Guide to Applying to Dental School for Non-traditional Students - Updated in October 2014

 
Guide to Applying to Dental School for Non-traditional Students - Updated in October 2014
Guide to Applying to
 Dental School for
  Non-traditional
     Students

       Updated in October 2014
Guide to Applying to Dental School for Non-traditional Students - Updated in October 2014
T A B L E                      O F               C O N T E N T S

Coursework ........................................................................................................................... 3
Post-Baccalaureate Students .......................................................................................................... 3
Two-year Path ................................................................................................................................. 3
Three-year Path .............................................................................................................................. 4
Gap Year Professionals ................................................................................................................... 4

The DAT ................................................................................................................................ 5
Study Materials ............................................................................................................................... 5

Recommendation Letters ...................................................................................................... 5
Post-Baccalaureate Students .......................................................................................................... 6
Gap Year Professionals ................................................................................................................... 6

Committee Letter .................................................................................................................. 6

Shadowing ............................................................................................................................ 7

Extracurricular Activities ........................................................................................................ 8
Involvement in ASDA ...................................................................................................................... 8

Personal Statement ............................................................................................................... 9

AADSAS Dental School Application ........................................................................................ 9

Resources ............................................................................................................................ 10

Timelines............................................................................................................................. 11
Post-Baccalaureate Timeline ........................................................................................................ 11
Gap-year Professionals Timeline .................................................................................................. 15

Member Profiles.................................................................................................................. 18
Master’s Degree in Medical Science ............................................................................................. 18
Career Changer ............................................................................................................................. 19
Re-applicant .................................................................................................................................. 20
Master’s Degree in Public Health ................................................................................................. 21
Career Changer ............................................................................................................................. 22

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Guide to Applying to Dental School for Non-traditional Students - Updated in October 2014
A non-traditional dental student can be defined as a student who takes time in between
undergrad and dental school. Some students do this by choice to pursue work experience, a
post-baccalaureate program or even military training. Others may not get accepted to dental
school on their first or even second try so they look for opportunities to enhance their
application. This guide will help non-traditional students evaluate their options and profiles
some students who took a different path to dental school.

Coursework

All dental schools require you to complete two semesters of biology, two semesters of general
chemistry, two semesters of organic chemistry and two semesters of physics, all with lab. Some
schools will let you substitute one semester of organic chemistry for one semester of
biochemistry, and many schools are now requiring biochemistry. Some schools have additional
requirements, such as writing seminars, calculus or psychology courses. Research a school’s
specific requirements in advance so you have enough time to fulfill them, especially for the less
common courses.

Post-Baccalaureate Students
As a post-baccalaureate student, there are two routes you can take to complete these courses.
You can apply to a specific post-baccalaureate pre-health program (many are listed on the
AAMC’s site or ADEA’s site). The AAMC website breaks down the programs into several
different categories (i.e., improving your grades, changing careers, etc.) which may help you
narrow down the program best suited for you. ADEA’s site provides many enrichment program
options. You can also register for courses at a local university without going through a program.
If you choose to go this route, make sure to keep yourself on track. If you stay organized, this is
very doable.

If you have not taken any of the science requirements, there are two paths to complete them: a
two-year path or a three-year path. As you plan out your dental school application timeline (see
sample timeline at the end of this guide), it is important to note that applying to dental school
takes an entire year after completing most of your necessary coursework. It starts with
submitting your application in the summer, interviewing throughout the fall and winter and
final decisions are usually made by April.

Two-year Path
If you choose the two-year path, you will need to complete majority of your coursework within
a single school year and then take your DAT at the end of that year, around the time you wish
to submit your dental school application. Most students who complete this path take general
chemistry during the summer, biology, organic chemistry and physics during the school year,
and then take the DAT and apply to dental school the summer after completing this
coursework. This leaves the second year to complete any additional coursework, such as
biochemistry, calculus, physics (if not yet completed) and any other requirements or advanced
level science courses. Many students also spend time during this second year working (often in
dental offices), volunteering or conducting research.

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Guide to Applying to Dental School for Non-traditional Students - Updated in October 2014
Three-year Path
For some students, the two-year path is too condensed. These students usually take biology
and general chemistry during the first school year, organic chemistry and physics during the
second year and then take the DAT and apply to dental school during the summer following the
second school year. This leaves the third year to complete additional coursework or participate
in the activities mentioned above.

Gap Year Professionals
If you intend to apply to dental school after working for a few years, it is important to make
sure that you plan your major, minor and dental school prerequisite courses well in advance so
you can complete them before graduating. You can accomplish all of your ambitions and still
graduate in time, but the more goals you have, the earlier you need to start planning for them.

The process of applying for a job is vastly different from that of applying to school. Before
starting, it is a good idea to approach your university career services center to get an idea of the
necessary steps and expectations to prepare for. Depending on your university, undergraduates
have access to a job submission and/or recruitment services. Once you get an idea of how the
process works, start developing your CV and cover letters based on your past experiences and
how they can be applied for a position at hand. Tips for writing your CV/resume can be found
on ASDA’s website at ASDAnet.org/cv.

