Extracurricular & Leadership Activities
Let your extracurricular activities reflect who you are and grab leadership opportunities when you can. Dental school admissions committees view involvement in extracurricular activities very favorably. If student can maintain a competitive GPA and still have the time and energy to actively participate in extracurricular activities, this reflects well on a student’s aptitude and motivation.
Dental schools prefer students who are actively engaged and committed to a number of different activities that they are truly passionate about. Therefore, there is no point in joining a multitude of organizations in which a student does not plan to get deeply involved. It looks much better to be a part of one or two clubs or extracurricular activities, in which a student can demonstrate their commitment, depth of involvement and leadership. A student that has been very active, particularly someone who has held office or in some other way presents evidence of leadership, will usually be considered a competitive and attractive candidate for dental school. Consistency and active participation are prized by admissions committees. 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. 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.
Finally, it must be emphasized, that no amount of involvement in extracurricular activities can substitute for a good academic record and strong DAT scores.
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.
A list of Pre-Health campus organizations can be found here.