Extracurricular & Leadership Activities
Involvement in extracurricular activities is viewed very favorably by a dental school admissions committee, for if a student can maintain a competitive GPA and still have the time and energy to actively participate in extracurricular activities, both aptitude and motivation must be rather high.
That said, there is no particular benefit in being simply a member who never participates or becomes involved in an organization; instead, a student who has been very active, particularly someone who has held office or in some other way presents evidence of leadership, will usually be considered as the most competitive and attractive candidate for dental school.
Most students believe that they must be involved in variety of different organizations or only those that are geared towards careers in healthcare. On the contrary, it is advised that you find a couple of extracurricular activities or student organizations about which you are very passionate and try to get as deeply involved as possible. Consistency and active participation are prized by admissions committees over simply the number of things you are involved in. By choosing quality over quantity, this will also keep students from spreading themselves to thin, which can inadvertently affect GPA.
Furthermore, these activities do not need to be strictly health related. In fact, a great many successful pre-dental students at UGA join social fraternities and sororities, take an active role in various service and religious organizations, play varsity or intramural sports, participate in debating societies, theatrical groups, the band, etc. Others participate in student advisory and leadership roles on campus, such as the Arch Society. It is ones participation and interest in these activities that are important, not the specific focus.
Work is something you can include on the application. Some students need to work part-time or full-time in addition to taking classes to contribute to the family income or to support themselves. (There is a distinction between needing to work and working for pocket money.) These experiences are valid regardless of the field one works in, and should be included on the application. Any job that helps a person develop better human relation skills, teaches them to assume responsibilities, or helps in the development of management skills will be of value. For some students, this will explain why they are lacking in something like volunteering or research hours. However, this will not offset the need for a good GPA.
Finally, it must be emphasized, that no amount of involvement in extracurricular activities can substitute for a good academic record and strong DAT scores.
A list of Pre-Health campus organizations can be found here.
Join the Pre-Dental Society at UGA
It is recommended that students join the Pre-Dental Society, to learn more in depth information about the pre-dental track and to have a network of students pursuing the same goal of dental school. Students can also utilize senior member’s experiences to find shadowing opportunities, hear more about DAT preparation materials/courses, and be given the opportunity to be assigned a mentor that can give further guidance on the application process.