Hello pre-dental students!
My name is Amanda and I am currently a second-year dental student at LECOM School of Dental Medicine. I graduated in 2019 from Indiana University of Pennsylvania with a bachelor’s degree in Natural Science and a minor in Chemistry. After undergrad, I decided to take a year off before starting dental school in July of 2020.
Looking back on my journey, as a pre-dental student and current dental student, I’ve learned that in order to be successful you must believe in yourself and have a good balance. I remember in undergrad I stressed myself out every day over my grades and comparing myself to my other classmates. Many of my classmates went straight into dental school, but I decided to take a different route, so I did doubt myself a lot at the time. During my year off I studied to retake my DAT, worked as a dental assistant, and volunteered as much as I could in between. It was the most rewarding year ever, and if you are thinking about doing a gap year at all – do it!
Every person has a different journey to dental school, but I would say the top 3 things that helped me as a pre-dental student and now are:
1. Get Involved!
Grades are important but being involved in your school and local community is just as important. One of my favorite things to do in undergrad was to help out at the Mission of Mercy dental clinics. In addition, try to obtain leadership positions in clubs that you enjoy, and they do not have to be dental- related! Lastly, I think employment of any kind is beneficial. Before becoming a dental assistant, I worked as a waitress at a local restaurant/bar, and before that I worked for 4 years at a retirement home. They all taught me patience, how to work well with others, and they end up being good talking points during interviews!
2. Stay Organized!
School can be overwhelming with all the tests, quizzes, projects, and
various assignments all at once. I keep a calendar on my fridge that I update to give me a big picture of what is going on that month. I also have a smaller one that I keep in my bookbag that I peek at to see what is going on in the coming days. Try to prioritize what is most important and needs done that day vs what can be done later. Also, even though it happens sometimes, try not to procrastinate and create unnecessary stress for yourself!
3. You come First! Take care of Yourself!
You will not be the best student if you are not feeling your best physically or mentally. If you need a break, take a break! School is important, but it is not your whole life. I overworked myself a lot during D1 year and would be burnt out easily. I am still guilty of this at times, but you have to put the books down and do things you enjoy. Go to the gym, take a walk, listen to your favorite podcast, hang out with friends – anything to help you recharge!
The road to dental school can be a challenging one, but if you work hard, stay focused, and have trust in your abilities you will get there! I hope that this advice was helpful to you, and feel free to reach out whenever you need to!