Building your credentials
To prepare for a career in dentistry you will need to build credentials in scholarship, leadership, humanitarian/community service, and shadowing (largely with a general dentist) in the various settings of the profession. Many students do not get into dental school the first time that they apply. The traits that predict success in the profession include, high academic aptitude, hard work, the ability to work well with others, good hand-eye coordination, and good judgment.
There is no “best” major for pre-dental students nor are there majors that will make students “stand out.” You are encouraged to pursue majors in which you are most interested.
The Numbers Matter and so do Grade Trends
If you wish to enter a dental program you need to have a strong science and overall GPA. Admissions committees also look for trends on your transcript—so all is not lost if you stumble your first semester or two, as long as you show substantial improvement each subsequent year. However, they will also notice negative trends such as consistently withdrawing from or performing poorly in hard sciences or is completing them away from your home institution. While an instance or two is not a deal-breaker, a pattern of behavior will be. You must demonstrate the ability to handle difficult scientific content.
What do dental schools look for when reviewing applicants?
Dental schools consider the following credentials when evaluating applicants for admission:
- Academic record (both overall and science GPA)
- DAT scores
- Letters of Evaluation (including faculty and a general dentist letter)
- Exposure to dentist-patient interaction ("shadowing")
- Volunteering, as well as charitable/altruistic endeavors
- Research experience (only if you are interested)
- Leadership abilities
- Interpersonal communication skills
- Evidence of manual dexterity ("are you good with your hands?")
Note: Dental schools may also require background checks of applicants before matriculation.