Deciding what kind of job to apply to can be a difficult and thorough process. Take into account
what your short- and long-term goals are with reference to your ultimate goal of becoming a
dentist. Some experiences that can help prepare for dental school include Teach for America,
the Peace Corps, research or finance. Depending on your collegiate studies and/or desire to
branch out, it makes sense to consider how applying to each job and gaining its respective
learning experiences will enhance your future in dentistry.

If you have decided to apply to dental school for the first time after having already graduated
and worked elsewhere, it is not too late. Consider transitioning to a position appropriate for
you that is closer aligned to dentistry. Applicants have successfully moved on to research,
dental assistant positions and/or an ASDA leadership position to focus their work closer to
dentistry. There are no limits as to how a transition like this can take full advantage of your
diverse past work experiences, and prepare you for a future in oral healthcare.

The best time to apply to dental school is dependent on your job positions as well as your
personal story arc. This may be after a natural transitional period (for example, after a two year
foreign service program) or concurrent with an accommodating job position (for example,
dental assistant). Successful applicants have applied under both sets of circumstances,
reflecting what works best in their individual situations.

When it comes time to apply to dental schools, interviewers want to know about your
nontraditional path. What is most pertinent is how you got from college to this current point,
so be able to succinctly and logically describe this path. Usually, the first opportunity to do so
takes place when interviewers ask you to “talk about yourself” at the beginning of an interview.
Explain your thought process as you moved from position to position and further explain how
                                                 4
Guide to Applying to Dental School for Non-traditional Students - Updated in October 2014
you have arrived at a point appropriate to apply to dental school. This response should also
echo the sentiments of your personal statement, which in many cases the interviewers may
read prior to the interview. More interview tips can be found on ASDA’s website at
ASDAnet.org/predental/interview-tips.aspx.

The DAT

Most students allot several months to study for the DAT. The academic subjects represented on
the exam are biology, inorganic, and organic chemistry, as well as perceptual ability, reading
comprehension, and quantitative reasoning. This means that you are able to take the exam
before taking physics if this works better for your schedule. Most students prefer to take the
DAT soon after completing these academic subjects so they are still fresh in their minds.

It is also recommended that students take the DAT before submitting their application to dental
school, as it takes several weeks for your score to be processed and even more time for it to
register in AADSAS (the electronic dental school application system). Moreover, it is helpful to
know your score before applying in case you are not satisfied with the outcome and wish to
retake the exam.

Study Materials
Many students use test preparation companies to help them prepare for the DAT. ASDA has
agreements with several of these companies to offer members a discount on their study
materials. ASDA members receive a 10% discount on Crack the DAT materials and 25% on
Chad’s Videos. Visit ASDA’s website at ASDAnet.org/benefits/#testprep to learn how to get this
discount.

There are many other resources available to help you prepare for the DAT. If you are looking for
something more didactic, Orgoman’s DAT Destroyer is quite popular. If you would like to take
practice exams, two resources to consider are TopScore are DAT Achiever.

There are several steps to complete before you can register for the DAT, so register several
months in advance, as space fills up quickly. The first step is to acquire a DENTPIN, which will be
necessary throughout your dental application process and even during dental school. Once you
obtain this, you can apply to register for the exam, which is accompanied by a fee. Once
granted permission, you can select the test date and location site. Learn more about registering
for the DAT at: www.ada.org/dat.aspx.

Recommendation Letters

Recommendation letters are a quintessential component of your dental school application, and
should be considered well in advance of submitting your application. Throughout college,
students are encouraged to build relationships with their professors. When you take any class,
be sure to interact with the professor as much as possible, whether that is during class, office

                                                 5
Guide to Applying to Dental School for Non-traditional Students - Updated in October 2014
hours or through research opportunities. ASDA has put together tips for writing letters of
recommendation that you can reference before you begin.

Post-Baccalaureate Students
As a post-baccalaureate student, it is important to be an active participant in your science
courses and build relationships with your science professors early on, as you only have a few
years to do so. Many dental schools like to see recommendation letters from multiple science
professors, so it is important to keep this in mind as you are fulfilling your science
requirements. Additionally, if you will be submitting a committee letter, you should decide well
in advance if you would like the letter to come from your alma mater, or the school where you
are completing your post-baccalaureate courses.

Gap Year Professionals
If you have a job in between college and dental school, consider asking your boss for a
recommendation letter. Ask that they connect certain aspects of your job with your future
career as a dentist. This may include your ability to work with others, leadership potential, your
capacity to learn and grow, etc.

It is helpful to have recommendation letters from dentists that you shadow. These are the
individuals who know the most about the profession and can speak to your connection with
dentistry and the passion that you have demonstrated during your hands-on experience. The
dentists you shadow will also have spent the most one-on-one time with you, so engaging them
and asking questions will be very useful when it comes time to write these letters.

