, and even people who wanted to be biology teachers.

However, I felt like I was the only one who wanted to be a dentist.

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Taking Initiative

It was a small school, but eventually, I did find a handful of classmates who were interested in dentistry. I wanted to learn more about the dental school application process, but unfortunately, not one professor in my school had experience with the field.

I wanted to join a predental club, but again, it didn’t exist. I took this opportunity to try to start the predental club at my school. It was not an easy journey, as you needed a faculty member to be the advisor, and no one felt comfortable taking on this role. You needed a minimum number of students interested, which we did have a very minimum. In fact, we had six students interested, but that was good enough for me.

I kept persevering in getting this club into action, and eventually got it done to become the Co-founder and Vice President of the predental club at the university!

A female dental student practices drilling on a typodont

Learning to Lead

My main goal in getting this club started was to have a support system and to get to learn about to application process. I learned a lot by doing this!

I learned the exam we needed to take was the DAT, that we needed at least three letters of recommendation, that there were certain prerequisites required for each school, and most importantly, I learned how to be a leader.

I highly recommend getting involved in your school's predental club…and if they don’t have one, try to start it yourself!

A Gap Year-The Blessing in Disguise

During this process, I realized by the time I studied and took the DAT, it would not be in time to apply for the dental school application cycle straight out of college, so I knew I would have to take a gap year.

This ended up being a blessing in disguise, as I got some of the best working experience during this gap year, and had time to build my resumè for the dental school application.

Tears of Stress to Tears of Joy

A female dental student wearing dental loupes and doing a dental cleaning.

The application was a very stressful time as a predental student, I took the DAT twice, and I knew I didn’t have the best grades to get accepted.

I applied in June 2020 and retook my DAT in July 2020 while working in an oral surgery office. Every piece of advice I’ve heard was to apply early, they’ll look at your application first.

This gave me hope, which I slowly lost when it became November and I’ve only gotten rejections or no responses. But, later that month I got my first interview.

The next month, I got my second interview.

The hope built back up until it became February and I was just on waitlists for those two schools. I was giving up on the process and thought maybe I wasn’t good enough to get into dental school.

In March 2021, I was looking into master's programs and was going to go to work the next day and ask the doctor I worked for for a letter of recommendation for a post-bacc program. The day I was going to ask him, I got an acceptance call from Roseman University College of Dental Medicine!

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t cry a little.

That moment was one of the most memorable moments of my life, and I finally did feel like I was good enough and that the hard work was worth it.

Get Involved!

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However, one thing I do realize that is easy to forget is that schools don’t only care about grades.

The biggest piece of advice I can give any predental student is to get involved in extracurriculars and work well with others.

In my Roseman interview, one of their questions to me was “What was a time you had to persevere?” That was the most perfect question anyone could have ever asked me, as you just read my story from above.

Another question was, “Give an example of how you work in a group setting.” It is so important in the field of dentistry to be able to get along with all different types of personalities.

No, you don’t have to like everyone, but you need to learn how to treat any type of patient without prejudices and give them your best care, as well as work with other employees in the office every day.

Differing Paths

A blonde girl in scrubs with a goal on her back

Everyone has a different path to dental school, and I can’t say that everyone will be the same level of difficulty.

All I can say is if you have a dream that you’re passionate about, in the end, any obstacle you may face to get to your goal is one that was worth it and will help develop who you are.

~Sam Melnitsky

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