There are a few more important things to remember about letters of recommendation. As is
the case with coursework, check to see what the recommendation requirements are for every
school, as many are quite specific. Some schools require 2-3 letters from science professors, a
certain number of letters from affiliates of that particular school and a certain number of letters
from professors in your major. Check if they accept or require letters from dentists or career
associates. Make sure you build the necessary relationships to fulfill these requirements.

Finally, ask your letter writers well in advance of when the letters are due, and make sure to
send them reminders and updates as the deadline approaches. Additionally, providing them
with your CV and/or an outline describing your accomplishments and goals will be helpful as
they compose your letter. As a general rule, the more in-depth and personal your letters are,
the better they will demonstrate why you are a great dental school candidate. Letter writing
can be a lengthy process, so make sure you are ahead of the game and stay abreast of their
progress so your application proceeds smoothly.

Committee Letter

Ensure that you get involved in your school’s committee letter office as early as possible in your
undergraduate career (provided that your school writes committee letters). Set up a file and
keep it updated each semester with recommenders that you intend to include in your
committee letter. The earlier you have your individual letters compiled, the faster it is for your
                                                 6
committee letter to be processed. Keep in mind that the committee letter process can take
months to be completed, before it is ready to be uploaded to your AADSAS. As such, make sure
you get the ball rolling on your committee letter very early, at least around the winter of the
year before you apply.

Each school has its own unique process of assembling a committee letter. Most require at the
minimum a CV and an “autobiographical sketch,” or short essay that you write describing your
background and desires for applying to dental school. The sketch is something that will be of
use to all of your recommenders as well as your committee letter, so it should be written with
care.

Some schools may go through several additional steps to get to know the applicants so they can
write a letter that truly reflects their personality and achievements. However, this often means
a lot of work on your part to present the committee with sufficient information to write a
strong letter. These schools will have you complete questionnaires, write essays and even
conduct interviews to get to know you better. The committee letter is such a vital part of your
dental school application. Your AADSAS will not be complete and sent to schools until they
receive this letter. As such, it is crucial to complete this as early as possible. You should reach
out to your committee letter office and stay informed about their deadlines. They may need to
write letters for many students, and you want to make sure you are at the top of the pile.

More information about committee letters and letters of recommendation can be found on
ASDA’s website at ASDAnet.org/predental/recommendations.aspx.

Shadowing

Shadowing is a key component of applying to dental school. First, dental schools like to see that
you have completed a great deal of shadowing, many requiring 100+ hours of shadowing
experience. Second, shadowing is the best way to know if you really like the field of dentistry
and if you could see yourself as a member of this profession. Finally, shadowing is a great way
to gain exposure to different dental specialties before starting dental school. There is so much
to know about dentistry that one cannot see from the patient perspective. Shadowing is the
perfect way to learn what dentistry is all about from the professional point of view.

Some colleges and predental societies will help their students arrange shadowing
opportunities. If not, it is up to you to seek out these opportunities yourself. The best way to
find people to shadow is to ask your own dentist, local dentists or dentists whom you know
personally if you could spend time observing them in their office. You can also contact your
local or state dental society at ASDAnet.org/state-associations to find dentists in the area. Most
dentists are open to having students shadow them and will explain their work and answer
questions. When you first meet with a dentist, be sure to bring along your resume and a brief
letter discussing your plans to apply to dental school and what you hope to gain from the
shadowing experience. For more information on this topic, download our Shadowing Guide and
Log and other resources at www.ASDAnet.org/predental/shadowing.aspx.

                                                 7
It is important to remain professional when shadowing. Before you begin, discuss with the
dentist how you should dress (some prefer business attire, while others prefer scrubs), when it
is appropriate to ask questions and if or how the dentist expects you to contribute to the office.

Extracurricular Activities

It is very important to be active in dental related clubs, such as the predental society at your
school and ASDA. These clubs will help you get involved in dental activities, keep you informed
about dental school topics (DAT, applications, shadowing, etc.) and keep you updated about
national dental news. Other dental related activities to consider include research, shadowing,
being a dental assistant, ADEA and dental volunteering (via a service trip, at a local clinic or
dental school.).

It is important to participate in activities that you are passionate about. They don’t necessarily
have to be related to dentistry, but should be engaging. You should be able to relate what you
have learned from those experiences to your future dental career. Dental schools are looking
for students who demonstrate leadership and a passion for service. Any involvement in these
two areas will look great on an application, regardless of their connection to dentistry. Some
examples include volunteering at an animal shelter, going on a service trip, getting involved in
habitat for humanity or serving food at a local soup kitchen.

The same goes for leadership in that it doesn’t have to necessarily be related to dentistry. Find
what you are passionate about and really go for it! Some places to find leadership positions
include Greek life, religious/cultural organizations, your school’s newspaper, athletic clubs, etc.
For applicants working between college and dental school, some common jobs and activities of
past successful applicants include finance, banking, consulting, Teach for America, U.S.
Army/Navy/Marines and culinary school. The possibilities are unlimited and dental schools like
to see well-rounded candidates with varied interests.

Involvement in ASDA
ASDA is an important part of a dental student’s educational experience. In recognition of the
growing predental membership, ASDA created predental positions that provide the opportunity
to be involved in organized dentistry on a national level. These positions allow you to interact
with other predental and dental student leaders to design and implement new programs and
benefits for members. The opportunities to brainstorm new ideas and participate in national
conferences are invaluable and prepare you for future leadership roles. Some accomplishments
of the Predental Advisory Committee include creation of the Predental Toolkit, ASDA Predental
Week, Shadowing Guide, contributions to national publications, and this guide. The application
for all predental positions are due in each January and position descriptions and requirements
are available at www.ASDAnet.org/leadership.

There are several other advantages to becoming involved in ASDA. You have the opportunity
network with other passionate predental and dental students across the country at national
and district events. Members receive many publications, including ASDA News, Mouth and
ASDA’s blog Mouthing Off, that keep you informed of current issues in dentistry. You also have
                                                 8
the opportunity to write for these publications if you are interested in doing so. You will have
access to numerous resources, including discounts on test preparation materials, guides to
applying to dental school, interview tips and much more. ASDA is an indispensable resource
during your dental school application process and throughout your entire dental school career.

Personal Statement

Take a lot of time to refine what you want to talk about, even up to months before the personal
statement is due. It should be a comprehensive, well thought out story about why you want to
become a dentist. Reference the specific point you determined you wanted to be a dentist,
what sets you apart as an applicant, why you are going to make a good dentist and what you
can get out of dentistry in your life. AADSAS limits the personal statement to 4,500 characters
including spaces, so keep this in mind while you are writing.

The personal statement is the perfect place to include relevant anecdotes and explain how your
experiences (undergraduate or post-baccalaureate) have influenced your decision to apply to
dental school. Make the connection between your unique experiences and the desire to
become a dentist.

Have people you trust read through revisions of your personal statement, and explore the
options available for people to look over your statement. If you are taking a test preparation
course for the DAT, these instructors are trained to proof read personal statements and may be
willing to look yours over. Health career advisors are often trained and willing to help with this
as well, and they have many years of experience working with dental school applicants. In
addition, trust your own instincts and writing ability, and stay true to the original message you
are trying to convey. The longer you have to write and revise the personal statement, the
better it will be when you are ready to submit it to AADSAS. It is encouraged that you go
through several drafts before finalizing your personal statement, giving you an opportunity to
make any necessary changes and refinements. Many students have written ten or more drafts
before arriving at their final version, so try to stay positive throughout what may be a lengthy
writing and revising process.

AADSAS Dental School Application

Like the personal statement, it is never too early to get started on AADSAS. Typically, the online
portal opens in the beginning of June, but the questions on the application are available in PDF
format earlier on ADEA’s website. Take this opportunity to familiarize yourself with the
application before June and review ASDA’s tips for applying.

The AADSAS application has various categories for background information about yourself.
Under the “Professional Experiences” section, you will have the opportunity to enter five to ten
examples of different categories of your experiences. The categories include: academic
enrichment programs, awards honors and scholarships, dentistry/shadowing experiences,
extracurricular/volunteer/community service, research and work. Each entry requires a brief
                                                9
summary (limited to 170 characters with spaces), average weekly hours and start and end
dates. There is also a section for “Background Information” to enter information regarding any
experiences you have had with manual dexterity or fine-motor hand skills. You should make
sure to engage in activities that will build and demonstrate your manual dexterity skills, such as
playing an instrument, knitting and/or athletic pursuits.

AADSAS takes time to process the different components of your application. Your
recommendation letters, DAT scores and transcripts can take weeks to process, so have all of
these ready before the AADSAS online portal opens. Some of the first steps you should take
include: contacting the ADA to send your DAT scores to AADSAS, requesting your transcripts
and sending transcript matching forms to your university so they can forward these together to
AADSAS. If you took courses at more than one undergraduate university, you will be required to
submit your grades and transcripts from each school.

One of the most time consuming aspects of completing your AADSAS application is entering
every class you have taken, its category and the grade you received. AADSAS will verify each
entry against your transcripts, so it is crucial to enter this information accurately or you will be
forced to correct and resubmit your application, delaying the process. Many applicants choose
to enter their grades and send out their transcript matching forms first, before completing the
rest of their AADSAS application to expedite this process.

The earlier you are able to have your application components processed, the earlier your
application is reviewed by dental schools. Prepare all materials and your personal statement
months before AADSAS opens in June. This way, you will be prepared to submit your
application as soon as possible, optimally by the end of June, to guarantee that your application
will be among the first read by admissions committees. As with the rest of the application
process, the earlier you start, the more time you will have to perfect your application.

Resources

Below is a list of resources available to help you prepare for dental school.

      National Association of Advisors for the Health Professions
       www.naahp.org/PublicResources/PostBaccalaureateOptions.aspx
      AAMC Premedical Post-baccalaureate Programs
       https://services.aamc.org/postbac
      ASDA’s “Guide to Getting into Dental School”
       www.ASDAnet.org/publications
      ADA Career Mentoring
       www.ada.org/2194.aspx
      Health Professions Enrichment Programs
       http://explorehealthcareers.org/en/careers/programs?Career=1
      ADEA AADSAS
       www.adea.org/dental_education_pathways/aadsas/Applicants/GeneralInstructions/Pag
       es/default.aspx
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Post-Baccalaureate Timeline

This is a sample timeline for those individuals who plan pursue a post-baccalaureate program
before applying to dental school. This timeline is intended to act meant to act as a basic
framework throughout your application process. However, every individual has a unique path
and needs to adjust his/her timeline accordingly.

Spring before starting post-baccalaureate education
    • Research different post-baccalaureate program options and apply to several.
    • Research the specific requirements of dental schools you are interested in applying to
       and try to match those with the best post-baccalaureate program.
    • Meet with a health career advisor to discuss two-year vs. three-year path, how their
       committee letter process works and to ask any other questions you may have about the
       application process.

Two-year Path

Year 1

Summer
   • Take general chemistry 1 & 2
   • Start shadowing.

Fall
       •   Take organic chemistry 1, biology 1 and physics 1.
       •   Join ASDA and your school’s predental society.
       •   Continue shadowing.
       •   Make sure you start building relationships with your science professors, as you will be
           needing letters of recommendation by the end of the spring semester.
       •   Reach out to your committee letter office and start preparing the necessary materials
           for your application (essays, questionnaires, etc.).

Spring
    • Take organic chemistry 2, biology 2 and physics 2.
    • Stay active in your school’s predental society (attend meetings, participate in
       community service events, etc.).
    • Continue fostering relationships with your science professors, and submit your letters of
       recommendation to the committee letter office by the middle of this semester.
    • Continue shadowing and if you have established strong relationships with these
       dentists, ask for a letter of recommendation from one of them as well.
    • Start studying for the DAT (by the middle of this semester at the latest).
    • Apply for a DENTPIN and choose a date to take your DAT.
    • Start working on your personal statement.
    • Check ADEA AADSAS website for pre-release application questions.
                                                   11
•   Work on AADSAS questions.
       •   Prepare official copy of college transcript, which will soon be sent to ADEA.

Year 2

Summer
   • Take your DAT and submit your scores to AADSAS.
   • Send in official copy of college transcript to ADEA.
   • Send in letters of recommendation and/or committee letter package.
   • Submit your AADSAS application (ideally before the end of June).
   • Start preparing for impending interviews.

Fall
       •   Most likely you will be spending a significant amount of time interviewing during this
           season.
       •   Send appropriate updates to dental schools that accept them.
       •   Take any additional classes that you need or want to take. Some common choices
           include: calculus, biochemistry, anatomy & physiology, microbiology, genetics, etc.
       •   Renew your ASDA membership and try to get more involved (attend a conference, write
           an article, etc.).
       •   Stay active in your school’s predental society.

Spring
    •      Continue interviewing this season (if applicable).
    •      Send appropriate updates to dental schools that accept them.
    •      Complete any requirements that you have not yet fulfilled.
    •      Stay active in your school’s predental society.
    •      Stay active in ASDA.
    •      Try to find a relevant part-time job to keep you busy until dental school starts, such as a
           dental assistant, volunteering at a local clinic or hospital, conducting research, etc.

Summer
   • Relax and get ready for dental school to start in August!

                                                    12
Three-year Path

Year 1

Summer
   • Start shadowing.
   • Get ready for your science classes in the fall.

Fall
       •   Take general chemistry 1 and biology 1.
       •   Join ASDA and your school’s predental society.
       •   Start building relationships with your science professors.
       •   Continue shadowing.

Spring
    • Take general chemistry 2 and biology 2.
    • Stay active in your school’s predental society (attend meetings, participate in
       community service events, etc.).
    • Continue fostering relationships with your science professors.
    • Continue shadowing.

Year 2

Summer
   • Find a relevant job, such as a dental assistant, volunteering at a local clinic or hospital,
     conducting research, etc.
   • Continue shadowing.

Fall
       •   Take organic chemistry 1 and physics 1.
       •   Renew your ASDA membership and try to get more involved (attend a conference, write
           an article, etc.).
       •   Stay active in your school’s predental society.
       •   Solidify your relationships with your science professors and start asking for letters of
           recommendation.
       •   If you have established strong relationships with the dentists you’ve been shadowing,
           ask for a letter of recommendation from one of them as well.
       •   Reach out to your committee letter office and start preparing the necessary materials
           for your application (essays, questionnaires, etc.).

                                                   13
Spring
    •      Take organic chemistry 2 and physics 2.
    •      Stay active in your school’s predental society.
    •      Start studying for the DAT (by the middle of this semester at the latest).
    •      Apply for a DENTPIN and choose a date to take your DAT.
    •      Start working on your personal statement.
    •      Check ADEA AADSAS website for pre-release application questions.
    •      Work on AADSAS questions.
    •      Prepare official copy of college transcript, which will soon be sent to ADEA.

Year 3

Summer
   • Take your DAT and submit your scores to AADSAS.
   • Send in official copy of college transcript to ADEA.
   • Send in letters of recommendation and/or committee letter package.
   • Submit your AADSAS application (ideally before the end of June).
   • Start preparing for impending interviews.
   • Try to continue your work from last summer or start a new project.

Fall
       •   Most likely you will be spending a significant amount of time interviewing during this
           season.
       •   Send appropriate updates to dental schools that accept them.
       •   Take any additional classes that you need or want to take. Some common choices
           include: calculus, biochemistry, anatomy & physiology, microbiology, genetics, etc.
       •   Renew your ASDA membership and try to stay actively involved.
       •   Stay active in your school’s predental society.

Spring
    •      Continue interviewing this season (if applicable).
    •      Send appropriate updates to dental schools that accept them.
    •      Complete any requirements that you have not yet fulfilled
    •      Stay active in ASDA and your school’s predental society.
    •      Try to continue your work from past two summers or start a new project.

Summer
   • Relax and get ready for dental school to start in August!

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Gap-year Professionals Timeline

This is a sample timeline for those individuals who plan to take a few years in between
undergrad and applying to dental school. This timeline is intended to act meant to act as a basic
framework throughout your application process. However, every individual has a unique path
and needs to adjust his/her timeline accordingly.

Sophomore Year

Summer
   • Be introspective about types of opportunities appropriate for your post-graduation
     goals.
   • Research the prerequisites and expectations of job positions, including preparation for
     different types of interviews (e.g. behavioral interviews, case interviews for consulting
     and finance, etc.).
   • Meet with career advisor to discuss CV building and cover letters in preparation for job
     applications, as its nuances may be unique to that of dental school applications.
   • Meet with health professions advisor to discuss long-term goals in dentistry.
   • Optional: Prepare for DAT if taken appropriate coursework.

Junior Year

Fall - Spring
    • Continually update CV with work and accomplishments.
    • Based on summer introspection/research, begin submitting internship applications for
         next summer.
    • If applicable, continue preparing for and attend interviews.
    • Arrange with your committee letter office to set up a committee letter file.
    • Sign up for or renew ASDA membership.
    • Start forming relationships with your science professors.

Summer
   • Participate in internship and update CV.
   • At end of internship, ask supervisor for a letter of recommendation.
   • Check in with committee letter office with regards to your committee letter file.
   • Optional: Prepare for DAT if taken appropriate coursework.

Senior Year

Fall - Spring
    • Use internship experiences to clarify job aspirations for immediate future.
    • Prepare CV and cover letters accordingly.
    • Apply to appropriate job positions.
    • Check in with committee letter office with regards to your committee letter file.
    • Continue forming strong relationships with past or current science professors.
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•   Ask professors for individual letters of recommendation.
       •   Sign up for or renew ASDA membership.

Non-application Post-grad Year

Summer
   • If you haven’t already, prepare for and take DAT as this is an optimal period prior to job
     initiation.
   • Ensure that committee letter file has all relevant individual college professor letters of
     recommendation either already or in the process of being incorporated.
   • Prepare for job responsibilities.

Fall-Spring
    • Sign up for or renew ASDA membership.
    • If leaving workplace, ask supervisor for letter of recommendation.

Application Post-grad Year 1 of 2

Fall
       •   Begin thinking about and drafting dental school personal statement.
       •   If you haven’t already, prepare for and take the DAT.
       •   Check-in with committee letter office regarding progress of committee letter package.

Spring
    •      Continue drafting and revising personal statement.
    •      Check ADEA AADSAS website for pre-release application questions.
    •      Work on AADSAS questions.
    •      Ask supervisor for letter of recommendation to be incorporated into your committee
           letter package.
       •   Prepare official copy of college transcript, which will soon be sent to ADEA
           headquarters.
       •   If you haven’t already, prepare for and take the DAT.

Application Post-grad Year 2 of 2 (Application and Interviews)

Summer
   • This is your last opportunity to take the DAT if you have not already done so.
   • Submit AADSAS application (ideally before the end of June).
   • Send in official copy of college transcript to ADEA headquarters.
   • Send in letters of recommendation and/or committee letter package.
   • Start preparing for impending interviews.

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Fall
       •   Most likely you will be spending a significant amount of time interviewing this season.
       •   Send appropriate updates to dental schools that accept them.
       •   Stay active in ASDA (attend a conference, write an article, etc.).

Spring
    •      Continue interviewing this season (if applicable).
    •      Send appropriate updates to dental schools that accept them.
    •      Stay active in ASDA
    •      Try to find a relevant part-time job to keep you busy until dental school starts, such as a
           dental assistant, volunteering at a local clinic or hospital, conducting research, etc.

Summer
   • Relax and get ready for dental school to start in August!

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ASDA Member Profile: Master’s Program

                              Katie Richardson
                              Texas State University '13
                              Mississippi College, MS in Medical Science '14
                              2014-15 ASDA Predental Advisory Committee

I knew completing a Master’s Program was the right choice for me because… I would have a
“gap year” while applying to dental schools after completing my undergraduate degree, and I
wanted to gain more experience in graduate level science courses I’d encounter in dental
school.

When choosing a post-bacc or master’s program… it is important that you fully analyze your
options to find one that best suits your needs and interests. I knew I wanted a one-year
program that awarded a degree and offered courses such as human gross anatomy. There are
also many programs with direct linkage to dental schools.

As a non-traditional applicant my greatest strength… is having a unique application. It is
important to choose activities you personally feel passionate about. Working in dental research
has been a great experience, which I may not have been able to do had I gone straight into
dental school. Having diverse volunteer experiences, from participating in local blood drives to
assisting in low-cost dental clinics, enables me to draw from a different perspective as an
applicant.

I first heard about ASDA… at Predental Day at the UT Houston School of Dentistry. I loved the
enthusiasm of their ASDA chapter, and I wanted to get more involved as a predental member.
After attending the ASDA annual session, I was excited about all the benefits ASDA can offer
pre-dentals, and it has helped me stay connected throughout the application process.

My advice for another non-traditional applicant would be to… encourage them to be
confident and highlight the unique aspects of their application. Continuing your education
during a “gap-year” is a great way to prepare for dental school and better yourself as an
applicant.

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ASDA Member Profile: Career Changer

                                   Greg Luk
                                   UT Austin ‘12
                                   UT Health Science Center at Houston School of Dentistry ‘16

My original career path... I spent 9 years in the military working with some of the best men and
women I’ve ever met. As a combat medic who served in multiple capacities across Southeast
Asia and the Middle East, my job threw me into new and challenging experiences every day. It
seemed like one day I was teaching counter-riot techniques to a battalion of Thai soldiers
through an interpreter, and the next day I was coordinating a medical fair in the jungles of the
Philippines. And of course, some days, I was picking up trash and changing the oil on the
Humvees.

I decided to switch to dentistry... Dentistry had never entered my mind as a career field until I
was halfway through my Asian studies degree at UT Austin. I had entered college with a long-
term goal of returning to government service in the form of foreign service or diplomacy. At
some point, however, I decided I wanted a career that didn’t involve being overseas for months
away from my family and friends. I started looking for other options and dentistry was one of
the things I had enjoyed doing as a medic. The more I learned about the career, the more set I
was on becoming one myself.

The most challenging aspect of pursuing dentistry... Doing homework again at 28 years old can
be disheartening. It takes a dedicated mindset to relegate yourself to a classroom setting after
having a successful career. Don’t worry, these challenges can be overcome with the right
motivation, time and effort.

My advice to a future non-traditional dental school applicant would be to... Learn something
new every day. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes—just try not to make the same mistake twice.
Don’t sell yourself short. Most amazing people are just regular guys and gals who never gave up
on doing something amazing. Last but not least, apply early.

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ASDA Member Profile: Re-Applicant

                         James Kolstad
                         University of Florida ‘04
                         Marquette University School of Dentistry ‘15
                         Chair, 2013-14 Council on Membership
                         Chair, 2014-15 Leadership Development Workgroup

Applying to dental school... I applied to dental school a number of times. When I did not get in
after the first time, I went out and got a job. Working and staying a competitive applicant was
tough. It was a challenge to work all day and then study at night. The worst thing about
applying to dental school was the unknown. The best part about reapplying to dental school
was I knew I still had a chance to live out my dream of becoming a dentist.

When I found out I had to reapply to dental school... I think what made me a competitive re-
applicant was that I went back school. I graduated in ’04 and had not been in the academic
setting for 6 years. I wanted to show dental schools that I still had what it took to do well in
school. I signed up to take classes at night as a non-degree seeking major. I took science classes
that I did not take before but would help me out when I started dental school. I also stayed
involved in the community. I was the VP of my local alumni association and a volunteer leader
for the American Cancer Society. Lastly, I continued to shadow, volunteer and work in the
dental setting whenever there was an opportunity.

I first heard about ASDA... on my first day of dental school during new student orientation. Our
chapter president at the time gave us a presentation on why getting involved in ASDA was
important. I was always involved in associations prior to starting dental school. ASDA seemed
like the perfect fit.

My advice to a dental school re-applicant would be to... make sure you are in communication
with an admissions director. Get advice on what part of your application is weak. Try to stay in
the academic setting whether it is by taking night classes, doing a post- bacc, a grad program,
etc. Make sure you are performing well in those classes. Become a member of predental ASDA.
It will give you a leg up on other applicants because you will know what is going on in the field
of dentistry and will have good talking points during your interviews. It will show that you are
invested in the profession. ASDA also provides its members a lot of tips to making yourself a
better applicant. These will prove to be useful. Good luck and stay focused and positive.

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ASDA Member Profile: Master’s Program

                               Tony Besse
                               Saint Louis University ’09, BA
                               Saint Louis University ’11, MPH
                               The Ohio State University College of Dentistry ‘16
                               Chair, 2014-15 Council on Professional Issues

I knew completing a master’s program was the right choice for me because… not gaining
admission into dental school on my first attempt was difficult at first. I had put in the effort, taken
the DAT, completed extensive shadowing, done research and volunteered—I thought I had what it
takes. Looking back, I was just not ready. I had not yet attained the study skills and discipline that it
takes to succeed in dental school and a few course grades from early in my undergraduate career
were really holding me back. Upon having a meeting with the OSU College of Dentistry admissions,
they told me what I needed to do to better my application: I should obtain a master’s degree of my
choice, re-take two chemistry courses, re-take the DAT and take an additional science course, while
continuing to shadow dentists. This seemed a bit daunting, but was actually rather doable over a
two-year period. I was grateful they had outlined everything they expected me to complete in order
to better my application to re-apply. It gave me a number of tangible goals toward which to work.

When choosing a post bacc or master’s program… choose something you are interested in. Also,
think about what courses you may need to take or re-take and if you need particular courses to
raise your science GPA. Consider choosing something that can ultimately help you as a practicing
dentist, not just something to help you get into dental school and then forget.

As a non-traditional applicant my greatest strength… was that I learned so much over my two-year
master’s program and while working for a year prior to dental school, both academically and
personally. I feel that I really matured and grew during that period. My greatest strength was my
work experience, maturity and determination that showed I truly wanted to be there.

I first heard about ASDA… from upperclassmen when I started dental school. They held pretty fun
social events and I heard about national ASDA through upperclassmen who had also been national
leaders and encouraged me to apply. I was amazed by how excited everyone was about organized
dentistry.

My advice to a future non-traditional dental school applicant would be to… be thankful for the
chance to better yourself before dental school. Dental school is tough; enjoy any and all time
outside of school before embarking on the challenge. Embrace the uniqueness of your application.
If you want to go to dental school, you ultimately will. It might just take more work and a different
route than you had originally expected, and that’s okay.

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ASDA Member Profile: Career Changer

                       Chelsea Fosse Rajagopalan
                       The University of Texas at Austin ‘09
                       Rutgers School of Dental Medicine ‘17

My original career path was in the health care field, but I spent most of my time at a computer
rather than with patients. While in college I worked part-time as a newborn hearing screener
and became interested in public health and health care policy. Upon graduating, I pursued a
position at the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) in the Division of Children with Special
Needs. During my four years there, I staffed a wide variety of mostly grant-funded projects—
writing proposals, implementing programs, monitoring budgets, collaborating with other non-
profit organizations and learning from some of the world’s best physicians—with the primary
goal of improving the quality of health care for children. I absolutely loved my job and
colleagues, but there was something missing.

I decided to switch to dentistry roughly one year into my career at the AAP. I was compiling
comments from pediatricians and pediatric dentists for a policy statement on oral health care
for children with special needs. I found myself so engrossed by the content that I had difficulty
limiting my focus to just copying, pasting and editing. For the next six weeks, I thought about
dentistry and what becoming a dentist would require—the pre-reqs, the DAT, the age I’d be
upon graduation, even family planning came into consideration. When I realized this newfound
dream wasn’t going away, I finally talked to my fiancé (who was to become my spouse 2 weeks
later). With his overwhelming support and encouragement, I headed to a nearby university to
register for the prerequisites I needed.

The most challenging aspect of going back to school has been the sense—or reality—of a lack
of independence. After getting accustomed to providing for myself and contributing to me and
my spouse’s bottom line, it was tough to not see a paycheck with my name on it, and to know
that I was consuming much of our now reduced income for my tuition. In addition, for the first
time since first grade, someone else was making my lunch in the mornings so I could get in a
few extra minutes of study time. I’m fortunate to have an incredibly supportive spouse—
financially, logistically and most importantly emotionally.

My advice to a future non-traditional dental school applicant would be to never
underestimate the value of your experiences between undergrad and dental school. At times
you may find it challenging to adjust to the classroom environment again or you may feel
different from your younger classmates, but remember that your broadened perspective brings
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value to the class as a whole. You have gained countless skills that you will utilize as a dental
professional and have demonstrated a steadfast commitment to this field by making the
difficult decision to return to school. I have never considered my time at the AAP as a “detour,”
rather a step in the path that led me to this profession and provided me a foundation in health
care. Without a doubt, you too will be thankful for your past experiences and the lessons you
gleaned from them as you embark on your dental school journey.

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